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[Nine Worlds] Suggestions for making the rules more accessible and inspirational

Started by hix, October 06, 2007, 05:07:17 AM

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Hi Matt,

So, I love Nine Worlds. I took it for a one-off test drive last weekend, and our group:

- created an fun story
- realised the game has some fascinating long-term implications (especially how the situation changes when a human becomes Primarch)
- became fans.

This game is incredibly easy to run. So easy and enjoyable, in fact, that I find it suspicious that this game isn't more popular.

I suspect it has something to do with some of the text's presentation. I love character generation, Muses, and the conflict resolution section. For me, the areas that could be improved are the Cosmology (setting) and Philosophy (How to play) sections. I'm going to make some suggestions about things I feel could make those areas of the text inspire more people to play it.

Looking at the text, and the notes I made to prepare for the game, I saw two fundamental areas for improvement:

1. Make the setting more accessible to the casual reader
2. Provide more guidelines about how to set up a situation to play


What's the 'best' way of presenting the setting and the situation?

Personally, I feel the setting needs to be easier to pitch to players. I need to be able to lend them the book, point them to the Cosmology chapter, and have them grooving on it within a couple of minutes.

The biggest hurdle to this is the History of the Nine Worlds section, that kicks off the Cosmology section. While there's at least one amazing idea on each page, I (and others) found it too dense to take in on a single reading. Some ideas I came up with, that could address this include:

- simplify the History, with a synopsis
- provide a chronology of the big events in the setting
- provide a relationship map, illustrating the current alliances between Primarchs
- shift the History section further to the back. Make it an optional read rather than the first thing we're presented with.

I think the point is to excite the players about the situation as it is now. For me, that's a cold war between Titans and Eternals, with humans caught in the middle. The rest of the material can be presented so players can dig into "How this situation came to be" if and when they're interested.

That means I'd emphasise the worlds more. Put them towards the front of the Cosmology section, and make them grabby. I want to be able to read out a quick precis to players, without searching through the entry for relevant material. So, some more suggestions - and please bear in mind, I don't have the text in front of me. I'll be quite embarrassed if this stuff is already there.

I think each planet should have a one-liner about their 'vibe'. Jupiter is a civilisation under a fascist regime. On Saturn, humans are either rebels or slaves, and they're terrorised by giants and monsters. I love Saturn - it reminds me of the Shadows of the Colossus game, or a classic defeat-the-13-evil-overlords fantasy.

Each planet's description could list the top 3 notable points about it, and clearly identify the planet's plot hooks (for players to create Muses from).

You could also talk about duality - each planet seems to have a dual identity. Sol is the split between enlightenment and crime. Earth represents stories about the illusion vs the real world. Jupiter could be strong stable leadership but in a repressive totalitarian environment. Those themes are also strong hooks for players to create characters from, and inspire them with Muses.

Finally, I think that having a good elevator pitch for the game (see this thread) might be an idea. I've found Nine Worlds difficult to quickly sell to people who don't already know about it. In fact, what is your sales pitch for the game?


Once players have a handle on the setting, they've got to create a situation - by creating Muses about the material that interests them.

I can't remember this section of the rules too clearly, and maybe this stuff is already there, but it feels the game would be more accessible if it laid out a clear process for the GM and players to follow. Something like World Burning (Burning Empires), or Town Creation (Dogs in the Vineyard).

Maybe including a demo scenario or an extended example of play - just to show how you would set up a game. Your podcasts are great for this. I think they skip the initial set-up stages, though. Right?

The game would probably benefit from including the guidelines for generating NPCs you've developed in a couple of threads (here, and here). Basically creating NPCs with Power that's relative to the PCs' Arete and Hubris, points of Force as seem appropriate, and Muses tied to the PCs.

Ron mentioned that he'll only introduce NPCs that are (or have been) mentioned in the PCs' Muses. That also seems like it'd be good to note in the text.

You've also mentioned the possibility of upgrading NPC at the end of an "Act". This is pretty good stuff to discuss, and it implies one possible vision for how to structure a game.


-- I've emailed you the notes I added to the Complete guide to Conflict Resolution, about "What to do with Points" after a conflict. I really like the idea of everyone having a single reference sheet that tells them everything they can do in a conflict.

-- When running my game, I ran into some problems when dealing with conflicts that had multiple participants and both orthogonal and oppositional goals. Do the rules have enough examples of this type of play in them?

-- I'm not sure that the cover image really relects the type of action and stories that you get out of Nine Worlds. On the other hand, I have no ideas for a replacement image (except that it might involve an aethership).


That's about everything I can think of, Matt. Once again, it's a great game - I'm definitely going to be playing / running it again. Hopefully you find these notes helpful or thought-provoking.

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