12 February 2008

Nine Worlds: Slaves of Saturn

We played a one-shot Nine Worlds game last night. It was fun, but didn't quite meet my expectations. The main reasons for this were that the characters muses were not quite as good as they could have been, and that we got bogged down in the conflict rules. The muses lacked a bit due to me rushing through character generation a bit (to get through an adventure by the end of the evening) combined with the fact that they're a new idea for the players - everyone had got the idea by the end of the game, but not so much at first.

The conflicts were a problem mainly because I hadn't reminded myself how they worked (Nine Worlds was a last minute pick when one player couldn't make it). This meant that a lot of the subtleties were forgotten the first time through, or not explained well, and so on. We also went into follow-up conflicts too many times... this was just because we hadn't set stakes well, and because of a desire to (e.g.) take advantage of temporary point gains.

In any case, we still had a pretty good time, with the players starting as heroic pirates off to rescue some enslaved relatives from Saturn. Their nemesis, another pirate, tried to trap them at first and this led to a big fight between the two aetherships. Due to some bad luck, their foe got an early advantage and pushed it as far as he could, ultimately killing the PC ship captain while the other two scuttled their ship and escaped in the other. They made their way to Saturn and begun looking for the slaves.

While they did that, the player who had lost his character quickly made up a new one - a slave, hoping to escape, who was also designed to stretch (or break) the mechanics (with 6 or 7 in Metamorphosis and other similarly extreme stats).

We then played out the slave rebellion combined with rescue attempt, which succeeded and had the two pirates team up with the ex-slave (and one reunited with his sister). They went to find the other chap they were going to rescue, but by now we were running low on time.

To finish up, I had a chimera track them down, for one final conflict (with the assumption that if they won they would free the other guy and escape Saturn). This fight was more fun, as we had the mechanics down better by this point, and went back and forward a few times before they finally took the chimera down.

Conclusions: I'm a little more cautious about running this now (not less keen, but I'll be better prepared next time). Also, not well suited to a one-shot - looking back at the one I played in a few months ago, I suddenly respect Steve's ability to keep it exciting and on track even more (I can even pick a few techniques of his that I'm regretting not using last night). Running a longer game, with no rushing over character and group generation, to get muses right is pretty much required. Plus, the fact that you would get much better at the conflict mechanics (it feels to me like 2-3 sessions of play would be enough that it would be fully taken on board).

9 comments:

Steve said...

I'm curious, Mike. What techniques are you thinking of?

-- Steve

steve said...

Also, Saturn frakkin' rocks. It's my favourite of the 9 worlds, and totally where I'd want to play if I were in a game. Rebellious slaves, giant monsters, evil gods. It is the shit.

The Gamester At Large said...

Techniques:
1. You did a really good job of guiding the brainstorming during character generation, picking up on the cool ideas and so on. You managed to get us all coming up with really good muses as part of that.

2. Moving things along. I think you may have cut short a few conflicts to keep the pacing up, but I let some of them drag on over extra rounds. That might not always be a problem, but some of the conflicts that we had like this just weren't much fun.

The Gamester At Large said...

And yes, Saturn is damn cool. That or Mars would be my top choices.

Jason Pollock said...

The setting was interesting. We got a little bogged down in the combat mechanics. It was hard to disengage because the muses were pretty much "See opponent X dead", on both sides. :) I don't think we understood that if we decided to disengage the opponent wasn't allowed to just chase us down again.

It was interesting to see that resolving a muse really weakens a character.

I still don't know what each type of point does... :)

I also found out towards the end of the session that I had been cheating for 1/2 the game. :) I was looking at what Mike was playing before deciding which suit to play, which meant that there were frequently no points for him to capture.... Somehow I think that my character would have been killed sooner if he had more points.

Still, it's a fun game, and worth playing for multiple sessions.

The Gamester At Large said...

Jason,

"It was interesting to see that resolving a muse really weakens a character."

That's a pretty big misunderstanding of how things work.

Resolving muses gives you points to increase your stats permanently or declare the trump in a conflict. You might have fewer cards to draw until you build up new muses, but it's much, much easier to increase muses (i.e. with points from your conflict victories).

Also, shame on you for changing your card plays based on mine.

Matt said...

Mmmmm, Mars ...


More seriously, thanks for playing! Sounds like you guys are getting entangled with the system. Personally, I think that's great! I'm the first to say the game's not for everyone. That said, it sounds very much like you're confronting exactly the questions you need to enjoy the game immensely. I believe the payoff to wrestling with these questions is big. And, you're right. That payoff doesn't come well after a one-shot. It's much better suited as a game of, say, 8-12 sessions.

Thanks again!
Matt

The Gamester At Large said...

Matt,

I think the issues we had were definitely tied to the one-shot/first go at the rules side of things, rather than that it just doesn't suit the group.

Nine Worlds is still one of the games I want to run for a longer game, once I finish up my 'play everything on the shelf' queue.

Matt said...

Understood! Enjoy the games. I'd love to hear about it if you get back to 9W.

Have a good one,
Matt