[Sorcerer] Why no "revised" Sorcerer?

edited June 2007 in Story Games
James Nostack has begun a thread on the Adept press forum, attempting to understand Ron's reasons for not releasing a clarified rule set. The latest exchange ends with Ron writing:

"I must criticize your final sentence. You say,
from _a_ consumer's standpoint, it seems like Sorcerer has a very high "cost"'

"The emphasis is mine. I think that word is poorly chosen.

"If your point were to be revised such that you were talking about yourself, as in this consumer, then well and good. But as a representative of consumers? Any and all? No. I don't buy it."

I wonder what response he would make if a large sample of people posted:

"From this consumer's standpoint, Sorcerer has a very high cost." ??

Come over to http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24176.msg236547#new

Rally for the cause people!

Comments

  • Oh jeez. No good can come from this.
  • edited June 2007
    I don't see a need for a revised Sorcerer and think the supposed "problems" or "difficulties" with the text that people like me supposedly have with it are hooey. It's a solid game.
  • And lo, I have had a vision. This bodes no good. There will be cracks in the sky like that of an eggshell, and it will rain goats and small rodents for seven-score days. The crows and the bees shall unite in unholy matrimony.

    Truly this shall be the end-times...

    - Kirk
  • At least we get to see a rain of goats... cool!
  • edited June 2007
    The game system is great, masterful. The game text lacks instruction on some key elements of how to play, contains artifacts of previous versions (as the author himself has admitted), and has several rules open to multiple interpretation. As an artifact for raising debate and questions it's wonderful, as a device for communicating the game rules, I see much to be desired.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyI don't see a need for a revised Sorcerer and think the supposed "problems" or "difficulties" with the text that people like me supposedly have with it are hooey. It's a solid game.
    I don't think that's fair to the people that have problems. I mean, regardless of whether there will ever be a revised Sorcerer (and there won't be), there are a lot of people who come looking for questions to be answered. If those questions and answers were incorporated into the text, the text would be better, right?
  • Posted By: dyjootsI don't think that's fair to the people that have problems. I mean, regardless of whether there will ever be a revised Sorcerer (and there won't be), there are a lot of people who come looking for questions to be answered. If those questions and answers were incorporated into the text, the text would be better, right?
    Whether it would or wouldn't, that's Ron's call. Ron doesn't come here. The discussion should be with Ron at The Forge. Why bring it here?
  • edited June 2007
    Posted By: dyjoots

    I don't think that's fair to the people that have problems. I mean, regardless of whether there will ever be a revised Sorcerer (and there won't be), there are a lot of people who come looking for questions to be answered. If those questions and answers were incorporated into the text, the text would be better, right?
    I'm pretty sure that JD's response was tongue-in-cheek, a brief homage to the responses generated all the other times the subject of the game has been brought up.

    In any case, I agree with James' "four points", and also concede that his #4 (it's his work, if he doesn't want to he doesn't have to) outweighs all the others. That's pretty much what the indie thing is all about.

    Also, I hope that Jesse continues with Sorcerer Unbound. That might be the Revised/Second Edition that we've been waiting for.

    EDIT: I also agree with Thor's statements above. Feel free to talk about it if you want to here. But if you have a really passionate argument or a string of logic that you want to drop, I'd definitely do it at the link above so that it matters. Because it won't really matter here.

    -Andy
  • It seems to me, given Ron's oft-stated position on the matter, that no Sorcerer Revised is ever likely to happen. It further seems to me that the pathway to getting the result people are looking for is wide open. Write The Sorcerer's Companion yourself. Alternatively, write a game that you think is Sorcerer done right - even if that means that it is the same game, written in your own style with your own words. If there's room in the world for all the many, many games that are essentially "D&D, except X", there's probably room for an Indie Heartbreaker or two.
  • Andy, what's Sorcerer Unbound?
  • Sorcerer Unbound is basically a companion that attempts to explain some of the parts of Sorcerer that people frequently have trouble with. Jesse Burneko has followed Sorcerer for a long time and has had a lot of issues in figuring out how to run the game. As such he's hoping that he can impart the answers to these issues that he's gotten from Ron and others in his book.

    Something like "D&D for Dummies" is for D&D, perhaps.

    I think that Ron's making a principled choice here. He believes that the text works as written (and it does for some). He doesn't have anything that he feels needs to be altered in the rules to make the game work better. It's not broken, so why does it need to be fixed? I would hazzard that he probably feels that putting out a new edition would be profiteering of the sort that he feels damages RPGs. Are we playing Sorcerer, or Sorcerer Revised today? Better to leave each group to determine how to play it as it stands than split up the people who are interested in playing. Or to make people pay to buy the same rules yet again just to feel that they're up-to-date.

    With a supplement like Unbound, that's just one interpetation of the text that one can accept or discard at will, and not have to purchase a new edition. If Sorcerer works for you already, then you don't have to buy it. If you think the game could run better, you might want to pick up the supplement so you can see if there's anything there that you can use. But the supplement in no way makes the original rules obsolete.

    Seems a reasonable way to go to me. Especially since Ron wouldn't profit from the supplement (in which case his profiteering argument wouldn't be as strong).

    Yes, I'm biased, I'm releasing a supplement for Sorcerer.

    Mike
  • It was fairly tongue in cheek, yes, but think about this:

    Let's say I publish a novel.

    You read it and don't understand how Colonel Cadwaller was able to escape the vicious cultists in chapter nine.

    Would the novel be improved if I insert clearer exposition? Perhaps it might. But it's not a given thing. You might have skimmed over something that was important, and nobody else has this problem. You might be very persnickety when I, by contrast, was just handwaving and didn't want to waste a lot of time on the Colonel's escape.

    In any event it is certainly not clear that my work would be automatically improved by clarifying it. What if I clarified it and everyone else was horrified to discover that Colonel Cadwaller's escape had not been what they thought, in my vagueness, it was - that it instead was something really awful that ruins other parts of the book.

    I suspect that is what would happen for me if Edwards did a revised Sorcerer. Everything he's said (for example in the threads he links to there) about his game indicates to me that he has not one single clue about what's cool about his game. In that respect he is in good company. That is true of all game designers, ever. Still, it means that a revised edition aimed at 'clarifying' his intent would make the game worse, not better, for me, and I suspect for a goodly chunk of people out there.
  • edited June 2007
    Mark: Exactly.

    It seems to me that lots of people (MYSELF INCLUDED!! :-) ) are wanting Ron to go back and revise the game. Rewrite it so that "Step 2" of learning the game is "Read the Play Examples" and not "Start three conversations on the forums to try to understand the game". It's not Ron's job to do so, nor is he obliged to.

    It reminds me of Clinton's statement a while ago saying how people are contacting him, angry or upset that the games he's working on aren't released yet (or that he's not working faster at them). Our Want/Desire does not translate into an imperative for the original author.

    As long as Ron is open to the concept (in fact he might be hoping that it happens), if someone else wants to come along and rewrite Sorcerer so that it can be grokked on the first read, successful on the first play, and totally self-contained, then awesome. We Win, because we get "Sorcerer Revised", the Author Wins, because they get some scrilla from the deal, and Ron Wins because it happens without him having to give up his nights and weekends to Make it happen.

    -Andy
  • My purpose in starting this thread was to urge people to post to the Forge thread http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24176.msg236547#new

    indicating that understanding the Sorcerer text, as presented, is difficult even for those inclined toward the kind of play it supports.
  • What's the purpose of people doing so?

    Ron knows lots of people bounce off the Sorcerer text.

    He doesn't care.

    If anything, I'd say he likes it that way.
  • As one of the loudest proponents of Sorcerer's text getting some procedural clean up, I also say this is a profoundly BAD idea. I can understand wanting to know his reasons which he's stated. Otherwise, leave the man alone.

    Jesse
  • Posted By: AndyIt reminds me of Clinton's statement a while ago saying how people are contacting him, angry or upset that the games he's working on aren't released yet
    I heard that was just Jason Morningstar using a bunch of email aliases.
  • "Hey, you guys go and fight with this guy over here." That trick never works.
  • Posted By: Matt WilsonI heard that was just Jason Morningstar using a bunch of email aliases.
    Actually, it was me and Jason, and we were calling him using our prank voices.
  • I'd love a Sorcerer Revised. I told that to Ron once. He made a face at me. I mean, it was over the phone, but I could hear the face being made. We then talked about other stuff.

    I have no point. I just always remember that as being funny, because I have never so clearly been able to hear a face being made at me over the phone.
  • Posted By: AndyPosted By: Matt WilsonI heard that was just Jason Morningstar using a bunch of email aliases.
    Actually, it was me and Jason, and we were calling him using our prank voices.

    You should give out his number so we can call him too.

    We promise not to tell where we got it.... really... we promise. You can trust us.
  • edited June 2007
    And with that, the issue is settled. Magnificently, even. I had some suspicion about the underlying reasons, but never had seen them before (mostly because I never asked him myself, duh). He wrote a clarifier, but the clarifier became the Clear Reason, a reason I can understand and totally respect:
    Quick clarifier: I'd always assumed the audience for Sorcerer would be small - very small. I printed less than 1500 copies for the first print run and never expected to print any more; I also planned for the supplements to remain in PDF form with the possible exception of Sorcerer & Sword. The money shocked me and made it possible for things to be different. So yes, (b) is a lot larger than (a). What surprises me, still does, is that (b) exists at all today, relative to Sorcerer. Why not play The Shadow of Yesterday, Dust Devils, Dogs in the Vineyard, Universalis, or The Mountain Witch instead? All of which are strongly influenced by Sorcerer in different ways and far better written toward the (b) audience, mainly because the authors were themselves (b) and went through a kind of Sorcerer apprenticeship.

    That clarifier, though, raises a key point which I haven't articulated in any of the discussions yet, or barely. It is that a given work, to me, exists in a given place and time. Sorcerer is my mid-late 1990s game, written by me shortly before and during my thirtieth birthday. It was born from my deliberate decision to return to role-playing after I'd done what I could with Champions and Cyberpunk, after I'd read Prince Valiant and Over the Edge, and after I'd been astonished at playing Zero.

    I'm 42 now. My gaming history is different, resting on over ten years of joyous, continuous, highly social play with dozens and even hundreds of people, and almost as many games. My desired audiences for my work are different, and my creative ambitions are different. Rather than endlessly revise and update Piece of Work #1, I have moved on to Piece of Work #2 (Trollbabe), and then, as time went on, to Piece of Work #3 (Mutual Decision and possible upcoming related work). Also, I am now highly committed to types of creative work which are not even oriented toward this subculture and market (Spione).

    The aging prof in his early 40s, contemplating things like fatherhood and job-threatening political activism, is not the Ph.D. candidate who needed to write, play, and publish Sorcerer over ten years ago. I'm that man now, and the work I want and need to produce isn't Sorcerer.


    I mean, I love the game, and I still play it, and playing it still surprises and transforms me. I haven't posted about our game last summer because I don't think it's suitable for internet discussion, politically and emotionally. I think as a game it's stood up to time's usage far better, far more amazingly, then anyone could have expected. (Ten years of successful commerce with no revision? an RPG? wow! That's like Amber.) I also respect and even quite like the (b) audience, and I'm here for them.

    But I don't need - and quite possibly am incapable of - writing a text for it again.
    The question now, of course, is... "Who is the person now who needs to write, play and publish Sorcerer, ten years later?" Is it Jesse with his Sorcerer Unleashed? Is it someone else with the Sorcerer Wiki of All Explanations? Is it you? Me? Who will carry the torch from this point? Or is the torch worth carrying?

    Apt questions. If Jesse is that person, then awesome. I will wait expectantly for the 'revised' edition. If that person never steps forward, and instead I'm left with a dark, cold void... immediately filled by like a dozen games that are equally awesome (as Ron stated above)... then so be it. :-)

    -Andy
  • I think the only problem, if any, is that people aren't told this before they buy the game. Every customer should be notified, on the purchasing page, that what they're buying is a historical artifact.
  • Posted By: xenopulseI think the only problem, if any, is that people aren't told this before they buy the game. Every customer should be notified, on the purchasing page, that what they're buying is a historical artifact.
    Quite true, and quite reminiscent of all our Big Model woes. (Well OK, some of our Big Model woes.)
  • Posted By: xenopulseI think the only problem, if any, is that people aren't told thisbeforethey buy the game. Every customer should be notified, on the purchasing page, that what they're buying is a historical artifact.
    ...um. Isn't that what you're buying whenever you get a dead-tree book?
  • Christian and Mike,

    People: every game is a historical artifact of the time it was written and the author at that particular time, just like any instructional material, or to extend even further, any piece of writing. The Shadow of Yesterday was written by a guy in turbulent love, a dabbler in drugs - me a few years ago. I am now in solid awesome love and a straight-edge machine and worry about balancing personal interest versus responsibility to the family unit. It doesn't make the game work less, or age. Sorcerer was hard to understand when it was published, and it didn't get harder or anything because a few years passed.

    What did happen, and what explains a lot of the thought-process in evaluating Sorcerer, is that some great games got published that addressed stuff Sorcerer didn't, and people grew to expect that. People expect a game to tell you now, for example, who gets to say what when. When Sorcerer was published, no one expected that, and it played fine.

    I can agree that it's nice to talk about what a game is and how you made it and when it was published in the purchase process, sure. But, man, I take umbrage with the thought - which may not have been had - that a game is somehow flawed because it's older.
  • edited June 2007
    It's not the age alone. It's that it was published for a certain audience, as Ron has said:
    Desired audience = (a) people who get it right off the bat, and (b) people who see that they'd like to get it and want to know how. That latter group was unexpected by me, but is also welcome, and I give them my personal attention to their learning process. That process is highly individualized and cannot be textual or canonical; it totally depends on where the person is.
    I wasn't informed that I might need highly individualized personal attention from the author in order to understand the product. That's how he historically created it because he didn't expect audience b), but nowadays I expect the majority of customers to fall into that category.

    ETA: To clarify: it's a historical artifact because of Ron's inability to foresee audience b). Now that he's aware that audience b) exists and purchases his games, audience b) has a right to know that they might need to work hard to get the game. That's what started this whole thread, some people from audience b) are obviously unhappy to find that this is the case.
  • Christian, that is crazy talk.

    The author is not required to give any kind of disclosure about his work at all. It's your responsibility as the consumer to make an informed purchase decision. If there isn't enough information out there about the product (from whatever trusted source) then you can choose not to buy it.

    There is no "Ron should...". He wrote it. You can buy it. Everything else might be nice to have, but it sure ain't a god given right.
  • Of course it's not a God-given right. The "should" should be read as "if you want to avoid the issues people are having with your product, you should". But I expect from someone who calls other designers thiefs who pick their customers' pockets that he fulfills his own standards.
  • if you want to avoid the issues people are having with your product, you should
    So, the problem is that people are clinging to the above, despite the fact that Ron has said he doesn't give a shit about that, and doesn't have time for it even if he did? That's what I'm seeing.

    Clearly, Sorcerer is still selling, and by Ron's accounts well. It's also being played. For example, the Dictionry of Mu is a huge seller, and some percentage of those customers are playing it, presumably.

    It's not as though Ron has some kind of unplayable turd on his hands for which there is much sturm and drang to fix it.

    Sorcerer ain't broke.
  • Matt, Ron himself has written, in what I've quoted, that it's broke for a considerably large audience unless they get personal attention from the author.
  • ehh, broke ain't the same thing as hard to understand.
  • Christian, Ron has similarly written that he's never, ever, ever, ever going to create "Sorcerer Revised." He's told me in conversations more than once. He's never said anything to give anyone even a glimmer of hope this will happen.

    This thread continues why?
  • Yeah, if you read the thread at The Forge (or have ever read any of the related threads about it before) then you know what the deal is. All I can say is that any attempt to rally a posse to post is not going to change anything. Well, except get a thread locked at the Forge, which is a rarity.

    This thread is completely redundant.
  • The thread continues because all of us are still posting in it :)
  • Even Ron admits that the written rules are not (always) clear or the same as "modern/real rules". Just yesterday, he said: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24203.0

    That's a good question. I looked over the rules and was puzzled myself, which is weird, because I know they make sense, and so that means I am merely confused and vexed. I shall try to answer fairly. ... after looking them over again ...

    The rule as written in the book actually dates back to a time when the combat rules were a little more complicated (in fact, more like what you can find in The Apprentice version from 1999 or so). But adapting it to the modern/real rules, it is still applicable, if a little weaker than I'd like and less oriented toward the concept of avoiding Total Victory.
    I own Sorcerer and a couple supplements, but I would probably buy a Sorcerer Unbound.
  • edited June 2007
    Incidentally, the reason I started the Forge thread is because I've got some nefarious thoughts about a Sorcerer's Apprentice type thing--I guess basically Jesse's Sorcerer Unbound but with a worse title--and I was wondering how Ron felt about all this stuff. I'm about 80% committed to giving it a go.
  • edited June 2007
    Redundant, snarky comments removed.
  • Posted By: John HarperOh jeez. No good can come from this.
    Q. F. T.

    James
  • Hey y'all - So far, all the doomsayers are wrong, and (about 20 posts into it) it's been a civil, informative thread. Because I'm just that suave.
  • Posted By: xenopulseMatt, Ron himself has written, in what I've quoted, that it's broke for a considerably large audience unless they get personal attention from the author.
    My suggestion -- and I mean this quite honestly -- is to tell people to take Ron up on his offer in that thread. He says that people who can't get it should ask him for their money back. If you're annoyed at the lack of disclosure that the book is a historical artifact, and you buy it and don't like it, get a refund -- and tell other people who are thinking about buying the book that it's got that sort of offer outstanding because the author doesn't consider it a text intended for broad consumption.
  • Posted By: Matt_SnyderClearly, Sorcerer is still selling, and by Ron's accounts well.
    Oh, look, we found the reason.
  • I don't think Ron Edwards has any particular obligation to do what people want with his game, and acting otherwise is kind of silly.

    But I also don't think it's in any way unexpected or crazy that people who enjoy it would want it to be improved.
  • edited June 2007
    Hi all,

    How about we call this thread ended? If you want to hear what Ron wrote that made sense to me, go read the thread on the Forge.
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