The good side of bad things

Interesting quote from Mike Holmes re: Sorcerer on the Forge:

that [story] is what Sorcerer is about.
Not about character success – you’ll note that once you start playing that the dice mechanic makes characters fail in their stated conflict goal all the time, no matter how superior they are. It’s about what the characters decide to do that leads to their successes or failures.

I was just instantly reminded of the game tonight, in which Ken Osato needed to feed his demon’s Need for suffering. He did it neatly, quickly, very efficiently, and he used other people to accomplish it.
And I had him check his Humanity for it, because in this particular game, Humanity = Empathy for your fellow man, and using your fellow man “neatly, quickly, and efficiently” to elicit Suffering is simply not Empathic.
He rolled and his Humanity dropped a notch.
Question: did he fail? Personally, I think what he did perfectly illustrated the character’s goals and priorities at that point in time. Given time, he might have preferred to handle the Need in a more subtle, somewhat less directly callous way, but time was important, so Ken made a choice.
Good choice, bad choice… it was his choice, and that made it really cool, so of course it was a success.


  1. My big worry is that people might see a call for a Humanity check as some kind of GM-control to keep people in line — I don’t think that’s what it is at all — my job, as I see it, is to accuratly represent the world as we’ve agreed to play it (that your Humanity can be defined as your connection to other pople) and recognize when the characters make decisions that strengthen or weaken that tie.
    I don’t think the job is to judge — it’s to adjudicate.

  2. Sounds like:
    1) He got pretty much exactly what he thought he was going to get.
    2) The game mechanics worked 🙂
    I wouldn’t classify that as a failure. However, I would classify it as even a greater roleplaying coup if he had foregone the roll and just stated that his decision affected his humanity 😉
    In any case, sounds like a fun gaming session!
    My group’s starting Exalted “soon-ish”, and I’m currently boning up on the genre and percolating NPCs / locations / plots. I’m not familiar with Sorceror … got a link to it?

  3. Sounds like: 1) He got pretty much exactly what he thought he was going to get. 2) The game mechanics worked 🙂
    The keen (or scary) thing is that (a) I never really considered whether it would incur a Humanity Check (from Ken’s perspective, he didn’t do anything particularly wrong, just a bit mean. I mean, it’s not like he ran someone over or something, right?), and (b) the Humanity Check made perfect sense in the context of the game (i.e., I had no objections, and certainly didn’t feel like it was a GM Punishment or something).
    Ken isn’t a bad person (certainly not in his own eyes, and even in mine, though I don’t like him very much). He’s just a rather selfish one, and vaguely cowardly in being unwilling to face that. Don’t think one need search much further for the human condition than that.

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