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[Nine Worlds] The Dark Side of the Sun
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:29 pm    Post subject: [Nine Worlds] The Dark Side of the Sun Reply with quote

As arranged in this thread, we played Nine Worlds (9W) today. It's a game of Greek mythology in a space-fantasy setting. It went well. Our group confronted Apollo in his throne room, and nearly succeeding in uncovering the information that he'd been infecting his own citizens with a deadly virus.

Initial thoughts about the system:

- The game is extremely low-prep for GMs. Possibly the lightest (aside from InSpectres) that I've come across. I can't really see the need to do any prep between sessions; the story is driven almost entirely by the players. This, alone, makes me love this game.

- Setting and character creation went more smoothly than I expected. Simply find a couple of planets that people are interested in, and hook character concepts around that.

- I've also revised my opinion of the 9W setting material a bit. I initially thought it was overwhelming and badly structured (especially the history). Now I see that it'll allow a group to very naturally develop the setting in play by defining what they're interested in and exploring that.

- I think I messed up complex conflicts a bit, in the sense of what happens when you lose, but your goal is unopposed.
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The characters were:

- Makarios, an adventuring traveller. Played by Conan.
- Asariel, the dead son of Apollo. Played by Fraser.
- Caros, a double-agent spy/mobster working in Sol's underworld. Played by Mike.
- Dr Daedalus, honoured physician searching for a cure to the Twilight Fever. Played by Sean.

And let me see if I can remember the events that happened:

- Caros gains access to Daedalus' hospital. A simple introductory conflict.
- Daedalus is warned that Asariel is returning to Sol.
- Daedalus fails to heal Caros's girlfriend of Twilight Fever. This scene formed an alliance between Mike and Sean's characters.
- Asariel and Makarios outwit Sol's customs officials. A more complicated conflict that ends with Caros making contact with Asariel.

That was the end of the introductory, scene-setting stuff.

- All four PCs meet at the Tartarus Bar in Sol's underworld. What I especially liked about this scene is how we all collaborated to create the setting. The upshot of the scene was a PvP conflict against Fraser, to get his ghost of a demi-god to spill the beans, which he ... did, right?

We discussed what scenes would spin off from that. There was a split between "Confront Apollo", "Find out more information", and "Try to cure Caros's girlfriend". We settled on the healing.

This was a great conflict, in which I played the Twilight Fever - a character I'd used earlier, and whose goal was to kill the girlfriend. It was a vicious conflict, but the fever won, death ensued, and I used my points of victory to take out a new Muse (story goal) - the Fever was now going to try and kill Mike's character.

One thing I noticed was that I won a lot of big conflicts, but that didn't seem to faze the players. Was that right, guys?

Anyway, the big finale ... in a separate post.
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Conan



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I certainly had a lot of fun with the game. Smile

Character creation is easy and I felt it did a good job of getting the players to think about what is central to their character concept. For example, my character was about change and balance, and I needed to think about how he would normally achieve that.

Thinking about it now, I like how you only have two "random" traits - Arete and Hubris. What impressed me was that if you chose one over the other - you could develop some benefits, but it would be at a measurable cost to others.

The Muses mechanic also impressed me - the way it helped to guide players towards conflicts that interested them, and allowed the group to set up the story that they want to play in.

All in all, I was very impressed with how the game played. Smile
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, great fun there.

Steve, you talked about how your winning big conflicts didn't faze us as players. I think that comes from the Muses mechanic too - even if the GM won these big things, the character's Muse can get resolved anyhow. The fact that, mechanically, success and failure are the same means that the character setbacks just add to the story.

I know that happened for Caros when Anna (the girlfriend) died and he resolved that Muse, adding a new one to get revenge on the person behind it (note: the players, but not characters, knew this was Apollo) and other points to be used later. I seem to recall that this happened for Frazer and Sean too, at certain points.
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Fraser



Joined: 30 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps it's my campaign mentality, but I felt that the playtest had a very first-session feel to it, so I guess I was ok with losing lots of conflicts, because I subconsciously felt that I was going to get to get my own back later. Smile

I think that Asariel spilled the beans. I mean, he told the other players what he knew, in the terms that he understood it. Smile
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Conan



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fraser wrote:
Perhaps it's my campaign mentality, but I felt that the playtest had a very first-session feel to it, so I guess I was ok with losing lots of conflicts, because I subconsciously felt that I was going to get to get my own back later. Smile

I think that Asariel spilled the beans. I mean, he told the other players what he knew, in the terms that he understood it. Smile


I also think that with the way that the muses mechanics work, the players would start getting larger and larger muses and increasing Arete and Hubris scores - which would mean that as the campaign progresses, the PCs begin to turn the tide of the conflicts. Which appears to me to be a deliberate design choice.
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While your ability to be challenged by other players would remain constant.
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...innnnteresting
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah, another thing that I forgot to mention yesterday. John C Wright has a series of novels that are very close in setting to Nine Worlds. They're Orphans of Chaos, Fugitives of Chaos, and Titans of Chaos.

They have a very similar illusory reality under the Earth disguising a cold war between the greek gods and, in their case, the forces of chaos.

The books are not that fantastic, but you can probably mine a lot of good ideas for Nine Worlds out of them.
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, the final scene was the confrontation with Apollo - which every player's Muses had been pointing at from the start. I, and (I think) everybody else, knew that going there was the most direct route to providing a satisfying climax to this one-off game.

There was a brief discussion about how the PCs would get into the throne room, which was interesting because there was a lot of "planning" discussion. You know, the sort of "We could do this, or we could do this, but if we do that how are we not going to get discovered?" kind of stuff.

At first I thought that the players needed a solider description of Apollo's palace in order to give them some context for making their plans. But as it drew closer to the time we'd have to wrap things up, I realised that the conflict to get into Apollo's palace wasn't that interesting.

So we skipped it.

The scene with Apollo almost immediately escalated, and eventually became a conflict with seven participants. Their goals went as follows:

Asariel (Fraser) - convice Apollo, my father, to pay attention to me.
Eleni Raptis (my NPC, Asariel's half-sister) - capture Asariel.
Caros (Mike) - expose and oust Apollo
Makios (Conan) - convince Apollo there's a way out of his deal with Hades
Dr Daedalus - discover if Makios or Apollo are telling the truth
Apollo (NPC) - capture Makios and prevent him from talking
Sol (NPC, a planet belonging to Apollo) - help Apollo capture Makios.

I mentioned above that I wasn't completely satisfied with how this conflict turned out. I think it pushed beyond the limits of my understanding of the 9W system. Here are the things that bugged me:

- Not enough time to refine all the goals. Sean, we had a conversation about the Doctor's goal ...?

-- I pushed for huge, conflict-ending goals (if I win, I'll get rid of Conan's PC), when smaller goals + a multi-phase conflict might have been the way to go.

-- I found it difficult to keep track of the Fate scores of my 3 NPCs.

-- Tactically, I think it would have been smarter (and more interesting) if Apollo and Sol had had different goals, so they could have accomplished more.

-- I had difficulty conceptualising what would happen if you lost, but your goal was unopposed.

Anyway, I felt pushed for time here at the finale, but it was still fun. Apollo thrashed the PCs - especially due to a bid for Trump from Conan that played into Apollo's strong suit.

... oh, and another conclusion: I reckon this game'd kick arse played as a campaign.
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Conan



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read through the rules and it is pretty clear that you handle one conflict at a time, then everyone sets out their goals within the conflict.

Conflict: Expose/Talk to Apollo
Goals
Asariel - Convince Apollo to pay attention to me and learn about Hades
Eleni - stop Asariel from talking to Apollo
Makarios - Get Apollo to confess and show him that I can help free him from Hades.
Caros - Expose Apollo and oust him.
Apollo - Prevent being Exposed
Dr Daedalus - find out the truth
Sol - Support the Primarch

Next we would all assign opponents to our goals. If there is no opponent, there is no conflict. However opponents are in the conflict not the goals, necessarily.

So what we really needed to do was discuss who was technically an opponent and who wasn't.

For example we could of had it like this:

Asariel - Opposed by Apollo, Sol, Eleni
Eleni - Opposed by Caros and Asariel
Caros - Opposed by Apollo, Dr Daedalus, Sol
Makarios - Opposed by Sol, Dr Daedalus and Apollo
Apollo - Opposed by Dr Daedalus, Sol, Eleni, Asariel, Caros and Makarios
Dr Daedalus - Opposed by Apollo, Makarios, Caros, Eleni
Sol - Opposed by Makarios, Caros, Asariel, Apollo

The reason some allies are "technically" opposed is because there is a potential for them to turn on each other if the conflict turns a certain way. The importance of identifying these relationships is that you can only take points from opponents, not losers.

So, for example, if Sol got more successes than Apollo - it could choose to take some of Apollo's points but not Eleni.

Once points have been captured - the goals are narrated from lowest to highest (so that the ultimate victor must react to twists in events.) So if Sol won the most and Apollo beat Makarios but Makarios beat Dr Daedalus - then Makarios succeeds in exposing Apollo, but Apollo captures him, then Sol can choose to either side with Makarios because he successfully beat Dr Daedalus or with Apollo because he succeeded in capturing Makarios (and Makarios could then take a muse "clear my name in Sol." as a result, because points are technically spend after the resolution of the goals.)

Apollo couldn't "kill" Makarios - because that comes at the end of the conflict resolution where he must divide his points up amongst his actions. So he would need to remove all of Makarios' Arete or Hubris and hope that Makarios had no muses left to sacrifice.

So say Apollo used 4 points to destory Makarios' Arete (which makes sense) - Makarios is almost banished from existence for his arrogance in taking on a primarch. Makarios chooses to sacrifice his "help Apollo" muse which restores his Arete - Apollo is beyond help as far as Makarios is concerned, and he will likely create a new muse in the future "Bring Apollo to justice" or something.

Apollo would then have needed another 4 points to try and kill Makarios again. Or he could use the points to create a new muse for Makarios (I believe you can enforce muses on other characters as well) which would be "keep Apollo's secret" which would have worked with his Cosmos power. Essentially they vanish in a flash of light - where Apollo successfully pleads his case, offering to let Makarios live in return for keeping the truth hidden...

Conan[/img]
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Fraser



Joined: 30 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the conflict resolution system is really interesting and for the most part fairly simple, but there are nuances that we didn't grok in the session, which does detract from its usability as a one-off game system.

But I still think it would make for an awesome campaign system and setting.
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, ...

For instance, I remember Ron Edwards saying something about his 9W playtest, which ties into Conan's observation a couple of posts up. He was saying that it actually took some time for PCs to build up their Muses and their ability to capture points. That meant it took a couple of sessions before Stasis Locks became a viable strategy, and that meant that taking on Primarchs or real tough opponents wasn't something you could confidently do right away.
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hix



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conan, thank you for doing that breakdown of the extended conflict example. I need to digest it, but great work!
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Conan



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hix wrote:
Conan, thank you for doing that breakdown of the extended conflict example. I need to digest it, but great work!


Nps. I found it really helpful to re-read the conflict rules and then deconstruct our final scene to figure out how it was supposed to work.

Essentially Caros' goal to depose Apollo would have initiated a second conflict - which would be purely against him and Apollo. Given that such a conflict has its own ruleset, it is meant to be a culminating moment in a game and one that isn't recommended until some time later in a campaign. But yeah - I feel that Nine Worlds, in many ways, does what Burning Empires sets out to do with a lot more elegance.

It presents a mechanical system for a campaign structure, with the players creating much of the world and characters - but does so without nearly the amount of initial set up or complexity. Smile

Heck, I want to play more 9W now! Very Happy

Conan
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