Thursday, October 1, 2020

Sorcerer Rules Summary

 I was recently pointed to Ron Edward's Sorcerer by Justin at Aboleth Overlords and it's been a pretty interesting read. In particular, it hits some of the same notes that I've been tinkering with in my own projects, particularly in the Sorcery and Sword supplement. In the process of reading, however, I found myself going back and forth trying to remember how this mechanic interacted with that process. This was doubly troublesome trying to connect what I had read in Sorcerer to the changes in Sorcerer and Sword and then to the changes made by fan hacks like this interesting looking Nausicaa hack

So I did what I usually do in such a situation: make my own rules summary. It's not comprehensive and leaves out any sort of GM advice or process, but it covers the bulk of what I'd have to explain to a player if I were to run it. In case anyone else might find such a thing useful, I've included it below.


The core book in the updated Annotated Sorcerer form. Fundamentally it's a game about corruption and dysfunctional relationships. Anything that grants power by tempting, coercing, or manipulating the user might conceivably be run using Sorcerer because the game doesn't require that magic be magic or that demons be demons. A demon might be a bottle of hooch or a gun in a western setting. As long as it gives the character something they seek and extracts a price, it might be run using this.

It's dramatic enough to see every element of Nausicaa transformed into a demon, but the Old World of Warhammer, a setting with which I am far more familiar, was startling. But even more interesting in this thread is user Bankuei explaining how even a naive (someone who doesn't know that they are a) sorcerer is utilizing the mechanics:
Torvarre, battle hardened soldier has spent a long winter pushing deep into enemy territory, led by his captain with the rest of their company. They've fought the living, the dead, and the chaos tainted, but have survived mostly intact. They finally reach their goal, a cavern wherein a temple erected to a blasphemous god of Chaos houses a month-long ritual of which the strike them is to disrupt. This, hopefully, will buy the kingdom a brief respite.
After much action, Torvarre comes to fighting a demon which the cultists have summoned... During the fight he weakens it severely(Punish), attempts to drive it back through the warpgate(Banish), but fails. He does, however, manage to set off some strange explosive chemicals that the cultists were using for some nefarious purpose- causing a cave in(Contain)... He crawls out, barely alive.
Months later, though the enemy was delayed in getting the demon out and being able to control it enough to use for their army, they are now wrecking havoc and obliterating all hope of survival. Desperate, Torvarre sets up a trap, by spreading a rumor that the King is in fact hiding out in a certain Church(Contact, Summon), and finally destroys it by dumping vats of holy water on it(Punish) and dropping a few sharpened logs upon it(Banish).
In short, Sorcerer has simply but broadly sketched PCs utilizing a sorcery ruleset that merely describes that way the interact with a conscious setting element whose usage degrades one of their traits. Period. If it can be contacted/called to, destroyed/killed/shut down, contained/put in stasis, hurt/damaged, and bound/personalized, it can be described as a demon and the mechanics exist to describe how the PC can interact with it.


  • Humanity, what happens at Humanity 0, what Lore(s) entail, and what Demons actually are; all determined by the setting. Don’t be limited to Faust.
  • Game is driven by what is called Bangs. Each should force a character into action, usually because of the actions of NPCs. Could be compared to the actions of Fronts?

Basic Rolls

  • Take dice equal to scores plus some bonus dice, roll and seek out the highest die. Compare against the opposition. For each die higher than the opposition’s highest, gain 1 degree of success. In the case of ties, check the next highest.
  • The type of die is unimportant but the larger the number of faces the bigger the advantage of the side with more.
  • Gain bonus dice for being dramatic or clever. Lose dice for being boring or stupid.
  • Degrees of success on one roll can be carried over to subsequent rolls.
  • Don’t roll for unopposed or easy actions. If it’s something handled by Cover and unopposed, it succeeds.
Summoner by dan-bastet

Character Creation

  • Characters have Stamina, Will, and Lore. Divide 10 points between them at CC. Consider 2 or 3 normal for Stamina and Will. Lore is unique to sorcerers.
  • Humanity is equal to higher of Stamina or Will at CC.
  • Each score gets a descriptor. Each score over 5 gets two.
  • Each character also has a Cover, which is a job description. Dice = to stamina or will.
  • Humanity keeps your PC from becoming an NPC. Perceivable by others Sorcerers with Lore vs Humanity. Actions that don't define an opposition are rolled against itself.
  • Sorcerers have a Price, something that gives penalty dice which is worsened by being a sorcerer.
  • Sorcerers have a Telltale, something which gives them away. It doesn’t have to be obvious.
  • A sorcerer begins with 1 bound demon. Roll for the strength of binding and humanity check.
  • Finally, fill out the diagram with character details for Price, Lore, Kicker, and Cover.
  • Price, Lore, and Cover will fill out the world with people, places, and things associated with that score.
  • The Kicker is your call to action, pre-play.
  • Finally, look over it to make sure the PC is a viable and interesting protagonist.

Character Development

  • Play until the Kicker is resolved. Then, rewrite the character, likely altering the Price. Change descriptors if needed. Humanity remains unaltered.
  • Maybe increase 1 score.


  • Demons have a type (inconspicuous, object, parasite, passing, or possessor) and a telltale.
  • It gets Stamina of whatever you think appropriate, Will that is at least 1 higher than Stamina or Lore, Power equal to Will. Annotated mentions picking abilities first, set Lore and Stamina equal to that number, and Power and Will equal to that number +1.
  • It has a number of abilities equal to Lore and each ability has dice equal to Power. Annotated notes that each type should probably come with 1 by default: Passer-Cover, Parasite-Vitality, Object-Armor, Possessor-Taint, Inconspicuous-Cloak.

    • Armor: convert P edge or projectile damage to fist.
    • Big: Increase Stamina by P for resisting damage and endurance.
    • Boost: Add P to a single score for a single act. Boost back-to-back and become confused.
    • Cloak: Perception dice – P. Originally given for free to Inconspicuous.
    • Command: Control 1 type of nonhuman animal. The number of targets = P.
    • Confuse: Cause target to lose the next action.
    • Cover: Gain a cover equal to P.
    • Daze: Reduce target Perception by P.
    • Fast: Use P to determine actions in a round.
    • Hint: Make some rolls, ask GM Yes-No questions.
    • Hold: Prevent target from moving, then aggression, then anything, with added Holds.
    • Hop: Possessors can move between Hosts.
    • Link: Demon and Master know each’s location and idea of what’s happening.
    • Mark: Mark target.
    • Perception: Various ESPs, including super senses, but not telepathy.
    • Protection: Add P to defense rolls against a type of Psychic or non-impact attack.
    • Psychic Force: Use Will as Fists attack.
    • Ranged: Special Damage, Hold or Hop is now made at distance.
    • Shadow: Control light.
    • Shapeshift: Change shape for P minutes.
    • Spawn: Spawn mini-demons equal to P.
    • Special Damage: Gain a supernatural attack.
    • Taint: An attack that damages humanity temporarily.
    • Transport: Carry others while moving.
    • Travel: Supernatural travel modes.
    • Vitality: P lasting damage is removed after combat, plus resistance to aging.
    • Warp: Alter the shape of materials.
  • Desire, general single word thing that demon tends to push the user to indulge: knowledge, mayhem, power, sex, etc. Something the demon likes, chosen from a list.
  • Need, the cost of Binding. Gain Rebellion dice if not being met. Demons suffer without it.
  • Unbound demons and demons with unmet needs lose P until they autoBanish. They will fight against revealing themselves.


  • Six rituals are known to all sorcerers:
    • Contacting: Lore vs Power. Bonus for hallucinogens. Potential Humanity loss. Can continue after a failed attempt at -1 cumulative. The sorcerer specifies details of the demon being contacted. Only interaction in communication.
    • Summoning: Will - Humanity vs Power. Potential Humanity loss. Required previous Contact. A cumulative penalty applies. Sacrifices give a bonus equal to Stamina or Will.
    • Binding: (Score) vs Will. Potential Humanity loss. Can Bind demons in the wild, without first Contacting or Summoning. Different ways of binding (a riddle, ritualistic sex, runes) require different scores. Always works, roll determines who and what bonus for the entire relationship. Penalties to Binding roll for ignoring Need or annoying via things like Punish. Rebinding requires losing the demon first. No limit to the number of Bound demons, but demons can only be Bound to one sorcerer.
    • Punishing: Will vs Stamina. Remove the demon’s power. Can punish own demon freely.
    • Banishing: Will + Humanity vs Power + Will. Potential Humanity gain but only if Demon has Power greater than Sorcerer has Humanity. Must be recontacted and resummoned to return.
    • Containing: Lore vs Power. Limit movement. Immune to Banishment from lack of Need, host, or master.
  • Binding and Punishment are solo activities. Other rituals gain bonuses for assistance.
  • True Names, hidden in Chapter 7, determine the difficulty of Binding but later grants bonuses.

Making Ghosts by melora


  • State intentions. Intentions can be amended until everyone is happy.
  • Everyone doing something rolls at once. The highest values occur first. Actions may not be changed except dropping actions to Defend.
  • Instructing a demon takes an action. One action per round except as noted otherwise. Don’t roll for easy actions, except when rolling may still be necessary for determining the order.
  • An already-acted hit character rolls vs Stamina. An unacted character can either defend with one dice and continue or use Stamina and lose their stated action.
  • Bonus dice for being interesting, referring to the context, and being original.
  • Degrees of Success (modified by Type of damage) is subtracted from all Scores. A more dangerous attack reduces it by multiples for the next action and additional ongoing penalty. Penalties up to Stamina stings, greater than Stamina hurts, greater than twice stamina is bad.
  • A table details varying types of damage.
  • Since damage reduces score, at a certain point character may have no dice to roll. As long as damage penalties are less than twice Stamina, they can make an unmodified Will roll again the number of dice they’d like to use. Success lets them act with that many dice.
  • Characters will have both next-action and ongoing damage penalties to worry about.
  • Resting reduces ongoing penalties by half (see Vitality ability).
  • Demons accrue 1 fatigue per ability used. Above Stamina, assign a cumulative penalty.
  • Foes who’ve never faced a demon before may need to make Will rolls to function normally.
  • Taking more than twice Stamina kills a demon. Unbound demons are Banished. Bound demons are gone for good.
  • Drawing and aiming guns are both actions. Blunt weapons roll as Fists with a bonus. Edged weapons use the Blades/Claws table.
  • Armor effects which table is used. Kevlar turns bullets into fists. Fists can’t hurt heavy armor unless actions refer to joint locks etc.
  • GM is free to define the damage type. A pistol to the temple may count as a heavy weapon.
  • Eschewing actions to defend grant a 2 dice bonus.

Sorcery and Sword

The first supplement, containing rules and advice for using Sorcerer to tell stories inspired by the likes of Conan, Kane, and Elric. Includes a couple of sample settings as well as an extensive sword and sorcery bibliography. Notably, it also argues that Conan certainly qualifies as a sorcerer, listing where he Banished, Summoned, commanded, and Bound beings in various Howard stories.

Character Creation

  • New descriptors for an S&S setting.
  • The concept of a Naivete, referring to characters like Conan, who the author alleges is doing rituals without realizing it, and points to various stories.
  • Past replaces Cover. Unlike base rules, can be accumulated like Conan’s many adventures.
  • Price remains but is renamed Flaw for Naïve characters.
  • Kickers should be localized since S&S stories are picaresque.
  • Humanity refers to inhuman detachment. Normal bad acts (murder, etc.) don’t ding it unless it happens to close companions.
  • Humanity can also be traded or capped at CC to create unusual characters.


  • Demons can be Immanent, existing normally in reality, that can’t be summoned or banished.
  • Demons could also be Undead. May desire Final Rest, lose no Power from being Unbound, but rely on a necromantic Token.
  • Pacts, a variant on Binding, is introduced. Less relationship, more contracted job. Has its own table for modifying roll based on length and specificity of tasks. Harder than Binding but more focused and temporary, and only requiring a token concession to Need.
  • Specific notes for magic sword Demon Objects. Play them aggressively against the PC.
  • Necromancy rules. At the moment of death, a necromancer can trap the dying Humanity in a Token and used as bonus dice. They also enable bespoke necromantic feats powered by tokens. Tokens can be supplemented with further greater sacrifices.
  • Examples include offing your girlfriend and Binding her into her corpse, capturing the soul of a defeated foe as a servant, resurrect yourself with a prepared skull ritual, and scooping out one’s organs to make oneself resistant to death, or becoming a lich.
  • All the examples still revolve around the 6 sorcerous rituals, but extending them to dealing with death and human spirits in addition to demons, plus Tokens as a way to jazz up sorcery by essentially trading Humanity for better magic.
  • Unnatural Technology, basically gear with demon abilities.
  • Much magic is just prestidigitation, mummery, and gadgets. May call on demon abilities for function but fundamentally must be sensible to a modern audience.
  • Hypnotism, either realistic or as virtually mind control via commands.

Summoning Circle by Phewcumber

Other Changes

  • Characters rarely fail, so failure should denote making things notably worse.
  • Sorcerers might worsen their Price for bonus dice.
  • Characters might have multiple descriptors that imply combat competency. They can roll one and use its successes to give bonuses to immediately give bonuses to the other. Characters can also trade down the margin of success to use in actions in (exclusively) the next round.
  • Weapons might get bonuses in specific instances: swords get a bonus die in duels, heavier weapons in battle but never get a surprise bonus, daggers at face-to-face range and they do gunshot damage if unexpectedly thrown.
  • Animals and animal-like creatures have Nature, which replaces Cover, and deals with all the normal animal stuff not covered by Scores. It’s at least equal to Stamina. PCs can use their wits in a Will vs Will test to take actions that outsmart animals.
  • Big Fucking Snakes have special rules and can spot Telltales. Man-Apes have Humanity 1.
  • Poisons and Drugs rolled up like demon abilities, and must be produced from cool sources.

Sorcerer’s Soul

The second supplement I read, focused almost entirely on humanity. Less mechanical than the previous book and almost entirely GM-facing.

  • Lots of notes concerning Humanity, what it is, how it works, how it changes.
  • The notion of demons changing type in certain instances.
  • Humans who think they’re demons and vice versa.
  • Humans who become demons and vice versa.
  • Demon mating and demon children.
  • Souls, what they are, how they might influence a game.
  • Angels as Demons.
    • Viewing Angels as basically Demons who Bind humans.
    • Alternately, Angels are different, having Grace replace Will, and so function differently than just a Demon on a different team.
  • Always unequivocally Good, for varying meanings of Good.
  • A handful of Angel Abilities comparable to the various Demon Abilities.
  • Grace can be used to supplement or replace Humanity. It is loaned (but not lost) to humans. If their Humanity increases so does the Angel's grace.
  • Operating at 0 Humanity, the Sorcerer can subsist on Grace alone with Will vs Grace check. Roll Grace against itself to gain 1 Humanity in a dramatic situation.
  • Relationship maps, with several extensive examples.
Now I just have to write up these ideas in an OD&D-FKR hack,

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