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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sat Apr 11 11:07:23 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Thu 09 Apr, Travis Casey wrote:
> On Thursday, 9 April 98, Vadim wrote:

> > Travis S. Casey wrote:

> >> 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.

> >> 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 the best solution to this  would be to make players decide on
the aptitude of their characters before they start playing, but other
than that nothing should be decided. So a player can decide on an ap-
titude for the arcane. This does not garantuee that their character's
going to be a mage, much less a strong mage, but when the numbers for
a character are being determined by the game the ones that have to do
with magic will be somewhat higher on average than the ones for other
aptitudes. Of course the player can still end up with a character who
has no real ability of magic at all, but that's only fair ;)  Numbers
of course have to be fairly immutable and largely hidden from players
for this to work of course.
This should solve the problems associated with roling for the maximal
stats that can be found on many muds,  and also reduce the problem of
having to make some fairly far reaching decisions  about your charac-
ter before you even start playing. You just inform the game what kind
of jobs your character would preferably be good at (or at least some-
what better than the average). There is no reason why you can not get
to a different profession during the game.  You could choose a higher
ability at life energies,  find out during the game that your charac-
ter is not going to be a top rank healer  and join the warriors guild
instead to create a fighter character with some extra abilities.

> > Bad implementation may allow characters to change their stats right
> > before they know they will need ones - say, I'm about to run for a quest
> > which requires an enormous physical strength, so I just roll all my
> > stats into strength... I believe, all those attempts should have a cost
> > to them so it would be difficult to abuse that without suffering.

Personally I am not too certain that things like stats ought to able
to be changed at all. Modified by magical or skills to a certain ex-
tent is fine,  but not permanently.  Otherwise you build a mechanism
into the game that encourages all characters to become identical and
with similar playing styles

> > Next flamebite, what is a definition of a guild? Why it is there? What
> > for? (I ask not because I don't know but because I want to analyze,
> > decompose and generalize that).

> Well, I think we all know what a traditional mud guild is -- basically
> a D&D-style class that characters may join after starting the game,
> and has the option of leaving.

Traditional guilds on muds are really more like professions than any-
thing else. Not that there is something wrong with that, and it has a
nice medieval ring to the word :)

> Now, what *should* a guild be... that's another question.  :-)

Guilds traditionally are an organisation  that trained specialist and
that protected their members  from their employers.  By mistreating a
guildmember the employer risked not being able to find  -anybody-  to
do the work afterwards. Also the guilds garantueed a certain level of
expertise and might have been arbitrators in conflicts if the quality
of a piece of work was questioned.
Of course nothing of this has any meaning on the average combat mud.

> Guilds have several aspects as they're traditionally implemented.
> They:

>  - give characters special abilities

>    As mentioned above, guilds in most muds are similar to D&D's
>    classes.  Hence, they determine what special abilities characters
>    have access to.  In a skill-based mud, this aspect could exist as
>    well, but would have to work in a different way -- for example, a
>    guild might be the only place that a character could learn
>    particular skills.
>  - provide a means for characters to advance
>    In some muds, characters can only go up in levels at guild houses.
>    In others, guild houses are places where characters can get training.
>    In still others, guild houses have neither of these functions, but
>    instead have only social functions as a gathering place.
>  - are groups which characters belong to
>    Guilds give the players who are in them something in common.  In
>    addition to the mere fact of guild membership, the members share
>    the same special abilities; thus, newer members will tend to go to
>    more experienced members for advice on how to effectively use their
>    powers.
>    These groups can also provide a point of conflict between
>    characters who belong to different guilds, which can lead to more
>    roleplaying.

Another, similar distinction that is often seen on muds, is between
classes and clans. The classes and associated rooms, have the first
two rules and clans the third.  Of course clans are also often used
as an excuse for pk rather than to stimulate roleplaying.

> So, what can we do from here?  What other things can we do to expand
> on the role of guilds?  Well, one thing springs to mind for me --
> traditionally, when a character leaves a guild, he/she loses all the
> powers of that guild.  However, in most cases, that doesn't make a lot
> of sense -- why should characters forget what they've learned from a
> guild because they leave it?

Mages of course could well have ways to ensure that expelled members
lose all knowledge of  (or at least the power required with)  skills
learned at the guild. Fighters could go to the extreme of removing a
hand  but in reality that was hardly necessary.  The real punishment
of being expelled from a guild was losing its backing. If an employ-
er decided not to pay you the guild member could appeal to the guild
and that had a -lot- more weight to throw around, up to the point of
threatening to blacklist that employer. Without that backing there's
not much that can be done to force payment (or being treated well or

> What if characters who left a guild could keep the powers gained, but
> were supposed to give up using them?  Those who didn't give them up
> would be considered to have defied the guild and become renegades.

Like you said, some skills are hard to give up upon leaving a guild.
Perhaps the guild would,  if the renegade keeps a high profile, hunt
down and permanently remove him.

> Of course, some sort of limits would be needed -- you probably
> wouldn't want a character to go around and learn the powers of all the
> different guilds.  Still, this could add an additional roleplaying
> dimension to a game.

The real need  is that guilds provide a more lasting service  to the
players than merely training them skills. Food, shelter, protection,
anything that a player can not forego  would do in this respect.  If
that is the case a player can decide to leave a guild,  but than has
to live with the consequences.

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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