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Author Topic: Nine Worlds: Initial mechanics explanation  (Read 3594 times)
Matt Snyder
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« on: October 30, 2002, 07:54:44 AM »

I've been tinkering away on Nine Worlds -- here's a glimpse "under the hood." I'm eager to hear what folks think. It's all still pretty rough, so bear with me. I'm at a point now where some feedback will help cull the weak, you might say.

First, go an read this thread: New Game: Nine Worlds . . . initial comments

Ok, done? Here goes . . .

This is a playing card mechanic (go figure!). Here's the gist of how conflict resolution works.

Conflict begins, each player declares his or her "prophecy." This is simply the Paragon (attribute) or Urge (magical attribute) that the player will hope use to solve the conflict. Then, the player receives a number of cards based on that attribute score. Players will also receive more cards for Muses in relevant situations.

From this hand, a player can lay down only cards of the same suit, and he only does this once per scene (or phase, 'cause conflicts might be ongoing). The suit indicates what the player is doing. Each suit is tied to one of the Paragons and one of the Urges. So, for example, Spades is tied to Prowess, the Paragon of phyical action and combat. Spades is also tied to the Urge of Chaos, the magical ability to destroy.

Obviously, then, it's important to note that you can only play what you have in your hand. No spades cards? Tough. No combat this round for you. You'll have to solve the problem by other means. This is inextricably tied to the game's "aboutness" -- the game's purpose is to force players into creative conflict and problem solving based on what "fate" has given you.

The player is limited by his Aspect (sort of like broad skills meets Mage's spheres) on how many cards he can lay down. So, someone with the Aspect of, say, War with a rating of 3 enters a fight. He can only lay down 3 cards as they relate to War. To actually do some fighting, then, he'll want to lay down 3 spades for a pretty decent hand.

The number of same-suited cards you lay in a scene is the most important factor for winning. Simply put, three cards beats two cards (regardless of whether the two players played different suits). However, in the case of ties -- say three spades played against three diamonds -- the total value of all the cards played is the tiebreaker. Should that also be tied, the character with the highest Arete score wins. Failing all of that, players start bidding with their remaining cards, and possibly with other character currency.

Once decided, the winner then takes all the cards played by him and his opponents. This is where things get interesting. For every face card, ace or joker (which are wild cards) the player collects, he earns 1 "trick". Tricks are capable of all sorts of goodness, and the player can do as he chooses with his tricks.

First, he can simply choose to deliver "damage" to the loser(s), dealing out a trick per point of damage to assault a character's Vitality attribute (which I'm likely changing to Vigor -- minor point). Second, he could issue complications on the loser(s), reducing the number of cards that character receives in immediately subsequent conflicts. The winner player should narrate what those complications are. Third, he can issue advantages to himself, earning more cards for immediately subsequent conflicts. Again, he narrates this. Fourth, the winner can simply choose to "bank" the tricks, converting them into the game's experience points  (which are tied to Arete). That's what I have in mind thus far -- tricks might also do other things, but I haven't figured 'em all out. For example, they might fuel more powerful magic, or they might earn the player right to narration beyond the conflict. Any ideas, folks?

By the way, a hand in which no tricks are earned is possible. I think I'm just going to have the GM decree what happens in those cases, with the winner walking away with a marginal victory.

Ok, that's the basic (and rough) framework. There are still issues to solve. Remember way back at the beginning when I said players declare a prophecy, thereby deciding which of their attributes is "best" in this case and how many cards a player receives? Well, this is supposed to be sort of like a "Trump" mechanic idea. The trump attribute performs better against other "non-trump" suits (beats ties, etc.). However, I have several issues to solve. If players declare this before they see their hands, they might declare an attribute for which they receive no cards! So, they should see their cards first, right? Ok, but then I've got to find another way to determine how many cards they get other than the attribute rating. Fine. So what, then, is the use of having attribute ratings at all? Still muddling through that one, though I do have some ideas. (For example, the attributes could be actual suits -- like three spades symbols on the character sheet, and that "rating" is added to any cards played. This might work ... still tinkering.)

Well, there it is in all its primordial haze. Eager to hear comments, and I'm sure there will be questions. Let 'er rip.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2002, 09:57:23 AM »

I'm a little confused here.  I'll try to verbalize that, I guess.

Preparation:
Declare what attribute you intend to use.  You get that many cards.
You may lay down no more cards than your relevant Aspect, and they may be only of the attribute's associated suit.
Lay down cards of that suit.

Resolution:
The player with more cards wins.
Else, the player with the higher numeric total wins.
Else, the player with higher Arete wins.
Else, the players use some kind of currency to determine the outcome.

Consequence:
The winning player earns 'tricks' for each of aces, faces, and jokers played.  These are apparently a kind of resource; they can inflict difficulties on other characters or provide straight character advantages.
If no tricks were earned, the victory was marginal.

Later, you put forth the idea of Prophecy as Trump, making the Prophecy suit not the only suit you could play, but instead making it the most effective.  This, in my opinion, is a shady idea, as you're rewarding the player twice for choosing a high attribute.  
This idea of yours of making attribute ratings into 'virtual cards' it pretty neat; maybe characters always get cards based solely on Arete and Muses, and the Prophecy attribute provides virtual cards?  Each rank of attribute could be the next lowest card of a suit - one would be a virtual deuce, two a virtual deuce and three, etc.  Then, once you've drawn your hand, you can play cards of whatever suit you want, but you always have a certain number of virtual cards from your Prophecy.  So, if you have a high Arete and draw a hand of five Hearts, but your Prophecy was two Clubs, you can still play the handful of Hearts, but this means you resolved the conflict differently.
Alternatively, the rating could "transform" cards into its suit; you have the option of turning two of your Hearts into Clubs and resolving the conflict as you predicted it.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2002, 10:18:56 AM »

I'm somewhat in agreement with Shreyas on this.

I think your core mechanic idea is really neat, but what you ultimately need to do is give players some interesting choices both before and after they draw their cards.  If I declare I'm going to do something violent (Spades), and then draw cards that indicate I should negotiate my way out (Hearts, maybe), I should have some way of retconning things to play with what I've got in my hand.

Perhaps, just barely restraining from violence, I try to browbeat my opponent into submission with my fiery passion (using a bunch of Hearts).  Maybe there could be a way for your Prophecy to set the overall tone of the interaction, or your motives going into it, but the cards in your hand actually determine the possible outcomes, which could be rather different than you intended.  This, I think, would reinforce your idea of "working with what Fate provides for you."

Maybe you could also use a Trick (or X Tricks) to change your Prophecy once you've drawn your hand?  That would seem to be a powerful ability.

I too think that rating attributes with various suits would be sweet, both as an interesting variation and as a visual element.  A good many fonts include those symbols too, so it wouldn't be hard to do.  I think, though, if you go with Shreyas' "virtual bonus cards" concept, that attributes would be a much more important part of the game (i.e. you'd only need to draw a single Spade and your attibutes would do the rest).

Another idea: the player selects a specific suit for each of his attributes (and that attribute would also get assigned a number, so one might be "3 Spades" or "2 Clubs").  Then, the suit would indicate the character's normal preferences for using that attribute.  Spades might indicate directness/precision, Hearts might be passion/delicateness, Clubs might be brutality/bluntness, Diamonds might be thoughtfullness/restraint, etc.  Obviously, you'd have to come up with descriptions appropriate to your cosmology.  The character would then only get the "bonus cards" when prophecying the same suit as his attribute, but could draw the same number of cards no matter how he wanted to use it.

Just a few ideas.

Later.
Jonathan
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Christoffer Lernö
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Posts: 822


« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2002, 04:55:15 PM »

What I want to know is... why the playing card mechanic to begin with? I'm not meaning this as criticism. I'm just curious and it would help me better understand the mechanics.
Is it for simplification? Or because it's giving the right "atmosphere"? Or "using with the hand fate dealt you"? (snicker)
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formerly Pale Fire
[Yggdrasil (in progress) | The Evil (v1.2)]
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2002, 07:37:23 PM »

Quote from: Pale Fire
What I want to know is... why the playing card mechanic to begin with? I'm not meaning this as criticism. I'm just curious and it would help me better understand the mechanics.
Is it for simplification? Or because it's giving the right "atmosphere"? Or "using with the hand fate dealt you"? (snicker)


Fair question, and probably not surprising the answer is, um, yeah those things.

Firstly, it is an atmosphere thing. The game is meant to merge three distinct flavors -- modern, sort of magical realism; Greek myth; and turn of the century (as in 1900) occultism (think Castle Falkenstein, too, I guess). I considered the tarot card approach, but I felt it 1) overdone and 2) far too objective.

Also, this game is heavily influenced by the Michael Moorcock novel Blood, a book I absolutely adore. This notion of a game with magical characters and cards/gambling has been nagging somewhere in my brain since reading that novel a couple years ago.

Second, I really wanted a game that played on a vibe that cards convey better than dice -- a kind of aristocratic feel. You know, like some stuffy english gentry playing Bridge. The mechanics are deeply influenced by my own love of the card game Pitch, a long standing tradition in my family and community. (Fortunately, my family and community is anything but stuffy aristocracy! More like congenial Midwestern yokels.)

Thirdly, and perhaps the best answer to your query, is that card mechanics are capable of more than dice pools because there are several of what I call "axes". Cards' suits are a possible axis. Cards' face values are an axis. Matched or "straights" cards are an axis. With dice, you can get matches and face value, but you can't get suits (yes, you could use colors of dice or perhaps different die types as "suits" -- remember, I said easily, by which I mean intuitively and quickly).

(EDIT: No, you actually can't do that with dice, because the suit in cards is random and blind. This would not be the case if you chose a different colored die or a different die type -- obviously, you'd see the die type in so doing.)

Finally, as you say about the hand Fate deals you, yes, that's intentional. The mechanics are meant to reinforce the metaphor of dealing creatively with something that's slightly beyond your control. That's a core issue of this game.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

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

Posts: 508


« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2002, 01:51:52 AM »

Quote from: Matt Snyder
Quote from: Pale Fire
What I want to know is... why the playing card mechanic to begin with? I'm not meaning this as criticism. I'm just curious and it would help me better understand the mechanics.
Is it for simplification? Or because it's giving the right "atmosphere"? Or "using with the hand fate dealt you"? (snicker)


Fair question, and probably not surprising the answer is, um, yeah those things.

Firstly, it is an atmosphere thing. The game is meant to merge three distinct flavors -- modern, sort of magical realism; Greek myth; and turn of the century (as in 1900) occultism (think Castle Falkenstein, too, I guess). I considered the tarot card approach, but I felt it 1) overdone and 2) far too objective.



How so?

The Tarot deck is essentially identical in all respects to the standard gaming deck.  Just because it has "Trumps" and an extra Court Card doesn't mean you can't use a Tarot deck as outlined.  It is, after all is said and done, still a deck of cards.  Ace through 10.

Of course if you said your reasoning was because you didn't want your future players to feel they had to shell out more than a few bucks for a deck of cards, well...  most non-standard decks do cost more to purchase.


Quote from: Matt Snyder
Second, I really wanted a game that played on a vibe that cards convey better than dice -- a kind of aristocratic feel. You know, like some stuffy english gentry playing Bridge. The mechanics are deeply influenced by my own love of the card game Pitch, a long standing tradition in my family and community. (Fortunately, my family and community is anything but stuffy aristocracy! More like congenial Midwestern yokels.)


Fine reasons.

Have you checked out this site at all?  It has a *ton* of card game rules ranging from traditional trick taking games to fan submitted varients.

Might be of interest to you, and maybe even a good place to find a nice game with which to surprise the family next visit.


Kind Regards.
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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
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