26 December 2007

Nine Worlds by Matt Snyder

I've already played this one, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into. The book's a very nice one, with some nice Art Nouveau page decorations that contribute a lot to the feel (especially when you make it most of the way through and discover that the setting is full of that style).

The mechanics have a few more subtleties that didn't come up in a one-shot, such as the choice of using Arete (skill) versus Hubris (magic) in every conflict is also a statement about whether you accept the rule of the Primarchs (i.e. the Olympians and Titans) or are rejecting it. There are also a lot of nifty options in the results that we didn't use all of.

Conflict resolution is by cards. You draw a number of cards based on your Arete or Hubris plus any relevant Muses (character goals). You are looking for a number of cards in one suit, which you then add to the ability associated with that suit to get your total. The ability chosen also determines how you deal with the conflict - if you pick clubs for your total, then you used Chaos (destruction) to achieve your end. After the totals are revealed, there is a point scoring phase, in which you may take points from opponents that you beat. Face cards, aces and jokers score points, and you then may use those you won plus your own to temporarily rearrange the stats of anyone involved in the conflict. Exactly how depends on the suit played, but options include moving points from one character to another, increasing or decreasing them, or locking the current scores for a while. My feeling is that this will get really interesting once the group gets a good handle on the rules, allowing a lot of fun tactics. In the game I played, we really just scratched the surface of this stuff.

Once again, a shout out goes to Muses, the coolest thing in the game. These are player-authored character goals. Once you resolve it one way or another, the current rating gives you points towards character development. These can be of two different types, depending on whether you had more Arete or Hubris successes for the goal.

The setting is both really cool and extremely evocative. Snyder provides a huge, epic, history to build on. Then he presents a page on each of the nine worlds that describes a few key conflicts going on there right now, together with some statted up NPCs for that world (usually deeply involved in the conflicts just mentioned). The color is pulled from Greek myth, with the Olympians and Titans currently in a cold war type of situation after a couple of wars that raged through all the worlds. It seems prefectly matched for the intention of allowing each group to pick a couple of their favorite places to build the story from, and then just go from there. I also really like that it's set up so that you can build your character up to change the world - there's a sort of endgame where you become a champion for a Primarch (ruler of a world) or instead usurp a Primarch's position.

Good stuff, recommended!

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