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Author Topic: [Nine Worlds] Some questions  (Read 2413 times)
Iskander
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Alexander Newman


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« on: September 05, 2006, 05:26:42 PM »

[MODERATOR EDIT: Note to readers, I screwed up and "modified" instead of "quoted" Iskander's original post, losing some of his original writing. His excellent questions are intact, at least! Sorry, Alexander! -Matt]

-Is there a mechanic for helping, or do PCs seeking to aid one another just have to state appropriately congruent stakes?

- Somewhere (I could swear) you talk about environmental opposition - I think using a difficult Ætherspace journey as an example. Do you then treat the environment as an NPC with Power and Force, as usual?

- Have you got any guidance for setting appropriate opposition to three PCs? I've played an evening's worth of 9W twice with two groups; the first got thoroughly mauled by their opposition, the second... not so much, but I couldn't yet put my finger on how much Power is too much power, yet.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2006, 08:51:35 AM by Matt Snyder » Logged

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2006, 06:13:43 AM »

Quote
- Is there a mechanic for helping, or do PCs seeking to aid one another just have to state appropriately congruent stakes?

There is no mechanic for this. Indeed, it's "worsened" with my own house rule (i.e. unpublished rule) that Metamorphosis moves points around only on a single character or entity, not between or among characters/entities. I've had discussions with people about this before. One idea I discussed with someone was to let pals pump up each others' Muses. This sets a pretty bad precedent, however. One can't reduce an opponents Muses, for example. It really mucks with the currency to try this.

So, yes, my recommendation is to apply appropriate stakes. Allies can still help each other out with clever goals, or even with Chaos for mutual enemies, or Cosmos for friends. Another nice tag team is Cosmos from one pal and a Stasis lock from another (or, Chaos + Stasis combo for enemies). The only trick is that timing is key. That is, if Stasis narrates first, then the combo doesn't work. Maybe players could spend points to shift their Fate value for narration timing purposes only?

Quote
- Somewhere (I could swear) you talk about environmental opposition - I think using a difficult Ætherspace journey as an example. Do you then treat the environment as an NPC with Power and Force, as usual?

Yes, any "force of nature" or similar opposition is simply an entity with Power, Urges and Force. Muses are appropriate as well.

This is also helpful for envisioning how Talismans work. Any such "supporting characters" can take a limitless variety of forms. Enchantments, diseases, aetherships, the aether itself, armies, sandstorms, and so on.

Quote
- Have you got any guidance for setting appropriate opposition to three PCs? I've played an evening's worth of 9W twice with two groups; the first got thoroughly mauled by their opposition, the second... not so much, but I couldn't yet put my finger on how much Power is too much power, yet.

This is a good question! It's the toughest art to master as a game master, but it pays off with tight conflicts. I got the hang of it in my online game, and I'll try to spell out how I approached it:

Few characters, especially starting characters, will be drawing more than 6 for their Arete/Hubris draw. Accordingly, I pit Power ratings around that number. About 4 for easy conflicts (a world's custom officers, say), 5-6 for medium conflict (special agents or soldiers). 7-8 for tough ones (rival archons). 9-10+ for very challenging opposition (Mercury City, some demigods). Those "eyeballed" numbers could shift, of course, if the characters possessed greater Arete/Hubris.

Urges can be the real secret to Fate success. Players will have 2s and 3s. Mild challenges should have likewise. However, tougher challenges can make up for poor POwer or Muse ratings with solid Urges. It's tough to beat a guy who has Chaos 5, even if he draws only a few cards! His Fate will still be tough!

Then you have to consider Muses. I like to do this when I create Muses for a new supporting character: Give at least 1 good Muse relevant to the current issue, but probably applicable after the conflict as well. A second equal or lesser Muse (also immediately relevant) is even better. Finally, I like to throw on an equal or lesser unrelated Muse so I can turn up a new issue later in the game should the supporting character return. "Good" here means a Muse rating anywhere from 3 to 5. I find this suite of three Muses works really well for supporting characters.

So, let's take a look at it with a "medium toughness" supporting character:

Iskander
Atlantean reaver
Power: 5
A medium challenge

Chaos: 5
Cosmos: 2
Metamorphosis: 2
Stasis: 2
He's tough, but very susceptible to Trump.

Muses
Kick the players' asses back to Hades: 3 (Ouch)
Kick the players' asses again: 2 (Ouch again)
Grow roses on Earth: 2 (Oh what a softie!)
Obviously, these are silly, badly written Muses, but we're looking more at the numbers here. This guy's gonna pull 10 cards on the characters (Power 5 + Muse 3 + Muse 2. No slouch! But, in the right situation, a player could pull as many as 15. Even in that case, this guy puts up a good fight with that powerful Chaos Muse. It should be a pretty close match.

Be warned! Your players' Archons WILL outpace demigods and tougher opponents. You will not be able to keep pace with their Muses. Remember, they're in every conflict in the game, while your demigods and such are only in select conflicts. Usually, this is great. But, it can lead to a bunch of Archons bitch-slapping Zeus. No adversity almost always means no fun.

Controlling this means you have to make a tough decision that stabs at the heart of the game: Should you increase supporting character's Muses and other ratings outside of actual conflicts?

If you have no problem with that, consider that the game is all about The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast. (In other words, it's a direct challenge to that "The GM controls the world" tradition.) If the GM can just make up any ol' thing he wants at any time, what's stopping him from just screwing the players whenever he wishes. Nothing! Not especially what Nine Worlds is about, huh?

On the other hand, if the GM doesn't do this, his players will overpower most anything he can throw at them. He can keep increasing supporting characters Muses when he wins conflicts, and even buy Force and so on. He can "cheat" a little by creating new supporting characters like the example above, and base his numbers on the Archons to pose a challenge. But, afterwards, it's a tight economy where the supporting character earns points and Muses and Force just like any other player character. This should be your default approach, really.

However, I actually recommend a compromise. Run the game in "Acts." During a single Act, you can't muck with supporting characters' stats unless he earns them in conflicts. But, between Acts you can ramp those scors up, and let the players know things have escalated in the new Act. Running a three Act game, with several sessions in each act (let the players' story arcs determine how long -- maybe half dozen sessions or so?) would rock!

Hope this helps!
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Iskander
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Posts: 226

Alexander Newman


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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2006, 08:13:31 PM »

Matt, that's great! Exactly what I was looking for - it gives me some solid ground on which to build opposition. My intention was to hold off on statting up the major players for a while, but in the meantime, see how far we get with divisive opposition of approximately the power of my counterpart above. Your point about helping and the eeevil, eeeevil Metamporphosis / Stasis point combo makes me think I should make sure that significant villains have backup (talismanic or otherwise) to provide some convenient Stasis points at unpleasant moments.

I'm not going to let players fuck with each others' muses - I want them to continue to reflect their own (player) priorities. When they have to decide what to sacrifice when their Hubris hits zero, it would suck if that choice was corrupted by someone else's mechanical manoeuverings. We will be playing with Metamorphosis as written: if the opposition are brutal users of Metamorphosis points, that's all the balance I need. I will have to keep reminding myself that I will be cheating them if I go easy on them.

I am looking forward to prepping Ætherspace with muses and so on! The PCs are an Æthership captain of the Lost Armada, an Atlantean exile, and a castaway Ægis spy, thrust together by their search for the means to construct a Celestial Compass: I expect plenty of travel, and want Ætherspace to be available to throw up some unpleasantness, as necessary.

As I write, I have a minor practical question - more out of curiosity than otherwise. When you sit down to play, how do you make the opposition's values available to the players? They're entitled to the information, if I understand the rules clearly.

- Alexander

P.S. I was hoping to have time to post the characters and set-up before Saturday, but my first week at G. has been pretty overwhelming in information terms, so I've been coming home and passing out... AP will be forthcoming, come hell or high water, though!
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Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Matt Snyder
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Posts: 1380


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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2006, 05:33:53 AM »

Quote
I'm not going to let players fuck with each others' muses - I want them to continue to reflect their own (player) priorities. ... We will be playing with Metamorphosis as written: if the opposition are brutal users of Metamorphosis points, that's all the balance I need.

Very cool. You're not alone. Ron, for example, says he's a "purist" on this issue, too. I'm on the fence, which is why the rule isn't published. I'd like to hear about whether players tend to move toward Metamorphosis Urges as they play. That's the concern my Skype group voiced -- they felt like it was a waste not to use Metamorphosis and not really bother with, say, Cosmos and Chaos. There are checks and balances (for example, Trump), but they had a point. We tried it -- it seemed to work pretty well. My previous playtesting didn't bring this up, and we got along pretty well anyway.

Quote
I am looking forward to prepping Ætherspace with muses and so on! The PCs are an Æthership captain of the Lost Armada, an Atlantean exile, and a castaway Ægis spy, thrust together by their search for the means to construct a Celestial Compass:

Awesome!

Here's a suggestion, and take it only as a suggestion, not "official word." Make the Aether have conflicting Muses given that it's made up of Oceanus and Poseidon's "souls." So, it could have something like these Muses:

Drown out the mortal bloodlines of Saturn: X
Wash clean the wasteland of Saturn, and wipe the Titanic scourge from the world: Y

Quote
When you sit down to play, how do you make the opposition's values available to the players? They're entitled to the information, if I understand the rules clearly.

Correct. Recall that, once earned via victory, players acquire creative authority. Thus, they should have all the cards before them, so to speak. They, as people playing a game and authoring a story, need to know what's at their disposal. They are, in effect, temporary GM's.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

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

Posts: 226

Alexander Newman


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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2006, 08:49:45 PM »

Make the Aether have conflicting Muses given that it's made up of Oceanus and Poseidon's "souls."

Oh hells, yes. That was in my plans as a necessary corollary of the earlier post. It's too good.

Quote
Recall that, once earned via victory... blah blah

Ding! Then that's the point when I turn the page around, and say "What are you going to do with your points (here's Autodichos, if you want to use him), and how does that happen narratively?" Perfect.

Cheers,
Alexander
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Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Ben Lehman
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Posts: 2094

Blissed


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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2006, 09:45:49 PM »

As a note: If I were to play 9 Worlds again, I would use metamorphosis by the book.  As we used it, it was too gimped, and trump is a powerful enough incentive not to hyper-specialize.

Your game sounds really cool, Alexander.  Looking forward to reading the AP reports.

yrs--
--Ben
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