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How to make a Mythos Sorcerer


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#1 Hark

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 03:42 AM

Consider me an amateur where it come to CoC, given that I have never played, every player I know hates the game mechanics, and I only occasionally read books as passing interest strikes me. I recently discovered "The Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic," which has again sparked my interest.

 

That said, I always like to explore a game and setting to find what it has to offer. In this regard I have many time stopped to consider what it takes to become a truly powerful and scary Mythos Sorcerer, be it as a player, as a player character that goes mad, or even just as a plausible NPC.

 

Terrifying power, including immortality are well within the reach of a Mythos Sorcerer. Sometimes, these powers are restricted by prohibitive Magic costs. These are easy enough to handle in all sorts of terrible and maybe not so terrible ways. More often these spells are restricted by prohibitive Power costs which seem to be very difficult if not impossible for a would-be Sorcerer to circumvent and given the difficulty of recovering Power such spells could well be the last one a Sorcerer ever casts.

 

The barrier it a really powerful sorcerer seems not to be Magic but Power. What if any methods exist for a would-be sorcerer to manage the Power costs of certain Mythos spells and to recover from Power loss?

 

Broadening the topic, what spells and tricks really set a Mythos Sorcerer up for success, and how you go about building a successful Mythos Sorcerer?

 

I'm all for the possibility of exploring a PC dooming themself to madness through attempted mastery of Mythos magic, but this discussion also helps to build a more plausible NPC as as well.




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#2 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 04:07 AM

It might help to check out some recent discussions on this site about alternative ways to think of cultists:

  • (YSDC) - How to Rant Like a Cultist? RP Tips for Keepers
  • (YSDC) - What does the Cult Say? RP Tips for Keepers
  • (YSDC) - How to avoid cultists revealing the plot under interrogation
  • (YSDC) - Thoughts on Cults and Cultists
  • (YSDC) - Cult Writeup Formats & Requirements
  • (YSDC) - Ideas for Cult Activities
  • (YSDC) - 20 Things to Loot from a Dead Cultist
  • (YSDC) - Cultists are People Too

 

 

Your sorcerer is not evil, not mad, not a magic-user.  Your sorcerer has ceased to take "reality" for granted, and at last has gone sane, and that sanity has simply unlocked the tools for manipulating the real laws that govern the REAL reality.  That real reality only looks like magic and madness to that vast majority of us who are still human and thus are not yet truly sane.  We cannot become sane until we learn how to shed the shackles of humanity and human "sanity" and human "perception" and human laws and rules and physics and other such shackles, and wake up from our dull, confining illusion of mere humanity and mundanity.

 

"...Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. [The] Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom...."
- H.P.L.

 

"...I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best—one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve, momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which for ever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis...."

- H.P.L.

 

Your sorcerer is, above all else (and unlike every aspect of humanity), free, having suspended the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison anyone else...


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 26 May 2017 - 04:09 AM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#3 Hark

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 05:08 AM

Looking through "The Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic," I've spotted one potential answer to the Power question. The spell 'Great Rite of Sacrifice' allows so a sacrificial victim to cover most if not all of a spells Power costs. Makes sense, though it almost seems to easy.



#4 skaye

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 07:47 AM

That said, I always like to explore a game and setting to find what it has to offer. In this regard I have many time stopped to consider what it takes to become a truly powerful and scary Mythos Sorcerer, be it as a player, as a player character that goes mad, or even just as a plausible NPC.

 

The barrier it a really powerful sorcerer seems not to be Magic but Power. What if any methods exist for a would-be sorcerer to manage the Power costs of certain Mythos spells and to recover from Power loss?

 

Broadening the topic, what spells and tricks really set a Mythos Sorcerer up for success, and how you go about building a successful Mythos Sorcerer?

 

Sorcerors can draw POW from others (either as willing or unwilling participants in a ritual), obtain POW from the things they summon/worship, store POW in items to draw on at a later date. Lots of possibilities.

 

Also, if you can track down a copy, you definitely want to read the shadowy Mr. Harms' "Efficacious Wizardry" in Worlds of Cthulhu 4.



#5 nclarke

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 08:42 AM

Well if you've never played, are never likely to play as you have no friends who are interested then I'm afraid there's no hope, you're already condemned to a life to loneliness so it' seems you're already much of the way to being a lonely, introverted Mythos Sorcerer, just keep doing what you are doing and the men in white coats will come to put you in a nice warm padded cell for your safety :-)

 

Seriously, you know no-one who is the slightest bit interested in playing a Mythos horror game? You have the choice of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, Pelgrane's Trail of Cthulhu, Goodman's Age of Cthulhu all of which use different mechanisms so that shouldn't be a reason for not playing. If it's Mythos stuff that puts them off then try something like Kult or Pinnacle's East Texas University for good horror games.

 

Should it be the genre and none of your friends like Horror then get new friends after you've eaten the ones you have now :-)

 

Go to a convention and play, get online and play, there's plenty of games on Roll20.com or there are play-by-forum games. In fact I can't think of any reasonable reason why you shouldn't be playing horror/Mythos role playing games. You might need to look at Meetup groups nearby to find a different group to play with or even any of the on-line group that exist for finding other players.

 

Good luck with finding less boring players.



#6 Hark

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 12:34 PM

At heart my players are only happy with action-adventure games. We attempted Delta Green using modified World of Darkness Rules once. Stephen Alzis had reason to use the players and offered them a job, my way of getting the story rolling due to limited planning time and poor player interaction with an investigation scene. Anyway, the player handling the "negotiation" as it were didn't like the way Alzis was talking to him so when offered a handshake to seal the deal instead saw this as an opportunity to asset dominance of attempt to put Alzis into an Arm Bar. Obviously, didn't end well and the game ended there.

 

But I'm not here to discuss my boring players.

 

I'm here to discuss actual mechanically supported methods by which a Sorcerer becomes powerful. The Great Rite of Sacrifice surprised me because I'm confident it is the first actual method I've seen by which one can bypass Power costs and at one point I sat down and did some serious research through quite a few books.



#7 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 01:01 PM

Sometimes, there's only so far you can go within the limits of a group's collective taste.  Certainly, there are more than a few groups out there who aren't interested if it isn't loaded with thud-and-blunder... and perhaps proportionally just as many of us here who aren't interested if it isn't loaded with buried secrets to dig up, and freakish monsters to run from and go stark raving mad at the sight of, and even here there's a subculture that's largely in it for the guns and explosives.....

 

Not sure what your group prefers, but if it helps, the television show Babylon 5 is one example of how "space opera" in the general style of Star Wars and Star Trek can still slip a few good cosmic horror elements in under the radar, while the Ravenloft and Pathfinder settings for 3rd Edition D&D make a nice attempt at giving D&D an atmosphere and some of the trappings of cosmic horror.

 

Anyway, good luck with the players and the sorcerers! I wish I could help more, but I'm even less fluent in the language of game mechanics than I am in the languages of characterization or world-building. 


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#8 wombat1

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 06:14 PM

As you point out, sacrifices of POW don't have to invariably come from the sorcerer, they can come from the victim.  You can, if you wish, add spells to the mix; something like the various RuneQuest Tap (attribute) spells, which convert characteristics to magic points.

 

The other limiting factor are the magic points themselves--one can introduce artifacts which store magic points (perhaps also repowered by tapping a victim.)  These can then function as batteries to power spells which require more magic points than the sorcerer initially possesses, so that he can remain alert and awake when whatever happens, happens.



#9 MrHandy

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 12:00 AM

There are several mechanical ways sorcerers can become very powerful. The sidebar on page 101 of the 6th edition rulebook, How Sorcerers Get That Way, is exactly what you want. It gives four optional methods to increase a sorcerer's POW:

  • When you succesfully cast a spell that pits magic points or POW against the target's on the Resistance Table, the caster gets to "exercise POW" by subtracting POW from 21 and multiplying by 5, then rolling against it on 1D100. If successful, the sorcerer gets an increase of 1D3 POW. Note that it's impossible to get higher than 23 POW by this method, but it still allows for spent POW to be regained. I had two sorcerers pull this off in my play-by-post game The Terror Out of Time (the link is in my signature, though you must register to read it), raising their POW scores from 17 and 18 to 18 and 20, respectively.
  • Whenever you roll 01 on a Luck roll, you get to exercise POW as above. This won't come up very often, but it has happened, and I'm happy to reward PCs in this manner when it does.
  • At chararacter creation, you may sacrifice 10 current and maximum Sanity points to raise POW by 1, with multiple applications allowed until Sanity is less than 10. This is perfect to use for NPC sorcerers, who don't really need Sanity anyway.
  • The sorcerer can gain POW as a reward from whatever entity he or she worships.

There is also a spell called Enchant Sacrificial Dagger in the 6th edition rulebook. The sorcerer must use a flame-shaped dagger to kill a being with a POW of at least 20. Then the sorcerer must spend 6 POW to "prime the pump" and enchant the dagger. From that point on, any time the dagger is used to sacrifice someone in the presence of Nyarlathotep, the wielder gets to redirect the victim's POW into an appropriate receptacle, such as the wielder (or possibly a "POW battery" as mentioned above). This figured into the plot of my recently completed play-by-post Cthulhu Invictus adventure, The Brotherhood of Death: http://www.callofcth...forum.php?f=344

Spoiler


Zombie Apocalypse: A Blood Brothers style play-by-post forum-based RPG using CoC rules
Space Oddity: Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes/Call of Cthulhu in 1969 Philadelphia
The Terror Out of Time: Classic Doctor Who meets Call of Cthulhu in 1930 London

#10 Boris

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 06:26 AM

Just to add to Mr Handy's post, 7th edition also has this section (p179 iirc) for gaining POW through opposed rolls, 01 on luck rolls etc.

Edited by Boris, 27 May 2017 - 06:27 AM.


#11 Celebrim

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 06:34 AM

I can accept that Sorcerer's believe all that crap about them having gone sane and are now free of their limiting human perspectives to see reality as it really is, but I think it's obvious that this is all a bunch of rot.

 

If it were the case that sorcerers had gone sane then societies with sorcerers would have out competed the ones that burned them alive and otherwise developed social safeguards against the use of magic.  Were the sorcerers are free and sane as they imagine themselves, and were they simply clear eyed scientists that now saw reality for what it was and had therefore the levers to use to create new hitherto unimagined technology, then societies would have prospered from the presence of sorcerers as much as they prospered from the presence of any other rational science.

But the entire Cthulhu mythos is based on the opposite being true.  The mythos universe is very like our own and knowledge of the mythos is confined to a few people on the very edges of society.  The societies that endured, and built, and prospered are the ones that blinded themselves to magic while the ones with access to magic quickly extinguished themselves in cataclysms that all but erased them from existence - and the survivors appear intent on erasing even the last vestiges.  Every complex human society from the Code of Hammarabi on has deliberately called down doom on the practice of sorcery and applied to it the death penalty, and the more they have avoided what we would deem 'superstition' the more they have prospered.  Based on the external evidence, virtually every society and independent race, whether on this Earth or out in the unfathomable vastness of the stars is absolutely doomed by knowledge of much less contact with mythos beings.  A great many races are on the Earth a refugees fleeing from the ruins of their own civilization which resulted from the outcome of their own sorcerous practices.  I can't imagine that they are here entirely by accident.  Earth is a refuge of blindness in the midst of the cosmic horror.   A probably brief anomaly of life existing despite the cruelty of reality, and certainly not because of it. 
 

In short, Nyarthalhotep and the Great Old Ones may encourage the belief that following down the paths of the knowledge they are promoting may lead to freedom and understanding and sanity, but all the external evidence points the opposite direction.   Based on the external evidence, we have to conclude that the statement, "Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy. [The] Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom" is at best a half-truth, and most likely a sort of baited hook upon which to catch the species.  This holocaust of ecstasy and freedom is foredoomed to last a very short time indeed, before the entire human race is extinguished.   The Great Race of Yith has foreseen the doom and extinction of the species and its unsuitability as hosts, knowing that eventually the race will awaken or help to awaken or suffer to be awakened things best left undiscovered, and at that point it will all be over but the being eaten alive.   No period of happy immorality, supernatural power, sanity, and freedom awaits.

 

The investigators on the other hand are the informal, unacknowledged defensive mechanism of the species.  The part of the species that sacrifices itself by devouring the knowledge of the mythos and in the process destroying it and themselves.  That is actually the only sane response, and the only hope that humanity will stay free.