[MUD-Dev] New topic: AI and NPCs

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Fri Aug 29 00:08:52 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Thu, 28 Aug 1997 16:37:05 PST8PDT, "Travis Casey" <efindel at io.com>
wrote:

>I've often read about these kinds of scenarios, and I'd like to make a
>couple of observations:
>
>- The kobolds have an advantage, in that they're all being played by
>  one person.  Thus, they can act with near-perfect coordination, while
>  most likely the players haven't had a chance to learn to work as a
>  team -- even if their characters have been working as a team for
>  years or even centuries.

Yes, this is true. However, the power level of the humans is far above
that of the kobolds. The kobolds have the advantage of teamwork. The
humans have the advantage of being able to backhand any one of the
kobolds and splatter it halfway across the room. 

The players were informed of the opposition in detail before character
creation. Scott, my co-DM who ran the monsters, was never informed of
the players' abilities. The players are further gifted with significant
foreknowledge. 

The teamwork issue is exactly why the players were told up front that
none of them were expected to survive. They were further advised before
the adventure that *teamwork* was exactly where they would fall short.
If I point out your shortcomings, tell you exactly why you're about to
lose, give you a complete report on the enemy, *and* give you a
tremendous advantage in capabilities -- what excuse do you have? 

Remember, this game was run three times at every convention, the
conventions were held twice a year, and we ran it for something around
five years. That's thirty times. In thirty games, no one ever did better
than giving up? Even though we had several repeat players? 

>- Kobolds may have average intelligence, but tech level and culture
>  should be considered.  Did humans in medieval times build defenses
>  anywhere near as elaborate as these kobolds, or have military units
>  that acted with that level of coordination?  After all, humans have
>  average intelligence too.

There were restrictions placed on the traps, which I didn't go into with
any kind of detail because the post was rather long. Specifically, the
traps could not be elaborate mechanical devices, nor could they involve
any kind of chemical reactions more complex than 'this will burn', which
was about the extent of the average person's knowledge of chemistry back
then. With regard to the operation of the kobolds as a unit, kobold
lairs are tribal. Most tribal societies are known throughout the ages as
being excellent team players. A kobold lair does not contain a bunch of
kobolds, it contains an extended family. 

>- While it's easy to imagine elaborate defenses and battle plans for
>  the kobolds, to be realistic, you have to consider whether they could
>  actually carry them out.  Building traps and such takes time and 
>  labor -- and the kobolds still have to find food, eat, sleep, have
>  and raise little kobolds, and carry on the other necessities of
>  life.

The kobolds were not building the traps 'on the fly'. All traps were
placed before the players even signed up for the game. It is reasonable
to assume that the kobolds, since they live here, have had something on
the order of a year or two to build them. Defenses, as I mentioned, were
not permitted to be 'elaborate'. Realism was kept in mind. Battle plans,
however, *were* generally constructed on the fly. 

>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.

You have also overlooked the obvious home-court advantage the kobolds
enjoyed. 

The initial advertisement for the game composed an entire typewritten
page. The guidelines used in the construction of the lair would probably
have filled ten, and were never actually written down. Realism, your
main sacred cow here, was at severe issue. Never once did anyone say boo
about the complexity of the traps or tactics, both of which were kept
simple, swift, and efficient. Guerilla warfare is frighteningly
effective, even with limited technology and resources. 

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 You see me now, a veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I've been 
 living on the edge so long, where the winds of limbo roar. And 
 I'm young enough to get involved, too old to see, all the scars 
 are on the inside; I'm not sure that there's anything left of me
               -- Blue Oyster Cult, "Veteran of the Psychic Wars"
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