[MUD-Dev] Character evolution

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Thu Aug 21 13:51:16 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

This is a repost.  Last post was unusual(?). Hrmm it's my end I'm 

> 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

> 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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