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Author Topic: 9W -- Getting back on board  (Read 1667 times)
Matt Snyder
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« on: February 06, 2004, 12:44:17 PM »

Last night, I wrote up a lengthy post explaining where Nine Worlds design stands, especially after letting it rest in my brain and re-reading threads on the Chimera Creative forum.

I think it's in my better interest to post a much shorter and to-the-point post, and go from there.

Here's the deal: I have previously stated that the premise of Nine Worlds is as follows:

"Whose world do you want to live in? The one created by others or the one created by  you?"

I have also previously stated that Nine Worlds should be "setting based narrativism." This did far more harm than good. The hell of it is, maybe it is setting based narrativism, but that discussion lead to all kinds of talk that all but ignored the above-stated premise.

I don't know whether or not 9W is setting based narrativism. I do know it is narrativism, in whatever capacity, and that I'm sticking with the premise above, as I've done all along.

So, I'd love some help via discusson to fix these pesky Muse rules.

Right now, I'm "regressing" a bit on Muses. In the playtest document, Muses are very much like Spiritual Attributes in The Riddle of Steel. After all of this "setting based" discussion last fall, I changed Muses to something more like emotive keywords tied to each world. (Read other "Muse" threads on this forum for more info.)

Even if I keep the keywords and world-tied Muses, the system is too clunky as I've revised it. So, my current "regression" is this: Make Muses more like they were in the playtest document. But, rather than having them like Spiritual Attributes, make them more similar to, say, Kickers in Sorcerer. They are situations that require (and make pretty obvious) resolution. Once resolved, the character can earn benefits and then rewrite another Muse as needed.

The game text, then, would be very deliberate in showing players how to build Muses properly, and showing them what to avoid.

The reason I'm doing this is to focus on the premise. With these "regressed" Muses, players must focus on confronting their built-in conflicts. But, the key is how they resolve those Muses, and what this says about them. Will they play by the rules of the universe? Or, will they craft their own realities to resolve the Muses? (Simply stated, will they use supernatural means to solve their problems, or won't they?)

Thoughts?
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Matt Snyder
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"The future ain't what it used to be."
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Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2004, 01:16:54 PM »

Quote from: Matt Snyder
The reason I'm doing this is to focus on the premise. With these "regressed" Muses, players must focus on confronting their built-in conflicts. But, the key is how they resolve those Muses, and what this says about them. Will they play by the rules of the universe? Or, will they craft their own realities to resolve the Muses? (Simply stated, will they use supernatural means to solve their problems, or won't they?)

Thoughts?


I like the focus.  Let me ask a couple questions here mainly to try and solidify the concept in my mind.

1) It seems to me that in order to focus on that premise it must be required that for a muse to be valid it must be equally "solvable" by natural means or supernatural means, as it is the players choice in this regard that important.  Is this an accurate statement, and if so, how do you envision enforcing it?

2) The most important part of the game becomes the method of attacking the issue.  "within the bounds of understood order", or "eschewing understood order to exert ones own will" (if that's a valid paraphrase).

My question then becomes, how is this difference highlighted and illustrated in the game (in any combination of setting, roleplaying events, or mechanics).  Right now, the only thing visible to me is the choice of attribute to use Arete or Hubris.  Other than the colorful name, I'm not seeing how the simple choice of which attribute to use actually addresses the premise.  They could be named Zot and Choddle and the game would play the same mechanically.

What actually changes about the character or what the character is able to do or how the universe reacts to the character when one is chosen over the other?
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2004, 03:02:09 PM »

Crud, well, I lost my first response. Here goes take 2, Ralph:
Quote from: Valamir

1) It seems to me that in order to focus on that premise it must be required that for a muse to be valid it must be equally "solvable" by natural means or supernatural means, as it is the players choice in this regard that important.  Is this an accurate statement, and if so, how do you envision enforcing it?

Absolutely, it's accurate. Paul Czege hit on this a while back; I just re-read his comments again the other day.

Enforcing it mechanically is a cinch -- the mechanics treat the matter as separate-but-equal. A Muses benefit applies identically to either Arete-based or Hubris-based actions.

But, the real issue is not using Muses, it's creating them. The game text must tread carefully here. It must do a superb job of explaining Muses as well as showing players how they work and how to construct them.

That answers your question, I think, but it's easier said than done, you know! I'll be watching this as I write, and look for comments on this issue particularly in the editing phase.
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What actually changes about the character or what the character is able to do or how the universe reacts to the character when one is chosen over the other?

I think the following answers your question. This is the idea I have in mind for how this will work now:

When a player uses his character's Muse, he checks off whether it was done using Arete or Hubris. Then, when the Muse is actually resolved, the player earns the Muse's rating (or some other value) in Trump points.

Depending on whether the player used his character's Muse more often under Arete or more often under Hubris, the player earns one of two kinds of Trump.

If he used Arete more often, he earns Valor. If he used Hubris more often, he earns Pride. These let you do the following:

* You can spend a point of Valor or Pride in a conflict phase to declare the suit you're using as Trump. This means it beats any other suit, regardless of the cards in the other players' hands. However, you would compare other hands with the Trump suit normally.

* You can spend Valor to improve attributes permanently (and without a lock!).

* You can spend Pride to acquire Talismans.

(Note, I may interchange these abilities, so that both Valor and Pride can do both things here.)

* You must have Trump points to challenge a world's Primarch. If you do so using Arete and Valor, you are championing the Primarch. Defeat his/her challenge, and you gain immortality (perhaps just on that world). If you do so using Hubris and Pride, you are trying to assume Primacy of the world for yourself. If you win, the world becomes your Talisman. You are not required to challenge Primarchs in the game; it is an option.

So, in summary, making "the choice" in regards to Muses results in increased effectiveness as it applies to that type of choice. If you side with Arete, your "natural" effectiveness increases in some way. But, if you sided more so with Hubris, your "supernatural" effectiveness is improved.

Either way, the choice addresses the premise, and it says something about how your character chooses to live in the world.

Hopefully, that answers the question you posed, Ralph!
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Matt Snyder
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2004, 07:05:48 PM »

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Hopefully, that answers the question you posed, Ralph!


I'm not sure.  Bear with me while I think out loud a bit here.


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When a player uses his character's Muse, he checks off whether it was done using Arete or Hubris.


Ok, I got the mechanical character sheet effect...check the appropriate box.  But what actually changes?  Choosing Arete over Hubris is making a statement of some kind.  What do you envision the ripple effect on the universe of making that statement?

How does choosing Arete tie to "wanting to live in a world created by others"?

How does choosing Hubris tie to "wanting to live in the world created by you"?


Quote
Then, when the Muse is actually resolved, the player earns the Muse's rating (or some other value) in Trump points.

Depending on whether the player used his character's Muse more often under Arete or more often under Hubris, the player earns one of two kinds of Trump.

If he used Arete more often, he earns Valor. If he used Hubris more often, he earns Pride. These let you do the following:



Ok, check.  I earn a resource of a type specific to my reliance on Arete or Hubris.


Quote
* You can spend a point of Valor or Pride in a conflict phase to declare the suit you're using as Trump.


But this is right back to the part I'm not getting.  I've gone through alot of effort to focus on Arete...I've got Valor out the wazoo.  You've gone through alot of effort to focus on Hubris.  Man, you're the most prideful guy ever.

But in the end...they do the exact same thing.

Ralph "I spend a point of Valor to declare Trump"
Matt "I spend a point of Pride to declare Trump"

Shouldn't the spending of Valor say something specific to wanting to reinforce the natural order of the universe?

Shouldn't the spending of Hubris say something specific about putting personal desire and will above order and stability?


Quote

* You can spend Valor to improve attributes permanently (and without a lock!).

* You can spend Pride to acquire Talismans.


That's more along the lines of what I was thinking.  Valor improves your personal effectiveness.  Hubris does something else (I can't remember what Talismans are off hand).

Quote
(Note, I may interchange these abilities, so that both Valor and Pride can do both things here.)


But this seems counterproductive to me, which makes me wonder if I'm really understanding what you're going for here.

Quote
* You must have Trump points to challenge a world's Primarch. If you do so using Arete and Valor, you are championing the Primarch. Defeat his/her challenge, and you gain immortality (perhaps just on that world). If you do so using Hubris and Pride, you are trying to assume Primacy of the world for yourself. If you win, the world becomes your Talisman. You are not required to challenge Primarchs in the game; it is an option.


Here again, I'm missing something.  If I'm jonesing on Arete then I'm pretty much coming down on the side of achieving personal perfection and turning my back on the crutch of using supernatural power to get what I want.  That's cool.  That's VERY cool.

But I'm not seeing how that has anything to do with challenging a Primarch and becomeing his champion.  The ability to become a Primarch's champion is cool.  But how does that as a reward feed into your initial premise.


The Hubris outcome I have an easier time seeing.  After all, what's more prideful than thinking you could run the universe better your way.

Maybe I'm off base, but I would think that rather than having the paths of Arete and Hubris be similiar and lead to similiar ends, they should be completely and entirely different.  So different that they don't even resemble each other any more.


Quote

So, in summary, making "the choice" in regards to Muses results in increased effectiveness as it applies to that type of choice. If you side with Arete, your "natural" effectiveness increases in some way. But, if you sided more so with Hubris, your "supernatural" effectiveness is improved.


I'm liking the idea alot, but perhaps the answer isn't just in adjusting "effectiveness" of what the characters do.  Perhaps it also sets parameters around what they now can do that they couldn't before and what they now can no longer do that they used to be able to.

Quote
Either way, the choice addresses the premise, and it says something about how your character chooses to live in the world.


That's the part I'm not seeing.  And note, that isn't a challenge about it not being there.  That's me saying I'm not sure I'm on the same page with you and needing a bit more help understanding your vision for it.

It also may be me being neck deep in the idea of character choice leading to transforming who the character is for R&R and perhaps projecting ideas from that that don't have any place in 9W.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2004, 01:03:45 PM »

Quote
How does choosing Arete tie to "wanting to live in a world created by others"?


It does so because you conform to the rules of those who've created the rules, i.e. the Primarchs (the gods). You accept that, "Yep, this is the way things work, and right here, right now, I'm better off because of that. I'll play by the authority's rules because I accept that their reality is better or safer."

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How does choosing Hubris tie to "wanting to live in the world created by you"?


Conversely, you use Hubris to literally change the rules of reality (i.e. use "magic"). You're saying at that point that you don't think the Primarchs, or whomever, did a good enough job defining reality. You're saying that you can do better, right here, right now. You're going to break their rules with "magic" and recast them according to your vision and need.


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But this is right back to the part I'm not getting.  I've gone through alot of effort to focus on Arete...I've got Valor out the wazoo.  You've gone through alot of effort to focus on Hubris.  Man, you're the most prideful guy ever.

But in the end...they do the exact same thing.

Ralph "I spend a point of Valor to declare Trump"
Matt "I spend a point of Pride to declare Trump"


Ralph, they almost do exactly the same thing. That is, they both contribute to conflict resolution; in that, they're the same. But they are not the same completely. In helping you with conflict resolution, they are also adressing premise. The means by which you choose to carry out your conflict resolution is you making "The Choice" of the game: "My way or their way?"

But, given the example dialoge between "Ralph" and "Matt" above, the result is absolutely not the same.

First, they are not the same because the context is that these two characters are in conflict (or at least have different goals). Either "Ralph" is victorious or "Matt" is. The deal goes down. It will either be Arete (that is, what the gods say is "Ok") or Hubris (what the Archon right then and there says is "Ok").

Even if, paradoxcially, "Ralph" and "Matt" have the same goals, then the result is still not the same. Why? Because how "Ralph" describes his goal is very different from how "Matt" describes his goal. Matt uses magic or supernatural stuff, Ralph does not.

Finally, even if you're using those statements for two unrelated, totally separate conflicts, your concern is that they're the same. Yes, they're the same in that they're using the same conflict resolution mechanics. That's intentional! They're supposed to be the same. But, even with the same goal in those two characters (that is, same goal, separate and unrelated conflicts), then the result is, again, not the same. One pisses of Zeus, one does not.

Maybe the thing that's hanging you up is that that this "magic or not?" issue seems to you to be just color? It's not just color; it's addressing premise. I'm much more confident on that position, now.


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Shouldn't the spending of Valor say something specific to wanting to reinforce the natural order of the universe?

Shouldn't the spending of Hubris say something specific about putting personal desire and will above order and stability?


Sure. But, there's nothing stopping you from narrating this. Say something, by all means! (Indeed, that's the point.) I don't think the game is required to do it for the player in some mechanical fashion. All that stuff is there; the mechanics are, I think, sufficient toward these two questions of yours. Make it happen as you play.



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Quote

* You can spend Valor to improve attributes permanently (and without a lock!).

* You can spend Pride to acquire Talismans.


That's more along the lines of what I was thinking.  Valor improves your personal effectiveness.  Hubris does something else (I can't remember what Talismans are off hand).

Quote
(Note, I may interchange these abilities, so that both Valor and Pride can do both things here.)


But this seems counterproductive to me, which makes me wonder if I'm really understanding what you're going for here.


Agreed. I will not "cross-pollinate" these two. That was a "kitchen sink" design problem, I think.

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Here again, I'm missing something.  If I'm jonesing on Arete then I'm pretty much coming down on the side of achieving personal perfection and turning my back on the crutch of using supernatural power to get what I want.  That's cool.  That's VERY cool.

But I'm not seeing how that has anything to do with challenging a Primarch and becomeing his champion.  The ability to become a Primarch's champion is cool.  But how does that as a reward feed into your initial premise.


You don't "challenge" him per se. He (or she) is testing you. It's merely language to indicate that you must "defeat" him in a Conflict, i.e. overcome the Primarch's test.

Quote
I'm liking the idea alot, but perhaps the answer isn't just in adjusting "effectiveness" of what the characters do.  Perhaps it also sets parameters around what they now can do that they couldn't before and what they now can no longer do that they used to be able to.


Hmm, I see what you're getting at. I think Talismans (which you acquire via Hubris, not Arete) let you do new things, so in that sense, your character can do things he couldn't before.

Arete just plain' ol makes you more effective permanently (by increasing already-existing attrbutes). You can become immortal, so what you can do that you couldn't do before is Not Die! But, those are both special cases where you earn something specifically.

More generally, I'm not sure this can happen. Consider the mechanics -- they are very abstract, yet versatile. In that sense, there aren't a lot of ways I can think of to have your character do things that other characters can't (or that you formerly were unable to do). If anyone has a specific, concrete rules idea, I'm all ears.

Quote
Quote
Either way, the choice addresses the premise, and it says something about how your character chooses to live in the world.


That's the part I'm not seeing.  And note, that isn't a challenge about it not being there.  That's me saying I'm not sure I'm on the same page with you and needing a bit more help understanding your vision for it.


Hmm. I think it's there. Like I said, I'm more confident on that position. That doesn't mean I'm not listening to suggestions, or that it couldn't be a bit clearer. Maybe the "just color" issue I raised above is helpful.

Again, narrating to describe conflicts as "natural" or "supernatural" is NOT just color. It's not just cool stuff that happens. It addresses premise; using or not using magic is a moral issue because you're either offending the powers that be or not. Will you piss off the gods or not? It's a judgment call about who's in charge. Clearer?

If not, your stumbling on this issue has helped me realize where the text needs to help the reader, more so.
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Matt Snyder
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"The future ain't what it used to be."
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2004, 01:55:47 PM »

yup, I think that was indeed the missing piece.

The difference between Hubris and Arete won't really be visible (much) in the rules.  It will be visible in actual play.  When I declare the use of Arete I can describe pretty much anything I want but I must ruthlessly enforce (and if I don't the GM must) that the entirety of my description must have a perfectly mundane grounding.  I may be able to jump higher and farther than any olympic track star, but I can't fly.

When I declare the use of Hubris I can get funky.  I can and should explain how my use literally changes reality to something I like better.  As a player I should ruthlessly ensure that my descriptions of what I do cannot be mistaken for or explained away by normal causes.  If a door is locked, I don't simply magically unlock it, anyone using Arete or a key could have done that.  If I'm using Hubris whatever action I accomplish must be done in a way that absolutely couldn't be accomplished with Arete.  I make the door simply cease to have a lock.  Or I change the locking mechanism to some signature dragon head lock for which I hold the only key.  Or I make the door simply vanish.

The effect on the game world of the use of Arete or Hubris is visible in the narration and the changes that narration is permitted to have on the world.  The down side to focusing on Hubris then becomes the inability to keep a low profile by doing things "normally"...every single thing you do alters the universe leaving evidence of your passage...hubris at its finest.


Assumeing that's about right...I think I've found your page and I like it.

That is going to be a challenge to get across in the game text, though.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2004, 07:38:59 AM »

Excellent, Ralph. I'm relieved that you (1) see it and (2) agree that it's addressing premise (especially the latter!). I was more confident the issue is there, but I think I absolutely needed to hash it out in discussions with someone else so I know I can explain it. That's because you're right -- explaining this in the text is both difficult and crucial. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, seriously!
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Matt Snyder
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"The future ain't what it used to be."
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Piers
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2004, 01:18:57 PM »

So here's a question:

What happens in situations where a player uses Arete or Hubris for purposes that are counter to their side-effects?

Most of the time using Arete or Hubris you produce an effect (this is what I'm trying to do), and a side-effect (this is how my method has an impact on the local Primarch), right?

But when you challenge a world's Primarch, the effect and side-effect come into conjunction--either they act together or they act against each other.  So, what if someone else is challenging the Primarch and I want to get involved, and either:

a) I want to help the challenger, but I do so by attacking the Primarch using Arete?

b) I want to defend against the challenger, but I choose to do so using Hubris?

I really like the distinctions that you are making between the two, but I think they become even more interesting when they sometimes run problematically counter to the players actual situation: I need to stop this plot, but the best way to do so is by using Hubris which hurts the Primarch I'm trying to protect.  I'm trying to overthrow the primarch, but doing so by using my abilities with Arete actually reinforces him.  That's good stuff.

Piers
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2004, 07:25:49 AM »

(Sorry for the delay -- I typed a response, but it got eaten by the Internet. Here's take two.)

Piers, I think you'll pretty much answered your own question.

You asked:

Quote
What happens in situations where a player uses Arete or Hubris for purposes that are counter to their side-effects?

Most of the time using Arete or Hubris you produce an effect (this is what I'm trying to do), and a side-effect (this is how my method has an impact on the local Primarch), right?


First, I'll clarify your second question a bit. When you use Arete or Hubris, ou always produce an effect (or rather, you do when you're victorious). However, the "side-effect" is far more vague. I'll try to explain: In terms of the game's rules, there are side-effects like you describe. But, they are often subtle and small. The game's system is built in such a way that the "penalty" for resisting a Primarch's domain with Hubris is a long-term issue. For any given conflict, the "penalty" will be very slight. It's not likely to threaten immediately the character in any major way.

However, that's the game system. This says almost nothing about how the Primarch is likely to react in the situation. That reaction is in the hands of the game master. The players, and especially the game master, must use their judgment. Did a Hubris action piss off Zeus, even if the action helped his cause? Does he know about it? What does he think about the character now? What will he do? Punish him? Send out agents to "keep an eye on him"? What?

This is what the game's all about! These kinds of situations are precisely where the rubber hits the road in this game. How WILL players answer these kinds of questions? How will the game master respond with the non-player character Primarchs, Titans, and other entities?

The answer for all of those questions will be found in actual play of this game. It's what makes this game interesting and fun.

Earlier, I explained in this thread that Nine Worlds' premise is "Whose world do you want to live in? The one created for you, or the one created by you?" That's a pretty broad statement, and perhaps not easily translated into how you play this game, and what really matters when you play this game.

Piers, you've hit upon exactly the kinds of situations that matter in this game. That's the game's premise in action! So, like I said, I think you've answered your own question. These kinds of situations ARE more interesting. I agree with you.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
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