[MUD-Dev] Levels: An abstraction of character abilities.

Adam Wiggins nightfall at inficad.com
Thu May 15 09:39:53 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> I also use levels in skill development.  I call them ranks.  This is a more 
> solid guideline on which to measure proficiency.  Its much like a karate 
> school that teaches one specific skill.  A rank of 20 in sweeps and throws 
> is certainly more proficient than rank 10.  How does this relate to the
> general character level above?  Well if we assume the 6th and 11th grader 
> are both karate fanatics, there is a good chance the 11th grader is further
> along in their training.  This is still a simplification as I also take into 
> account natural ability (stats & talents) and adolescent background 
> (cultural, social & professional).  

Hmmmm...well there's two things here.  One is just the way in which the
system displays skill levels to the user.  Usually this is in the format
<skillname>: <level>, ie long blades: superb.  So if you're just talking
about showing the user skill levels, than this is nothing more than
a simple numeric display.
The other thing you're talking about, ie the difference between a 1st grader
and a 5th grader or a brown belt and a black belt is simply ranks assigned
by some organization.  This sort of thing abounds in the world, and would
work perfectly well on a mud.  Ie, you join the order of Aurite priests,
they assign you the rank 'accolyte'.  By some method you may eventually
advance, then you get some other rank, ie 'priest'.  As you approach
the top ranks, you become limited by who else is already in those positions.
Ie there's only one archbishop or high priest or whatever, so in order
to get that position, he needs to resign or otherwise be removed (do I sense
a good oportunity for treachery here?).  Other possible orders would be
guilds (assassins, knights, craftsmen), covens of witches/other secret orders,
dojo ranks (color belts), and councils of wizards.
These ranks would first of all be quite arbitrary; that is, not assigned
by the game engine.  Thus the High Priest isn't necessarily the 'best'
priest, only the most respected.  In some cases (such as the dojo ranks) the
ranking would usually correspond to skill in that particular area.
Now *this* would be extremely cool.  In particular, NPCs would need to fill
out the ranks when there aren't enough players (particularly at the begining,
wouldn't really do to have the first person who bother to join the priests
become the high priest).

> I guess its also important to say, that there is no way of knowing 
> anothers level in any general way, except through social interaction
> or through observation of one exercising a given skill.  As a sidenote,
> I also allow a number of skills like "mimicry" which allow a character to
> fake skills they may have observed in others. 
> > Bubba warns, "Back off Boffo! I'm a grand master of Foo!"
> > Bubba waves his arms about and assumes the traditional Foo Monkey
>    position.  

Cool.  I should hope that those familiar with Foo would be able to
gauge Bubba's actual skill level.

> So in large part the concept of "levels" is internal to the game system and
> not "external".  As such I have my qualms about making it visible to 
> the player.  I am also aware that human animals love to measure each other.
> ( particularly, males of this species *grin* )

If the level is particular to the skill, that's a skill-based system, not
a level-based one.  A level-based system is independant of skills, and in
fact, usually dictates how and when you can learn your skills.  Most
importantly, the gaining of levels involes getting a generic sort of points
which may or may not be related to the skills you are trying to improve.
I've seen plenty of skill based systems which faked levels by having your
'level' just be the average of all your skills.  That doesn't make it a level
based system.

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