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[9W] Problems with certain actions

Started by Nick the Nevermet, December 07, 2004, 10:28:33 AM

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Nick the Nevermet

Hey, I just bough Nine Worlds a few weeks back, and I really enjoy it.  I do have a few questions about its mechanics, though.

Basically, I don't know how to handle certain goals.  Some goals seem too big or extreme to manage.  I am aware that narrative authority does not equate to power, so thats not my problem.  Let me give you some examples of what I mean.

Example Goal #1: "I Kill Him."
Not sure how to handle this.  If its an acceptable goal, then it would seem to short circuit the arete equaling zero part of the system.

Example Goal #2: The Big Thing.
This is really a lot of different possible goals.  I don't know how to handle players stating drastic goals:

Example 2a: "I teleport to the moon using hubris." Be it teleportation or figuring out a Middle East Peace Accord using Arete, there seem to be some goals that cause problems.  How does a GM handle these?

I guess part of what makes me uncomfortable is the absolute wide-open possibilities on what PCs can do, and that I'm not sure what in the game rules allow them to not rip the universe a new one.

What'd I miss? :)
Thanks for the help

Matt Snyder

Hello, Nick! Thanks for posting these excellent questions. I think it's a really important issue in the game, and one that game masters need to consider.

What you missed was a helpful sidebar I included in the playtest version of the game. I think there was some reason I took it out in the final version. But, whatever the reason, it probably should go back in for future editions given your questions! Here's the sidebar:

QuoteThe Impossible Goal

When characters earn victory in a conflict phase, they achieve their stated goals. However, some goals are mechanically impossible based on victory alone. For example, a Archon's player cannot simply state as his goal, "I kill the Titan." Fate will not allow the Titan's demise based only on victory in a conflict phase. In order to destroy a Titan, the Archon must diminish or destroy the Titan's Power characteristic via the use of Tricks.

Impossible goals are goals that would require the manipulation of character attributes without the use of Tricks. Examples of such goals might include: "I destroy the Titan's immortality"; "I use the amulet to increase my allies' awareness"; or "I want to change the seeing-eye dog into a fighting hellhound!" Without Tricks, the player can't really achieve those things, and the goal may not be realized even in victory.

Therefore, players should either avoid stating things they cannot achieve with a simple victory or they should phrase the goal such that they will attempt or work toward the goal, hopefully earning Tricks to succeed.

For example, if a player's intent is indeed to kill the Titan, likely it will require several victories in subsequent conflict phases and a large number of Tricks to reduce the Titan's Power to 0. An appropriate goal for such a fight might be, "I try to destroy the Titan." The player should then remember that if he is victorious in a conflict phase, he can choose whether or not to continue the conflict.
That answers your question #1, I think. It also almost answers your question #2.

How do you handle The Big Thing? That is, how do you handle the scale of conflicts. Is a character's goal going to be too large? Is that even possible?

The only limitation to the scale or epic scope of a goal are Tricks. That is, if a goal absolutely requires Tricks to accomplish, players will very likely have to succeed in multiple phases if not multiple conflicts.

However, if we can think up an epic-scale conflict that wouldn't require Tricks somehow, then there is no limit to what players can accomplish. Remember, this is the game of "cosmic drama." I encourage Big Things!

The problem is recognizing what requires Tricks. I'll use your example to demonstrate how to do this.

Example #1: Middle East Peace

Let's say your character wants to instill peace in the Middle East. Ok, fine. Let's also assume it has something to do with your character's Muses. (Otherwise why are you wasting your time with it! Do something that matters to your character! He won't earn rewards like Pride and Valor unless his Muses are relevant to the conflict!).

So, the question then lies on the opposition. Who or what will he go up against? Just "the world"? Will it be Prometheus, since he controls the Earth? Are the Titans involved? Other Archons, like the Illuminati? Or, is this something like a "natural disaster"? What? The GM will have to decide that. (And I strongly recommend that GMs involve opponents like the TItans, Eternals, or enemy Archons as often as possible!)

So, let's think about it. Can a simple, one-conflict  victory for your character maintain the peace? Or, will you absolutely require some Tricks to make it "really" happen? That's the primary decision the players will have to make. If there is someone behind all the discord -- like the Titans especially -- then a simple victory won't work. The Titans don't give up so easily, and you'll have to "kill" them first before you can really enforce the peace. That will require Tricks.

So, this particular Big Thing goal is an "Impossible Goal." But, with several conflicts against the Titans, you might pull it off.

On the other hand, if the GM just decides that the "Middle East" resists your goal without any metaphysical heavies like the Titans lurking around, then -- BAM! -- you have just created peace in the Middle East if you win. Why? Because you, the player, have the power to decide such things. The GM has less power in this game than other games.

I'll repeat that:

The GM can suggest (but not require) smaller scale conflicts after hearing players' declared goals. But the GM should not have the authority to say, "No you can't do that because I think it's 'too big.' " The GM should have less "power" in Nine Worlds than in other games. That's exactly one of the main points of the game! The GM is "just another player" here in the sense that if he wins the conflict, he gets to say what happens (for example, that the Big Thing doesn't happen). But, if the players win, then THEY get to say what  happens.

Example #2: Teleportation

You also asked about how someone could use Arete to teleport to the Moon. You've loaded the question a bit, though. You can't "teleport" in the magical sense to the moon with Arete. What your goal should say is "My character travels instantaneously to the moon." How could he do this using Arete?

He could:

* Build a "aethercutter" (I just made that up, whatever works.) It cuts a hole into the aether, and you can walk through. It's an expensive, one-shot machine, but the gods approve of the technology. And you used your keen intellect to build it. Arete! (Ok, a slight stretch, but it works.)

* Convince, with your natural charm, someone to do it for you. You could trick Hermes into zapping you right to the moon. Arete, you clever dog! Bampf!

The lesson, then, is not to frame conflicts or state goals in such a way that they automatically require a nutural or supernatural completion. State things more generally, and then figure out whether the solution is magical or mundane.

Hope that helps, Nick! I'm always happy to clarify if I can. Keep questions coming!
Matt Snyder

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

Nick the Nevermet

That is exactly what I needed.  Thank you.

The big thing I missed was the trick thing as a measure.  That really brought it all together.  Thanks.