[MUD-Dev] Re: Marian's Tailor vs. Psychopaths

Benjamin D. Wiechel strycher at toast.net
Tue Oct 6 15:10:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

-----Original Message-----
From: Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl>
To: Mud Dev Mailing list <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
Date: Saturday, October 03, 1998 10:50 AM
Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: Marian's Tailor vs. Psychopaths

>In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Fri 02 Oct, Benjamin D. Wiechel wrote:
>> From: Koster, Raph <rkoster at origin.ea.com>


>> I suppose within this grouping of people, there are the people like me
>> perhaps enjoy role playing a character that is truly mean and vile, just
>> be a bit different than their reality.  I personally enjoy the
>> to act out the life of the defined "sociopath", as it creates an
>> ing flavor to the mud, and it also causes a reaction in people. Each
>> person reacts differently to my behaviour, and it is interesting to see
>> each of them.
>Maybe it is interesting  for you.  But have you ever spent  much time
>thinking how it is for your victims? If you have not then you are not
>acting  but behaving like a sociopath.  Somebody who is self centered
>and not empathising with others. In the case of a pathological socio-
>path there is a real unability to do so. In muds it, like (I think it
>was) Raph said, is because the lack of communication makes it easy to
>ignore that there are real people with real feelings behind the text.
>You are not a sociopath,  but the effect you have on other people  is
>the same.

Actually, yes I do empathize.  And although I display sociopathic
I don't make a habit of killing people for the pure joy of it all the time.
combat has a very unique rush in my experience, and even in situations where
know I will win by a landslide, I usually end up shaking by the end of
combat.  Even of the vicious PK people I know, this seems to be a common

>> There's also the side effect that one can give with one hand and take
>> with the other --  this time I might give you equipment,
>> next time I might take your life.
>> Somewhere I think someone got the idea that PK is bad.  PK is not bad,
>> even having an out of control PK character isn't bad.
>Oh no.  Player killing is bad in its own right, but for entirely dif-
>ferent reasons that have nothing to do with this argument.

Morals are subjective, and dependent upon the belief structure of the
In the particular MUD I am using as an example, my character is of a guild
that is evilly aligned by both occupation and religion.

>> What I would
>> define to be bad would be when the players within the mud do nothing to
>> solve the difficult situation on their own, and instead whine at the gods
>> and the admins to take the player away.  Part of my enjoyment on the
>> only mud I play is to in-character solve such problems.  When I was a
>> player, I was twice hunted by massive players.  My reaction was not to
>> or cry, but to instead grow at a rapid rate until suddenly they were the
>> small player by comparison.  Very effective method of keeping someone
>> killing you.
>So. Your solution to defend against virtual sociopaths was becoming one
>in turn. Or with slightly less exaggeration. To prevent players killing
>your character you joined their game and became so big and bad that you
>could kill them instead.

In essence.  My character is a fighter-mage.  As such, a fighter will fight.
the point of playing such a character.

>The whole point of the Tailor Scenario is what do we do for players who
>for players who can not, or do not want to, play that kill or be killed

Again, this is where society comes into play.  My character has many allies,
and many enemies.  Not all of the allies can protect themselves.  In fact,
many cannot.  Not all of them want to be an "enforcer" of sorts, or have to
be able to protect themselves individually.  So in accordance with our
alliance, I would protect and/or avenge them should another player opt
to attack them with intent to kill.  This I believe is fitting with previous
discussion about how the tailor might be able to go travel the world
without too much fear of death and dismemberment.  Also fitting with
previous discussions is the fact that I would not take the tailor with me
if I was going to a place that would be dangerous to them.

>> Also, for the true simulationists, what would the simulation be without a
>> couple of sociopaths running around nixing everyone they pass?
>1- A lot friendlier. (After all you can talk to people without having to
>   assume they are out to kill you)

Using a medieval/AD&D setting where the tailor would be befitting (by my
understanding of the scenario at any rate), those would not be generally
friendly times.  People didn't often wander off from the safety of the local
lord's castle unless they were planning to protect themselves, or they rode
with escort.  Please note that most rich people rode with significant escort
in that time period.

>2- Much more realistic. (How many sociopaths have you met? And those who
>   do have a tendency to die horribly, not enjoying the experience.)

I haven't met many, but in those times, killing someone to get food or money
not unheard of, and a case could even be made that it was commonplace.  What
perhaps was not commonplace was for a lone knight fighter to wander the
killing for pleasure.  Then again, why not?  If that's your character, how
is that
unbefitting the theme/reality?

>3- Playable for all players, instead of only those who are interested in
>   becoming the biggest bully,  and taking whatever comes at them  until
>   that goal is reached.

We don't have any pure tailors, but we do have plenty of people that cannot
defend themselves adequately in PK combat.  The game is still playable,
but they do end up depending on large fighter types for protection at times.


>> Ones I'm currently reviewing are:
>> 1) Tie players to a locale, ie. be a citizen of a city.
>This, I think, is proof that you are succeeding, rather than a way
>of achieving more empathy towards other players behind the charac-

I'm not sure what you're saying here.

>> 2) Redefine the definition of top player to not be primarily based
>>      on sheer size and combat
>Or better still remove the emphasis on ranking through conflict and
>replace it by ranking through social interactions. If you can remo-
>ve the ranking of players entirely  that would be even better,  but
>this might be hard to achieve given human nature. (almost let some-
>thing feminist and inaccurate slip through there ;)
>A game like PernMush goes a long way in this direction.

Except in a situation such as mine, where there already exists a ranking
based on conflict, the first step would need to be a redefinition, which
could later disappear after things readjusted themselves.  In the absence
of a top list, people have found other conflict related ways of ranking
against each other -- not excluding PK combat to see who could kill

>> 3) Create in-game positions whereby players can regulate and
>>     reward actions based on whether they were done well IC or
>>     whether they were a nasty killer.
>Killer or not is not the real problem. Being social/empathic or not
>is.  Random (or excessive) Killing is just the most obvious symptom
>of players  who are not social.  However this will perhaps (!) only
>make players "toe the line" as it were.  It will not help in making
>them more empathic towards others.

It might.  My past experiences with muds are that social pressure
can make a lot of things happen.  And if 99% of the mud puts their
backing and pressure behind such a system, regardless of how
psychotic an individual might be, they will tend to either accept
the societal norm in some manner, or they will end up leaving.
People get bored when no one reacts to their behaviour, and to a
reasonable extent, PK combat amounts to ego building and
making someone else react.  If they don't react, then the fun is gone.


>> 5) Quests that require members with unique skills, so that no
>>      one player can accomplish all goals single-handedly.
>Not just quests really. Gameplay in general should require groups.

Unfortunately, running around to repair weapons, or buy clothing doesn't
require a group to do, although it is socially more enjoyable to go with
others.  Requiring a group to be able to buy a bolt of cloth or to have
an item repaired seems outside of the simulation.  For what things
specifically would you require a group other than quests?

>> 6) Unique challenges like the Vampire mentioned in relation to
>>     Legend? mud.  Such honours can build "image" of a player.
>Though this is very difficult to achieve due to "power attrition"
>you can see  in just about any mud.  As players demand,  and get,
>ever more powerfull weapons  and equipment,  such challenges soon
>lose their meaning.  As a way of society building  this is doubt-
>full anyway, as it enforces the "king of the hill" approach where
>you would want to stress a more egalitarian society.

Good point.  However, in our case, we don't have a vampire, we
have a rope, that suspends a hotel over the realm.  One of our
quests is to "liberate" the chateau by killing the rope, causing it
to come crashing down, killing everything inside.  Merely being
able to kill the rope is an accomplishment, but to do so in a way
that doesn't cause your own death is quite an interesting feat.
By the way, the rope is a very non-standard NPC, in that it causes
a factor of the damage you cause it back against you, so simply
having better weapons or armours won't make it that much easier.
It adds a good bit of status to be able to say you've beaten the

>I'm not sure if the problem of lack of empathy with other players
>can be solved through  in-game solutions.  The real problem is in
>the players not in the game. As long as people continue to ignore
>the fact that there are real people with real feelings behind the
>characters and that to others it may -not- be 'just a game' to be
>attacked the problem of virtual sociopaths is going to exist.
>Maybe the only solution is  to treat players like 4 year olds who
>have  the same basic lack of social skills  (but then in reality,
>not in a mud). Unfortunately this requires an impossible large a-
>mount of time from the staff, to remind the players that they are
>hurting other player's feelings, that they would not like it when
>it was done to them, and to reward them if they behave like, well
>I guess I should call it, mature human beings. In the process you
>also have to put up with childish sulks, temper tantrums and acts
>of revenge. Hmm. Maybe the four year old analogy is really not so
>bad. It also coincides with Dr.Cat's observation that some of the
>best society leaders on his mud  have a background in child care,
>or nursery.

I honestly think that society itself will solve the problem.  Througout
discussion of this scenario, the only thing that I can see that could
be done would be to provide the tools to be able to self-regulate
problems like groups of marauding sociopathic killers.  The problem
with doing an in-game, in-code solution is that eventually someone
will outsmart it (see previous postings about M59 and the revenants
I believe).  It'll just be a smaller group that manages to do so.

Benjamin D. Wiechel
strycher at toast.net

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