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Author Topic: [Nine Worlds] Forge Midwest  (Read 2444 times)
John Harper
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« on: April 14, 2006, 03:28:02 PM »

I finally got the chance to play Nine Worlds at Forge Midwest. Matt Snyder ran the session, with Paul Tevis, Paul Czege, Danielle, and myself as players. It was lots of fun, and also highlighted several cool things about Nine Worlds, which I'll talk about here.

Pick up and play
Matt didn't have pregens or even a pitch for the session. He just let us make characters as a group and then responded to what we did. Nine Worlds as a game facilitated this process in several ways. First, the game's setting is broad and grabby, without being overwhelming. This allowed us to browse the setting quickly, plucking out bits that interested us. In short order, we had zeroed in on Mercury and the Sun as the worlds of interest. From there, we pitched character concepts that tied in to those worlds. I'll sketch them quickly here, just for fun:

Solon: Ex-Saturn Navy aethership captain, played by Paul Tevis.
Petros: Archer Foundation spy, played by me.
Balo: Pro-titan terrorist, played by Paul Czege.
Cassandra: Aquarian reporter, played by Danielle.

Then we fit our characters together to create a lot of crosses and weaves. My spy was embedded on Solon's aethership, building a relationship to bring the Saturn Navy guys over to Apollo's side. The aethership was bringing a bunch of Saturnine refugees to Mercury, and Paul C's terrorist was hiding among them, plotting a disruption of a trade summit on Mercury. Danielle's reporter was also with the refugees, ready to break the story as soon as it developed.

Matt facilitated all of this, suggesting weaves and pre-loading conflicts as we crafted our Muses (I'll talk more about Muses next). Nine Worlds as a game gave us "pick up and play" ease with the grabbiness of its setting, quickness of character creation, and player-initiated conflict-loading via the Muses.

Story NOW
Muses are where it's at. For those that don't know Nine Worlds, a Muse is a goal that your character will work towards and resolve (successfully or not) during play. For example, my spy character had the Muse, "Take the Saturn refugees to the Sun." Most characters have 3-4 Muses. When your Muse applies to a conflict, you get bonus cards to draw, which helps you win points that you can use to boost your Muses (among other things). So, the feedback loop is tight and fast.

The result is Story NOW. When it's time for your character to act, you look through your Muses. If you can get into a conflict that relates to your Muses, you kick ass and earn points that help you kick more ass. There's no reason to delay this cycle. The reward system kicks in immediately and pays you off.

Plus, NPCs also have Muses, which the GM uses and pumps up as you play. So the GM is operating on the same reward system as the players, and has every reason to make his NPC Muses relate to the PCs, which ties everyone together in a web of conflict. It's a beautiful thing.

I called for the first scene of the game, and set up a situation that would let me resolve one of my muses with a conflict ("Vaccinate the refugees before they reach the Sun"). I succeeded, took my bonus points, resolved the Muse and was instantly rewarded with currency that would give me an edge in future conflicts. So, my PC had a goal that lasted less than one scene before being addressed, but it was addressed and resolved because I pushed for it and was rewarded for doing that pushing. I also had the option of delaying the resolution of the Muse and building it up so it would be worth more when it resolved. Reward now, or reward later. Either way, we're making story that we care about.

We're seeing this kind of mechanic in a lot of games -- Kickers, Spiritual Attributes, BiTs, Keys, Muses --  and it's quickly becoming a must-have for me. They don't just kick-start engaging stories, they also provide a clear means of resolving stories -- something my traditional gaming delayed or killed or simply failed to support.

As a result of this delicious game support (pick up and play, story now) we were able to create a really interesting little story about secret agents, old vendettas, freedom of the press, terrorist propoganda, betrayal and loyalty -- in the space of about 2 hours.

And yeah, I got the refugees to the Sun.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2006, 03:29:42 PM by John Harper » Logged

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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2006, 07:10:26 PM »

I watched the game for about 30 minutes, and I'm a firm believer in the coolness of muses. They're like spiritual attributes and kickers and keys combined.
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