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Author Topic: New Muses - any rules for these yet?  (Read 7584 times)
Pilgrim
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« on: September 05, 2003, 11:28:31 AM »

For those of you that haven't seen it the newest char acter sheet is up at http://www.chimera.info/nineworlds/charsheet_rev.pdf
And there appear to be significant changes to the muses, linking them to astrological bodies.
Which suggests new rules.
So, Matt, any idea on when we can get a peak at the new muse rules and how they are linked to planets?
Thanks again, because this is a fascinating thing to see.
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Bowden "Trey" Palmer | trey DOT palmer AT Golf Mike Alpha India Lima DOT Charlie Oscar Mike
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2003, 12:02:22 PM »

Trey,

My own group playtested Nine Worlds last night, and it was a fun and helpful playtest session.

I went into that game with two major elements of "unfinished business." While I did make progress on both fronts, both issues remain unresolved.

The first issue is the one you've raised. Muses are now tied to one of the Nine Worlds. I decided that the players had to determine a Muse with a distinct world associated with it, and that no player can have more than one Muse per world. This encourages players to have ties to multiple worlds, and to set out to settle conflicts in many places.

As you can see on the character sheet, each muse has a place for check boxes called "Valor" and "Pride." This is how it works. Any time your character enters a conflict scene, he must choose which virtue (Arete or Hubris) to use. If he chooses Arete, the player checks one box of Valor on any Muses used in the conflict. Conversely, if he chooses Hubris, the player checks off a box next to Pride.

The idea is simple: the player has (up to) nine chances to prove himself to Fate. Eventually, the character will "fill up" 5 boxes of either Valor or Pride (best out of 9, you might say). It is a way to accrue one's decisions, and shape over time one's preference for following the rules of the immortals, or shaping the world according to your own rules.

However, at this point, I'm stuck. I'm not precisely certain which way to proceed. That is, once the player achieves 5 "votes" in valor or pride for a given Muse, I'm not sure what the consequence is.

One idea I have is that the Muse becomes fixed in place. Fate expects you to resolve that Muse, and you cannot accrue a greater Muse rating by "banking" Tricks. (You can, however, spend Tricks as attrition wears on your character, but you can never earn more back for that Muse.) Once you DO resolve the Muse through play, though, you may retire the Muse and earn an increase in the relevant virtue. So, if you had accrued 5 votes for Pride, you could then increase your character's Hubris rating permanently.

While this might work nicely, I don't think it's properly tied to setting, or rather sufficiently tied to setting. For example, let's say you reached this point with a Sun Muse. You resolve the Muse and earn a Hubris increase. Now what? What does that event have to do with the Sun, and especially Apollo, who rules the Sun. How does your choice affect the setting, and how does the setting affect your choice. I'm still struggling with this issue.

The other issue we discussed at length in last night's session was shuffling mechanics. We came up with an intriguing idea. Basically, in any given phase, you can choose between using your deck normally (i.e., as the rules are written currently) and employing a "deck action."

A deck action would be a metamechanic to affect your cards or the cards of others in some way.

Cosmos would force a players discarded cards to be shuffled back into the Fate deck.

Chaos would force a player to discard his remaining Fate deck.

Metamorphosis would force a player to EXCHANGE (i.e. "flip-flop") his Fate deck with his discard deck(s).

Stasis would lock a discard pile, trapping cards within. The player would then discard into a new, secondary discard pile.

Each of these are all-or-nothing actions. You don't use your Cosmos rating of 5 to force a player (or yourself) to shuffle only 5 cards back into your deck. Using Cosmos simply forces the player to shuffle ALL discarded cards back into the deck. I am sketching ideas for ways Urge ratings would come into play, though. Basically, I'm thinking of them as a Drama mechanic where players compare ratings to see who "wins" in conflicting deck actions, but players could "bid up" by spending Muses.

There are many interesting possibilities here. You could, for example, use Stasis to "trap" a good set of cards, then use Metamorphosis to swap that discard pile with your Fate deck, then somehow unlock that new Fate deck and then play those good cards.

One concern is the ability of player groups to "team-up" on the GMs deck, outnumbering his ability to counter their deck actions.

Obviously the other concern is that this becomes complex and a bit overwhelming. We started getting dizzy thinking through possibilities! But, by and large, we thought the ideas were very interesting, and sound like a lot of fun. While I think this will appear in the game, it will appear as one or 3-4 "optional" rules for shuffling. (Other rules would be simpler. For example, you can shuffle for free at the start of each conflict, pay 1 muse point to shuffle during a conflict.)

That's were things stand, Trey. I'm happy to discuss rules ideas with anyone. This is the playtest process, after all, and my one-man-band company employs the Internet "public" as its playtest group!

Thanks!
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Matt Snyder
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Jason L Blair
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2003, 12:35:56 PM »

RE: Muses

Is it possible to tie the Valor/Pride scores into allegiance? I was thinking something along the lines of: If you rework the ratio of Muses to Worlds (currently 1:1) then you could set the character up as, basically, warriors whose actions will eventually align them with one of the worlds. This is just an acorn thrown out for your consideration.
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Jason L Blair
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Pilgrim
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2003, 12:58:22 PM »

Quote
The first issue is the one you've raised. Muses are now tied to one of the Nine Worlds. I decided that the players had to determine a Muse with a distinct world associated with it, and that no player can have more than one Muse per world. This encourages players to have ties to multiple worlds, and to set out to settle conflicts in many places.


So, the full range is still available, but must now be tied to a world?
And must a PC take a muse for each world on creation? Or can they say have 3 muses, and as the game progresses, acquire more?

Quote
As you can see on the character sheet, each muse has a place for check boxes called "Valor" and "Pride." This is how it works. Any time your character enters a conflict scene, he must choose which virtue (Arete or Hubris) to use. If he chooses Arete, the player checks one box of Valor on any Muses used in the conflict. Conversely, if he chooses Hubris, the player checks off a box next to Pride.

The idea is simple: the player has (up to) nine chances to prove himself to Fate. Eventually, the character will "fill up" 5 boxes of either Valor or Pride (best out of 9, you might say). It is a way to accrue one's decisions, and shape over time one's preference for following the rules of the immortals, or shaping the world according to your own rules.

However, at this point, I'm stuck. I'm not precisely certain which way to proceed. That is, once the player achieves 5 "votes" in valor or pride for a given Muse, I'm not sure what the consequence is.


Understandable. You want it to be fun, but also work within the setting.

Quote
One idea I have is that the Muse becomes fixed in place. Fate expects you to resolve that Muse, and you cannot accrue a greater Muse rating by "banking" Tricks. (You can, however, spend Tricks as attrition wears on your character, but you can never earn more back for that Muse.) Once you DO resolve the Muse through play, though, you may retire the Muse and earn an increase in the relevant virtue. So, if you had accrued 5 votes for Pride, you could then increase your character's Hubris rating permanently.

While this might work nicely, I don't think it's properly tied to setting, or rather sufficiently tied to setting. For example, let's say you reached this point with a Sun Muse. You resolve the Muse and earn a Hubris increase. Now what? What does that event have to do with the Sun, and especially Apollo, who rules the Sun. How does your choice affect the setting, and how does the setting affect your choice. I'm still struggling with this issue.


Hmm. I see the problem and the best I can come up with at the moment is this: Don't lock it into Arete or Hubris as the rewards. I'm not sure whether I favor the GM or player choosing, but someone choses what the reward is.

Edit: Try this for a reward system:

What this means is that you earn a number of Tricks equal to the Muse Rating, that are allied with either Arete or Hubris. These Tricks can then be used in a variety of ways.

    The first use is to use them in game as a Trick, but restricted to the appropriate virtue - effectively wild tricks.

    They can be 'burned' at the rate of 1 trick per Muse Rating to acquire a new Muse.

    They can all be spent on increasing the PC's relevant virtue by one.

    Spend them to permanently increase the PC's demi-urges at a rate of 2 tricks per increase in the demi-urge.[/list:u]

    Thoughts? Comments? Spare change?

Quote
The other issue we discussed at length in last night's session was shuffling mechanics. We came up with an intriguing idea. Basically, in any given phase, you can choose between using your deck normally (i.e., as the rules are written currently) and employing a "deck action."

A deck action would be a metamechanic to affect your cards or the cards of others in some way.

Cosmos would force a players discarded cards to be shuffled back into the Fate deck.

Chaos would force a player to discard his remaining Fate deck.

Metamorphosis would force a player to EXCHANGE (i.e. "flip-flop") his Fate deck with his discard deck(s).

Stasis would lock a discard pile, trapping cards within. The player would then discard into a new, secondary discard pile.

Each of these are all-or-nothing actions. You don't use your Cosmos rating of 5 to force a player (or yourself) to shuffle only 5 cards back into your deck. Using Cosmos simply forces the player to shuffle ALL discarded cards back into the deck. I am sketching ideas for ways Urge ratings would come into play, though. Basically, I'm thinking of them as a Drama mechanic where players compare ratings to see who "wins" in conflicting deck actions, but players could "bid up" by spending Muses.

There are many interesting possibilities here. You could, for example, use Stasis to "trap" a good set of cards, then use Metamorphosis to swap that discard pile with your Fate deck, then somehow unlock that new Fate deck and then play those good cards.

One concern is the ability of player groups to "team-up" on the GMs deck, outnumbering his ability to counter their deck actions.

Obviously the other concern is that this becomes complex and a bit overwhelming. We started getting dizzy thinking through possibilities! But, by and large, we thought the ideas were very interesting, and sound like a lot of fun. While I think this will appear in the game, it will appear as one or 3-4 "optional" rules for shuffling. (Other rules would be simpler. For example, you can shuffle for free at the start of each conflict, pay 1 muse point to shuffle during a conflict.)


Yeah, that does get complex quickly.
Well, as long as they are presented as options, then it ought to work well. Provided you warn the GM/Storyteller about the consequences of the choice, of course.

Hmm. Which reminds me - I've got some questions on shuffling so I'd better go start a new thread to keep things from getting confusing.

Thanks much Matt!
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Bowden "Trey" Palmer | trey DOT palmer AT Golf Mike Alpha India Lima DOT Charlie Oscar Mike
Exos integro, sugiliato curatio, y femellas amo cicatrix.
Pilgrim
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2003, 05:59:27 AM »

Quote
The first issue is the one you've raised. Muses are now tied to one of the Nine Worlds. I decided that the players had to determine a Muse with a distinct world associated with it, and that no player can have more than one Muse per world. This encourages players to have ties to multiple worlds, and to set out to settle conflicts in many places.


Matt,
Related to this - how does one cover a Muse that is tied to Atlantis? Or an aethership? Or a ouranonisos (sky island)?
Thanks,
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Bowden "Trey" Palmer | trey DOT palmer AT Golf Mike Alpha India Lima DOT Charlie Oscar Mike
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2003, 06:13:04 AM »

Muses can be tied ONLY to one of the Nine Worlds. One cannot champion or challenge a minor body. Atlantis could conceivably fall under an Earth Muse, as it was once part of Earth, and some folks (Atlanteans, some Archons, and maybe even the Titans if they can take advantage of it) want to see it rejoined with Earth.
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Matt Snyder
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Pilgrim
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2003, 07:13:37 AM »

Matt,
Hate to say this but I think you're building the table stakes too high, as in too rich for my blood. Or at least the blood of most PCs I'd play, and for the fairly short term campaign formats I'm stuck with (getting 20+trumps is nearly impossible or very long term).

Have you ever read Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads by Mike Pondsmith? Its an old Cyberpunk 2020 GM's guide and I'll remember one bit by one of the contributors. He'd set up the game so the PCs would wind up leading a 2nd American revolution and once the players realized that the game died. The quote that summarizes it and stands out is "I don't know nothing about birthing no nations." Basically, tailor the game to the objectives of the PCs and the interests of the players.

What I'm getting at is that the game needs to be tailorable to a variety of goals and ambitions. Ruling a world and challenging the gods/Eternals is a huge thing - not every GM or PC will aspire so high (especially if they remember the fates of those who tried - that whole risk reward thing, y'know).  But for each of the PCs to rule a sky island in an archipleago is a big, but more doable campaign goal. Or the example you gave of freeing a friend from Atlantean slavery. Gaining command rank for an aethership is also do-able (like your example), or reacquiring it from your mutinous crew, while smaller in scale, has the potential to travel all over the 9 Worlds and take in quite a bit of the scenery.

And accomplishing any of the above examples might make for a good way to build up the necessary Virtues, Urges and Trumps for eventually usurping an Eternal.

Might I suggest that you have either a wildcard location for muses? Or a explicitly stated link (like Atlantis to Earth) for the various things? Or even encourage GMs to make those links for their own games?

And can someone other than me weigh in here? I think this is important.

Thanks,
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Lxndr
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2003, 07:21:50 AM »

I had thought that "linked to a world" was meant to be symbolic.  You want to become captain of that aethership, that means... well, some world.  I don't know which one.  Probably depends on WHY you want to become captain.  Mercury if it's just pure commercial ambition, Mars if perhaps you want revenge on the current captain, I dunno.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2003, 07:57:13 AM »

Quote from: Lxndr
I had thought that "linked to a world" was meant to be symbolic.  You want to become captain of that aethership, that means... well, some world.  I don't know which one.  Probably depends on WHY you want to become captain.  Mercury if it's just pure commercial ambition, Mars if perhaps you want revenge on the current captain, I dunno.


Yes, that has been discussed. But as I thought through that, I kept finding myself right where I began when there were no planet-muse ties.

That is, if you have a Muse based on revenge, which is symbolically linked to Mars, how does that really tie the setting (and, specifically, Mars) to the character? I was (still am) unable to see how that helps the setting do anything at all, least of all become important to characters. It's just neato. It has nothing to do with the actual place of Mars, the people or the Eternal in charge. It just is like a horoscope sign, which doesn't really do anything but add color.

The critiques related to this issue rightly raise the point that Muses as they were originally written do not do anything in particular to make the setting work.

That said, the matter is hardly solved. You've actually hit upon the weakest remaining link, which is: What the heck does a Mars Muse mean/indicate? How does it work, and why should my character take that Muse? Further, how is it at all different from the rules as they were originally written?

For example, let's say I make a character who's hell bent on avenging the the death of his brother, who was killed by Atlas in an aether-pirate battle.

Now, does my vengeance have anything to do with Mars? What about Atlas or Atlantis? What the heck DOES my vengeance have to do with ANYTHING related to the setting?

The answer remains fuzzy, but there are several ways to proceed. For example, you could say that its tied to Mercury, since the brother was smuggling supplies to refugees on Mars before they were ransacked. Therefore, it's a Mercury Muse, and Hermes might have a vested interest.

That last sentence, by the way, probably answers how/why something is tied to a given world. Think in terms of how your Muse affects or interests the Eternals. If you know you're looking for a lost artifact on Mars, then obviously Mars is a good candidate for the Muse. BUT, if the artifact is, I dunno, Pandora's Box or something, then maybe Apollo or Zeus are VERY interested in the thing, and you therefore have a Jupiter or Sun Muse (maybe the even send you to find it, for example, or maybe they're actively trying to prevent you from doing so). Either way, you could easily see how tying that Muse works for a more than just Mars.

Keep the good questions coming, folks.

Matt "making it up as I go along" Snyder ;)
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Matt Snyder
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Lxndr
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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2003, 08:01:32 AM »

A Mars Muse (or any kind of muse, really) has a link to the planet because a symbolic link has more power in your world.  AT least, that's how I'd see it.  It is a horoscope sign, but it's a meaningful one, because in this world the horoscopes are real, the planets are powerful, etc. etc. etc.

By fulfilling a Muse (through you nine checkboxes), it feels to me like your character should have added something to the planet itself, even if it's only symbolic.  The symbolic resonance is a MEANINGFUL one, and you are supporting the planet through your action.

And by adding to the universe, you get a greater say in it.

Or so is my current stream-of-consciousness rambling.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2003, 08:26:23 AM »

Quote from: Lxndr

By fulfilling a Muse (through you nine checkboxes), it feels to me like your character should have added something to the planet itself, even if it's only symbolic.  The symbolic resonance is a MEANINGFUL one, and you are supporting the planet through your action.

And by adding to the universe, you get a greater say in it.


Ok, but what does that actually mean? Does it remain an abstraction? What do you as a player actually describe, and what is the mechanical result, color result, and premise-based result as consequence?

In other words, yeah, I totally agree -- you add something "meaningful" to the planet, thereby addressing the premise. But what in tarnation does "something meaningful" mean? I don't mean to say you don't know, but rather more humbly that I don't!

I can't figure out a way that "something meaningful" amounts to anything better than navel-gazing. Navel-gazing is the heat-death of the universe as far as this game is concerned. You must DO stuff when you play this game, not philosophize ABOUT stuff when you play. Therein lies no game at all.

Quote
Or so is my current stream-of-consciousness rambling.


I hear you. I'm right there wit' ya.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2003, 08:27:08 AM »

Quote
For example, let's say I make a character who's hell bent on avenging the the death of his brother, who was killed by Atlas in an aether-pirate battle.

Now, does my vengeance have anything to do with Mars? What about Atlas or Atlantis? What the heck DOES my vengeance have to do with ANYTHING related to the setting?


THAT right there is the BIG QUESTION.  Since the question remains essentially unanswered it is causing you to create mechanics which you don't have a lot of conviction in.  

Let me put it this way.  WHY do you want "a character who's hell bent on avenging the death of his brother" in your game at all?  There are hundreds...thousands of games where that little scenario could play out.  IOW...its completely generic.

If I wanted to include that piece in the background of my character I could do so without needing the mechanism of muses to do it.  

IMO, the problem you're having with Muses is that you're essentially thinking about them like TROS Spiritual Attributes.  You're starting from the "given that the core motivating factor of the character can be anything...how do I put parameters around that".

I'd suggest discarding that approach all together.  To hell with muses being a clever way of mechanically rewarding character motivations.  Make them truely unique to the cosmology of 9 worlds.  When someone asks "how do I define my desire for vengeance for my brother's death" as a Muse, you say "you don't the Muses are above careing about such petty concerns as the life of your brother"

In fact, I'd be tempted to make Muses the way the Archons actually channel the power and purpose of the immortals.  They could each be a scale, and when that scale is capped out the Archon has essentially become a paragon of that Muse.  Think what it means to be a Paragon of Mars or a Paragon of Hermes.  PCs might start with access to several Muses, and over the course of the game they reach a point where to proceed farther along one path they have to give up another, loosening the tie with another Muse...which would be an excellent plot driver.  What does a character have to do to loosen his tie with the Jupiter Muse in order to strengthen his tie with the Hermes Muse...probably something that will cause a great deal of danger and grief.

That's just one possibility of many, but my advice is start by being clear in your own minde what exactly a Muse is, what it represents, and how it ties the character to the setting in a way more meaningful than flavor text.  THEN worry about what the game effects of having it as a stat are, and how its used in actual play.  Once you have a strong in game feel for the Muses I think you'll have much more conviction about them mechanically.
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2003, 08:55:24 AM »

Ralph's dead on here on several points. Muses were originally not at all different than Spiritual Attributes as seen in The Riddle of Steel. Now, with some comments and critiques, they've become something . . . different. But, they still remain only about half committed to something different. By and large, they remain Spiritual Attributes with a twist of cosmology. The recipie isn't tasty just yet. The most recent ideas I posted ARE tasty, as far as I'm concerned, but the whole thing isn't quite there yet.

And  so, we get to the notion, as Ralph suggests, that Muses become something different entirely. One possesses a Mars Muses, and Ralph suggests it represents Mars in some way, and ties the character to the setting.

Of course, the reason I have not yet done precisely what Ralph's suggested is that I have to bring 'round my vision of "what you do" in this game to align with the method Ralph suggests. I actually like what he's said (and this isn't the first time he's suggested as much). I just couldn't figure out how to make it all come together.

For example, I can easily see how the Muse of Mars is all about acting violent in times of war and vengeance. Cool, I get it. You get that Muses as a bonus when violence happens, when rage happens. That certainly fits with one aspect of the "what you do" in this game. I haven't been able, however, to wrap my brain around what, say, Saturn represents in terms of action and conflict. It's the Titan's gig, so perhaps destruction. But then, how is that different from Mars' violence?

So, my concern is that we get some activity that doesn't fit well under a single Muse, yet still jives with my vision of what this game should do. OR, we get actions that are too fuzzy to easily categorize, like the Mars=violence, Saturn=Destruction issue. Call it me going down kicking and screaming to Ralph's good analysis and ideas. But, in the end, I think Ralph's holding the right banner and waving it in my direction. Simply put, my stance on Muses DOES lack proper conviction, and they define what the game is about more than any other element.
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Matt Snyder
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Valamir
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2003, 09:16:20 AM »

Quote
I haven't been able, however, to wrap my brain around what, say, Saturn represents in terms of action and conflict. It's the Titan's gig, so perhaps destruction. But then, how is that different from Mars' violence?


It wasn't always the Titans...maybe Posiedon is dead...but the Muse is still his....

1 step in the process I think, is to define what the Titanomachy means to the game.  Is it just one piece of colorful background floating there to provide flavor (like WWII is background for Casablanca)...or is it the central inescapeable "thing" that all Archons will have to face for themselves at some point (like the Possibility Wars in TORG).

If the Titanomachy is the latter, and if PCs have the capability of supporting either the immortals or the Titans, than you might want to consider tieing how the muses work into this choice.  Would there be a "Titan Muse" or would muses only be for the Immortals.  Would the Titans have some other version.  Or are Muses a two edged sword, and supporting the Titans means you're turning your back on the whole muse thing.

I'm just braindumping here because I don't know the details of your cosmology, but somewhere in there I think theres a solution.
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2003, 10:14:50 AM »

Quote from: Matt Snyder
For example, I can easily see how the Muse of Mars is all about acting violent in times of war and vengeance. Cool, I get it. You get that Muses as a bonus when violence happens, when rage happens. That certainly fits with one aspect of the "what you do" in this game. I haven't been able, however, to wrap my brain around what, say, Saturn represents in terms of action and conflict. It's the Titan's gig, so perhaps destruction. But then, how is that different from Mars' violence?

(Bold added by me).
Pardon me for jumping in when I've done no more than skim through these 9 Worlds threads, but - isn't the bolded bit above a perfect Nar question to be answered via play, rather than in the game/background itself?  Setting-driven Nar should push up questions like that - and probably not steer too hard towards any particular answer.

Just a quick thought,

Gordon
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