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Author Topic: Is there enough choice in the Choice?  (Read 3837 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: September 05, 2004, 01:35:56 PM »

Hi Matt,

I've been making up some characters for Nine Worlds, and it keeps bugging me ... if I decide to make a pretty skewed character in terms of Arete and Hubris, aren't I pretty much already choosing before I play?

The character I'm thinking of at the moment is a soldier of Ares, from Mars, with proposed Arete of 6 or 7. Would there be any reason at all for this character to use Hubris in a conflict? Wouldn't I just, you know, use Arete all the time?

Same goes for Hubris in reverse. Why would Alexander, in the rulebook examples, find himself using Arete? I understand the thematic reasoning behind the example on pp. 28-29 ... but why wouldn't Alexander simply have used Hubris and got more cards?

Or to put it differently, you mention in the example that Athena wouldn't like him to use Hubris. What does this mean in terms of rules and outcomes? Say I were GM. Say the player is playing Alexander in just such a situation ... and he indeed uses Hubris. What do I do? As I understand it, I'd just play out what the cards say. Would it be a matter of narrating, if it so happened that I got the narration? How would I get any meat into his (apparently poor) decision to use Hubris when everything about using it gets him more cards?

Best,
Ron
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2004, 11:32:20 PM »

The Choice is all about authority. You're asking about characters who rarely, if ever, deviate from the choice at any point. They always choose the same path regarding how to address authority. That's perfectly fine. We can see lots of compelling characters from literature and fiction whom we adore that constantly make the same choice about authority ... but face myriad consequences in different situations.

In the case you highlight, Alexander's player could very easily have chosen his superior Hubris and still won the conflict. No consequences? Not mechanically -- no lost tricks, no lost narration, no lost Muses. But, the narrated result should be different if Alexander instead chose his Hubris. Rather than have Athena as an earnest ally, Alexander would have earned her service begrudingly. The victory should have some kind consequence with the immortals involved. Maybe the game master will even give Athena a new Muse like "Make Alexander pay for his dishonest bargain aboard the Wayfarer." She'll toss him on his ear the first chance she gets. This is how the players "should" narrate the victory in that situation.

In short, this idealized player in the example played it "exactly right." He foresaw the importance of Athena's judgment and the power of her support and companionship. He took the riskier road, hoping that the GM would run with it and agree with the much more congenial consequences for Alexander. The player chooses Alexander's inferior effectiveness for the immediate conflict, but his victory isn't one that builds an honest relationship with Athena. The consequences are superior in the long term not only for his future conflict (he earns a nifty Athena-related Muse later, which brings him rewards), but he also chooses what turns out to be a much better choice as the game's premise evolves into "Whom will you serve for love?"

That there are no actual Tricks or cards flying around to punish a character doesn't mean The Choice has no metagame consequences. Muses are the key to making that happen in the immediate conflict. HOWEVER, players should also remember the importance of situations and conflicts with serious, meaningful consequences that lead to other situations and conflicts. This is probably the Nine Worlds game master's single most important duty, and I'm afraid the book doesn't do enough to emphasize that.

Game masters MUST recognize the consequences of The Choice for her players, and frame future conflicts accordingly. Even if The Choice is always The Same Choice.  Heck, it's especially true in this case, because the game master should really challenge that character's unfaltering loyalty to authority and the natural order.

What does it mean for your Martian warrior to ALWAYS accept the order of the universe and the rule of immortals like Ares? Is that an ethical choice each time? What happens when / if he gets involved with some subversive Archons, like maybe the Free Spartan League? Will they condemn him for being a stooge of the Eternals? Will other Archons dismiss him because he lacks a real soul? Because he never makes his true, individual mark on the universe, except in the service of Ares? Will others trust him, knowing he's capable of supernatural power, but never wields it (is he hiding it, or pretending to be something he's not, they might wonder)? Does he trust himself? What happens when that authority he implicitly supports FAILS him, like when Ares kills everyone he knows and loves in his home citystate with another of his war games? Does he support that? Does he even question his implicit support of that? (He should, the bastard!)

I hope that helps answer some of your questions, Ron. I mean, the answer could very easily be "Sure, you get more cards that way, so just do it every time." There's logic there, and those cards can mean the difference between a character who earns enough victories to resolve his Muses and a dead character. But, I hope there's more to it than that, and that players recognize the value of actually CHOOSING inferior effectiveness because the long-term consequences are superior.

In short, because doing so addresses premise in a more satisfying way.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2004, 06:53:37 AM »

Hiya,

I get it, especially the thematic parts (did that already) - it was the procedural issue that I needed nailed down.

Use the players' Choice to define future conflicts. Gaining immediate victory through a Virtue that disrespects or ultimately is dangerous to one's opponent will create more dangerous conflicts.

It gets mildly tricky when one recognizes that Arete is very appropriate to screw with an Immortal if you're serving another Immortal opposed to him. But not too tricky - the potential for "what good is a master as long as he's a master" conflicts is rich.

It's also nifty to recognize that what we think of as real virtues (honesty, determination, valor, etc) are not associated 1:1 with either Arete or Hubris. I like that a lot. Frankly, I think you've outdone Moorcock in this regard.

By the way, the character concept I'm considering is a woman, because one of her Muses is to have a child by Ares. So you can see that the Choice might play a big role at various stages ...

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2004, 09:32:41 AM »

I just found this older thread which effectively trumps this current one:

9 Worlds: Hubris/Arete question

Armed with it and your reply here, Matt, I think I'm all good with it!

Oh, and in case anyone's interested, here's the character:

Malvina McCoy, native of Mars, veteran of Ares-Titan wars on Jupiter as well as re-taking of Mars by Ares

Arete 6 Hubris 3
Chaos 4, Cosmos 0, Metamorphosis 1, Stasis 4

Muses: Have Ares' child 3, kill [specific Titan, some guy] 2, dedicate a shrine to her fallen legion 2, have a single perfect night of love, peace, and beauty 2

If I'm reading the rules right, this'll be especially fun because conflicts involving pregnancy and childbirth will most like require Cosmos ... so some help from friends would be important later ...

Best,
Ron
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2004, 10:22:05 AM »

Good to hear this works for you, Ron. My comments on this thread and on the one you linked to stand. (You can see me still designing on that older thread, but my "musings" there actually became the final rules, so they're gold.)

Malvina rocks my world. Your [Specific Titan, some guy]  could easily be Iapetus. Up to you, of course. That's just one uber badguy that makes sense given the setting and backhistory.

As for the lack of Cosmos, that WILL create an interesting situation. It would not preclude her from having a child at all. What it precludes is her having a child that has any attributes or "weight" in the universe (letís call it metaphysical importance, if we can without sounding too damn high and mighty). In other words, the childís birth could simply be a description of events narrated, without any currency involved.

BUT, it would be much more interesting to have that currency (i.e. Tricks, Valor, or Pride) involved. For example, I could easily see her "acquiring" a child as a Talisman. That would be really, really cool in fact.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

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