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Author Topic: 9 Worlds: Hubris/Arete question  (Read 3510 times)
Spooky Fanboy
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« on: October 30, 2003, 06:18:21 AM »

Originally, in the 9 Worlds playtest, if you declared one of these sacrosanct, the other attribute was put in danger. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't wrap my brain around the rationale for this, especially since the sacrosanct attribute couldn't be lowered or raised by the outcome of the conflict.

Has this changed? If so, how? If not, why not? Just curious.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2003, 07:22:43 AM »

Excellent question, especially in light of my playtests to date. I have been re-evaluating this issue, and I'll try to explain.

In the original edition -- in fact, in the playtest as it is currently available -- when you declare the virtue your character will be using (Arete or Hubris), that virtue becomes sacrosanct. Why? My reasoning was this: Because your character "chose" his fate, fate couldn't resist. That is, fate couldn't punish your character for choosing a particular attribute. It guaranteed that he wouldn't perish by losing that attribute.

A while back, Spooky Fanboy suggested that this should be precisely the opposite for the same reason -- that by choosing one of the virtues, you're placing that virtue "on the line." In effect, risking it to get what you want.

Either explanation makes sense to me. I can see it working both ways.

However, a different issue has revealed itself in play (and subsequent rules changes) to make me rethink the entire issue.

When a player makes The Choice -- that is, when he chooses to use either Arete or Hubris for a given conflict -- he now stands to gain trump points (Valor  OR  Pride).

For example, let's say Alexander is arguing with Hades. He does this using Arete, as his talent for "real" rhetoric is astounding. There's nothing magical going on; even Zeus would approve of his use of logic and argument.

If Alexander wins the argument (i.e. the conflict) then he checks off a point of Valor for any of his relevant Muses used in the conflict.

But what if it took him several phases to actually win the argument to his player's satisfaction? In the "old" rules, the player could alter between virtues in each phase. The player could choose to start with Arete, then maybe pump up Hubris (because it wasn't sacrosanct), then switch to Hubris to draw more cards. Neat!

But in the new rules, we've got a problem if that happens. If a player enters a multi-phase conflict, and then switches his virtues, how the heck does the player decide whether to "check off" Valor or Pride on his Muses?

I suppose there are many possible solutions to this, but the simplest (and the one I'm going to use) is: You can only use one chosen virtue for the entire conflict. You must stick with that choice throughout the scene, whether it lasts one phase or several phases.

Now, this alone doesn't mean that the sacrosanct / jeopardy rules are irrelevant. I can still see them making sense. However, I think the rules should probably be tossed altogether. In the old rules, you could pump up one virtue while using the other, then switch to reap the benefit. Now, you can't do that. So, I think it's better to allow the player to modify any of his virtues as he sees fit.

So, if Alexander enters the conflict using Arete with Cosmos in the first phase, he might use earned Tricks to increase his Arete. Next round, he is required to use Arete again, but now he gains the benefit of increasing the attribute in the previous round. (He couldn't have done this is the "old" rules, because Arete would have been sacrosanct.)
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Matt Snyder
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2003, 07:38:20 AM »

Quick question.

There are two virtues Arete and Hubris which seem IIRC to have identical mechanical effects, just getting there for different reasons.

If I have a very high Arete and a very low Hubris (or vice versa) is there any reason (or rather, any reason not extensively contrived) as to why I would ever not use my Arete for everything (or vice versa)?

In other words, instead of having two attributes...is what I really have effectively 1 attribute with a descriptor (Arete/Hubris) attached to it.

The old system seemed to provide some motivation for dabbling in both and using both (by switching between to enhance effectiveness).  Without that, what's the motivation for not simply concentrating on one.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2003, 08:02:52 AM »

"Strategically" speaking, there's no reason NOT to focus on one attribute. That is, there is little stopping you from doing the "most effective" thing. Yeah, if Arete's higher, then use it all the time. Furthermore, it will lead to you earning more Pride points more quickly, which make you that much more effective against the Big Bad Wolves of the cosmos.

However, I raise three counterpoints.

First, you select your character's permanent abilities. If you create a character and choose, say, 7 Arete and 2 Hubris, then you're that much likelier to do exactly what you describe, Ralph. But if you select, say, 5 Arete and 4 Hubris, then it's a bit "fuzzier" on which path you'll chose. Also, since attributes "snap back" to their permanent values, you won't easily have an extraordinarily high attribute. (Of course, creating a Lock to keep your favorite virtue at a high value could change that!)

Second point: It's relatively easy to pump some tricks into your "lesser" virtue and then create a lock to make your character's virtues "equally" effective.

Third point -- remember, this is The Choice. It's narrativism. Choosing between Arete or Hubris isn't just color. Ultimately, it indicates where your character stands on authority in the universe. "Whose world do you want to live in? The one created for your or the one created by you?" If you choose the former, you'll tend to use Arete. If you choose the latter, you'll use Hubris more often.
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Matt Snyder
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Valamir
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2003, 08:25:37 AM »

Quote
Third point -- remember, this is The Choice. It's narrativism. Choosing between Arete or Hubris isn't just color. Ultimately, it indicates where your character stands on authority in the universe. "Whose world do you want to live in? The one created for your or the one created by you?" If you choose the former, you'll tend to use Arete. If you choose the latter, you'll use Hubris more often.


Cool, thats more or less what I expected.  

However, in the spirit of system does matter, I'm wondering if there isn't a way to reflect the trade off between these two options mechanically.  Presumeably its a pretty significant choice for the character (akin to affirming or rejecting an entire world view).

Is there (or could there be), something that can ONLY be done with Hubris?  No matter how excellent you are, Arete can never accomplish X.  Similiarly something that can ONLY be done with Arete.  No matter how much magical power you control, Hubris can never accomplish Y.

That way the choice is a harder choice for the player as well as for the character.  Having a choice between "Flexibility and effectiveness" is rarely a powerful choice for the player.  Having to choose "what am I going to give up in order to get something else" is more meaningful I think.

Just musing aloud here
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2003, 08:53:20 AM »

Doh, two things. I didn't mean that previous post to end so abruptly. I was going to say, "Does that answer is for you, Ralph? Not? Need something more?"

Anyway, YES, to your point:

Quote
Is there (or could there be), something that can ONLY be done with Hubris?  No matter how excellent you are, Arete can never accomplish X.  Similiarly something that can ONLY be done with Arete.  No matter how much magical power you control, Hubris can never accomplish Y.


Yes, I think I covered this previously. There is a payoff that's quite different for each of the two virtues. However, it might take a while to achive.

Players can challenge the primacy of one of the Nine Worlds. If they do so using Arete, they are championing the world. That is, they have decided that the primarch of the world they're challenging is someone they can stand by. So, the primarch tests them. In effect, this is the same as a contest against the primarch (and those folks aren't slouches!). If the player wins -- and he's probably going to need Valor and lots of it to win -- then he earns a prize. The character is granted immortality on that world (or at least that's my idea -- maybe immortality elsewhere, too). Ignore all rules that "kill" your character (i.e., if your character is reduced to 0 in either Arete or Hubris, it doesn't matter -- he does not perish)

Conversely, if your character decides to challenge the primacy of a world using Hubris, he wins a different prize. He challenges the primarch in an attempt to usurp the sitting primarch and become the primarch himself. If successful in the epic conflict (which will likely require copious Pride points!), then the character becomes primarch of the world. In effect, he redefines the Muse words for that world. Also, he may use the world as a Talisman, which is basically like another character/entity under his control. Note, however, that he now has lots of responsibilty and he is NOT immortal.

Whaddya think, Ralph? Does that cover it sufficiently? Or, is the payoff to climactic and too far down the road? I very much like the distinction between the two, but I haven't yet been able to test the workings of this in actual play.

Quote
Just musing aloud here


Pun intended? ;)
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Matt Snyder
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Valamir
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2003, 09:29:34 AM »

Quote
Whaddya think, Ralph? Does that cover it sufficiently? Or, is the payoff to climactic and too far down the road? I very much like the distinction between the two, but I haven't yet been able to test the workings of this in actual play.


I like that distinction too, but it probably is[/is] too far down the road, unless you expect players to be taking and championing worlds right and left.

But I'm not sure the distinction is distinct enough for it to be a trade off.

Consider: I go full bore Arete I can become Champion of a World.  I go full bore Hubris I can become master of the the world.  Ignoring for a moment, that becoming the primarch sounds much more fun than becoming the champion of a primarch, either way you're not giving up anything.

To put it another way, what should be tremendous soul searching, deep and abiding conviction for the character (arete vs hubris) mechanically is pretty much a flip of the Coin.  Heads I go Hubris, do everything with magic and become a Primarch, Tails I go Arete, do everything by being really good at it and become a Champion.  There's no real down side to picking one.

I'm thinking something along the lines of...If I go full bore Arete I neglect or down play (or even lose) Hubris.  By doing so I gain in character effectiveness and I get closer to one of the cool ultimate rewards of play.  Soooo...why would I choose not to.  What is it about Hubris that I don't want to lose.  I don't want to have to give up X to do that.

NOW that's a choice the player has to wrestle with "is it worth it".


To use a for instance:

I don't really grasp the nature of what makes Arete and Hubris different as a personal experience for the Archon, so I'll substitute a version of Law and Chaos just for illustrative purposes.

If I choose to go full bore Law I give up Chaos.  I lose the ability to feel, to be frivolous, to feel passion and joy to empathize and feel sorrow.  I become cold, logical, calculating, and efficient...and extremely powerful.

If I choose to go full bore Chaos I give up law.  I have difficulty concentrating, can't maintain relationships.  I feel powerful emotions but never for very long.  I become capricious, volatile, unreliable...and extremely powerful.

If I choose to maintain balance, I get the best of both of these...but I give up ever becomeing extremely powerful.


See that's the sort of tradeoff I'm thinking of.  Substitute whatever the characteristics of Hubris vs Arete are for the above.  Or instead of behaviors and feelings (if they aren't particularly different between the two) substitute abilities, powers, special effects.

Can some one who is crazy maxed out Hubris even walk, or open a door.  Have they given up so much of personal ability in favor of magic, that they can only act out of magic?  I don't know.  But I'm feeling that there needs to be something you lose when you choose to go extreme in one direction.  Something that makes the choice more than just which ultimate reward do you hope to get.


I kind of rambled there cause I'm having trouble expressing exactly what I'm trying to get at, but hopefully that made some sense.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2003, 09:45:13 AM »

Yeah, it makes sense. I see what you're saying more so now. I have worked on a mechanic that does something very much like you're suggestiong.

Actually, it was a "finished" mechanic in the "old" version of the game. That is, once you resolved a Muse, you could receive a permanent bonus to Arete or Hubris.

But, with the new version of the game, Muses are resolved. They are judged, but I haven't yet figured out what/how that works. Clearly, this is the point at which I can do what you're suggesting. That's because once a Muse is "judged," it's clear which virtue should benefit. So, we can simultaneously grant some kind of balance-tipping change that, for example, increases Arete while descreasing Hubris by a like amount.

Also, in the older version, players could choose to earn that bonus, or instead acquire a Talisman.

Actually, you're hitting on the one thing last thing that I need to finalize for the game, and I haven't yet reached that solution. This came to light in our last playtest when one of the players earned 5 Pride checks, thus judging his Muse for the Hubris side of things. He therfore earned 5 points of Pride to use as trump. This was near the session's end, and we didn't yet decide what to do from that point.

For example, he might want to have a talisman rather than an attribute bonus. Or, maybe he does indeed want to permanently increase his Hubris at the cost of lowering his Arete.

Of course, I say this is the last frontier to solve for the game to finally be "complete," but inevitably some new issue will creep up as a result. This game design has been whack-a-mole that way as I try to nail it all down!
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Matt Snyder
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"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
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