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Author Topic: Playtesters of Nine Worlds, unite  (Read 13394 times)
Matt Snyder
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« on: August 11, 2003, 12:16:04 PM »

Currently, there are 348 downloads of the Nine Worlds playtest.

Forty-five people downloaded the character sheet*.

That rocks. On toast.

So far, 6 people responded in any way to said playtest.

This sucks. On toast
    Spooky Fanboy, Nine World's No. 1 fan, was on the scene with his comments.

    My man Jason Blair really dug it, and noted a big ol' typo goof. (the tie-breaker example doesn't have Hearts symbols, but has twice as many spades symbols as it should for Alexander's hand)

    Ethan Greer shared some great critiques, as well as excellent editing points.

    MathiasJack had a very interesting suggestion about shuffling decks, one that I'm still working through in my brain.

    Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer (a.k.a. Xiombarg) said his group will likely playtest the game. Rock!

    Antii Karjalainen created a friggin' character sheet* on his own intiative, and he's looking to playtest the game with his group. He also rocks.[/list:u]The people listed above will get free copies of the final PDF-version of the game. The next 6 people to offer something useful up in way of critique/playtest will get the same.

    * The character sheet is now also available in a letter sized version for us damn yankees, courtesy of Antii Karjalainen.

    Click here to download the letter-size character sheet

    Click here to download the A4 size sheet
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    Matt Snyder
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    xiombarg
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    « Reply #1 on: August 11, 2003, 12:24:38 PM »

    Quote from: Matt Snyder
    Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer (a.k.a. Xiombarg) said his group will likely playtest the game. Rock!
    Keep in mind the schedule for my group is sloooooow. So I ain't making any promises here.
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    love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
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    Matt Snyder
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    « Reply #2 on: August 11, 2003, 12:28:44 PM »

    And keep in mind that you're getting a free copy. Which is half carrot-and-stick, and half "I mean what I say, and say what I mean." I appreciate feedback, and you gave some. You're getting a free copy. Nuff said.
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    Matt Snyder
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    Ron Edwards
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    « Reply #3 on: August 11, 2003, 12:40:44 PM »

    I'm a slow dude, Matt. Expect comments eventually, though.

    Best,
    Ron
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    Matt Snyder
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    « Reply #4 on: August 11, 2003, 12:46:05 PM »

    Quote from: Ron Edwards
    I'm a slow dude, Matt. Expect comments eventually, though.

    Best,
    Ron


    It's cool. I, meanwhile, am an impatient dude. Hence the offer. I gotta get this damn game out there so people can enjoy it, and so I can expel this particular demon.
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    Matt Snyder
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    Shreyas Sampat
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    « Reply #5 on: August 11, 2003, 12:50:10 PM »

    Short thought on layout: When you were posting art samples in your Livejournal, Matt, I was worried that they would be overwhelming.  It's turned out that you've put together a really beautiful playtest document; the borders, the art, and the wonderfully spacious boxes all work together very smoothly.

    I worry a little about your titling typeface, particularly the S and H; they're a little harsh on the legibility.  The S looks like a dotless questionmark, and the H like a scripty K.  The font is so good, though... are there alternate characters for those two, or a way to obtain such a thing?
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    Matt Snyder
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    « Reply #6 on: August 11, 2003, 12:59:02 PM »

    Quote from: Shreyas Sampat
    I worry a little about your titling typeface, particularly the S and H; they're a little harsh on the legibility.  The S looks like a dotless questionmark, and the H like a scripty K.  The font is so good, though... are there alternate characters for those two, or a way to obtain such a thing?


    My thoughts, exactly. There are no alternates, alas, but I suspect I could craft them by modifying the face in Illustrator. I'm disappointed that the H is so illegible, as I considered changing the title of the game to "Archons of the Nine Wolrds". The S bothers me less, but I can see what you're saying.

    I do need to tweak some elements of the layout to compensate for the letter-sized page. The top bar needs work, and the "Nine Worlds" marginalia thingy needs to scale a bit better. The original plan was to create this for half legal size (7 x 8.5 inches, just like My Life With Master print version). I probably WILL do the print version in that format, but it will be a limited print run mainly for conventions. The emphasis for this game currently is PDF sales.
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    Matt Snyder
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    Mike Holmes
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    « Reply #7 on: August 11, 2003, 02:04:39 PM »

    Quote
    The next 6 people to offer something useful up in way of critique/playtest will get the same.


    Oh, sure, push my buttons. :-)


    Well, I noted that Kronos is spelled with a K in his entry, but under Saturn, he's listed as Cronos.

    More substantively, I see little inspiration for coming up with character concepts. There are no detailed examples in the section on "Shaping the character" (just a suggestion about a "trickster"), and given the out-there nature of the game, no archetypes come to me. In fact, the only obvious thing that I can think of is to emulate one of the immortals. The example at the end of the section is better, but still somewhat sparse.  I mean, I get that character, but not what the variety of Archons is like.

    Under "Step Three: Muses" it says that the first thing that a player has to do in defining his Archon is to define his character's muses. In step three it tells us what the first thing is that we have to do. What's wrong with this picture? I think that the text is right and that this ought to be step #1. The samples help with inspiration, but only so much.

    I'll tackle Conflict tomorrow.

    Mike
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    « Reply #8 on: August 11, 2003, 02:08:24 PM »

    I just found out you had this available for playtest! I better get crackin'
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    AnttiK
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    « Reply #9 on: August 12, 2003, 05:10:09 AM »

    OK, I just pitched Nine Worlds to a couple of my players (who have extensive WoD backrounds):

    "It's like Mage, with the emphasis on the PCs and their personal stories... no splats or factions or such. The 'magick' is much more open (and powerful). The backstory revolves around godlike spirits and their squabbles, and how the archons must weave through them. The setting includes mystical worlds represented by the planets of our solar system, as well as modern earth. The characters can zip between these worlds easily with etherships, so both mundane and outlandish elements can be included in a session. Oh, and it uses playing cards."

    That seemed to do it! Both got interested, and we went through the character creation. And here I come to agree with Mike Holmes: The Muses part worked well when it was the first. I kinda continued with the Mage RPG analog and told the players that they should first decide on the "human" part of their characters -- their motivations. These were revised after the characters were completed (a once over for likeability, as it were).

    Then for the metaphysical part: Arete and Hubris were instantly understood (even though their names mean a bit different things in Mage), and Urges are close enough to Spheres -- though this caused some confusion:

    One of the players commented that the character feeled a bit too metaphysical and not easily approachable because the character revolved around the Virtues and the Urges -- he was put away by the names of the characteristics. But after I told him to write the verbs next to the Urges, and explained that the Urges determine how the character chooses to approach situations, and not just the magic (or nifty card mechanics) side of things, he understood: "Oh, so they ARE kinda like skills then." :)

    So, I would say that the Urges could use a lot of examples on how they can be employed, emphasizing the scene resolution approach and especially with Arete.

    More to come as things progress.

    Cheers,

    AnttiK

    Anticide Illustrations:
    http://www.kotiposti.net/xakarjala/
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    Antti Karjalainen
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    « Reply #10 on: August 12, 2003, 05:44:06 AM »

    To reiterate what I mentioned in your LJ:

    I read through it, and I liked what I saw, but I got really lost around Tricks.  I've been waiting to find time to sit down and really figure out Tricks, because it could be that I just didn't grok it when I first looked at it.

    I will admit that I didn't think I would like a "play as many cards of X suit as you can" system, but what I've seen I do like.

    Question: Are you looking for nitpick comments like spelling and the like, or just system comments?
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    Eddy Webb
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    Matt Snyder
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    « Reply #11 on: August 12, 2003, 06:04:12 AM »

    Quote from: Eddy Fate
    To reiterate what I mentioned in your LJ:

    I read through it, and I liked what I saw, but I got really lost around Tricks.  I've been waiting to find time to sit down and really figure out Tricks, because it could be that I just didn't grok it when I first looked at it.

    I will admit that I didn't think I would like a "play as many cards of X suit as you can" system, but what I've seen I do like.

    Question: Are you looking for nitpick comments like spelling and the like, or just system comments?


    Actually, Eddy, as I recall you were one of the few who DID understand Tricks early on. You asked some questions and posed an example that was perfectly suitable. If you get a chance, read through the examples in the text and see if they help. I'm hoping they will.

    Mike & Antti: I have been thinking about the character concept issue. One concern I have is that you, perhaps, seem to see disconnect between the "human" character and the "demigod-like" character. There should never be any such disconnect. The character is, and will ever be, human. That's the emphasis of the game. You have power, but you are mortal and fallible. How will you deal with that?

    That said, I suggest to playtesters that players think of who their characters were before Prometheus awakens them, HOW Prometheus awakens them, and what they do now that they can traverse the Nine Worlds. This does need fleshing out in the Archons chapter, as you rightly point out. The setting should also help greatly in giving some things for characters to do -- Mercurian Merchant, Aethership Privateer, Aquarian Spy, Martian Warlord, Aegis Agent, Titan Turncoat, Atlantean Slave, etc. These aren't splats, but rather things people might consider as a character concept. No rules issues, just backstory development.

    Also, Mike, how is this (this meaning the current text as written) different than, say, Sorcerer or Riddle of Steel (yes, very differenct, each) in terms of coming up with a character concept? Riddle of Steel as the skill packages for a start, but the character concept is really up to you, and largely based on SAs. Sorcerer is even more open ended, like this text. How do you see those games (perhaps others you can think of) that do it better, for your tastes?
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    Matt Snyder
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    Lxndr
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    « Reply #12 on: August 12, 2003, 07:06:49 AM »

    Well, I don't know if I've made it in time to be part of the "second six," but who cares?  If I get a book, I get a book.  If not, I'll probably still get a book.  :)

    First, it was a remarkably personal experience, reading about the adventures of Alexander, being as he and I share names.  I'm sure I was not the reason behind your choice, but it still made it a rather neat read as I followed Alexander quite literally to hell and back.  It's even somewhat eerie/amusing, 'cause Alexander is in some ways the kind of person I'd want to be in such a setting (more Hubris than Arete, avoiding Stasis in favor of the other attributes).  Though he's not totally like me (he's described as "always well-dressed" and "smooth-talking").

    I absolutely love the interconnection between greco-roman myth and the whole "aethership" thing.  Ever since I first ran across Space: 1889 (and later, to a lesser extent, AD&D's Spelljammer), I've been fascinated by the pulp-magical feel of that sort of space-travel (and honestly, if I'd realized that earlier, I'd have pulled it down and read it much sooner).  The setting is wonderful, and I'm hoping you describe it more in the final document.

    I liked watching and discovering the mechanical interaction between Hubris/Arete, the four Urges, and the nine muses (and kudos for counting Aces as ones, it seems to me most people forget that it wasn't always a high card).  At first I was worried that playing cards would detract from the grecian feel of the game, but they instead seemed to be a good interpretation of "Fate."  When you you reshuffle decks, though?  Only when you're all the way through?  After every hand?

    I think that was asked before.  If so, I'm sorry.

    I also like how conflicts are (or can be) resolved by altering characteristics, both your own and others.  Very nice and "generic" (looks like you have no need for any sort of silly subsystem for combat or socialization or anything else, in other words).  And yet it's possible not to get a single Trick if the cards are drawn (in)appropriately.

    page 16, 2nd column, 2nd bullet under "Tricks":  "...as long as the victorious character is not defeated by some other any opponent..."  I'm assuming the "any" shouldn't be there?

    That's all I have to say right now.  Overall, though, it looks great.

    Some questions:  does Earth have aethership ports or anything like that?  If not, how does one get OFF earth?  Can you be an Archon from somewhere other than Earth?
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    Valamir
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    « Reply #13 on: August 12, 2003, 07:11:10 AM »

    Hey Matt, I have downloaded the pdf and sneaked through it bit by bit here at work.  I think it seems pretty solid.  My two "issues" for it would be these at this point.

    1) Tricks.  I really don't get how they're earned.  I liked the examples of Tricks being used...in a lot of ways they're kind of like spending Importance down in Universalis, so I was grooving on the concept...but mechanically I found myself, even after rereading that section several times a) not understanding how I get Tricks to spend, b) not understanding how long a Trick lasts (spend it or lose it, or save them for later, or is buying up attributes the way one saves them for later), and c) not understanding if there is just 1 sort of "Trick" as a resource, or if what you can do with Tricks depends on the card suits or what.

    Perhaps I the source of my confusion was in not grokking whether "Trick" is used like "Stunt" or "Gimmick", or if since the game uses cards if its based on taking "tricks" in the card game sense.  I had initially assumed the later and that somehow Tricks were captured from other players hands using some sort of card game mechanism...which since I got to the end and never found one led to my first "wait a minute" moment from which I never truly recovered.

    I think perhaps a side bar on Tricks where you step out of the metaphysical game world and just outline the raw mechanics of how they work beginning to end would help (me anyway).  Since I don't really get that part of the system I couldn't really judge whether there are too many or too few Tricks to power things the way your examples suggest.


    2) I couldn't get a feel for what was really going on in the setting from the quick start.  Earth I guess is the Earth of today with all of the planets being just planets as we know them...but then theres an "other world" like Nobilis that exists on top of our world and that's where the game is largely played.  I couldn't tell to what extent people in general are aware of Archons (the way they're aware of Super Heroes...the way some have become aware of Vampires...or the way everyone is oblivious to them like Nobles).

    I also couldn't get a sense of what the Immortals and Titans are really up to.  I understand there's a war...but what does it look like.  Are there armies marching under the banner of immortals ala War Gods of Aegyptus (or whatever that minis game is called).  Is it all naval battles with aether ships like in Treasure Planet.  Is the "war" more subtle of plots and assassinations and duels of deep magic.  When Zeus isn't busy fighting Titans...what's he doing.

    I also couldn't understand the role of the Archons within this war.  Is it "every Archon for them selves" use your power to amass whatever personal power you can, or serve whoever you choose and try to avoid being squashed by someone more powerful than you?  If so you'll need to ensure the final version has a lot of help in this area, because after thinking about it for awhile I couldn't come up with many really good "agendas" for my character to be pursueing.  Is it possible to use your ability to amass personal power on Earth?  How would a "god among mortals" campaign set on Earth differ from a "wander the aether involved in the Titanomachy look".  

    I kind of got a glimmering of my character, but I couldn't come up with a vision of what he was doing.


    3) I do love the card randomizer mechanic.  I think that's pretty slick.  I would be in favor of incorporating the idea of cosmic Karma into the game, by not reshuffling after every deal.  I'd take whatever suit was used and discard it, shuffling the rest back in.  Using the same power over and over would thus drain the deck requiring the player to seek a balance with other Urges.  Having a single high Urge would allow some really lofty totals...but would leave the character vulnerable when he ran low on that suit.  

    One could probably come up with some clever reshuffle mechanics.  One I had thought of was allowing the player to reshuffle any time he wants at the cost of permanently "burning" one card of his highest Urge.
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    Mike Holmes
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    « Reply #14 on: August 12, 2003, 08:51:23 AM »

    Quote
    Riddle of Steel as the skill packages for a start, but the character concept is really up to you, and largely based on SAs. Sorcerer is even more open ended, like this text. How do you see those games (perhaps others you can think of) that do it better, for your tastes?


    What Ralph said goes for me as far as not being able to get a sense of "what goes on". I mean, in Sorcerer, you make a sorcerer, and are asked to come up with why they're a sorcerer. I get that, I know what sorcerers are supposed to be like. In TROS, I make a warrior likely, and am asked what's important to the warrior. I get that, I know what warriors are supposed to be like. In Dust Devils, I make a "western" character, and am asked to come up with what their Devil is. I get that, I know what western characters are supposed to be like.

    In Nine Worlds, I am asked to make an Archon. A what? Then I'm asked to pick muses to indicate what's important to him. I don't get that. I've never read a story or played a game in which there was an Archon, or anything like one. Basicially it's Fang's Genre Expectations thing. I have no idea what to expect, or what's expected of me. So it's hard to make a character.

    Given the subject material, what you need is simply some more ways to get the genre across. One thing that you need is setting material. I mean, with Dust Devils, you had a setting that everyone understands implicitly. Here, however, you're counting on the Art Nuveau layout, and the example of one character to get the entire setting across. All the data on the universe is contained in glossary entries.

    But we all know that setting is a clumsy way to get genre across. How about a bibliography or filmography? Heck, I'm about this close to suggesting flavor text. But do something to get the feel across succinctly, yet evocatively in terms of the "what do I do" elements. Sure, everyone grooves on the Aethership idea, but that's a visual element, and doesn't tell me about what the characters do, other than travel. Why are they traveling? What do they do when they get there? Right now all I get in terms of direction is that the characters are out for themselves. Do the PCs work as a group? I don't suppose so. What's to keep them together?

    Either you have it in your head as to the what to do, and haven't gotten it down, or you need to get a sense of it yourself. Have you playtested the game yourself? It might be at the point where you need to playtest it so that your vision of the "what do you do" comes out in play.

    Mike
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