[MUD-Dev] Character development [was Re: ]

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Thu Apr 9 19:19:09 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Thu 09 Apr, Travis S. Casey wrote:
> On Wed, 8 Apr 1998, J C Lawrence wrote:

> Yep... we practiced parenting on our two cats first.  We're expecting
> our new arrival at the end of August, and have no plans to find out
> the baby's sex until it's born.

*grin* If you manage to do some parenting on cats I have to say that
you definitely are ready for children ;)
!congratulations! to both of you (and the little one)

> > >> Character development is fundamental to the concept and definition
> > >> of a MUD.

While I tend to agree with you, I have to say that you must have some
smart arguments  to include a game like pernmush in the same group as

> > > It should further be noted that "character development" doesn't have
> > > to mean "an increase in character power."  It could mean *any* kind
> > > of change to a character, including personality development.

> > True.  An idea I've been playing with for a while now for more
> > "typical: MUDS is the idea that the character as a net whole never
> > changes, but that the balance of allocation of stats changes.

I am not so sure if I like this idea. In fact I am not so sure I under-
stand entirely what you are trying to achieve. I think you try to avoid
players from 'maxing out' their characters?  But why limiting things in
this fashion?

> If you want more traditional advancement, but don't want characters to
> grow too powerful, you could combine this with a slow "growth" system.

It would only encourage the stubborn (and unimaginative) players from
plodding along with the game. You would on the other hand likely lose
the more flamboyant characters.

> This would keep characters from getting powerful too quickly, but also
> give the players the ability to rearrange their characters over time
> to adapt (e.g., if the player discovers that they'd like the character
> to have more capabilities with magic, the player can sacrifice some of
> the character's other capabilities to gain them).

Why not make it so that you can advance all skills and abilities, but
the higher trained you are in some field,  the more quickly you loose
that proficiency?  That way players can choose to concentrate on only
a few skills,  or decide to create a more generic character that does
nothing quite as good as a true specialist? And by ignoring a certain
specialisation for long enough  you are no longer better than average
in it again.  It would also help you to negate the 'pathetically weak
newbie' problem that can be found on near all muds.

> A few random thoughts on character advancement/generation... 

> Some paper RPers prefer to develop characters in play rather than 
> generating them at the start.  The idea is that the player may not
> know enough about the gameworld when the game starts to be able to
> generate exactly the kind of character he/she would want.  Thus,
> some aspects of character generation are delayed.

Isn't this what muds do,  in essence?  Except of course  that usually
you have to pick your profession beforehand.

> A more concrete example of this is to give the players the ability
> to "hold back" a few attribute/skill/whatever points and assign them
> when they want to.

I think something like this was implemented in Rom II ?

> Of course, some muds already use a variation on this sort of system --
> allowing players to choose such things as guilds after their characters
> have entered play.

> Skill decay has been mentioned here before, I believe, but since we're
> on the subject of advancement... the idea behind skill decay is that if
> you don't practice something for a while, you start to lose your ability
> at it.  The paper RPG Harnmaster requires players to spend advancement
> points on maintaining skills, or else they will decay.  On a mud, it's
> fairly simple to keep track of how long it's been since the last time a
> skill was used or its value checked and adjust it downward based on that.
> Of course, you may wish to have different skills decay at varying rates,
> and there's also the issue of whether it should be easier to relearn a
> skill that you used to have.  Something that's been noted on the RPG
> groups recently is that skills rarely seem to decay all the way back to
> zero --

I think that is only fair. You haven't exactly -forgotten- what you have
learned,  you merely got rusty in practising it.  Because you once where
trained you can expect to pick up much quicker than somebody for whom it
is entirely new.
Maybe you need to have to numbers assigned to each skill that you learn.
Knowledge and practice. Your overall skill is determined by both numbers
but only the practice decays,  and picks up quickly once you start prac-
ticing again. Increasing knowledge on the other hand is much harder, and
magics/affects that cause -that- to decrease are going to be nasty...

I will react to the rest of this post later :)


> One possibility with skill decay is to have decay be the reverse of
> gaining a skill -- skill advancement is normally easy at low skill levels
> and gets harder as you advance.  Skills should decay quickly at high
> levels (a world-class anything pretty much has to practice every day to
> stay in top form) and more slowly at low levels.

> Some paper RPGs have set limits on how much a character can know; AD&D
> with the limit on "spells known" for mages; The Fantasy Trip, which 
> limited the number of skills a character could have to his/her
> intelligence score, and others.  The Fantasy Trip allowed characters to
> forget skills in a couple of ways so that others could be learned, but
> none of those ways were easy.
> An alternative to class systems that I've come across recently is an
> aptitude system.  When a character is created, the player can divide
> up a few points among various aptitudes that the character can have.
> For example, in a traditional fantasy game, the aptitudes might go
> along the lines of the traditional classes:  combat, magic, religion,
> and stealth.  All characters get a default aptitude of 1 in each category,
> and are given 4 extra points to divide up among the aptitudes.  Thus,
> you could put all 4 into combat and leave the others at 1, or you could
> go for being a generalist and make them all be 2.
> When a character applies advancement points to a skill, the points are
> multiplied by his/her aptitude in the area the skill falls under.  This
> allows a warrior-type to learn magical skills -- he just has to spend
> more points to do so.
> Last thought -- traditionally, players choose their characters attributes
> and classes/skills separately, although possibly within certain limits.
> (E.g., you must have at least X strength to be a warrior.)  An alternative
> possibility is to have skills/classes/aptitudes/whatever give attribute
> points.  The attributes would then be at least partially pre-set for each
> character -- the player wouldn't have to worry about any minimums, since
> the character would already meet them.
> I think that's enough rambling for now... if people are interested in
> these sorts of ideas, say so and I'll see what else I can scrape up out
> of my memory.
> --
>        |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
>  ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
>       |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'  Keeper of the rec.games.design FAQ:
>      '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)      http://www.io.com/~efindel/design.html

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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