The Historical Importance of Ron Edwards' Sorcerer [+]

Don't mistake me, I'm not disagreeing with you — I mean, there's nothing new under the sun. But I love the elision of ~2700 years of history. Pre-Roman texts, yada yada yada, BBS forums.

(I must have Seinfeld on the brain today, because it's also making me think of "The Raincoats," which has a fun elision in it, too — "And next thing we knew, the war was over!")
My point, not clearly made, is there is no singular path of re-inspiration. Without having a given author explicitly state they were inspired by a particular work, there are centuries of exemplars, any of which may have been absorbed. (And given human forgetfulness, it's entirely plausible they remember their favorite work as compared to the one that actually gave them the idea)

Even if no explicit exemplars were experienced, because people are people and have been people with written documents for more than 5,000 years, we keep reinventing the same things, over and over because we have the same desires and needs. I have read translations of cuneiform complaint letters from people who paid for stuff that arrived broken, late or of substandard quality that could have been posted to Amazon.

There is no direct path from those cuneiform letters to modern web posts but it is very easy for someone to infer one, true or not.
 

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Old Fezziwig

What this book presupposes is -- maybe he didn't?
My point, not clearly made, is there is no singular path of re-inspiration. Without having a given author explicitly state they were inspired by a particular work, there are centuries of exemplars, any of which may have been absorbed. (And given human forgetfulness, it's entirely plausible they remember their favorite work as compared to the one that actually gave them the idea)

Even if no explicit exemplars were experienced, because people are people and have been people with written documents for more than 5,000 years, we keep reinventing the same things, over and over because we have the same desires and needs. I have read translations of cuneiform complaint letters from people who paid for stuff that arrived broken, late or of substandard quality that could have been posted to Amazon.

There is no direct path from those cuneiform letters to modern web posts but it is very easy for someone to infer one, true or not.
I'm picking up what you're putting down. And I agree with all this. I was just teasing you about something that's relatively superficial in how you constructed your point that brought me some joy. It really is a fabulous juxtaposition.
 

More Sorcerer quotes (p 9, and the annotations to p 10):

Sorcerer is written in the tradition of the early editions of Traveller, Cyberpunk, RuneQuest, Champions, and (lo these many years gone) The Fantasy Trip. Every one of these games was originally published as a low-budget labor of love and each transformed the experience of roleplaying. This spirit of role-playing design never died, and Sorcerer owes many debts to Over the Edge, Prince Valiant, and Zero. Thanks and even a little love to all of the creators of all these ground-breaking games.​
I’d been wanting a sorcerer-only, demon-summoning game for a long time, arguably as far back as 1978 and the game Wizard, from Metagaming. . . Over the Edge opened my eyes. “Oh, so that’s how you do it,” I said, and starting hacking Over the Edge together with Wizard, producing my first handful of rules pages in late 1994, enough to start playtesting.​

You know my love for Prince Valiant. I don't know Zero or Wizard at all - do you, or does anyone else, know anything about them?
Yeah, I know the Melee/Wizard/Fantasy Trip system. I was living in Central Texas and our gaming club there was HUGE back in the late '70s. I mean, like, there were 200 active members, a very large space that contained at least 10 4'x8' plywood tables, tons and tons of terrain (large boxes of lichen, hexagonal hills and rivers and whatnot) and sported a very active RPG side. Metagaming was an hour or so away in Austin IIRC, and Steve or some of the people he worked with would come up with their new micro-games and various ideas which we would playtest, or just buy if they were already done. So we basically got copies of O.G.R.E. Car Wars, Melee, Wizard, G.E.V., etc. etc. etc. 'hot off the press', and often with designers playing with us. We also had Forrest Brown, the guy who ran Martial Metals. He'd come up and basically trade us old 'lead' figures almost pound for pound for his 15mm fantasy armies and 25mm figure lines. I still have a bunch of his stuff from those days.

So we were REALLY well equipped! We played quite a lot of Melee/Wizard and this thing they called 'T.H.E.' which was some sort of proto-GURPS I guess. Anyway, GURPS didn't come out till a few years later after Steve left Metagaming, but the DNA of GURPS is basically Melee and Wizard, which were later combined into TFT, The Fantasy Trip, which fleshed out a sort of generic fantasy world and added rules beyond the "fight to the death in any arena" setting which was all Melee and Wizard did by default. They are all very trad c1980 d6 based RPGs. TFT's rules are quite simple, you have 3 stats, etc. I don't even remember a lot of the details. My Father loved TFT and used to run it now and then up into the early '90s.

Honestly, I don't recall their being any 'innovative' mechanics in the sense of stuff that would have contributed to games like OtE, PV, and Sorcerer ultimately. However, I can certainly see why the very spartan mini-game of Wizard would leave you wanting something more. You could play D&D of course, but Wizard was probably intriguing BECAUSE of its very incompleteness. All sorts of design possibilities were latent there and unrealized, and the sheer simplicity of it all (the rules are a few pages long) means hacking it together with something like OtE probably wasn't that MECHANICALLY hard.
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Honestly, I don't recall their being any 'innovative' mechanics in the sense of stuff that would have contributed to games like OtE, PV, and Sorcerer ultimately. However, I can certainly see why the very spartan mini-game of Wizard would leave you wanting something more. You could play D&D of course, but Wizard was probably intriguing BECAUSE of its very incompleteness. All sorts of design possibilities were latent there and unrealized, and the sheer simplicity of it all (the rules are a few pages long) means hacking it together with something like OtE probably wasn't that MECHANICALLY hard.
Drifting a bit (feel free to fork thread to discuss generic RPG evolution topics), but I wonder if this is why B/X spawned so many OSR clones? Think about the amount of effort going into statting up a 3e class or a 1e class versus a B/X one. You could make a witch, ninja, bounty hunter, or psychic in maybe a page of text (perhaps 2 for a spellcaster).
 

Drifting a bit (feel free to fork thread to discuss generic RPG evolution topics), but I wonder if this is why B/X spawned so many OSR clones? Think about the amount of effort going into statting up a 3e class or a 1e class versus a B/X one. You could make a witch, ninja, bounty hunter, or psychic in maybe a page of text (perhaps 2 for a spellcaster).
Well, maybe to drift it SOMEWHAT back, IMHO this is one of the strengths of some of the designs that have followed on what Ron did with Sorcerer. The sheer simplicity of Apocalypse World, simplicity AND sophistication in one single piece, is one of those legacies. I mean, there really are VERY few games that have simpler mechanics than Apocalypse World. It is certainly in the same league with B/X, and I think I agree with you. Adding to, or changing either one to incorporate something slightly different is pretty easy. I think though in all fairness B/X has a bit less range than AW/PbtA. Like D&D's 'engine' never really went to far outside of the core genre of the game.
 

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