[MUD-Dev] Character evolution

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Thu Aug 21 12:05:34 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> From:          Richard Woolcock <KaVir at dial.pipex.com>
> Subject:       [MUD-Dev]  Character evolution

> Okay we've talked about the world evolving, but what about players?
> I have often thought about coding it so that players hair/nails slowly
> grow, causing them social/combat problems unless they do something
> about it.  Players would therefore have to trim their nails every so
> often, and get their hair cut (unless they wanted it long, in which
> case they would need to tie it back).  Shaving would be another option.

Character evolution is perhaps the one thing which is currently 
handled in "most" muds.  World evolution is something that has not
been handled well to this point.  But these comments aside, obviously 
you are interested in new directions of character evolution.

Hair growth and shaving are interesting options as they can influence
character recognition and a sense of changing appearance over time.
My current plans are to allow characters to alter hair styles and
facial hair at will either through special shops or skills.  These
also include tattoo parlors and body piercing shops as well as custom
clothes tailoring.  

All of these are part of my layered wear system and form the primary
means of describing the character to the outside world.  With the
exception of wounds, crippling and scars these things are static.
That is player intervention is required to evolve one's appearance
rather than system evolution over time.  

Now all of these appearance altering options are objects in my system
and are attached to the character body at pre-defined locations.  
Since I do implement wound decay and armor/equipment decay, it would
not be much of a stretch to provide decay to hair/beard objects in
such a way as to cause them to grow (or shrink, male pattern baldness
anyone *grin*).  My clothing/equipment is planned to decay in a 
very simple fashion.  It decays from useable to not useable.  As well
as wounds decay into scars depending on the severity.  Tattoos are 
permanent of course.

Perhaps I should consider a more elaborate decay where clothing would 
decay from new to worn to tattered, etc.  A more analog approach 
rather than binary.  Hrrm...

Nail clipping and the normal body functions strike me as somewhat
too detailed.

> In addition, what about eating and drinking?  

I've always found the eating and drinking requirements in many muds 
as irritating.  I'm attempting an automated eating system where 
characters located in civilized areas simply have money subtracted 
for this.  I will allow starvation and eating in wilderness areas
and through lack of funds though.  I have never considered 
implementing nutrition, however.

> Age is another factor that could be taken into consideration.  As your
> character got older, your hair would go grey - maybe fall out - and
> your skin would wrinkle.  You would start losing attributes and maybe
> pick up some mental conditions.  Eventually you would die of old age.  
> This is one of the reasons I am thinking of using my mudsex/pregnancy/
> birth code for - so that players can 'prepare' their child (thus passing 
> on their skills and knowledge) for when they themselves die.  This would 
> effectively allow you to 'live forever' in theory, even though you
> would be living through several different people.  It would, however,
> require some planning by the player.

Hmm, excellent.  I implement aging but have only considered the 
effects on character statistics.  Attaching wrinkles and hair 
alterations to the character are quite interesting and doable. :)

If one implements character ageing as a limiting factor, I think it 
natural that characters would become interested in all sorts of 
"immortalizing" options.  There are certainly implementations of the 
more fantastic options such as deityhood, vampirism and lichedom, but 
the more mundane and common method you describe seems much more 
fascinating to me.

Here are some random thoughts/questions on the matter.  Would liasons
be possible between PCs only or combination of PC/NPC?  I have an 
actively deistic world (aka ancient Greece) so some unusual offspring 
possibilities are possible (Hercules, Cyclops, mermaids, etc.)  Some
"offspring" code would perhaps be necessary with possibly some 
stat merging and random manipulation along with appearance (genetic 
algorithms anyone?).  If PCs become pregnant some affects and 
limitations an activity are in order (Should I treat pregnancy as 
a disease?)  Characters raising children would effectively become 
NPCs for the duration.  I'm not fond of "dwarven daycare" although
on second thought nannies and stewards are quite common to my 
period with the appropriate expenditures.  I don't like the idea of 
skill transference, but wealth and equipment are another matter.  
Once play begins with the new character perhaps there are necessary 
expenditures for the NPC parents if still living?

Some other unusual avenues of character evolution:

Age - decay of senses - sight, hearing, etc. 
Disease - chronic and terminal affects.
Social - reputation, political, economic, guild, religious growth
		along with promotion, demotion, etc.
Pre-evolution - generation of background, talents, flaws, siblings, 
		social rank, culture, parents, family, etc.

Jon Lambert 

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