[MUD-Dev] New topic: AI and NPCs

Travis Casey efindel at io.com
Wed Aug 27 17:25:51 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Jeff Kesselman <jeffk at tenetwork.com> wrote:
> Travis Casey <efindel at io.com> wrote:
> >In short, while I think such things are interesting examples of what
> >low-powered monsters can do under the right conditions, they're not
> >realistic.
> Ild just note in passing that any AD&D game that uses critical hit tables
> causes genuine fear of mobs.  They may bnot be able to do much noirmal
> damage, but their chance of a critical hit per round is enormous.

There's just been a long discussion on critical hits in rec.games.frp.misc;
people interested in them might want to look there.  I'd just like to say
that while the most common critical hit rules have that effect, it's 
possible under some critical systems to give the advantage to the big
monsters, and that the effects of criticals can be largely duplicated via
"open-ended" rolling systems and hit locations.  (Which are generally
easier to use with a mud than in paper games, since the mechanics can
be coded in and largely forgotten about).
> I actually DO bleieve thsi is realistic as any significantly large grou
> pwill just overrun and take down a small group by shea rnumbers.  It may
> not be the exact smae effect beign mdoeld, but the combat results are
> the same.

Something that gets me about many-on-one combat situations is how often
people forget what may be the more numerous side's greatest advantage:
the ability to surround their foes and attack from all sides.  All too
often, in muds and in paper RPGs, four orcs conveniently line up and
attack a foe one at a time, or all stay in front of their foe.  If the 
orcs really want to win, and aren't concerned with ideas like "honor," 
they'd come at their foe from all four directions at once.

> The fundemental problem here is that AD&D doesnt consider such thuings as
> mobs ability to overrun and basicly make helpless a small group.

Well... AD&D does consider such things, but few GMs seem to utilize
the rules that relate to it.  An overbearing attack can be a group
of small monster's best tactic in many cases.

To address Caliban's original question... some people have made attempts
to make monsters use more intelligent tactics and strategy.  It's pretty
easy to set up special tactics in fixed settings -- i.e., having the 
monsters take advantage of the layout and special features of the areas
they're in.  This usually requires some custom coding, though.

Adding intelligent tactics for monsters which wander over a wide area or
trying to make use of the terrain automatic is harder, but there are a
few things that can be done:

- Make monsters take advantage of "rest time."  Many muds allow PCs 
  access to some form of fast healing.  It's only reasonable that
  at least some monsters should have it as well.

- Make aggressive monsters follow when their targets run away.  Players
  don't usually leave a fleeing monster alone, so why should an 
  aggressive monster be any nicer?

- Make groups of monsters "pile on."  If you have a grid system, you
  could implement rules for monsters attacking from behind and to the
  sides.  Without one, it might be good to give the monsters a bonus
  to hit based on how badly they outnumber their foe -- it's hard to
  defend against two attackers coming from two different directions,
  much less five or six!

- Don't allow players to control who the monsters are attacking.  In
  some muds, monsters attack whoever attacked them last, which leads
  to a practice called "tanking" -- whoever has the most hit points
  is the last to attack, and soaks damage until he/she gets low.  Then
  another character will quickly do "kill" on all the monsters, so
  they'll all start attacking him/her while the first character heals.

- Try to use weapons and armor intelligently.  Comparing weapons and
  armor on some mud setups can be tricky, but I think it's worth the
  effort to make monsters loot their dead foes and pick up better 
  armor and weapons.  If you have weapon breakage rules, a smart monster
  should carry more than one weapon.  (BTW, it's also worth it to make
  monsters wear armor and wield weapons automatically, just to give
  coders building monsters one less thing to forget.)

More advanced ideas would include making monsters use hit-and-run 
tactics, having them yell for help if they're in their own area (and
having other nearby monsters respond), and having monsters in groups
step away from combat to heal while their compatriots keep the PCs

Things get extra fun if you add in missile weapons -- monsters can then
have snipers, support their compatriots from another room, shoot at
foes as they close or run away, etc.  Of course, this also requires
a lot of added complexity in the monsters, if you're to avoid PCs
sitting in the next room and safely killing monsters with their missile
       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
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