[MUD-Dev] Evil coders from beyond the grave

Adam Wiggins nightfall at user1.inficad.com
Fri Jul 18 08:54:08 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

[Matt C:]
> Undead of all sorts are a favourite tool of horror writers, and moreover,
> of mud builders (term builder used to describe all those who create realms
> of any kind for players to puddle about in, in any and all senses).
> However, the much-maligned former dead are typically treated exactly the
> same as other monsters - you hit them lots, they fall over, and thats it.
> There are a few games which address this to make them different (this fits
> into broader considerations of some things being vastly different to
> 'normal').

*nod*...I think Orion already mentioned how, as a side effect of
having a realistic damage system, undead became damn near unkillable.
More importantly, the methods which work the best against 'normal' (living)
opponents isn't very useful against undead.  Arrows are great against
the living, particularly when they puncture vital organs.  An arrow
through an animated skeleton's ribcage results in some clattering noises
and not much else.  Zombie are in the same category, even though they
have flesh on their bones - their organs aren't what sustains them.
End result is that maces or other bludegons are best against skeletons
(crunchy bones), and fire is great against all undead.

> designing it so it's good, and doesn't feel like an "undead system" is
> hard. For instance, one can throw 'holy water' into the game as a
> substance, and allow players to tote it. But if all it can do is
> kill/injure undead, it becomes a very superficial thing, and is really not
> worth the bother. To counter this, we make it a proper substance, and
> treat it as normal water which is blessed in some way.

Yeah.  Although we don't specifically have 'holy water', clerics can
bless or curse objects which, among other things, causes it to be warded
against followers of opposing god(s).  So now that I think of it,
blessing a liquid and then throwing that liquid on an enemy creature
would work pretty well.

> So adding commands like 'impale vampire through the heart with the wooden
> stake', or rather commands which would make that viable, but only for a
> vampire, is a flawed approach - if we want burning the corpse of a zombie
> before it can rise to be a good way to keep 'em out of action, burning
> corpses (and objects in general - another topic, fire!!) as a whole must
> become possible.

Yup.  We don't have vampires, specifically, but it certainly wouldn't
be difficult to add a body type whose only vital organ was the heart.
Of course, I'm not too sure how to justify wooden stakes stopping them
dead while a similar stake made of metal doesn't do much of anything.
I suppose we'd need to make a special kind of material for the heart
which is highly regenerative but has a sort allergy to wood materials
which causes it to be unable to close around the stake, thus resulting
in the vampire's death.

> What other considerations might we have to take into account for this, and
> moreover, what would the effect of this be on the game, and other elements
> of said game? Are there things noted herein, or hidden herein, which can
> allude to better ways to handle other parts of the environment?

We never set out to make undead a big part of the game; I for one feel
that it's been done so much as to be rather trite so I generally stay
away from it.  However, it was one of those things where it just ended
up fitting perfectly into our damage system, since that was well-designed
from the ground up.  So we ended up deciding to include some basic undead
just because we can.  Now, if I were designing a mud which was actually
going to have horror creatures as a major theme (werewolves, vampires,
skeletons, zombies, liches, disembodied limbs running about and such) I'd
probably want to think a bit harder about what it is that actually
sustains undead - where did they come from, who (if anyone) created
them, and how all this fits into the game world.  Are undead 'powered'
by an evil god?  Are the servants of individual sorcerers, possibly
vampires themselves?  How are they 'created' - a bite from a vampire
on a living target, resurrecting a corpse, or something else?  I imagine
if you think all of these things through you'll also have a good start
as far as a necromancy system.

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list