I am having one of my friends, who wanted to join, play solo so that I can get him to join the group. However, I am having trouble adjusting combat. He is an alchemist sorcerer.

How can I create an encounter where a support type character can be successful without making it seem too artificial?

I am currently thinking of giving him a few meatshield companions which will help him at combat until he gets to reach to the party, but I can't find a way to introduce these companions in a way that isn't "Hey buddy. You look weak. Want us to protect you for a month?"

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying you'll have him join you in a one-on-one game? You refer to him joining "the group" — is that a current ongoing game with other players? If it is, for what purpose is he playing one-on-one first instead of with them? Understanding what he might need to learn or get used to first will help us understand how to help you better. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2017 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is an ongoing game with sorcerers from Spain going to France in order to help sorcerers in Saxony. He needs to catch up to them from Spain as the society is at Spain. In order to have him catch up to them as well as to have him have the same amount of experience I am having him play alone until he catches up with the group. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2017 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


1. Do you really need combat?

I am echoing Trish here, but I think this is the heart of the answer and Trish nailed it. While Sorcerer certainly supports combat, that is not what its really best at. It is better at the horrors of the things they face in seeking more magical knowledge, in the social interactions where they have powers most around them won't understand and would fear, but far less power than the higher tiered supernaturals. I've never played a pure Sorcerer game, but I've had them integrated in mixed CWoD games where whole chapters went by without physical combat (though the threat of it came up much more often).

2. Meat shields are easy to arrange.

If you really want him to have front line support, you don't need the "hey, we'll travel with you to protect you out of pity" angle to get him companions. In the real world today, people travel together for all manner of reasons: companionship, safety in numbers, to have a guide, to share conveyances, etc. This was many times more common and more important in the past.

It would make total sense for him to come across another group who just happened to be going in vaguely the same direction and for them to link up for simple social reasons for at least part of the journey with no other explanation needed. Perhaps some in that group are brawlers that could handle the front lines and perhaps others have no combat ability either that the solo PC could in turn protect. The group dynamics might also give rise to other challenges as well. For instance, depending on his skills he might be well positioned to solve problems they have, including medical issues.

If he is well off, he might also just straight up hire an escort for money.

3. If he expects trouble, he should be able to do something to prepare for problems even alone.

I've largely moved over to Mage: The Awakening and its been a while since I've played with a CWoD Sorcerer, but as I recall a prepared alchemist should be decent in a fight, at least against a being of similar or lower power level. Most higher supernaturals and especially most mages will outclass a sorcerer, but that is by design. An alchemist expecting a fight should be able to prepare potions to make themselves stronger and/or faster, prepare powerful acids or other mixtures that could serve as a makeshift grenade, etc. Even without magic, they likely are carrying substances that would be extremely irritating and could serve as an early version of pepper spray.

In other words, as long as he has a lead time to expect combat and you are giving him challenges commensurate with his ability, he may be just fine in a fight.

4. Meta: Why not just give him experience equal to what the others have?

In some cosmic sense it may be unfair that the other characters earned their current rank and he is handed it, but as a practical matter if you just give him experience to at least put him in the same league as the others you could skip the whole solo travel time completely and move straight to him linking up with the others. This is the fastest way to resolve the issue.


Before reading further ask yourself: is combat really needed?

First of all, Mage the Ascension, and thus Sorcerer, is not a combat-oriented game. It is not D&D. It doesn't use a map, it uses "theatre of the mind" mostly. You describe what is there, they describe what they do (and explain how they do their magic), then the roll determines what happens. Now, to the question...

The Sorcerer is traveling - that is a great plot idea! But depending on when he is doing the travel, the means of travel do change a lot, and so does the need for side arms. To illustrate a few examples:

  • 810 - He travels on foot or horse, and has not even to leave "Francia", because it spans from today northern Spain all over to Saxony. By the way, Charlemagne is emperor. Bandits happen, weaponry is a bow or a sword. Traveling in groups from town to town happens. There are literally thousand local dialects... though most speak Lingua Franca.
  • 1400 - He travels on foot, horse or chariot, and has to cross a few borders. Bandits happen still, but for the large part, lands are peaceful. His weapons might be an early firearm (like a musket), crossbow and in addition a light arming sword aka spada da lato (which is the 'father' of the rapier). There is a Spain, there is a France, and there is... a Duchy of Saxony after passing through the patchwork tapestry that is the Holy Roman Empire.
  • 1700 - He might travel by horse or post chariot, crossing borders. Bandits are unheard of to rob these, but he could carry around a smaller pistol, running around with a sword is unheard of. But having to defend yourself in bar fights or dark roads happens. He'll pass from a Kingdom of Spain into a French republic, into the Holy Roman Empire, where the Electorate of Saxony is located.
  • 1850 - Traveling through pre-WW1 Europe happens by train. He might have a revolver or derringer to protect himself. But banditry is unheard of and even muggers in dark corner are not that common, but happen. He'll pass from the Kingdom Spain (ruled mainly by a Ministry) to 2nd French Republic to the Kingdom of Prussia before finally passing over to the Kingdom of Saxony.
  • 1990 - He takes the a bus or the TGV to Paris, then to his target. Or he has a car. The last time France had bandits was during WW2, and those were actually partisans. He might travel with a gun, but that might be more trouble than it is worth.

As you see, the world... mainly got more civilized. But as it got civilized, travel got faster, and people got less superstitious. The latter actually can work for him: Openly doing a little magic can drive off bandits in early times, but might not work in the modern era.

If you have to fight...

Depending on his capabilities, balance him: If he has no noteworthy combat skills, then don't threaten him, have him travel in a group and the other travellers handle the beating. If he is a capable fighter (5+ dice), he might face one or two people on his own.

Note that combat in WoD is very non-linear: A mage/sorcerer that can't use his magic due to some reasons is screwed and nothing but a human and will scale basically 1:1. But a werewolf you could throw a whole squad of soldiers armed to the teeth with non-silvered weapons and expect the werewolf to win (unless he is forbidden to change form).


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