Dictionary of MU (and Sorcerer)

edited October 2013 in Story Games
A pal of mine recommended me Dictionay of Mu the other day, praising it as a really awesome setting full of evocative ideas, and more or less in line with my late fervor for pulp sword & sorcery and Roger Dean covers. My question here is twofold:

1) How is this Dictionay of Mu ? Is it really that awesome? What are your impressions on it ?

2) What exactly its parent game, Sorcerer, is like ? I confess I always dismissed it as yet another "mage game". Is it cool? How different is it from other "mage" games like, say, Mage or Unknown Armies ?


Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • 1) It is awesome. In fact most awesome. One of the few outstanding published sandboxes to play in.

    2) Other folks can answer this better then me.
  • edited October 2013
    I can only answer question 2.

    Sorcerer is really a horror game, in the most core and visceral definition of "horror". It's not a game of detectives investigating supernatural-themed mysteries, which is the standard for "horror" games, but neither it is a power fantasy game in a contemporary urban setting (which is my cursory experience with most classic White Wolf games, Mage included).
    In Sorcerer there is no "magic", not as an abstract force at least. There are these demons, which are not really defined except as being an inherently wrong source of power; and the main characters are people who have somehow managed to summon and bind a demon. A "bound" demon is not a list of powers you can access at will, though: it's a key NPC you have a dysfunctional relationship with, and with which you're forced to bargain constantly.
    The PCs usually start off their individual stories separate, each with a "Kicker" the player decides for herself, a "Kicker" being an event which breaks her status quo and forces her into action (yes, even her questionably stable, shaky I've-got-a-demon-summoned-and-bound status quo). From there, it's usually a GM's job to ensure that all PCs' stories cross each other into a very tangled web of horrible, horrible trouble, which makes bargaining constantly with demons for more power unavoidable —because all alternatives are, usually, even worse!

    The above sums up my experience playing Sorcerer. Of course, taking it the swords & sorcery way (via its supplement, Sorcerer & Sword, of which I understand Dictionary of Mu to be a further supplement to) must give everything sort of a different spin. But Elric's relationship with his sword Stormbringer, a beloved swords-n-sorcery archetype, is exactly the typical relationship a sorcerer has to demons in Sorcerer.
  • edited October 2013
    Dictionary of Mu is pretty good. It's not a traditional setting sourcebook in that it doesn't really attempt to go into deep detail, but on the other hand this means that there is more room for ideas in there; from start to finish it's a book that challenges you to grok it for yourself, connect the dots, see the magnificent vision of Mu for yourself and make it your own - definitely of the poetic school of setting creation, similar to e.g. Polaris. The layout of the book is deceptively loose, though, so the text is not too big in scope despite the book being pretty thick; it's really a minor setting when you come down to it, but good stuff in all. It is certainly pulp fantasy in tone, so I find it easy to recommend it to anybody who likes that literary genre.

    As for Sorcerer, it's a classic game that I would recommend to anybody interested in the medium of roleplaying. It is well to compare it to Unknown Armies, in fact - I was just reading the latter yesterday, and it struck me as interesting how similar the campaign set-up in the two games is to each other (specifically, the Trigger Event in UA is exactly like a Sorcerer Kicker). Tonally they're pretty similar, but Sorcerer is much more coherent about what you're doing in it (that is, the campaign form, the responsibilities of the different players and so on are all much more clear and defined, as opposed to the toolbox approach of UA), and it's also much, much more private and personal. Where Unknown Armies is often about the societal consequences of what you do in the occult underground, Sorcerer is very much about your own soul as one of those who have the option of drawing upon the eldritch solution to your problems. Much more soul-searching-ly, in other words. Like it's said in Fate/stay night, to be a sorcerer is to be willing to die and and kill :D

    Comparing to Mage (The Ascension, I don't really know the new one), I'd say that Sorcerer is less about abstract ideas and posing for the sake of being cool, and more about the visceral psychological reality of being a sorcerer. In Mage you're a wizard and it's so cool, while in Sorcerer you're a wizard and that means that you'll have to resist the temptation (or not, as the case may be) of the most inhuman acts imaginable. I'd put it in a nutshell like this: Mage is commercial pop culture wish fulfillment, Unknown Armies is stylish hipster grunge, and Sorcerer is the real hardcore garage insanity. All of them are about urban fantasy, but they form a pretty funny continuum like that.
  • edited October 2013
    Hey vini_lessa,

    Rafu & Eero have got it pretty well. I ran a 4-session game of Dictionary of Mu earlier this year late last year (dang, where does time go?). I wrote it up pretty extensively, and you can get a sense of how it might play for you by reading our set-up here, and then the session write-ups here.

    I highly recommend both Sorcerer & Dictionary of Mu! This is top-shelf roleplaying.
  • Thank you very much for the input guys. I managed to grab a copy of both.

    Btw, is it possible for you guys to give a picture of the setting without giving too much away ? I mean, can we have demon-sword wielding sandal-footed warrior side by side with a cydonian power-armored trooper and triceratops-riding pygmy under a purple sky or something like that ?

    Also, Eero: may I adopt the Mage-UnknowArmies-Sorcerer comparison in my signature ? Its an awesome choice of words.
  • Btw, is it possible for you guys to give a picture of the setting without giving too much away ? I mean, can we have demon-sword wielding sandal-footed warrior side by side with a cydonian power-armored trooper and triceratops-riding pygmy under a purple sky or something like that ?
    Yes, that's pretty much it, except that being a Sorcerer setting, it doesn't really lean towards the "footloose misfits waiting for a quest from a mysterious stranger" trope that adventure rpgs live and breathe. Thus the pygmy, stormtrooper and Conan-Elric are more likely to each have their own agenda, and to only occasionally bump at each other.

    The most striking image that Mu left for me was the notion that the city states of Mu are generally concerned with a space race of sorts: as their planet is dying, the dwindling resources are channeled towards the building of pyramidical structures that may be used to travel to other worlds, away from this dismal place. As higher civilization dies on the vine, the meaning of these practices is lost, and only the pyramids remain. This is the lost, distant past of our planet Mars, and whether these people succeeded in colonizing the planet next closest to the sun, none knows.
    Also, Eero: may I adopt the Mage-UnknowArmies-Sorcerer comparison in my signature ? Its an awesome choice of words.
    The freedom of citation is accepted by nearly all civilized nations. Good luck with finding a sig function on the forum, though.
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