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Author Topic: New Game: Nine Worlds ... initial comments  (Read 5136 times)
Matt Snyder
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Posts: 1380


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« on: October 24, 2002, 09:17:49 AM »

Ok, Forge fellows, it's about time I shared some info about what I'm working on, as I've hinted here and there already. This is going to be a lot like Dust Devils in terms of publication. A small run of self-done printed stuff, and a PDF download too.

What follows is some description edited from emails I've been sending my game group. We'll be playtesting this one pretty soon. Anyway, forgive me if this is a little disjointed. Still, I wanted to share these ideas here too!

Oh, one last bit -- the mechanics (which I don't go into much at all here, sorry, still tinkering) will feature playing cards. I suppose there will be some minor similarities to Dust Devils mechanics,  but it's really a different beast.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

It's called Nine Worlds. It borrows some from the concepts of Mage (heck, it even has an Arete score!). However, it's far more focused (I hope) both in terms of setting and in terms of "what you do". Basically, you play the awakened souls of the universe. You realize -- or it is brought to your attention by someone -- that the world is not what you thought it was. Now, you have the power do change, alter, destory or paralyze the forces and matter of the universe ... You are the agents of the Demiurge, the creative ideal of the universe. Far out. Unfortunately, there are forces against you. Immortal forces. It gets ugly.

you're the forces of the Demiurge, or "Demiurgists." This is a fancy, if different, way of saying mages (kinda). They can shape matter, thought -- reality itself, and create/destroy the universe one chunk at a time.

The game borrows a lot of Greek mythology -- in fact, that's the basis for what's going on. There are nine worlds (hence the name). Our own modern Earth, but there are also the 7 planets of astrology, as the Greeks knew them. Then there is the Ninth World ... Hades. Hades contains many places -- the heavenly Elysium, and the hellish Tartarus. Now, the players should be happy to follow in the footsteps of the Eternals (aka gods, like Apollo or Zeus, for e.g.), but there's one problem. A big problem. The Eternals old enemies, the Titans, were imprisoned in Tartarus, cast out when Zeus defeated Cronos and the titans in the Titanomachy. But now the Titans have been unleashed, and they're hell-bent (literally!) on conquering the Nine Worlds, which they view as their righful domain.

A couple other tidbits: There is the Ether, which is like a river of dream and space that connects the Nine Worlds. The players traverse this "sea" on wild steampunk-like ships and crafts. Just a neato setting element. Also, big surprise, the "modern world" of earth is ignorant of this reality.

The Players are "normal" humans. Mortals, and they remain mortal throughout. In fact, one of the points / themes of the games is that for all their great power, the Immortals have to give credit to the mortals for their creativity (at it's core, the game is ABOUT creativity -- using creativity and art to solve problems/conflicts).

The humans of the Demiurge are out to stop the titans from destroying the Nine Worlds, but most importantly Earth. So, the gods..er, I mean Eternals.. get involved in all kinds of politics, which side the support, who among each side they support. But, the Demiurge need not be all good guys. They're just creative fellows, so whether they're creative in good or bad ways is open.

The titans are really nasty and can take many forms. Typically, they look just like everyone else (i.e., human). But they're also capable of more bestial forms (or even just having bestial children like the Hydra or a serpent or a chimera -- in Greek myth the titans are often the parents of nasty monsters). The titans are also sorta like Elemental Princes. In some cases they ARE the earth, the ocean and the sky. Greek myth has many references to titans being sort of giants and at the same time being things like "the ocean" (no joke! The titan Oceanus was basically the atlantic ocean in the greek's minds). Other titans are rivers, like the titan Styx. The boundary between the elements of things like rivers and the titans as people or even giants is damned blurry.

So, while they look human in Nine Worlds, the titans might "work some magic." Say some PCs and a titan get in a fight on earth in some back alley. This particular titan is tied to the element of earth. So, he actually friggin' BECOMES the alleyway. He attacks from all sides, moving cement and brick like his hands, trying to swallow up the PCs, smash 'em with bricks stuff. LIke that. Just an off-the-cuff example.

Some more character specifics:

All PCs are Demiurgists. The have a number of attributes, including the following ...

First, and above all as the "uber-attribute", they have Arete. Arete is the Greek concept of excellence. Here, it's a representation of how "Great" a Demiurgist you are -- how powerful, how virtuous, etc. Opposite Arete, however, is Hubris. Do too much, or overstep your boundaries as a mortal too much and you earn Hubris. If Hubris ever outnumbers Arete (i.e. if you're more prideful than you are "excellent") then you've got the Furies to deal with. Just a neato way of saying you're truly screwed.

Second, you have the four "Paragons" -- these are the abilities / ideals of the Greeks (well, kinda sorta -- they are for this purpose!). They are:
* Prowess - Physical action and combat might
* Vitality - Health, passion and willpower all roled into one. How "alive" you are.
* Wisdom - Insight, intelligence and judgment. Basically all things good in Greek philosophy.
* Command -- Your social presence and grace.

Third, you have Domains. These are somewhat like skills, but far more braod and thematic. Think of the Greek gods -- Zeus is the god of thunder, Artemis goddess of the hunt, etc. So, your PC like that in a way -- he or she is proficient in Domains that you can create, and you can improve your chances in a conflict if it relates in any way w/ your domain. So, instead of having, say, a Drive skill, you have the Domain of Travel, for example. If it has anything to do with travel, you can probably do it pretty well. Loosey Goosey? Perhaps. Sure makes you think about how to solve problems, however, and that's what the game is all about!

Ok, Fourth: You have Urges. This is the Mage-y stuff. There are four basic urges. These are the way you as a player affect reality (i.e. work magic):
The urges are:
* Chaos -- the urge to destroy or dissolve
* Cosmos -- the urge to create something from nothing (well, kinda "nothing")
* Metamorphosis -- the urge to change or transform from one thing to another -- could be matter, could be an idea, could be kinda anything!
* Stasis -- the ability to paralyze magical or non-magical change. Keep things constant.
With these four methods, you can alter reality, work magic, and so on.

Fifth character element is Aspects. Aspects are a lot like Domains. They can be pretty general stuff. For example, you might have the Aspect of Beauty, let's say. This is the part of reality you can affect with your Urges. You could Metamorph beauty, changing one person's looks. Or you could Stasis Beauty, keeping someone looking young forever. Or you could destroy beauty with chaos, maybe making someone look old or otherwise fearsome.

Sixth character element: Muses. This one's a biggie. This one's inspired by things like Riddle of Steel's spiritual attributes. A character's Muses are a number of motivations -- things that compel him to act and do stuff in the game. Every player has 9 points to distribute among as many Muses as he'd like for his PC. So, you might have three or four Muses -- things like "Vendetta: PC seeks vengeance on bad guy X." -- and each of those motivation gets some of the 9 points. So, Vendetta might get 3. This is how much reward you might reap later on when dealing with your Vendetta. It's also used as a bonus when dealing with Muse-related conflicts.

That about sizes up how PCs work, though I'm still working on it! It also helps give some idea what the game's like, what the "flavor" is somewhat.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Jonathan Walton
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Posts: 1309


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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2002, 03:45:04 PM »

Quote from: Matt Snyder
You're the forces of the Demiurge, or "Demiurgists."


I suppose it's probably too late to suggest a term change, huh?

"Demiurge" has major Gnostic connotations for me (and probably lots of people) and, as Demiurgists, I keep trying to imagine the PCs trying to trap the divine within the prison of material existence.  Sorry.  I'll try to keep that thought out of my head...

Quote
Our own modern Earth, but there are also the 7 planets of astrology, as the Greeks knew them.


Are you planning to deal with the fact that the planets are all named after various Greek/Roman gods (or in Saturn's case, Chronos himself)?  It would make good sense, then, that the 9th planet (Pluto) be Hades, but will Mercury be the chosen home of Hermes or whatever?

Quote
A couple other tidbits: There is the Ether, which is like a river of dream and space that connects the Nine Worlds. The players traverse this "sea" on wild steampunk-like ships and crafts. Just a neato setting element.


Very neato.  I love doing cool stuff just because you CAN.

Speaking of...

Quote
Say some PCs and a titan get in a fight on earth in some back alley. This particular titan is tied to the element of earth. So, he actually friggin' BECOMES the alleyway.


This rocks on toast.  Having titans become the surrounding environment is a real cool way to play then, without making them giant monsters or the elemental creatures that they were in the "Hercules" Disney cartoon.

Quote
Third, you have Domains. These are somewhat like skills, but far more braod and thematic.


These sound a lot like "Estates" in Nobilis, further complicated by the fact that "Domain" is the Estate-controlling attribute in that game.  It'll be easy enough to pick up on, but a little confusing until people get the terms straight.

Quote
* Cosmos -- the urge to create something from nothing (well, kinda "nothing")


Any chance of getting a term change on Cosmos?  Just because it basically means "the world."  Unfortunately, I don't know enough Greek to suggest a better word for you.  "Ergon" is a noun that means "work" or "deed," but you really want something more easily recognizable (which is doubtlessly why you went with "Cosmos").  Hmm...

Quote
Fifth character element is Aspects.


Oh, former Nobilis players are going to hate you ;)  Both "Domain" and "Aspect," but they mean completely different things...

Quote
Sixth character element: Muses.


Very cool.  Do you have rules for getting more Muses?  What happens when you've completed all of them?

Overall, sounds pretty sweet.  I'll definitely be interested in seeing what you've got planned and how the card mechanics relate to what you've got here.

Later.
Jonathan
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2002, 04:10:32 PM »

What Jon said, about Titans.  Awesome imagery.

And again, on the Urges:
Chaos to me has connotations of what you call Metamorphosis.  Destruction and dissolution are another thing again.
Metamorphosis is jarringly long, in comparison to the other terms.
Stasis seems to be a highly uninteresting ability; if I were a Nine Worlds player, I'd stick to Meta and Cosmos.

How flexible are these?  If my Aspect is Beauty, can I use Meta to change a beautiful woman into a decrepit old man, changing her appearance?  Or would you call this destruction of beauty, and require Chaos?  Can I change her into a beautiful warthog?  Gazelle?
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2002, 06:57:13 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Quote from: Matt Snyder
You're the forces of the Demiurge, or "Demiurgists."


I suppose it's probably too late to suggest a term change, huh?

"Demiurge" has major Gnostic connotations for me (and probably lots of people) and, as Demiurgists, I keep trying to imagine the PCs trying to trap the divine within the prison of material existence.  Sorry.  I'll try to keep that thought out of my head...



The Gnostic connotations are mostly intentional. I'm not up to speed on gnoticism, but I did do some initial research on the concept. I was far more interested that Plato discusses the concept. Demiurge is precisely the term I want because it's truly tied to "what the game's about."

The Demiurge is the concept of a penultimate creator. Rather than create the universe from whole cloth, the Demiurge creates and shapes the world from some substance that has existed "before." This is exactly what the player characters will be doing. It's also, brain willing, what the mechanics will do -- force players to be extremely creative in conflicts by using what they've got in hand (literally!) to solve the problem.

The PCs have other "in game" names -- Awakened, Artisans, Shapers, etc.

Quote from: Jonathan Walton


Are you planning to deal with the fact that the planets are all named after various Greek/Roman gods (or in Saturn's case, Chronos himself)?  It would make good sense, then, that the 9th planet (Pluto) be Hades, but will Mercury be the chosen home of Hermes or whatever?


Yes, this will be covered. Incidentally, the planets are: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter (yes, Earth, too). Hades is not a planet. It's the underworld, and contains Elysium and Tartarus, both important in the game. Note, rather obviously, that this excludes the planets the ancients didn't recognize, namly Uranus, Pluto and Neptune.

Quote from: Jonathan Walton

These sound a lot like "Estates" in Nobilis, further complicated by the fact that "Domain" is the Estate-controlling attribute in that game.  It'll be easy enough to pick up on, but a little confusing until people get the terms straight.


Good point. I don't own Nobilis, nor have I read it. Looked through it. The game was inspiring in that "sure sounds cool" kind of way. Nine Worlds is pretty inspired by the idea of games like Nobilis and Mage (which I am more familiar with).

That said, I've been thinking strongly that my Domains and Aspects should be merged into one group for PCs, rather than the confusing, perhaps redundant two characteristics. I'll likely call it one of those two names.

Quote from: Jonathan Walton

Quote
Sixth character element: Muses.


Very cool.  Do you have rules for getting more Muses?  What happens when you've completed all of them?


Yes, this will be addressed ... um, eventually! Basically, the game will encourage players to continue crafting newly inspired muses.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Jonathan Walton
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Posts: 1309


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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2002, 07:26:41 PM »

Quote from: Matt Snyder
I'm not up to speed on gnoticism, but I did do some initial research on the concept. I was far more interested that Plato discusses the concept.


Well, as long as you make it clear that this is Plato's Demiurge you're talking about, and not the gnostic one, I think you could probably get away with it.

According to gnostic beliefs, the Demiurge is a malicious deity that exists alongside the true God, but opposes him, in many ways.  The Demiurge is wrathful and tempermental where God is loving and patient.  In Gnostic Christianity, the Demiurge is equated with Yahweh of the Old Testement, and contrasted with the God made known through Jesus (yes, the gnostic Christians were pretty anti-semitic).  The Demiurge's chief goal is to trap the spark of divinity that exists within every human being, never allowing it free of the material reality of the world.  It is opposed by Sophia, the Wisdom of God, which the gnostics believes would help them transcend the limits of the flesh through secret knowledge ("gnosis" in Greek, which is why they're called gnostics).  You can see how this idea is pretty different from the one you want, which is why I think you should be extremely clear on which Demiurge you're using.

Quote
That said, I've been thinking strongly that my Domains and Aspects should be merged into one group for PCs, rather than the confusing, perhaps redundant two characteristics. I'll likely call it one of those two names.


If I could make a suggestion, I'd choose "Aspect" over "Domain" if you're going to stick to one of those.  The Domain rules in Nobilis are very close to what you're describing here (actions limited within a specific range, etc.), but the Aspect rules are quite different.  By naming your traits "Aspects," it makes the parallel less clear and emphasizes the differences.

Later.
Jonathan
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Demonspahn
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2002, 10:05:08 PM »

This is so cool Matt.  Just a thought, is there any way to incorporate other mythologies into this?  Specifically, I'm a big fan of the Norse Asatru religion and much of what you listed could also apply to them; eternals, domains, titans/Jotun, etc.  

Also, not to seem like I'm ganging up on you but the name Demiurgist jumped out at me as well although for different reasons as I was unaware of its true meaning.  The problem I saw was in play.  Saying Demiurgist over and over again around the gaming table just seems like it would be awkward.  Rather than change the name though (since you want to maintain its underlying significance) you might consider giving them a nickname they are called among their peers.  Urgists springs to mind (given how they affect reality) but I'm sure there are plenty others.  

But like I said, so cool.  Keep me in mind if you ever need playtesting.

Pete
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2002, 01:28:46 PM »

Quote from: Demonspahn
This is so cool Matt.  Just a thought, is there any way to incorporate other mythologies into this?  Specifically, I'm a big fan of the Norse Asatru religion and much of what you listed could also apply to them; eternals, domains, titans/Jotun, etc.  


The answer is both yes and now. Yes, the "gods" are called Eternals precisely because they're meant to seem larger than just the Greek gods they are -- that they might represent mythic ideals that could correspond to other cultures.

However, this is simply to keep things feeling larger in scope. The game will not include elements of other mythologies. This is because I want to keep the game and its setting focused. There have already been several mentions how this is similar to Nobilis and possibly other game. So, I can't compete with that. I will offer a narrow, focused vision and idea. It's the only means I can see to offer something really worth having to gamers.

Quote from: Demonspahn

Also, not to seem like I'm ganging up on you but the name Demiurgist jumped out at me as well ... <SNIP> ... Rather than change the name though (since you want to maintain its underlying significance) you might consider giving them a nickname they are called among their peers.


Yes, I've already suggested some alternatives for in-game references to the PCs -- namely Awakened, Shapers and Artisans. I rather like the later.

Quote from: Demonspahn

But like I said, so cool.  Keep me in mind if you ever need playtesting.


Will do! Thanks for the enthused comments.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Matt Snyder
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Posts: 1380


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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2002, 01:47:05 PM »

Quote from: four willows weeping
What Jon said, about Titans.  Awesome imagery.

And again, on the Urges:
Chaos to me has connotations of what you call Metamorphosis.  Destruction and dissolution are another thing again.
Metamorphosis is jarringly long, in comparison to the other terms.
Stasis seems to be a highly uninteresting ability; if I were a Nine Worlds player, I'd stick to Meta and Cosmos.

Quote from: four willows weeping

How flexible are these?  If my Aspect is Beauty, can I use Meta to change a beautiful woman into a decrepit old man, changing her appearance?  Or would you call this destruction of beauty, and require Chaos?  Can I change her into a beautiful warthog?  Gazelle?


They aren't as flexible as you're suggesting, though they do have some wiggle room (perhaps even some overlap). If your aspect is Beauty, you can't change a beautiful woman into an old man, UNLESS the old man is beautiful, too. In other words, you can't remove the idea of beauty from what you're transforming. You can destroy beauty, but that requires use of Chaos.

Yes, you could change a person into a warthog or Gazelle. However, the issue here is not creating a "beautiful warthog." The game doesn't give two shits if "other warthogs think she's beautiful." That's obviously absurd. What the game cares about -- and therefore what the rules will allow -- is whether a transformation maintains the virtue of beauty. That is, what would the gods think? Does the newly transformed warthog maintain the ideal of beauty to the gods and immortals, or even to mortals?

Now, interestingly, this kind of thing isn't unprecedented in Greek myth. For example, there's Minos' wife, Pasiphae, who falls in love with a beautiful bull, and has the artificer Daedalus construct her a cow "machine" so she can get inside it and mate with the bull. Her offspring from that funky union is the Minotaur -- the same beast that Theseus defeats in the labyrinth (also constructed by Deadalus!). Anyway, here we have an example in myth where an animal (the bull, which was a gift from Poseidon to king Minos) is considered very beautiful, even sexually so. There are other instances, like when Zeus takes the shape of animals for his sexual exploits.

So, in all of these cases, the Aspect Beauty could conceivably come into play.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

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