Character evolution

Brandon J. Rickman ashes at pc4.zennet.com
Mon Aug 18 18:34:17 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


Hello to all, one of the Brandons here, I have just returned from holiday
so I have a couple of digests to digest from the past few weeks.  I may
be responding to old half-dead threads in the next few days, just ignore me.
In this reply I have rearranged Adam's post and probably lost an
attribution...

On Sun, 17 Aug 1997 Adam Wiggins <nightfall at user2.inficad.com> wrote:
>> There are other things that could be added also, although I wouldn't
>> go so far as to code toiletries....as amusing as it would be to watch
>> players 'nip off behind the bushes' before a fight, or wet themselves
>> in combat if they didn't (and had recently drank a lot).
>
>Hum...I can't see any real advantage to this, to be honest.  I don't really
>like things unless there's a pretty clear set of effects that are worthwhile.

While the [not quoted here] scenario of the hero pissing his pants in front of
the king was presented as a mischievous implementation, it does have nice
dramatic potential.  Requiring characters to, ah, shit in the woods lacks
this drama.  It seems silly to me to implement a complicated digestive
system if you don't plan on allowing new fighters to wet themselves in
battle, because digestion then becomes a minor 'feature' instead of an
integrated element of the game.  I don't know if there really are any
"worthwhile effects", but what I'm interested in is how such a system
could contribute to the dramatic structure of the adventure, and that this
should be a key factor in implementing or not implementing most kinds of
cool game features.

If characters did wet themselves in battle then I would expect to develop
a situation where, if asked, most high-level veteran fighters would be forced
to admit some kind of minor bodily malfunction from when they were
inexperienced.  Thus it has a long-term social effect on the game.

With the hero and the king, I wouldn't want this to ever happen "by
accident."  Perhaps while he was in the waiting room the hero was offered
a glass of wine by the king's advisor.  This advisor, of course, had
evil motives and drugged the wine in hopes that the hero would embarass
himself before the king.  Maybe the scenario makes sense now.  It certainly
makes more sense than having characters die of starvation because they
kept ignoring the "You are hungry." prompts.  

A related scenario, with no commentary:

>drink wine
You drink the glass of wine.  You feel very drunk.
>order wine
The waitress looks at you. She says, "Don't you think you've had enough
to drink already?"
The waitress brings you a glass of wine.
>drink wine
You drink the glass of wine.  You feel very drunk.
You feel tired.
>stand up
You are barely able to stand up.  Walking is out of the question.
You feel a little sick.
>sleep
You crawl into a corner and pass out.
You choke on your own vomit.  You can't breathe.
*** You have died. ***

>We have hair growth and cleanliness factors.  No nails, as I couldn't
>think of anything interesting about those.  It's all very race dependant -
>we even have one race of completely hairless humanoids.  Many races don't
>have facial hair (hobbits and elves).
>
>The way we work it to keep it from being annoying to players is that you
>get an automatic bath/shave whenever you stay at an inn, unless you've
>specifically set an option for your character's appearance like 'grow
>a goatee'.  Result is that people who always sleep out in the wilderness
>start to look grubby and unkempt, while those who sleep in inns every
>night tend to look a bit more presentable.
>Naturally this would be pretty boring if it weren't for the actual
>*effects* these things have.  Here's a few:

Pretend we have a game where character alignment isn't just based on how
many good/evil creatures we have killed, but on character-character 
interactions.  A good character gives change to the beggar on the corner,
evil characters kick the beggar.  Also imagine there are nicely defined 
skills for: acting, disguise, and prevarication (lying).  And a player's
perceptions are colored by their abilities and skills.  Here I am playing
Shoehorn as a wanna-be rogue: 

>wear beard
You wear the fake beard.  It tickles a little.
>affect limp
You are now pretending to limp.
>north
You limp north.
Outside the Diseased Rat
You stand just to the east  of the entrance of the Diseased Rat, a local
tavern.
There is a beggar lying the gutter.
The beggar says: "Can you spare 20p for a cup of coffee?"
>examine beggar
You carefully examine the beggar.  His clothes are soiled but otherwise in
good condition.  He seems to be a little fat for someone who begs for
food.
>give 20p to beggar
You give 20p to the beggar.  He winks at you.
>west
You limp into the Diseased Rat.
The Diseased Rat
This room has no description.
A group of men are sitting at tables around the room. There is a waitress
here.
>order wine
The waitress looks at you.
The waitress brinks you a glass of wine.
A stranger says: "Hey, you with the beard!  Haven't I seem you somewheres
before?"
>look stranger
You recognize the stranger as: a city guard.
>lie "no, I'm new in town."
You say: "no, I'm new in town."
>examine self
You are dressed as a farmer. You are wearing a fake beard. The fake beard
is a little crooked.
>drink wine
As you start to drink the wine you manage to spill some on your fake beard.
The city guard examines you carefully.
>east
You walk out of the Diseased Rat to the street.
You see a fat beggar here.
The beggar says: "You forgot to limp."
A city guard arrives from the Diseased Rat.

----

Character hygiene plays a part in the drama of the game.  A character
might be dirty because they have been travelling, or they might be dirty
because they want to pretend to be something else.  Hair growth is
interesting because it is connected with character recognition but also
the perceptions of a character.  In the above, the city guard didn't 
recognize Shoehorn (who is, after all, a nobody) but he was suspicious
of Shoehorn's disguise.  There are a few other things implied here, such
as a failed acting check (the limp), a successful perception/disguise
check (the beggar being too fat), and an attempt to use the lying
skill.

The beggar, of course, is the Secret Lord of the Underworld in disguise.

- Brandon "Brandon Rickman" Rickman
ashes at zennet.com





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