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Author Topic: [Nine Worlds] Pop-Greek sci-fantasy, plus murder and sex  (Read 16178 times)
jrs
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2005, 05:28:37 PM »

I'm partial to the book that was used in my college intro course:  Classical mythology / Mark P.O. Morford, Robert J. Lenardon.

And Greek plays.  Especially the Oresteia.

Julie
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joshua neff
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2005, 06:26:52 PM »

Excellent. Thanks, Julie.
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--josh

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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2005, 07:26:11 PM »

I'll second Julie's nomination. I used the same text (likely a different edition) as a reference even while writing Nine Worlds. It's a good general reference.

I also can't say enough good things Robert Fagles' translations of The Illiad and the Odyssey. If you're interested in reading either epic, read Fagles.

For handy-dandy online references, check out Encyclopedia Mythica (aka www.pantheon.org
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Matt Snyder
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2005, 09:26:43 PM »

Hello,

First things first

Most of the time, we play just as you described, Matt. We all draw, we all choose our desired cards, and we all show what we've chosen. Only a couple of times have I shown my cards and then, through the coincidence of seating or the confusion of the moment in handling a ton of NPCs at once (see below), has a player been able then to choose their cards. This issue is a bit of a minor detour compared to the stuff I really want to discuss.

Draws and conflicts

Matt, you once told me that you initially designed Nine Worlds to suit your friends who love colorful setting and Special Kewl player-characters who get all enmeshed in complex conspiracies. They liked teaming up, travelling around, getting sent on missions, and so on - very Shadowrun play, very Mage. However, our group is apparently disinclined toward such play at the moment; possibly because we did it so thoroughly in HeroQuest years ago and recently in Metal Opera.

I think the current design would work very well for the original purpose, as the big headaches for the GM in such play are "how can I get the players to involve their characters," "how can I describe outcomes so that everyone stays jazzed," and "how can I pace resolutions and crises."

My situation, however, requires utilizing the system's strengths from a different angle. To make it possible, I'm using my typical Flashpoint Technique to keep play organized. I learned how to do this mainly from Sorcerer. Let's see if I can describe it with an example:

- Manto is stealing the Golden Fleece from its owner in Iran, on Terra. Helping her is Arthur Argus. The opposition is a guy named Chrysaor, more or less in absentia.
- Gelons is rescuing Nereus from a trap in the Aethersea, with the help of Stacey, the Atlantean captain. The opposition is a bunch of monsters, acting as a unit.
- Chione is attempting to exfiltrate herself from enemy territory in the hinterlands of Mars. Her opposition is Tityos, the Titan running the occupational forces who control the area.

Everyone draws. Each player has a hand in front of them. I have a hand each for Chrysaor, for the monsters, and for Tityos, as well as for Stacey, the captain, and for Arthur. Actually, the players are drawing for their helping NPCs, but that's just logistics - I'm playing them. How many hands is that? Nine, on the table. We have just enough decks of cards handy to make this possible.

So after a flurry of drawing and cries of pain as people contemplate their hands, nine Fate scores get jotted down. We also now know who's won and who's lost; let's say, just for example, that in the Terra scene, Manto has the highest Fate score; in the Aethersea scene the monsters have the highest Fate score; and in the Mars scene that Tityos has the highest Fate score. The various NPCs on the player-characters' sides have scores scattered all through the various winners' and losers' values.

Narration is no big deal. We just go in order from lowest to highest all around the table, letting "switch-scene perspective" be driven by the order. Whenever anyone narrates the final say in a given conflict, they also let us know whether the conflict will continue into a new draw or not. That decision only applies to the conflict they're specifically in and does not affect the other conflicts.

For instance, let's say that Maura is happy with ripping off the Fleece successfully and says so, finishing up on my narrations for Arthur and Chrysaor by ending the conflict. Whereas I, playing Tityos, am very much looking forward to doing terrible things to Julie's character, so I rack all the Tricks he gains into his Muse "Punish Chione in detail," and call for another draw.

Very, very easy - straight out of Sorcerer, straight out of Dust Devils, straight out of HeroQuest extended contests, all of which favor this approach of multi-scene, simultaneous-climax play. In Nine Worlds, narration of each failure/success obviously provides neat opportunities for the next narration to tie scenes' details into one another. Especially since Nine Worlds, more so than HeroQuest, encourages adding connections and further adversity via narration. Hence we learn that a peace activist on Mars provides funds through a credit line based on the Golden Fleece, even as our hero on Terra discovers that the actual Fleece is nigh-worthless. That's the kind of stuff that usually get fed to players via the GM's pre-planned storyline ("boy, won't they be surprised when I tell them ..."), but in Nine Worlds, occurs through anyone's enjoyable input, GM included as just another narrator.

Not surprisingly, after everyone had had a chance to see everyone else's character deal with a crisis or two, their narrations began to create links across one another's situations. Now a number of their new Muses are starting to look suspiciously cross-purposed. They haven't yet found themselves in adverse circumstances with one another, but I'm sure they will. For example, when playing Sorcerer with this same group, Tod's and Julie's characters' paths crossed only once in about four or five sessions of play.

Note that this is not a rules-tweak in the slightest. We are applying every single rule exactly as written and leaving nothing out. The technique is actually a matter of applying the rules about order, success, and narration to multiple scenes at once - "uber-applying" the rules, if you will, as opposed to changing them, and definitely as opposed to confining the system to one locale at at time. So really what you get is one scene with multiple conflicts and locales.

What happened in play

It's colorful, paced exactly how we want it when we want it, and full of action. For us, the Numero Uno priority for the Color in the game is blending modern stuff and pop-psychedelic imagery with Greek mythology details. For example, I described Professor Tiresias as a bald man with a huge white waterfall of a beard, a tweed jacket with patches on it, and a booming voice. Maura then chimed in: "And his nails are perfect." Get it?

Similarly, Arthur Argus looks like a rumpled ex-field agent from the CIA, chafing behind his desk role - middle-aged white guy with thinning blond hair, nondescript suit, very alert. I gave him a peacock-pattern tie. Get it?

I could go on and on: Hades' Men in Black, the WWI-style aethership for the Atlanteans (contrasting with the etherial and arty one from Delphi University), Hades itself (a great big boring motel, room after room after room). We throw in this sort of stuff constantly.

I started play with a fairly blatant attempt on my part to put them all into the same vicinity, which turned out to be the University of Delphi - but as it turned out, no one was interested in teaming up (which is not a big deal) and they scattered all over the place via their narrations. Furthermore, I had a notion about a powerful female NPC, not a goddess but near to it, and as it turned out, during the first scene, and given all the various characters' reasons for doing what they were doing, it just made more sense for the character to be Athena rather than anyone else. So that put a little too much gun into the first session and I got really sick of always getting the final narration. But I got Athena's ass out of there eventually and things got more group-ish.

Over the last four-plus sessions ...

Manto didn't get much luck with her hunt for Professor Tiresias, as the scamp got away from her. She went to Earth to deal with Jason (Terra was more fun than I thought) got hijacked to by the real Jason (who'd sent the Men in Black after her), finally teamed up with Arthur to steal the Fleece, when she'd figured out that a whole ton of financial card-castles across the Nine Worlds depended on it. It turns out to be all linked up with an NPC who's important to Chione, Chrysaor. I also had a lot of fun with Medea when she finally showed up, one eye squinting, the other bulging. Definitely my favorite whacko of all myth/literature, and in our Nine Worlds, I played her a bit like Ron Post, if that means anything to you.

Chione briefly encountered Athena and decided to hold off on the "vengeance for Medusa" story, as I think I surprised Julie by having Athena be very reasonable - why yes, you do have a claim on the Aegis, don't you? Well, if you attack me, I'll just kill you, and where's the justice in that? Here, work up a court case with precedents, and we'll do it all proper. H'm, said Julie. I need to beef up for that. So she switched attention to her other Muses, went to Mars, got wrapped up in the assassination of an ex-lover, got into a very nasty a feud with a Titan, and most recently, ended up as a putative peacenik at a talk show. I was finally able to bring in the female character I'd originally made up: Phoebe, a very deceptive "pacifist" Titan, who ended the last session by devouring Chione whole ...

[Here's all the murder and most of the sex - Chione totally cold-bloodedly screwed her assassination target, a perfectly nice guy, then cut his throat. And Tityos, the Titan, turns out to have loved the guy, and now hates Chione dreadfully ... but now has a crush on Phoebe ... I've decided that as long as Tityos is alive, he will always have a Muse romantically involving him with the worst possible candidate available, from Chione's perspective.]

Gelons got into a big tiff with Professor Tiresias who's clearly up to no good, got a grant with Athena's help to investigate the Nereus/Proteus connection, got  lost in the Aethersea, fought Proteus, and ended up finally rescuing Nereus to discover that everyone was right to wonder how all these shapeshifting minor sea-gods are connected, but that it's Nereus and Glaucus who are the same guy. Now everyone's back at the University, and Gelons seems to be distracted from his recent high & mighty goals by inappropriately pursuing his graduate student's nubile bod ...

But the real fun thing is the Fleece, based off Maura's Muse. Via tons of enthusiastic narrations (punctuated by responses like "You bastard!"), it has become the linchpin of everyone's story: Chione's ancestor Chrysaor, in whose behalf she's prosecuting Athena, is the fellow who's managed its finances over the last century; it's the basis for Gelon's university grant. Now, Manto and Arthur did get the Fleece, which as we all suspected by this point, is a nigh-worthless bunch of tatters and cut-apart packets.

Next up: my criticisms and concerns.

Best,
Ron
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jrs
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« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2005, 09:31:36 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Here's all the murder and most of the sex - Chione totally cold-bloodedly screwed her assassination target, a perfectly nice guy, then cut his throat.

Oh, I don't know, the screwing itself wasn't particulary cold-blooded.  Slitting his throat over breakfast, now that was heartless.

And yep, we are all jazzing on the golden fleece bit.  We even came up with the golden fleece credit card and advertising line--Have you been fleeced today?

Julie
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2005, 07:54:18 AM »

Hello,

The Nine Worlds text does a good job of explaining the potential scope for narration - which is to say, quite a lot. Much more than Sorcerer or HeroQuest narration, and similar to games like Primetime Adventures and the more liberal interpretations of The Pool. If you're narrating, even if it's for a character who's lost his or her conflict, feel free to bring in a sudden interloper, such as an Atlantean ship that just happens to show up. That doesn't mean they get any cards in the current conflict, but they're now in the narration and in the game. When a new conflict comes up, and if they're around, then look out - they've got cards too.

In other words, new NPCs show up all over the place. If there's one, single thing that Nine Worlds GM has to be good at, it's whipping up numbers for them and understanding how those numbers are going to play a role from that point on. Unfortunately, the text doesn't discuss this issue.

NPCs - some difficult design and text issues

Here are some of the questions that simply have to be answered by the GM during play. Even if there's no fixed answer in terms of rules, it's still necessary to know that they must be answered, and to be ready as you go. Matt - I specifically do not want your answers to them. I've arrived at answers of my own. What matters is that if the GM does not know that these are the key questions, he or she will flounder like a, like a ... well, like a flounder. What I'd like to know from you is how would you phrase the text explaining that dealing with these questions, during play, equals "how to GM" Nine Worlds.

1. New NPCs - what Power, what Force, and what Urges? Or do they get Arete/Hubris like player-characters (i.e. are they Archons?) Why or why not? Whichever, how much gun are they?

Should one go by the starting PC rules? What about when that makes no sense? Which elements make NPCs more or less powerful anyway?

And even more importantly, what about about their scores over time? Player-characters' effectiveness waxes and wanes alarmingly fast. More on this later.

2. Someone introduces some friendly NPCs, who are enmeshed in the current conflicts and whose cards are often operating on the player-character's side. How to keep them from being free Talismans?

3. There are top-flight NPCs listed, like Zeus and Apollo and so on ... but they raise two questions.

a) What about when they're dealing with Archons (player-characters) who have monstrous Muses, and a few points of Valor and Pride? We're talking upwards of 25-card draws in some cases, with Trumps available. Poor old Zeus gets kicked in the crotch. Bad? Good? What? Bug? Feature?

b) What about mid-level guys? One of Chione's starting Muses mentions Chrysaor, son of Medusa - does it make sense to give him scores midway between (e.g.) Apollo and a player-character? Why or why not? (This is a repeat of question #1, but becomes tricky with Zeus or Hades sitting there as a scale-indicator)

4. What about locales and objects which get scores of their own, like planets? Should conflicts in the Aethersea automatically include the sea itself as a participant in the conflict? How tough is it? Let's say a scene occurs on some small planetoid - does the planetoid get scores? What are they? (This is also just a repeat of question #1, but it adds the nuance of deciding whether an object or locale does or does not get scores at all)

The basic solution

Here's what to do: to play NPCs' Muses just as actively as the characters, including farming points into Trick manipulation, Muse increase and decrease (and resolutions), and Force increase and decrease (and spending).

This instantly solves the how-much problem, because you can set the scale of Power and Force and Urges along a continuum that puts starting PCs about halfway, and Zeus at the top. But then set some Muses, and you're good to go. If the NPC has some clout in the Nine Worlds, then pop on a couple of Force points too. After that, then play their Muses by the rules, and farm points around the reward system just as players are doing with their player-characters. Believe me, "balance" (relative effectiveness) takes care of itself from that point on.

(It also solves the insta-Talisman problem, because the GM is always free to have the friendly NPC come up with conflicts too, later - in fact, Tod beat me to it a couple of sessions ago by problematizing his character's relationship to his loyal grad student, via making a new Muse about her. Which led to me making a new Muse for her, and we're off to the conflict-races.)

Does it take attention and record-keeping. You bet it does. But remember that the Nine Worlds GM doesn't have to worry about most scene-framing, which is arising through player narration and suggestion all the time. And he or she sure as hell doesn't have to worry about making sure "things turn out as they should." As in Sorcerer, that is happening, baby, way out of anyone's single control. So the GM has time for the record-keeping and point-mongering.

Why is this so hard for people? Leaving aside the text's total silence about it, let's look at the psychological and procedural barriers people bring to it.

Most RPGs' character design can be understood in terms of foundational values, which you use all the time and are relatively fixed, vs. secondary and tertiary aspects that frankly don't mean much in terms of effectiveness. (This is not the same as what many games call "primary" and "derived" attributes. Most "derived" scores in most games are actually the primary values as I'm describing here.)

So when a GM brings in a quickly-made-up NPC, he or she typically just sets the baseline values (hit points, armor class, THAC0, damage, go!) and lets the details (movement, etc) just get winged later.

Nine Worlds is different - none of the numbers are secondary, because the three-tier reward cycle in motion is the character. You can't just set Power and Urges and "go," you gotta consider that Muses, Force (Valor/Pride) are in action too. So in order to "make an NPC" and utilize the character in play, you have to put these features into dynamic motion for NPCs as for PCs.

If you don't, then you are playing the ultimately-futile "balance game" and trying to make things hard or easy according to the needs of the moment - which is fine if you can railroad all the substantive aspects of play, but impossible in Nine Worlds.

And all that brings in the related issue, which frankly is murky in the text, of whether to have a deck of cards for every NPC. If you don't, the probabilities go all funky, really badly. So now that brings in a physical-stuff concern, which is to say, a deck, discards, and current hand to worry about for each character in a conflict. Given the multiple-locale conflicts we do, that sometimes means nine or ten active decks at a time.

But I don't get it

Apparently Matt has had to deal with any number of people whining at him about how they "don't get it." Although my reactive sympathies are with him ("Then fuck off, and thanks for the money"), my better nature as fellow publisher takes over, and I think I've managed to figure out what's up - and how to solve it.

The typical "I'm good at GMing skills" include the following: scene framing control, narration control, and IIEE control - all of which add up to being able to make the story "go right" no matter what players say or what their system-outcomes are. However, Nine Worlds renders scene framing, narration, and IIEE easy and painless ... and out of any one person's total control. There isn't any "skill" required to ensure any of them, because they are ensured through simply playing.

So the Nine Worlds GM has to be good at all that stuff I've been writing about: cool Color, playing NPCs' Muses and point-dynamics with gusto, and narrating new conflicts and resolving existing ones just like another player ... but also all those decisions about new NPCs, which believe me, are constant when playing this game.

No wonder people "don't get it." Their entire notion of what to do, and how to do it well, is obsolete in this game. Remember when The Pool appeared, and lots of people threw up their hands in horror at the very idea of letting a player narrate anything? Nine Worlds is a much more sophisticated Pool ... and a far more dangerous one, from that perspective.

Matt, you gotta decide which of the answers to all of the above questions are solid and fixed - then put'em in as rules. And then make sure the other ones, which can be customized to GM and group preferences, get articulated and raised as DIY issues in the text.

Whew! This concludes all my notes that led into starting this thread. Comments, questions, whatever? "Ask me about my game," says the button I'm metaphorically pinning on my shirt.

Best,
Ron
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Judd
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« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2005, 08:21:56 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards


No wonder people "don't get it." Their entire notion of what to do, and how to do it well, is obsolete in this game. Remember when The Pool appeared, and lots of people threw up their hands in horror at the very idea of letting a player narrate anything? Nine Worlds is a much more sophisticated Pool ... and a far more dangerous one, from that perspective.


This reminds me of when I played Prime Time Adventures and my buddy who was running it had a really hard time just letting go and allowing someone else to gain narrative control.

"But I don't know what will happen.  Any pre-made plot will have to be thrown out the window!"

"Yup."

It is a scary notion for a DM who has been doing his thang at the table behind his screen for decades.  I will always have a special place in my heart for Dust Devils for relaxing my grip on the game and forcing me to realize that my finest GMing happened when I eased the grip and the players stepped up to the table as full participants.

Ron, what advice to you offer GM's who have been gaming in traditional GM-centered narration games and make a move to a game like PTA, NIne Worlds or Dust Devils?

I would think bangs are the way to go, a gaggle of events that the PC's have to react to and move the story forward without any thoughts as to where exactly they will go.  The games become much more about the journey, rather than trying to force feed a destination.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2005, 09:14:15 AM »

Hiya,

Quote
Ron, what advice to you offer GM's who have been gaming in traditional GM-centered narration games and make a move to a game like PTA, NIne Worlds or Dust Devils?


You're asking me? Judd, remember, I'm the one who says "Do it or don't, and if someone whines at me that they 'can't,' or 'that'll never work,' then they can lie there and writhe in agony." And I might even put an illustrative boot in the ribs, before moving on.

No, no, don't ask me for that advice. I wrote a whole series of books that are predicated on the person who wants to meet me halfway, and that's as generous as my nasty li'l self can be, to the tune of $65. You want to talk to Jesse Burneko, to Ralph Mazza, to Vincent Baker, to the Matts (Snyder and Wilson), to Mike Holmes, and to Clinton - all the nice people.

Or, uh, perhaps it's worth considering that you might be one of the prime authorities on this matter. I oughtta be asking you.

Best,
Ron
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Judd
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« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2005, 09:33:23 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
You're asking me? Judd, remember, I'm the one who says "Do it or don't, and if someone whines at me that they 'can't,' or 'that'll never work,' then they can lie there and writhe in agony." And I might even put an illustrative boot in the ribs, before moving on.


Aye man, its your thread.  :)

I wasn't meaning to ask you as someone who just climbed a mountain would ask a guru sitting serenly on the mountain-top but as a gamer reading a thread.  Thassall.
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Roger
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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2005, 09:55:52 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Comments, questions, whatever? "Ask me about my game," says the button I'm metaphorically pinning on my shirt.


I'm not terribly familiar with 9W, but I'll do my best:

*  "Make sure everyone's involved with the book at the outset, especially the illustrations " -- I find this kind of intriguing, insofar as that I've always been kinda take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to illustrations in game manuals.  Could you expand on this?

* "One's cards do get "used up" during a conflict, so one's deck is shrinking as a conflict is taken into multiple draws"  A couple questions on the mechanics of this.  First off, does card counting become a viable sort of strategy?  My experience with Bridge, limited as it is, seems to suggest that card counting is the game.

Furthermore, as a GM, is it particularly hard to run half a dozen NPCs at once and keep track of what's happening on the trick resolution side of things?

ObMyth: Ares was once a dancer.


Cheers,
Roger
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2005, 10:19:30 AM »

Hi Roger,

Quote
* "Make sure everyone's involved with the book at the outset, especially the illustrations " -- I find this kind of intriguing, insofar as that I've always been kinda take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to illustrations in game manuals. Could you expand on this?


Coulda sworn some illos were available to view on-line, but now I can't find them.

For me, the pop-hip, even razzle-dazzle context for all the mythology is central to the game. As one of the threads I cited makes clear, without that, I wouldn't even begin to be able to play it. It's not New Age, it's Pop Art, which makes all the difference for me.

So the illustrations, which are rather ornate and full of really great imagery that combines classical stuff with Kirby-style action, just hammer the point home. It looks like that! worked very well for me in terms of reading the text, and very well for our group in terms of talking about it. Most especially, the aethership, the Furies killing a hero, Chiron on the back cover, and a really nice shot of the Chimera as part of a larger picture.

It helps me a lot, in play, to imagine that all of our action is being illustrated by the game artist, as if he were a comics creator hovering right there in the room where we play, and as if we were sort of Muses for him. This was a valuable imaginative technique back when I was playing Champions (especially since some of the players were professional comics illustrators and authors), and it's recently made a comeback for me in the Nine Worlds experience.

Quote
* "One's cards do get "used up" during a conflict, so one's deck is shrinking as a conflict is taken into multiple draws" A couple questions on the mechanics of this. First off, does card counting become a viable sort of strategy? My experience with Bridge, limited as it is, seems to suggest that card counting is the game.


Yes and double-yes. However, frankly, I've been lame about really exploiting this as a participant. One of my goals for our future sessions is to enjoy conflicts in which everyone is firing multiple-Muses, and therefore card-management will become more important. I think so far, Tod is the player who's managed to get the most value out of thinking in these terms, and certainly since his Muses bulked up, he's been doing very well in pretty crazy conflicts (Stacey got turned into a mudpuppy at one point by Proteus, for example).

Quote
Furthermore, as a GM, is it particularly hard to run half a dozen NPCs at once and keep track of what's happening on the trick resolution side of things?


Not too terrible, but it's definitely the primary cognitive challenge of play in this game. The good news is that there aren't any secrets once the cards are shown, so you can spread'em all over the place and have the players help keep track, just like in Sorcerer with lots of NPCs.

Quote
ObMyth: Ares was once a dancer.


Ooohh! Julie, take note. Gotta have a big masked ball scene, some day, don't you think?

Best,
Ron
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2005, 01:10:20 PM »

Ron has done a superb job identifying both the strengths and weakness of Nine Worlds as a game and especially as a text.

I'm going to, foolishly, attempt to address his points in this post. I'm sure I'll miss something. THat's what the thread's for ...

Quote
Matt, you once told me that you initially designed Nine Worlds to suit your friends who love colorful setting and Special Kewl player-characters who get all enmeshed in complex conspiracies. They liked teaming up, travelling around, getting sent on missions, and so on - very Shadowrun play, very Mage. However, our group is apparently disinclined toward such play at the moment; possibly because we did it so thoroughly in HeroQuest years ago and recently in Metal Opera.


This is not an accident, Ron. I did say that when I started out. But, this game became nothing at all that would suit my friends particularly well. It became the game *I* wanted it to be, despite early inspiration from them. So, yeah, bring on the "disjointed" group. I all but say so in the text, and definitely say so in the text that player vs. player conflict is a great way to go.

Wonderfully, your post has illustrated why the "disjointed" (which is a misnomer) group makes things even more interesting when they enter conflicts from all over the place. There is inevitable crossover that ties the players together. Because, you know, they're playing together, which is all that really matters. To hell with your Archons. It's about YOU.

What I want to know about your game

Ron, you guys have deliberately settled in on a "medium" level of immortal involvement. That's cool -- you need not ever leave the scale of Medea and Jason to have a blast. But, you hint -- barely so -- at a more epic engagment. There's Ares' involvment, certainly, but also Mercury. He seems to me to be a key player in this conflict, especially if 1) the fleece has become currency of any kind and 2) Manto's aims to get recognized again as a player in the market. Yes? Crank up that Mercury! He's such a meddler and a playboy. (grin)

Ultimately, my question is a selfish one: Do you think I've properly termed the premise as your specific game has revealed? Is your premise a specific variation on mine, or do you think you've addressed something else?

(Oh, and any hints of ambitions toward championship or usurpation of a primarch? That's just my curiosity and I doubt you know that yet.)

Also, Ron, do you have any Archon NPCs? That is, are you controlling any characters, allies or enemies, with Arete and Hubris? Or, do all your puppets have only Power? If you DO have such characters, is it different for you? Are you addressing premise in any way or any different way? If you do not have such characters, why not?

Criticisms

Like I said, Ron's critique is spot on. His four questions? Yeah, pay extra special attention to those, Nine Worlds fans. That's exactly where the rubber meets the road, and where your friend and humble narrator falls flat. That's where your creative challenges lie, especially as a game master. As the text currently stands, that's where a lot of people will get hung up.

So, Ron, you said I need to examine how the text will guide others through those four questions? You're right.

My boss likes to use a metaphor at my work. He calls our job "building the airplane in the air." That's a fitting metaphor for me designing Nine Worlds. I believed I had something new enough and different enough that it was worth doing, worth challenging gamers. But, I suffer in that I had to "unlearn" myself. I'm not much different from anyone else. I've got my gamer tendencies. I'm happily self-evaluating my hobby, and I found something I wanted to change. I did it, but my "self-training" on how to design such a thing shows.

I will work to remedy this problem. I will be putting out a revised version of Nine Worlds. It MUST answer your questions, among other things, Ron. It will be available via PDF initially. All people who have purchased and downloaded the current PDF will easily be able to download the new edition. All people who can verify they purchased the print edition will also have access. Then, I will likely use Lulu to produce a new print edition for con season.

To "preview" -- the answer, as Ron has basically figured out, lies in Muses. Everything in the game should be eligible for Muses. They quickly become the great equalizer. (Pride and Valor -- or Force -- are the other equalizer, though Ron previously shared with me his groups' general reluctance to use 'em as trump. That's why Zeus and Kronos have such high Force values in the book. They can trump you 'til doomsday, which might actually happen.) In the current text, it's an afterthought that non-player characters and objects like planets can have Muses. But, it should not be an afterthought. These things need Muses. All of 'em. And, better yet, as Ron points out, they should earn Muses on the fly as players interact with the world.

On "Getting it"

Let me say that some of the relatively small amount of "I dont' get it" feedback I've received doesn't even get that far. The hang-ups begin for some square one with the entire conflict resolution system. People -- even those who love the never-ending intricacies of so-called "crunchy" systems -- find the conflict resolution system too complicated or time consuming or oblique or somethign similar. My reply is simple: Folks, that's all there is. You're complaining that the game unloads EVERYTHING it does in one fell swoop. Once you "get it" there's nothing left to get. It's quite economical that way. Get over that hump, and you're equipped with an incredible resource system for blasting rewards around the table like its the Fourth of July!)

Then there's the other camp: Those who aren't particularly hung up by the system, per se. But, they are hung up on what this game is about. They may be dazzled by pictures of aetherships and the promise of magic like in Mage. But, some don't seem able to see what's going on in the game. In short, what its premise is. I shrug a lot, because I all but spell it out as much as possible throughout the book.

This is a game about power, and especially about creative power. It's a "subversive" game in our hobby, because "getting it" is all about recognizing that we are ALL creative people, and that the guy over there we call the GM isn't as fucking brilliant as we all say he is, over and over again. He's just one of us. He's just another player, and I'm going to shove his "plotline" down his craw with my Archon's ass-kicking Arete. And he's going to like it!
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Matt Snyder
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« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2005, 01:18:23 PM »

Roger & Ron,

Click on the link below to view the illustration in Nine Worlds:

Nine Worlds illustrations
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2005, 01:24:25 PM »

Hi Matt!

I'm time-constrained, but will answer briefly - more later.

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Ron, you guys have deliberately settled in on a "medium" level of immortal involvement. That's cool -- you need not ever leave the scale of Medea and Jason to have a blast. But, you hint -- barely so -- at a more epic engagment. There's Ares' involvment, certainly, but also Mercury. He seems to me to be a key player in this conflict, especially if 1) the fleece has become currency of any kind and 2) Manto's aims to get recognized again as a player in the market. Yes? Crank up that Mercury! He's such a meddler and a playboy. (grin)


Yeah. Hades, Mercury, Ares, Athena, and others are sort of one-step-away from the conflict at present. Athena's closest; she's interacted directly with all three characters, although briefly. I'm not waiting until the player-characters are "strong enough" before introducing the heavies, but letting the trouble they're causing become "important enough." I figure the big ol' gods have stuff to do, and that the current shenanigans haven't interrupted any banquets or board meetings yet.

The Fleece theft changes that, though, you betcha.

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Ultimately, my question is a selfish one: Do you think I've properly termed the premise as your specific game has revealed? Is your premise a specific variation on mine, or do you think you've addressed something else?


Um, not sure I get it. I didn't find a specific interpretation-statement of our game's Premise in your post. As it happens, I'm pretty sure that all of the characters and their interactions are really pumping Prometheus' dialogue in your opening game fiction.

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(Oh, and any hints of ambitions toward championship or usurpation of a primarch? That's just my curiosity and I doubt you know that yet.)


Hints, yes. Tod is pretty much hinting that he wants to become a mondo-sea-god. Julie's choices often gravitate toward Arete. But just as the game might suggest, which way will wait upon the moment. To operate on that scale, at all, regardless of which way? Oh yes. These players are determined to see that happen.

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Also, Ron, do you have any Archon NPCs? That is, are you controlling any characters, allies or enemies, with Arete and Hubris? Or, do all your puppets have only Power? If you DO have such characters, is it different for you? Are you addressing premise in any way or any different way? If you do not have such characters, why not?


I decided to have some Archon NPCs, and kind of waffled a little about who was and who wasn't in the first session. As it's turned out, though, Medea is an Archon and no other NPC is. Prof Tiresias almost got to be one and I reluctantly decided not, eventually. Still dunno whether that was wise or not.

My thinking is that Archon-ness in the game is a little vague, especially since the game is now so different from its original Matrix-ish "normal earth guy discovers he's living in a cool comic book and has powerz" context. I'm still mulling over how to deal with Archons as a setting feature. I mean, do the player-characters in the game know they're Archons? Do they care? We might have to discuss that as a group.

As for whether Medea is Premise-relevant, the answer is of course Yes. You could feel the players shift around and breathe differently when she entered a scene (the dragons helped). When I mentioned that she was using Hubris, rather than Power, the general response was an affirmative, impatient, get-on-with-it grunt.

Best,
Ron
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jrs
Member

Posts: 373


« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2005, 01:44:05 PM »

By passing all the good stuff between Ron and Matt, I'll comment on this:

Quote from: Ron Edwards
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ObMyth: Ares was once a dancer.

Ooohh! Julie, take note. Gotta have a big masked ball scene, some day, don't you think?

Damn, do not start me conflating Ares and Shiva in this game!

Julie
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