Monday, May 22, 2023

SORCERER (Afterword)

Hi there. I'm sure you, astute reader, have noticed that this blog isn't very active anymore. That's because I don't quite have the inspiration for it. Not this way, not this particular format. There are great projects waiting in the wings, not least of which the Thawing Kingdom Remaster book, the Permafrost Edition, but they won't live here.

Remember the ORKWORLD? The last post to my blog? Well, that one comes after this one. So why don't you go and find it in a bit. But first, I think this final class post is a good actual closer to this period of my work. Yes, closer. There probably won't be any new posts on here for a good while, if ever. I think it's good to move things along, to change when it feels right. So this is that. But don't worry, you can chase me along and keep your eyes on Thawing Kingdom and whatever things come after. I'll do my best to make them hard to miss.

Now then, let's do it one more time.



You chose this, once. That was a long time ago. A time when the glamour lived, and the people around you could still imagine.

You were the best. Show-stopping. Invincible, like a dream. They would all call out your name when you appeared, with the stars of the night at your back, and you'd say "Ho there, evildoer!" and those words would carry you. Lift you up in flight and let you pirouette on a chariot of blue fire between the twinkling constellations. Command comets with a laugh. Banish demons with a kiss. Take a despairing soul by the hand and drift with them across the singing cosmos, brush away their fear and put them back to bed with, if nothing else, hope.

But now, that power is gone.

Now your face smiles down at you from posters and broadway lights, but it's not your face anymore. You turn up your collar in the snow. You walk around the dark town, looking at the lit windows. You sit on benches. That's what you do now.

Was it just too big? The rough, red world? Have the nights lost their secrets and were you snuffed out with them? Is there no place for you anymore? For a dream?

It sure doesn't seem like it.

Art by Pablo Hurtado de Mendoza

Starting Equipment: A thick scarf and trenchcoat. An empty bottle, or a pack of cigarettes. A newspaper full of foreboding and depressing headlines.Warm and comforting hands. A single star, twinkling faintly.

Skills: 1) Busker 2) Composer 3) Magician 4) Opera Singer 5) Street sweeper 6) Friend


Act One: Silhouette in the Snow, Star Slivers, 2 Miracles
Act Two: Dream a little Dream of Me, The Nightmare King, 1 Miracle
Act Three: Clair de Lune, 2 Miracles
Grand Encore: One More Show

Silhouette in the Snow

Art by James O'Brien

You've walked these cold streets for so long, jumped from building to dazzling building years ago, that you're intimately familiar with your surroundings, and your lonely night walks quickly cozy you up to any new ones. You get to know the bins, and the lantern poles. You start to recognise the pidgeons, know who they are, know the roof in the old park belfry that they roost in at night.

You're not sure if all these things know you at all. But you do know them.

When someone is in trouble within a mile of you and has no one else to help them, you know exactly where they are, and how to get to them. When you are trying to get to a person in need, your speed of movement and rolls to overcome physical obstacles/dire weather/magical barriers cannot be disadvantaged, and attacks made against you as you move have disadvantage to hit you.

Star Slivers

Your power came from the stars. The dreams. The endless sea of jewels shimmering above, unpossessable by money. Even though there are dark clouds in the sky now, and the moon struggles to shine on the faces left in shadow, there are remains of it. Slivers of thin, gold and blue starlight that break through the roiling smog and touch you. They trickle down from the sky and call you like a telephone line, whispering:


You possess the ability to evoke Miracles. Your Sorcerer template defines the number of Miracles you can access. Each day, you can use a total of three Miracles, and when you do, you can use the Encores of any Miracles you've used during the following night.

If you want to change a Miracle you know to a different one, you'll have to find a spot of moonlight in the snow, get on your knees, and beg. It'll be a terribly sad, humbling sight.

If you've used up all your Miracles, but someone is deathly peril in front of you, you can turn the tiny star from your starting items into one more use of a Miracle you know (or its Encore if it's night, even if you didn't use that miracle during the day).

These are your miracles:

Concerto: make a wind produce faint musical notes or rustle plants and grass. Encore: star-lit winds allow you to control and levitate all objects within 60ft. of you, for 5 minutes.

Crescendo: revitalise a small animal or plant that's dying. Encore: save one life you touch.

Diminuendo: perform a small vanishing trick. Encore: hide yourself and any people you touch, for as long as that touch persists.

Presto: make a tiny object of no monetary value appear, like a thimble or a match stick. Encore: conjure an object or animal up to the size of a small house from stardust. If it would be significantly damaged or harmed, it vanishes back into stardust. You cannot conjure weapons.

Tutti: make a wind carry a letter or note to another person you know the name of. Encore: conjure a small star in the presence of any number of people you can name. It embodies your call for help. If they touch it, the star carries them across the rooftops straight to you with great haste.

Dream a Little Dream of Me

Why do people dream?

To see a better world, briefly? To be in the arms they cannot, can no longer, hold? Do they want kindness, at those times when everything seems so viciously reluctant to give it?

Yes. Of course.

When you sleep, you too can dream of someone, or some place. A moment, an instant, a second, a touch, a brush with the sublime. You never forget your dreams. They protect you when you walk awake, fill your coat and scarf with a fire that keeps you warm. A fire of them. All those people in front of their televisions who would say, together with you: "Ho there, evildoer!" and who, even if they are now gone, are never gone. They're with you in the fire. Always close to you.

Your Armour Class is no longer defined by the protection you wear. It is now defined by names you name, when an attack would hit you. The DM counts to ten. Name as many of your character's friends, saviours, lovers and precious ones in that time. Your AC is 10 plus the number of characters you named.

It's okay if they aren't really your friend, or your saviour, or your anything, so long as you believe they are. But you cannot lie to yourself. If you do, your AC is zero.

The Nightmare King

He has many other names. Director. Master. Moloch. WHITEWHEEL. He has the body of a man, although it is unlikely He ever was one. Maybe someone once gave up their heart, and the heart became you, and the body became Him.

The Nightmare King is your sworn enemy. He appears in your every show, in every movie where you sparkle on the silver. He used to just be a guy in a dark cloak, cackling and then screeching when you sent him back to the underworld with a blast of starlight, until the next feature. Now He's a black shape on the screen. A man sitting in front of the projector, on an empty row, watching a film that to Him looks like snippets of movement on the edge of His own shadow. He is the god of loneliness, seclusion, misanthropy, and pain.

And He won, a while ago, it seems. You wonder if He's happy.

He speaks to you, from billboards where he takes control of your face. From dark gutter drains. From phone booths and icicle-coated gargoyles on the highrises. His voice is so familiar to you now, and yet, you don't know Him any better than you did when you first saw His black dress shoes step out of a limousine.

He sends His minions after you. That is His unfairness. When you are at your weakest, He sends His strongest. Things that make you run. And on television, He looks so glamorous.

He sends...
  1. ...dozens of black-clad, strapped and masked creatures with man-faces. They are the shades of soldiers, jetting wraiths filling up their kevlar skins. The army of destruction. The spike-headed chain-whipping bastards, sorry only for themselves. The police.

  2. ...the Hand. It is immaterial: a titanic shadow that slowly glides along buildings. It could grab you between its clawed thumb and index finger. You've never seen what it's attached to. Maybe to Him, or maybe to something older, silent, and merciless.

  3. ...the Pale Three. Wrapped in bandages, wearing broken white armours and fatigues, they sit on skeletal horses. Black blood seeps from any tiny piece of them that their cloth wrappings reveal. You don't know who they are, but they can be found in classical paintings of war. In all of them.

  4. ...the ORKUS.

  5. ...Marcus, from the rough block that'll be demolished next year. You don't understand where he got that gun, or who let him keep it. You can't hurt him. You can't hurt people. That's exactly what He's trying to get you to do. To become a part of His world, where the only solution is destruction. 

  6. ...nobody. Complete, deafening silence. Your doubt. His Excalibur.

Claire de Lune

While in direct moonlight, you can fly as though you were weightless. You're not nearly as good at this as you used to be. You used to be like a comet, a glittering winking star that trailed a line of light across the rooftops, and the people would point and smile with joy, and wonder just how that could be.

You can bring up to two people with you in this weightlessness, by holding their hands.

One More Show

Art by Joseph Eichstaedt

It happens, sometimes, that we are needed. That past our fright and sadness and all self-preservation, there is something that leaves us no choice but to make peace with ourselves and step forward.

This is your final power, for when it matters. The power is that for a moment, just one, you get to be You. The beautiful, exuberant, invincible, You.

You are the SORCERER. The Magician. The Star. The Hope. The Warmth. The Hug. The Safety. The Tear. The Wonder. The Impossible. The Miracle.

The Nightmare King triumphs easily over you. But against You, he is powerless.

In this last performance, forgo the rules. Take your glowing, shining, laughing form. Point at the game master, and say:

"Ho there, evildoer!"

They must then close their rulebook. One last time, for five real-world minutes before you vanish into starlight, you can do anything.

You can make dreams come true.