[MUD-Dev] Another Approach (was: Integrating PK)

clawrenc at cup.hp.com clawrenc at cup.hp.com
Wed Jul 2 12:14:17 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

In <Pine.BSF.3.96.970628094325.7190B-100000 at ice.cold.org>, on 06/28/97

   at 12:41 PM, Brandon Gillespie <brandon at roguetrader.com> said:

<<Description of magically assisted investigation of "crimes"
resulting in penalties applied to players>>

>The appropriatness for this solution is rather world based--its great
>for my world, which is future/sci-fi/fantasy based (so both
>technology and magic can be brought into an investigation--magic
>helps make trials much shorter, or at least immediately incriminates
>the majority of stupid criminals). 

I see an obvious problem:

  Bubba has a grenade.  He pulls the pin, puts in on a rollerskate,
and pushes the rollerskate so that it rols down the slop to be beside
Boffo when the grenade explodes (killing Boffo).

  Bubba in investigating a mysterious cavern with Boffo.  Bubba pulls
on a strange-looking rock, which results in a large boulder falling on
Boffo, killing him instantly.

  Bubba later persuades Bernie to accompany him to the caverns to
"show him something".  Bubba then pulls the rock again, deliberately
killing Bernie.

  Bubba sets up a deadfall, say a large boulder perched on a cliff and
set to fall on anyone who passes below.  Bubba then leaves and goes to
town.  In town Bubba tells Boffo that he say a great treasure at the
end of the gorge below the cliff.  Boffo goes down the gorge, and is
crushed to death.

The attempt here is to indicate the difference between intent and
result, and indirection of intent.  

In the first case Bubba did intentionally kill Boffo.  However the
actual scene of the death was significantly removed from Bubba in
time, space, and actions.

In the second case Bubba also killed Boffo, but there was no intent to
kill, it is merely a side-effect of an "innocent" action.

In the third case is apparently identical until you realise that Bubba
knew what would ahppen before hand.  If you want to use the fact that
Bubba was present in both cases to track this, have Bruce lure Bernie
to the cavern and pull the rock etc, having heard about it from Bubba.

The fourth case is jsut a variation on #1, ecetion that we've
stretched the degree of removal.  Want to make it worse?  Have Bernie
observe the deadfall, and then go into town and tell Boffo to go down
the gorge...

FWLIW I don't attempt to handle these sorts of indirection at all. 
Then again my entire model is non-traditional:

You are a player.  You are outside of the game and can meddle with it. 
You can control characters.  In the context of the game world
characters can be considered synonymous with "spirits" or "souls" (I
dislike both words equally as being overloaded with unwanted
connotations).  A character (soul) is capable of animating one or more
bodies.  Outside of the multiplicity angle this is fairly synonymous
with most religions which posit the existance of a soul which is the
temporary inhabitant of a body and which is responsible for its
actions (ie the "soul" is the "I" in the sense of identity).  Without
a controlling character for a body, the body dies (tho typically it
will be taken over by a game-supplied character (ie turned into a
mobile)).  Bodies themselves are pawns.  They have no internal
animating force,and can be considered synonymous with
nervous-twitching slabs of meat, much in the sense that many of
undoubtedly consider the slabs of beef hanging at the back of our
local butchers.  Bodies are expressly built to be picked up and
discarded as easily as we might put on or take off a pair of jeans

Characters are dependant on their bodies.  Diverting also from the
standard religious model, should a character lose all his bodies, the
character will die, permanently, and will be erased from the game. 
Loosing a body comes in a few forms:

  1) The body dies.

  2) Someone else takes over the body and compleatly ousts your
possession and any claims you have to it.  

This last is particularly interesting as most body possessions will be
of the form where the attacker takes control of the body, but does not
compleatly oust the prior owner(s) (the body may have been similarly
stolen before) from the body.  As such what happens is that the new
chap has control of the body, but the old owner(s) are along for the
ride and can see and hear everything the new owner does -- they just
can't input commands to their old body.  What this also means is that
should the latest owner "give up" the body, the previous owners who
still have claims get to fight for it (usually the most recent will
win by default).

Note: Having such a partial claim to a body gives a character
significant advantage in trying to reclaim it.  The more recent the
claim, the greater the advantage.

Note: a player with such a partial claim to a body can drop his claim,
at which point he has no claim to the body at all.

Note: Compleatly ousting prior owners from a body is a laborious and
expensive proposition.  It is much easier in general to just wrest
control and leave the hangers on at that.  It does make it more likely
that they might grab the body back, but it sure saves a lot of effort
and debilitating work.

Note: A character will not die if it loses all its bodies but has
remaining an interest in a body it does not control.  A character only
dies and is deleted when it loses all contact with the game world --
ie all bodies are dead and no claims exist.

  When another body kills your last body, you become attached to the
killing body as partial owner.  This would be in the exact same way as
if that body had previously been stolen from you.  It is then up to
you to either battle for ownership of your new host body, or to try
and jump ship to some other passing body (eg a mobile or other

Note: The definition of what is the "killing body" in this context is
deliberately vague (consider the deadfall above).  Its actually
defined as a hash of the following:  First choice is the last body to
causitively affect the object that killed you, second choice us
underlieing default to the next body (or last if recent enough) to
directly affect your body in any way, and the last and third choice is
anything nearby that could substitute for a body.  All of these BTW
are limited by range and time.  If nothing should satisfy within the
limits, then sorry, you are dead dead.

Thus a even a winning (killing) Pk'er is at risk of losing his body. 
He may not lose it immediately, but later on when he's weakened from a
later fight (the riding character just biding his time).

This could lead to the amusing circumstance of Vlad the PK'er coming
back to the Inn for a rest, only to find that all characters bound to
him as partial owners immediately steal the bodies of all the mobiles
and players in the Inn, and then turn about and attack him.  

Note: To prevent this detailing an effective immortality, a character
which exists solely as a partial rider on a body owned by someone else
will decay fairly rapidly with time.  As such, should Vlad the PK'er
take a bit too long getting to the Inn, his partial owner characters
will be so weak as to not even able to body-steal a flea.  Similarly,
while Vlad is dawdling his way back to the Inn, ewakening characters
will likely fight for who gets any passing semi-weak mobile/player

To a certain extent this model cheapens death, and makes PK'ing free. 
A player wnating to go on a PK-spree could just go out, steal a body,
wandering about killing everything that moved, and drop the body when
he'd had enough.  

I don't directly discourage this.  I'm not sure I should.  I like the
concept of having the world protentially be that chaotic and
unreasonable.  I do indirectly discourage this by having a built-in
system of karma, a stat tied directly to the character and secondarily
relfected on the account (see below).  Essentially such sprees reflect
badly on a player's karma, rendering future actions more difficult
(such as ability to steal a body from a character with a better karma
state (cf purity of mind), and the player's probability field when in
the presence of characters with better karma states (cf prior
discussion of probability fields for details or ask and I'll

This separation into bodies and characters also complicates several of
the old MUD models for stats.  I've handled this by deriving the stats
into three classes:

  1) Physical -- these apply to the body, and only to the body.
  2) Character -- these apply to the character and only to the
  2) Account  -- well, you guess.

The physical stats are all the simple things like strength, weight,
endurance, size, etc.  The character stats are all the touchy-feelie
stats like magic ability, will power, etc.  The account stats are a
dubious set, but mainly consist of a couple simple stat weights which
are touched periodically depending on how well the player has been
playing.  Essentially they attempt to slant the probabilities so that
a player who is being successful will continue to be successful, but a
player who is losing (a character death, several body deaths/losses,
etc) will fail more often.

In line with this general separation of affairs, a character can look
out thru the eyes of his bodies as per normal, but can also view the
"spirit world" (I dislike this name too), which enables him to "see"
other characters, but not to see the connections of those characters
to their bodies (its a non-euclidian space which does /not/ map to the
game world space).  A character may communicate directly to other
characters in the "spirit world", and even position his own character
in that space (proximity to a target character benefits a
take-over/body-steal attempt).  The spirit world communications are
analagous to channels in normal MUDs.  A character may have one of its
bodies "speak" (SAY command etc) to another body, and thus attempt to
communicate to another character (if it can figure out what characters
own what bodies (remember WHO only reports active accounts, not

Placement in spirit space also helps group action -- for instance a
number of characters may conspire to mutually attack (not their
bodies) another character.  As such the proximity fo the groups
characters to each other strengthens their attacks, while the distance
to the enemy weakens it.  This is actually the *only* way to take out
some of the big targets in the game (other targets have incredibly
powerful characters, but wimpy bodies).  

Note: Underlieing this of course is the general problem of relating a
character to its body -- a damned difficult if not impossible feat.  

Advancement in the game is not the simple old progressionm of levels,
or the hoary old class/multi-class chestnut.  The goal is to advance
your characters.  You do this by increasing your character's skill
sets (whcih instantly spread to all their bodies), by gaining magical
ability, by gaining mana abilities, by gaining strength and will
power, etc.  

None of these are reported by simple adsolute scales.  Instead its a
sliding scale based on that character's awareness of abilities in that
stat and his placement in that field

The long term goal of a character is to resurrect himself as a god. 
Player characters are defined as once mutually responsible for the
initial creation of the universe, but are now much descended from
their former stature and power and concomittantly bereft of much of
their memory.  It is the task of the player to return his characters
to their former glory.

My current debate is over whether I should even postulate the
existance of Sim-Peeps, virtual or realised.  My tendancy is to
arrange the world so that players are the only actual intelligences in
the game, and that this is a known feature of the world (cf a
multi-player Myst).  Then mobiles become the shadows of deranged and
descended intelligences (cf Heinleinian Puppet Masters,
David-brin-esque raised chimps/dogs, demons nailed to this weary
mortal coil).

The basic definition of a god in this context is one of immortality
(no requirements on bodies), and unlimited access and creative
abilities in the physical. magical, and spirit worlds in the game. 
Godhood is a definite, quantifiable state.  Approaching godhood
however just means that you gain more and more god-like abilities --
but you can still be knocked back down.  Gods are unassaultable except
by other gods, and do not rely on other characters in any way.

I actually have no idea what sort of characterisation of the world I
want -- futuristic, fantasy, etc, other than to know without doubt
that I don't want anything tied to a particular author, novel, or
standard genre (WoD, Pern, Vampire, Tolkein, StarTrek, DrWho, Tron,
etc).  If I had any idea of how to do it, I'd probably do something
along the line of Myer's Silverlock (an absolute !__*MUST*__! read for
any of you here, massively, highly, unendingly recommended (Amazon
might be able to get you a copy (No, you can't have mine))) as a
fantastic romp thru all of literature, mythology, and the more dimly
lit recesses of our common imaginations.

J C Lawrence                           Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                           Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------------(*)               Internet: clawrenc at cup.hp.com
...Honorary Member Clan McFUD -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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