*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 26, 2022, 10:45:56 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Nine Worlds] Uppity Archons  (Read 5871 times)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« on: March 16, 2005, 06:53:35 AM »

Nine Worlds

Events and current conflicts of play

A tremendously significant Atlantean-Armada alliance is under way, courtesy of the character Gelons. He now has a developing sea-god (Nereus/Glaucus) under his thumb as a Talisman, and concluded a series of difficult conflicts fairly successfully. Most significantly, Atlantis is now immobilized following a great big space-battle which brought most of the Atlantean forces into alliance with the Lost Armada and (surprise!) a contingent of Free Spartans. The Titans just took a serious blow in the gut with this one, but not that many of the Primarchs of the Nine Worlds are going to appreciate how it was done. Next session is just bucking for a terrible Titan showdown for sure, between Atlas and Gelons.

Ares is now somewhat reconciled with Free Sparta, through a very interesting set of choices made by the character Chione. The Medusan lineage is now strongly allied with Athena and purged of monstrosity, as well as committed to Mars (note, the planet, not necessarily Ares). This all brings up an interesting new dynamic: the Medusan family, with Fleece, with at least one member sympathetic to Free Sparta; plus Ares, with great opportunities for more Nine Worlds clout via acknowledging the Medusans; hence, the potential for an otherwise very unlikely alliance between Athena and Ares. Those two, working together? Whew - that's a whole lotta War to be directed anywhere.

I did a little intensive role-playing for Athena, given the resolution of Chione's Muse, "Seek justice for the assassination of Medusa." Athena finally bit the bullet and openly defied Jovian justice on the basis of first principles. She now defines Athenian justice as whatever the Archons come up with - it's Man's Law, from now on, not God's. And this was a serious, hard-core metaphysical act, communicated across the Nine Worlds and now known to all the Primarchs. Even Prometheus never imagined she'd go this far.

Immediate response? Zeus cracks down on Archons, and since it's what's helping cause all the ruckus, freezes Fleece as a commercial asset. However, he was too late; some of it the Fleece is now an Archon's Talisman, so the player-characters are all going "neener neener" at Zeus. Which incidentally puts Ares in an interesting position between Zeus and Athena; bear in mind that Ares just ruled in favor of an Archon and endorsed her interference in reality (redeeming Medusa's persona and legacy as a person, not a monster).

Anyway, during the big battle at Atlantis, I was essentially handed the opportunity to bring Hades into play - Manto has several Muses involving Hades; there's a major setting tie-in in terms of the Plague on Sol; Manto has been using tons of Hubris overall; and finally, lots of narrations by Maura during the battle to establish that something's not quite right with corralling the dead. So he showed up and initiated a conflict to nab her into Hades (the place) for a consult. She resisted, but he won, eventually - after she'd spent all of her 8 Pride to bring him down to 1 Force. Hades isn't quite as Forceful as he was a moment ago ...

Theme stuff

Usurping seems to be showing up more and more in people's conversations around the table. All the players are getting charged up with kicking at pedestals, and I doubt we'll see much attempt at Championing. Although you never know. Chione remains an explicit question, as Julie just created a Muse to usurp Ares in full knowledge that her character is better suited to Championing - a clear bid for internal conflict and potential tragedy. And Manto, Maura's character, has a real tendency to jump in unexpected directions, so if Maura takes a sudden liking to some Primarch, who knows what'll happen.

I seem to have developed an interesting notion that Hades, in the sense of "plutonian," is all about material, tangible wealth - a gold standard, if you will, whereas Hermes, and most especially, in our game, the Fleece, are all about credit - a paper standard. Given that Maura is very big on her character being a Truth Merchant, and given that her story is coming to include a major conflict between Hades and Hermes, I guess that comes down to whether you think Truth works better on a gold or a paper standard. (Goddammit, play a Greek-esque game, and what do you get? Eternal philosophical quandaries, that's what you get.)

The Medusa story parallels or somewhat reprises our major story issue from Hero Wars (now HeroQuest) - the redemption or reconstruction of Medusa is similar to our Thed themes in some ways.

Talisman rules

1. To summarize our discussions so far:

     Talismans are bought 1:1 with Pride, just as in the rules
     Talismans may be improved 1:1 with more Pride, merely by spending it
     Talismans have no set limit to Power

We're the first folks to play the game to this degree of point-spending, I think, and these rules work for us. What do you think, Matt?

2. For a little while now, we've been chewing over our perception that Talismans are kind of weenie to start. Let's say I spend 10 pride to make a Talisman with Power 5, Chaos 3, and Stasis 2. This isn't much of an in-game entity, especially with no Muses of its own. In any conflict I might undergo with something big and nasty, the SBAN will almost certainly beat the stuffing out of the Talisman. Why use the thing at all, then?

Then I started thinking, and started remembering that in myth, it takes a big man to wield a Talisman effectively - and this works for the game too, I think. OK, stay with me.

Here are our entities to consider: PC (my player-character, SBAN (something big and nasty), and MT (my Talisman). Conflict! We draw, and let's see how it plays out.

a) PC and MT both get higher Fates than SBAN. This is a no-brainer, as the best result, but it's not relevant to the point I want to make.

b) PC gets the highest Fate, SBAN gets next highest, and MT gets lowest. Hey, this isn't bad. I can suck off all of SBAN's Tricks so it can't hurt MT. MT doesn't get any Tricks though (not even its own).

c) SBAN gets the highest Fate, PC gets the next highest, and MT gets lowest. Well, not great. SBAN gets all our Tricks and messes with us big-time.

But wait a minute ... what if I'd had the foresight to have PC and MT do slightly different things? If the outcome is (a), I get two major things accomplished, so that's good. But what about (b) and (c)? In (b), this is interesting - SBAN gets kind of caught between the two things; it can only win against MT's immediate goal. In (c), it stymies both of us.

Maybe the benefit of a Talisman is that (b) becomes a consistent possibility, and that means that secondary goals within conflicts are now serious considerations for opponents. So considering Talisman pumpers, as in "gets me more cards, makes my successes stronger," is mistaken. That's what Valor/scores are for. Instead, Talismans are about flexibility, diversity, and tossing monkey wrenches into opposing forces' priorities. But you gotta be a big ol' tough guy to make use of a Talisman this way, and be able to beat SBANs on your own.

We're still chewing over these issues, so I'm not at all convinced yet. But that's what occurred to me a couple days ago. More play will tell.

3. More than one player, on more than one occasion, has wanted to turn NPCs into permanent slaves or otherwise completely subservient critters. This seems straightforward - reduce their Power to 0, with any luck resolving a Muse or two, then use all that Pride (however much as you want out of what you have total) to create a Talisman.

A while ago, Eero suggested that the best way to elevate an NPC into god status was to do the same. However, technically, conflict resolution should accomplish that with no particular need to utilize other aspects of the system. Seems to me that if I used Cosmos to make Nereus a god, succeeded, and said "Nereus is now a God," that does the job. No need to spend Tricks or make Locks or do anything else like that.

The case of Nereus is a little tricky in play, though, because Tod wanted to elevate Nereus as a god AND make him totally subservient. So we're still figuring that one out; I think I finally decided that the Talisman transformation is necessary for the "subservient forever" part. Basically, what this means in rules-terms is that Nereus will never again have Muses of his own, and all Tricks he gains in conflicts are actually Gelons' (Tod's character).

I anticipate that this issue will come up a lot in play, at least as often as killing characters, and probably even more often. It might be useful to write up a section about it.

Talisman issue

In [Nine Worlds] High-level play kicks into gear, Eero responded to a point I made about Talismans (second rule in #1 above) that I'll follow up on here.

I wrote,
Quote
Hubris pisses off the gods. Make Talismans? You've by definition offended a god, my friend. That is a little piece of the universe which is no longer affected by his or her will, by his or her friends' will, nor by any of the multitide of nymphs and spirits who are supposed to have influence over it.

"My talisman is this cool coin!" Really. Hades isn't going to like that; the god of the underworld is also the god of wealth. How'd you like to meet the Men-in-Black agents of Cerberus? And hey, I betcha Hermes, god of commerce isn't going to be pleased either. Want your character's credit rating slashed?

And so on ... Valor-based attributes will make you tough and scary, but they won't ipso facto piss off the gods.


Eero wrote,
Quote
As for Ron's arguments for allowing it... that "gods hate talismans" thing is just an argument about setting interpretation and GM fiat. I'm not seeing how it's different than the perennial D&D argument about paladin alignment restrictions; the GM "should" make the game world behave in a certain way to balance a mechanical advantage. Didn't work in D&D, why would it work in 9W?


Eero, with all respect, you are badly misunderstanding my point. I am not proposing the "pisses off the gods" concept as disincentive for using Talismans, and in fact, I'm not talking about "balance" in any sense whatever. What I'm talking about is the relationship between game currency and thematic richness. When player buys a Talisman and makes it really big, he or she is literally inviting the gods into the game specifically as potential adversaries. This makes special sense if the group is using the "rule" that we imposed on ourselves after the very first session: that I wouldn't bring the Primarchs and similar heavy hitters into play without their involvement through the player-authored Muses. Making and developing Talismans turns out to be another useful and interesting way to bring in these sorts of characters (and like Muses, at the explicit behest of the players).

I'm talking about the difference between player-generated invitation and GM-generated disincentive. "This is how we bring in the issues of the game even more strongly" is different from saying, "Better not do it, or I'll sic a great big monster on you." I concede that the way I presented it did not make this distinction clear.

I'm beginning to think that you are really scaring yourself with reading Nine Worlds and seeing way too many things that could go wrong, or be utilized in some dysfunctional way, when really, these issues don't exist. Sure, there are textual hassles, all of which Matt is acknowledging and working to improve. But that's just normal for a game this complex or different, and it remains a presentation issue rather than a design/play issue. I'm reminded of Sean's many early posts as Calithena to the Adept Press forum which insisted he was breaking Sorcerer's currency (not the case; it can't be done), and which ultimately he admitted were projections of his fears and distrust of fellow players.

And no, that doesn't mean that I think Nine Worlds only works "if you play with people who won't break it." I'm saying it's not broken.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Sydney Freedberg
Member

Posts: 1293


WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2005, 10:15:58 AM »

On sticking it to the gods:

From reading Nine Worlds (not playing, yet), it really seems as if Promethean defiance is the point: While the mechanics may offer Hubris and Arete as reasonably equivalent alternatives, the setting seems to strongly pitch for "Defy the gods" as the right thing to do -- maybe even to the point that saying, "No, I will serve the gods and the ideals they represent" is not really an option. (The Greek gods can be both petty and inspiring by turns, but I don't get much inspiring from the way they're depicted in the setting text). Is this just me, in isolation from other people, reading text, in isolation from actual play? Or does the game really push you towards choosing rebellion?
Logged

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2005, 10:25:53 AM »

Going good, it seems. I find the players leaning towards usurpation something to be expected - I only read the book, and thought that there's really not much setting incentive for the Choice; the gods are bastards, unable the aspire to purity of ideals, so why the heck should a hero settle for them. I see the current setting text to tend pretty strongly towards cynical realpolitic combined with "you can change the world". No wonder that becoming a stooge for somebody in those conditions is not attractive. The freewheeling world and heroic temperament of the rules really don't support riches, safety or other benefits as real (in the sense of making the players choose them) rewards for choosing championing. It's like

Then again, might be just about your play group. I don't know. But I do know that the gods of the game text are almost to the man small individuals, or their qualities are skimmed without passion. (Apollo, Hermes and Aphrodite are explicit bastards, Zeus and Hades seem to go for power for power's sake, Ares and Artemis are narrow-minded jerks...) Prometheus is the only exception, and he's thinking that the Archons should all be free and individualistic. Perhaps Matt is too left himself to argue convincingly for the other side?

Anyway, that's a small matter, when we're all capable of arguing the positions for ourselves if we want to. I know that if I get to GM the game (or even better, play as a player), I'll make a special point of the majesty of the gods, of their immense wisdom and greatness (which may certainly conflict with the beliefs of the characters, still). Make authority a real and believable option, essentially, to give credence to the kinds of questions the Choice is about.

--

Something that I've been thinking about talismans: you've already met with the question of how something becomes a talisman, which is something I've predivined and thought about. Here's one take:

The difference between a character and a talisman is in the former having muses (and, thus, Force). Therefore a character can be made a talisman by reducing his muses through defeats. When losing his last muse the character can opt to become talisman (or risk dying when the conqueror assaults one more time, presumably). Also, a talisman can become a character through gaining a muse. The former has to be done by an opponent in a conflict, essentially, while the latter requires the concent of the owner - although perhaps a talisman could put tricks into a muse and thus instantly rebel against the owner, resulting in a follow-up conflict where the owner can right-away try to destroy the muse?

What's more, consider the situation when a character usurps: what's happening? One character wins another by reducing him to zero Power (losing a conflict vs. reducing to zero should really have some specific term, like "complete defeat" or something), and gains a reward of a talisman, the world. The rules don't tell whether the losing god has to sacrifice a muse, but let's assume that. Anyway: why not apply that idea to all cases of "complete defeat"? Get reduced to zero, and the winner has the option of seizing one of your talismans. If you're a god, the talisman will most likely be your world, as it's the strongest one you have. Or what about if it were that you lose a talisman or sacrifice a muse? or that you can only seize a talisman the opponent actually used in the conflict series at some point?

The above ponderings are very much about the metaphysical currency of the game, and the way setting is modeled. I'm still enthralled by the question of how the GM creates importance, for instance (I know that the GM has this right of creating stuff out of thin air in almost all games, but here it gnaws at me for some reason). This has some repercussions in that arena. Also, it's about the way currency disappears: I think that it could be interesting if a strong character, say, could be at some situation made a part of your own power base, instead of essentially killing him and building him up with your own resources (which is what the current rules suggest as the currency solution for making somebody a talisman).

By the by: my ponderings do not help making talismans more attractive in any way. It's the opposite: if you can lose your talisman in a conflict, or can seize one from someone else, or it can even rebel to become it's own character, the pure power aspect is greatly weakened. All those things make talismans as representations of the metaphysical currency much more interesting, though. If one were to use these ideas, it would probably be wise to up the power of Hubris in talisman creation considerably (say, 5 points of stats with a point of Hubris), and disallow changing the values later.

Quote from: Ron Edwards

I'm beginning to think that you are really scaring yourself with reading Nine Worlds and seeing way too many things that could go wrong, or be utilized in some dysfunctional way, when really, these issues don't exist. Sure, there are textual hassles, all of which Matt is acknowledging and working to improve. But that's just normal for a game this complex or different, and it remains a presentation issue rather than a design/play issue. I'm reminded of Sean's many early posts as Calithena to the Adept Press forum which insisted he was breaking Sorcerer's currency (not the case; it can't be done), and which ultimately he admitted were projections of his fears and distrust of fellow players.


No, I think that you're misunderstanding me, here (although, again, it's probably for lack of clear explanation). My ponderings on the rules here are strictly from the game design perspective. I find the game fascinating color-wise and from the system standpoint. I'm just fiddling with it to understand it's workings, not trying to anticipate any problems. I'm sure it plays just fine in practice. (You'll notice that my ponderings are not about pre-empting dangers, but about understanding the design and perhaps straightening some concepts, like the talisman thing above.)

--

By the by, Matt: we got only one 9W in the last shipment (apparently you sold well in Gencon). I expect that I'll be ordering more books later in the spring for Ropecon in July (Burning Wheel, Capes perhaps, that kind of thing...). Could you make sure to have, say, a dozen 9Ws for us? It's in the same league with DiV, WGP, Fastlane and such stuff from last year's publications (perhaps even slightly better), so we really should push it in Finland, too...
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2005, 10:32:28 AM »

Quote from: Sydney Freedberg

Is this just me, in isolation from other people, reading text, in isolation from actual play? Or does the game really push you towards choosing rebellion?


Haw haw, I've clearly not been imagining things. I think that this is not authorial intention, though, just the way the setting text turned out. It's simple to fix in actual play by conscientially applying some conservatism in there.

Crossposted with you, by the by.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2005, 12:47:40 PM »

Hiya,

I'm thinking that some of the gods are going to come off a little more positively in actual play, although my reading certainly parallels yours, both Eero and Sydney. Upon reading, it seems as if only a moral wimp would become a Champion.

However, the real choice for a given player during play itself might depend to some extent on what we all bring from our individual readings of the myths, much like we did with Glorantha.

I, for example, have always wondered how Persephone and Hades got along, and thought perhaps there might be some fun things happening there. She did have a few suitors come by, and there's some indication that she had a child (perhaps not by Hades). How am I going to depict Hades? Just recently, I had a couple thoughts about that.

One of the most important things about Nine Worlds, for us, is that a lot of the content is consensual - I say something like, "Hey, Ares is here - what about him?" and everyone chimes in with details, whether mythic or pop-culture. Actually, we didn't do this with Ares, but we did it with others, and I'm going to call for more of it when the heavy hitters are showing up.

And for a few characters, they end up a bit more positive than one might otherwise think. We really liked Arthur Argus, for example, and it's not surprising that someone eventually narrated that he did, after all, get to retire on a nice tropical island on Terra. But he was a comparative small-fry, and I'm curious to see whether Ares, for example, becomes a more positive god than either myth or game text might indicate.

In which case, it might be interesting to see whether someone does choose becoming a Champion. Again, I agree with your readings of the text, but now that I've played a while, I actually can see that I might go for Championing, depending on how the god behaved and what kind of stand he or she took in a variety of conflicts.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Matt Snyder
Member

Posts: 1380


WWW
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2005, 09:59:11 AM »

Quote
Given that Maura is very big on her character being a Truth Merchant, and given that her story is coming to include a major conflict between Hades and Hermes, I guess that comes down to whether you think Truth works better on a gold or a paper standard. (Goddammit, play a Greek-esque game, and what do you get? Eternal philosophical quandaries, that's what you get.)


Philosophical quandaries or not, this is an awesome conflict I never foresaw, obviously because its colored by your groups brilliant contributions to the setting -- namely the Fleece as a credit currency. Knocks me out! I want to know where that conflict ends up, of course.

Quote
Talismans are bought 1:1 with Pride, just as in the rules Talismans may be improved 1:1 with more Pride, merely by spending it Talismans have no set limit to Power

We're the first folks to play the game to this degree of point-spending, I think, and these rules work for us. What do you think, Matt?


I think it's going to work fine, and it'll be in revisions. I was concerned that it would outshine Valor attribute improvements. But 1) they're also unlimited and 2) you can't lose 'em. You can lose Talismans. I think that satisifies my concern.


Quote
But wait a minute ... what if I'd had the foresight to have PC and MT do slightly different things? If the outcome is (a), I get two major things accomplished, so that's good. But what about (b) and (c)? In (b), this is interesting - SBAN gets kind of caught between the two things; it can only win against MT's immediate goal. In (c), it stymies both of us.


This is why I created Talismans. They may make you "less" powerful, but they give you more flexibility in a shorter span of time. Talismans grant players the ability to do more than one thing per phase. Now, admittedly, that was more so because of the currency shuffling I got so excited about (as the text shows). But, with your extensive feedback, the issue of multifaceted conflict goals as emphasis is really interesting!

Quote
So considering Talisman pumpers, as in "gets me more cards, makes my successes stronger," is mistaken. That's what Valor/scores are for. Instead, Talismans are about flexibility, diversity, and tossing monkey wrenches into opposing forces' priorities.  . . .

We're still chewing over these issues, so I'm not at all convinced yet. But that's what occurred to me a couple days ago. More play will tell.


Again, exactly my intention. I want to know whether you think this works out in the end, obviously. We're on the same wavelength. Now, let's see whether the concept works.

Quote
More than one player, on more than one occasion, has wanted to turn NPCs into permanent slaves or otherwise completely subservient critters. This seems straightforward - reduce their Power to 0, with any luck resolving a Muse or two, then use all that Pride (however much as you want out of what you have total) to create a Talisman.


Works for me. That's what I'd suggest. We haven't discussed something you noted earlier - what happens when a player wants to make/illumine an NPC an Archon? It's a damn good question, and one I hadn't considered. WE'll get to discussing that, hopefully.

Quote
I anticipate that this issue will come up a lot in play, at least as often as killing characters, and probably even more often. It might be useful to write up a section about it.


Can you specifiy which issue? Do you mean subservience in general? I think that's what you mean. It should be covered in the text, along with more specifics on what it means to reach 0 for NPCs.

Hubristic Bias?

Quote
(The Greek gods can be both petty and inspiring by turns, but I don't get much inspiring from the way they're depicted in the setting text). Is this just me, in isolation from other people, reading text, in isolation from actual play? Or does the game really push you towards choosing rebellion?

Quote
I find the players leaning towards usurpation something to be expected - I only read the book, and thought that there's really not much setting incentive for the Choice; the gods are bastards, unable the aspire to purity of ideals, so why the heck should a hero settle for them.

Quote
(Apollo, Hermes and Aphrodite are explicit bastards, Zeus and Hades seem to go for power for power's sake, Ares and Artemis are narrow-minded jerks...)


I get what people are saying and what they're seeing in the text. It has the voice of a Promethean sympathizer, agreed. But, I don't agree that all the Eternals are explicit bastards, nor are they unsympathetic and all in need of a good kick in the pants via radical rebellion.

Aphrodite's write-up, for example, doesn't paint an especially bad picture of her. Her only unendearing trait explicitly mentioned is her lovelife. I hardly view that as her being an explicit bastard. WE can easily imagine an interesting spy working for her to enforce her free-wheeling, free-loving and relatively safe status quo.

My aim with this part of the text was three-fold:

1) Show people via drama among the immortal players what kinds of conflicts and themes should happen in play
2) Make things interesting and messy for players to enter lots of conflicts across the universe
3) Give each worlds at least one or two interesting organizations, groups, or icons to rally 'round (or against!).

I think the text succeeds in these respects.
If people are reading it and not wanting to be, say, a really cool Thanatoi hitman (thus supporting Hades via Arete), what can I do to improve that? Because, in the wonderful universe where game designers actually get to play characters in their games, I'd be all over the Thanatoi hitman/detective. Easily my favorite concept in the write-ups. Man, I want to play that character!

Any ideas? Does it need to be edited?

Quote
By the by, Matt: we got only one 9W in the last shipment (apparently you sold well in Gencon). I expect that I'll be ordering more books later in the spring for Ropecon in July (Burning Wheel, Capes perhaps, that kind of thing...). Could you make sure to have, say, a dozen 9Ws for us? It's in the same league with DiV, WGP, Fastlane and such stuff from last year's publications (perhaps even slightly better), so we really should push it in Finland, too...


Ok, with these excellent posts from Ron, I'm already working on revisions to the rules chapter, perhaps setting chapter as well. I hope to have a nicer bound edition ready for summer season.
Logged

Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2005, 10:17:41 AM »

Hiya,

I think that long-term play has shown me that these three things are not as connected as one might think:

1. Cool character concept associated with a given Primarch (e.g. Thanatoi hitman)
2. Primarch's current writeup in the Nine Worlds text
3. Ultimate choice whether to Usurp or to Champion a given Primarch

I really think that one can get excited about any of these, and bring it into play in a major way, without necessarily dictating which way #3 will go.

I also think that all of the people in our group, even the most Hubristic characters, are enjoying the tension of #3 above as an ongoing issue.

I bring all this up because, Matt, it seems to me that your enthusiasm over the Thanatoi hitman concept is #1 - and even if the guy started with Arete 8 and Hubris 1, that kind of enthusiasm tells us (including yourself)absolutely nothing about what will happen sessions and many storylines later, for #3.

Also, I must stress that new Muses for NPCs are a major part of play, in our game, most especially the Primarchs. What they want and are putting points into is just as mutable as anyone else in the game. The motivational descriptions and current Muses in the writeups are starting points for a very dynamic process for every single Primarch who gets involved. So "who they are" becomes different, over time, from what the book says.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Matt Snyder
Member

Posts: 1380


WWW
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2005, 10:20:23 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Also, I must stress that new Muses for NPCs are a major part of play, in our game, most especially the Primarchs. What they want and are putting points into is just as mutable as anyone else in the game. The motivational descriptions and current Muses in the writeups are starting points for a very dynamic process for every single Primarch who gets involved. So "who they are" becomes different, over time, from what the book says.


Right on. Excellent observation. And, I think the text tries to explain to people that these are merely suggestions and examples. It should also explain they are "snapshots" without the context the dynamics of actual play changing people's minds (and I mean the real peoples playing Nine Worlds).
Logged

Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

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

Posts: 1293


WWW
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2005, 10:56:15 AM »

We're drifting into Indie Design territory here as opposed to Actual Play, but let me just say briefly:

I got my "the gods are bastards" impression not from the write-ups, but from the history text , especially where there's a lot of warfare back and forth where neither side seems to stand for anything but power. This may or may not be "realistic": Often in history the problem is not that both sides are purely cynical, but that both sincerely believe in their moral point: E.g. in the U.S. Civil War, you had "if the people of a given state vote for something, no outsider has the right to override their democratically expressed will" vs. "slavery is wrong" (note that many in the Union thought it was wrong because it brought too many black people into the country...). The tragedy, the emotional hook, is that you have to choose which is the greater good when both goods are mixed with evil -- not that there's an unambigous good vs. evil, but also not that everyone's evil so you just don't care.

And when you come to Greek gods, this moral emptiness just seems strange. They can be inhumanly cruel, but never meaningless. For example, the text's Apollo is killing his own people in secret as part of a political deal; in the plague in the Iliad and the story of the flaying of Marsyas, Apollo is equally vicious, but always in a way that's true to his divine nature as Lord of Light and Reason: He kills the Greeks after they ransack his temple, and tortures Marsyas to death after he dares to set his honking pipe music against Apollo's lyre, because they offended his sense of propriety. That's terrifying. But it's also godlike.
Logged

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2005, 11:24:40 AM »

[crossposted with Sydney...]

Quote from: Matt Snyder

Hubristic Bias?


Ron answered your point about the Thanatoi hitman really well. I can imagine playing the hitman, too. A cool concept. However, I'm having some trouble imagining a satisfying end for the character where he has the power and insight to choose otherwise, but still opts to champion Hades. Serving Hades is an interesting starting point, but any such position of servitude just begs for the player to narrate a break-away. At some point the hitman will surely see the nine worlds from a larger viewpoint than just serving the national advantage of Hades.

The Choice is definitely a core issue for the game... I'm thinking that it's not a bad thing for the gods to be flawed to a point. It's a powerful issue for a character to choose to champion a power in hopes of influencing it towards the cause of good, when the other option would be a potentially destructive rebellion. But there should be some explicit hope of that, and I'm not seeing it currently. Can Ares change? I'm certainly waiting with great interest for Ron's results in that regard ;)

Quote

Aphrodite's write-up, for example, doesn't paint an especially bad picture of her. Her only unendearing trait explicitly mentioned is her lovelife. I hardly view that as her being an explicit bastard. WE can easily imagine an interesting spy working for her to enforce her free-wheeling, free-loving and relatively safe status quo.


Love life is a pretty big thing, IMO. If she doesn't know how to love, I have grave doubts about her ability to govern justly. And considering that her love life is the only thing explicated, and that's rotten, you can't avoid thinking that the rest is probably just as bad. If you're actually making changes to the text, why not do somethng about this? It'd be a simple matter to explain how polarized the politics of the 9W can be, and how you therefore have to give two viewpoints on each of the worlds and figures you detail in the text. Tell us about the grand qualities of the gods as well as their pettiness, to give them that "larger than life" sheen.

By doing that you also get the opportunity to explore the Titans from a half-positive viewpoint as well, which should prove interesting. I've been wondering about the face they show to Archons and other humanity, about the ideals they espouse. Currently they're a little bit too Morgoth to be a believable opponent in such gray and realpolitik-infused setting.

Gray and realpolitik? Well, sure. Just check out the history as it plays out: it's full of pointless wars that have no ideological content, only this alien, all-consuming hunger for power, or insecurity great enough to cause patricide. The only positive relationships between the gods are, interestingly, all about Athena: her and Zeus, her and Prometheus, specifically. This alien insensitivity is cool for the gods to a certain degree (it's in the myths, too), but I find it strange that they don't seem to cloak their intent in some ideology for the humans to swallow. Or perhaps they do, but the book never tells us what it's about. What do the people of the nine worlds think about democracy or totalitarianism? Or about infallibility of gods? These are the interesting questions, because the human subjects surely constrain the gods, and make of them something perplexingly alien but understandable: while the gods might hold no esteem for justice or compassion or love, perhaps they are forced to adopt those qualities to different degrees to be acceptable to their human servants? Even if they themselves are alien, perhaps they've pretended otherwise so long that it's not a simple matter to remove the mask anymore? I'd like something along those lines, to explain the inexplicable nature of these gods.

But anyway, these are stylistical matters. I'm sticking to them just out of interest, not because I feel that this is some huge flaw in the game. The world as described raised the game in my esteem to a much higher level than the playtest version ever, so it's really not bad.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Sydney Freedberg
Member

Posts: 1293


WWW
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2005, 04:02:28 PM »

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
[crossposted with Sydney...]


Hmmm. Eero and I have never been spotted in the same place at the same time, either. Coincidence -- or conspiracy?
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!