[MUD-Dev] Re: Role-playing

Shawn Halpenny malachai at iname.com
Fri May 16 11:37:02 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Khanone at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 14/05/97  07:21:49, Marian (gryphon at iaehv.nl) writes:
> << I'll leave it to those qualified to talk about practicality and
> feasability
>  so I just snipped everything and ask you a counter question instead:
>  What exactly do you mean with roleplaying in your game?
>  It looks to me like you're working on a way to get rid of the straight-
>  forward kill something for experience and equipment type of games and
>  reward use of other skills directly rather than indirectly. This seems
>  like a good goal to work to but well, is this what you mean with
>  roleplaying?
>   >>
> Well, partially - it's allowing players to create, and act, within the games
> confines - not letting the focus on combat detract from those who wish to do
> otherwise.  A character can choose a profession, maybe sticking with it,
> maybe not.  While I don't intend to allow user-level programming of the
> environment, I see no reason why an Immortal, or other player designated as a
> designer/programmer, cannot create new races on the spot (that is, within
> perhaps 20 minutes), or design a new (previously unthought-of) profession.  I
> actually prefer to allow a mix, if possible - allowing those who wish to
> fight, do so. And those who don't, not do so.  But yet, still achieve some
> fame through their actions.  Becoming a cities most famous merchant,
> bodyguard, mercenary or somesuch should be enough of a goal for those who are
> more obsessed with "winning" (being better than the rest"), but at the same
> time, it should ensure to some extent, that acting out a defined role, is a
> real possibility.

My PoV is that without user-level programming to some extent, allowing such
freedom of choice forces a large burden onto the creators of the mud.
Maybe it's just laziness :P but I like to allow people to become and do
pretty much what they'd want.  If they want to become the most famous
merchant of a city, there's nothing to stop them, since they can set
themselves up in the role.  The code doesn't care, since the code has no
idea that Bubba is the most famous merchant in the city.  However, the code
Bubba has written to support his shops and caravans and accounting
department cares very much and rightly so:  Bubba's the one who wrote it.

Yes, there can still be generic things like guilds and such for those who
don't want to "dirty their hands" coding something specific.  These can be
written by an admin or even by another player.  Those who don't want to or
can't code up their own things aren't left out, but I don't want to tell
someone who has grand ideas that he or she can't do them because my code
doesn't work that way.

> It raises some interesting questions, though:
> How would a "death" through going financially bankrupt affect a character?

Is this something that needs to be defined by the creators of the mud in
order to be a "reality"?  My approach is to let the character deal with it
however he or she sees fit.  IMO, the mud shouldn't care or enforce or
determine the outcome of a situation as grand (with respect to the number
of variables involved in getting to the point of bankruptcy) as a
bankruptcy.  There are too many possible (and feasible) answers to the
question.  The character may take to the streets and beg for money or
food; could become a thief and take on a new lifestyle; etc.  I dislike
the idea that I'm forced to play in a particular fashion because the code
is pulling my strings. 

> How could one promote a secret organisation, such as professional thieves are
> supposed to operate?

How about like this mailing list is promoted?  If you want it to remain
secret (i.e. having a select membership), there must undoubtedly be some
degree of player involvement.  This matter is not for the code to resolve,

> Could any "profession" be reasonably emulated within a game world, even if
> the actual supporting mechanics may not exist?  (I.e. royalty?)

Royalty would be what players made of it.  You have a couple players who
code themselves up some constructs that let them be royalty.  Say part of
this code is that on the last day of every month, they get 20% of the gold
in the realms coffers.  And, of course, they don't tell any of the realm's
inhabitants about it.  Now Bubba the Peasant Farmer comes into town and
discovers that the bank has a lot less money than it did.  Bubba goes back
to the farm and starts a revolution, deposes the king and queen and sets up
a democracy.  Leave the emulation up to the players who want to participate
in it.  Things that people want will manage themselves, from the admin's
perspective, and those that no one wants will fizzle out.

Yes, I think any profession can be reasonably emulated with player
involvement, but you can't force it and can't create rules about it.

> What role (if any) would a family play in a players life?

It's all up to the player.  It's much too much work to build families into
the code, so let people who want families develop the rudiments themselves.

> What view would a pen-and-paper roleplayer have of a world when "given"
> stats, and told to work with them?
> What view would a die-hard levelling machine take when presented with phrases
> such as "You think you are stronger than most other Humans" ?

I think this is a matter of personal preference when designing.  I can't
please all of the people all of the time.  I'll adopt a method that I feel
comfortable with and those who don't like it...too bad.  I'm much more
interested in how the system works and what you can do with it, than what
it says people should be able to do with it.  I'm trying to avoid arbitrary
restrictions like they're the plague.

> Most of the above were touched upon briefly in the list, but some would be
> very hard to allow for.  A network of thieves, for example, is likely to need
> a lot of supervision from the powers-that-be, until it becomes
> self-supporting when enough players get involved enough to make it
> believable.

At no point am I required to say "Now there is a network of thieves.  Go
ahead and use it." in order for there to be a network of thieves.  If
Bubba the Thief says to himself one day "Gee, I'd like to get a bunch of
the guys together and start and little B n' E group with benefits and
pension plan" there's no problem with that.  He can write the code he
needs to make things work:  if he wants a meeting room, he can make one. 
If he wants 10% of all members' pilfered gold to go into the network's
bank account, he can code that in too. 

Admittedly, if Bubba can't code, his chances at getting a really smooth
network going are slim, though he can always ask someone to do it for him.

> While I'm not keen on the idea of class, I intend to use it to set a "trend"
> that the characters took in the early part of their lives.  However, players
> are able to take up almost any profession for the rest of their natural lives
> - a mage may have small beginner magical abilities, but for some reason
> decides to opt for the path of a weaponsmaster.  Maybe they can gain some
> small additional magical training through the rest of their life, but the
> emphasis from the moment of joining, onwards, would be on combat and the
> tactical use of weapons in a fight.
> So, the long answer to your questin, Marian, is "Yes".  Adding as much
> roleplaying as I can to a goal-orientated game.  In fact, trying to enforce
> it (at the least) when interaction occurrs between players.

My approach is to create the rudiments of a world for people to muck
around in and then let them muck around in it.  I try not to force them to
conform to how I say things have to be. 

Shawn Halpenny

"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive
 positions and have a tremendous impact on history."
                                    - Dan Quayle

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