Mortepierre: I don't want to be argumentative, but I disagree with you on a few points. I think you may be overstating the role of Corruption. Unless the sorcerer takes feats and spells like Spawn of Dagoth Hill, Child of Jhebbal Sag, Salome, Demonic Pact, Greater Demonic Pact, and Form Demon, she is IMO roughly no more or less susceptible to Corruption than the other classes. Granted, she alone can accumulate Corruption in a War of Souls with a demon, but this is probably offset by the fact that she usually has the best Will save in the party.
Disagreement is good. It means the subject is an interesting one :wink:
You raise a few good points. It’s true that - apparently - Scholars aren’t more susceptible to Corruption than other characters (unless they go look for it), especially given their Will save. However, you discount several factors.
First of all, I wasn’t talking only in terms of rules. Role-play is half the equation here. Look at what the (Atlantean) edition says of Scholars in the first two paragraphs of p.182. Sound risk-proof to you? Not exactly, eh?
Second, a sorcerer will – in all likelihood – be his team’s first (and last) line of defense against demonic entities of any kind. Hence, higher chances of gaining corruption. Let’s not forget, while we’re discussing this, that whenever not running in fright or attacking, he’ll risk corruption just for delving too deeply into arcane secrets best left alone. And, let’s be honest here, what Scholar worth his salt wouldn’t risk limb and soul to gain more power?
Third, a Scholar/sorcerer will often be the one dealing with weird artifacts and magical items, if only because his pals will have enough good sense not to touch them with a ten ft. pole. Some of these can increase his Corruption score.
Fourth, a Scholar is perhaps the class less likely to have a code of honor. A serious disadvantage when dealing with Corruption (even if their innate Will save lessens the risk somewhat).
Last but not least, starting as a ‘clean’ sorcerer is easy. Climbing the ladder of power without risking Corruption isn’t. Spells don’t come cheap in this world (at least, they shouldn’t). To gain more, the sorcerer will have to go looking for them where they are, whether it is a ghost-haunted ruin, a demon-infested temple, or the abode of an evil sorcerer of the Black Ring.
I could add that collecting spellbooks written on human flesh isn’t exactly healthy…
Also IMO, PPs are mainly gained through rest (including Greater Meditation and Debaucher), Energy Drain, and Opportunistic Sacrifice. I consider lotus, Power Rituals, and Tortured Sacrifice inefficient most of the time. Ritual Sacrifice is sometimes worth the trouble, but not with low-level commoners.
True, again, but a sorcerer doesn’t always have the luxury to rest for days in-between two events demanding his attention (and powers).
In a big battle, a long fight, or a climatic scene against the demon invoked by his adversary, the sorcerer will need more power and he’ll need it quickly. Hence, he’ll have to resort to alchemical means of regaining PP rapidly or go for the drain/sacrifice option.
Now, maybe your players are comfy when it comes to watching their sorcerer pal butcher or drain his servants (or, even, one of them) in order to boost his PP total but the vast majority – if role-played correctly – should freak out.. and rightfully so!
I disagree with your statement that the DM is "the sole judge of what kind of magic (and spells) she was able to study." According to the background rules, the DM chooses which of the four backgrounds he allows in his campaign. If he allows independent, the PC is allowed her choice of spells as long as she has Knowledge (arcana) +10. Considering that all the other backgrounds use the independent rules for "dabbling", this background should probably be open. If he allows pact, the PC may choose to conduct research as an independent or choose freely among the spells the demon knows (usually all spells from 2-5 styles + some summoning spells). If he allows lay priest, the PC may have to go without spells several levels, but is after taking the Priest feat allowed to choose from the spells available to her religion. And there are many religions teaching all, or all but a few, styles. Once again independent studies are mentioned as an option. Only the acolyte has a strict curriculum (most of the time), but even she is allowed to choose her spells at later levels. Lastly, since there may be several masters or groups to choose between for the acolyte, she will still have some input as to which spells she learns.
Just because one of your players would like to play a sorcerer doesn’t mean that you have to kowtow to him. Magic, in the Howard’s universe, is evil. Not good. Not neutral. Not ‘in shades of grey’. It’s black, unnatural, and evil, period.
Let’s examine our fledgling sorcerer’s options one by one:
- Acolyte: The text says that the player “.. must select a specific group to join, or a master to whom he may apprentice himself ..”. Does it say that the player can flesh out said group or master himself, or that he has full access to all the prospective candidates out there? Of course not! The DM is in control here. HE is the one giving ‘options’ to the player, and if the options are choosing between the Black Ring and the Seers of Yimsha, well.. too bad for the player.
- Independent: Perhaps the best option if the player isn’t keen on gaining Corruption but it has the disadvantage that, until his Knowledge (arcana) bonus is high enough, only sheer luck will prevent the DM from telling him exactly what he could learn. Spells gained that way are usually found on musty old scrolls or on crumbling walls in ruins of bygone era. Who is to say how corrupted those who wrote them were? Not to mention that few of these come with the mention “WARNING! Using this spell could corrupt you!”
- Pact: Already dealing with a demon? Welcome to Corruption-heaven!
- Lay Priest: A seemingly ‘nice’ option too.. until one realizes that the number of not-downright-evil gods out there aren’t exactly legion. Asura, Bori, Ibis, or Mitra are reasonable choices, I’ll grant you that. That said, being a ‘priest’ isn’t the same as being a sorcerer. When you’re part of cult, you have obligations (not to mention often a ton of political/religious enemies). Don’t fulfil them and you’re out (of luck, at the very least)
No, I disagree here. A DM can always remain in control of what magic the player learns and he doesn’t even have to act as a tyrant to do it. A spell-casting Scholar is the class that has the most potential to (re)shape the world. Thus, the DM is perfectly entitled to exert a certain amount of control over who gets to play it or even how they do it.