[MUD-Dev] Evil coders from beyond the grave

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Fri Jul 18 20:28:25 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Fri, 18 Jul 1997, Adam Wiggins wrote:

> [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.

Indeed he did.

> 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.

Right on. We can crunch the skeleton, hack the zombie down and burn it,
and skewer the vampire. It's important (to a degree) that some of these
aren't reversible (the distinction many games fail to make). Ie: Your
arrow & skeleton example.
 
> > 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.

Right. Another point in favour of generalised systems (ie 'chemistry') to
allow certain things among others, rather than very specialised items (ie
holy_water.c).

Of course, this also takes us onto the notion of bringing muds close to
'real RPGs' in one sense - in D&D, you used to trot about town stocking up
on various supplies (rope, petons, doorjams, caltraps, godknowswhatelse),
not just (as we see players do on some muds now) snag as much food as you
can carry for healing purposes! You had to think about where you were
going, and what you might need! Lovely if we can translate this into our
worlds - it helps to add so much to atmosphere.

Rather than "I might encounter undead, better bring along a real tough
weapon", can we make them think "I might encounter undead.. where did I
put that oil, those brands, and my holy water?" ?
 
> > 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.

Perhaps it's something to do with wood having once been 'alive' in a vague
sense, whereas metal has always been completely inanimate. Maybe they have
an allergy to something in it.. heh. It probably works best to extend
outwards from the strict 'legends' in any case, and say its just the
penetration of the heart which is lethal - you have no worries in terms of
artistic license when you create your own world, in any case.

> 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.

Indeedelydoodely. Undead will feature largely in certain parts of my game,
as well as general 'cannon fodder' - but of course, only those parts where
it makes sense (and they will fit suitably into the world - those who are
not in a position to fight them will panic, and those who can attempt to
fight them will, in terms of other NPCs).

Hmm, necromancy.. something else to begin pondering upon.

Regards,
	-Matt Chatterley
	http://user.itl.net/~neddy/index.html
"Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's
	mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them." -George Orwell




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