[MUD-Dev] Re: Levels versus Skills, who uses them and when.

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Wed Jan 20 13:03:05 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Andy Cink <ranthor at earthlink.net>
To: mud-dev at kanga.nu <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
Date: Thursday, January 14, 1999 5:57 PM
Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: Levels versus Skills, who uses them and when.

> Well, I have to admit, I think I underestimated just how much a
> person may want to hang on to their character. All the same, though,
> don't many of these people have a certain type of character in mind?

FFrom my perspective, a character represents a specific personality
and goals. To use some of my other characters as examples (I do play
them now and again), Feregar is a fungus collector who talks way too
much; Ellyndryl is the traditional "doomed hero" who has been
betrayed and seeks vengeance; Myrtok is entirely money-driven and
would sell his own grandmother if he was offered a fair price. All
of them could be of any class and race; in fact, any of these
characters could be migrated to more or less any setting and time
period -- even the game system is irrelevant. Sometimes the name
wouldn't fit too well.

There are always exceptions; Beldin and Grunger are a perfect
example of when race and class ARE important. Grunger is a dwarf who
was once polymorphed into a battle axe, and when the spell was
finally removed several years later he believed he was a magic
battle axe polymorphed into a dwarf. Beldin is a very large and
stupid barbarian warrior who happened to have the battle axe when
the spell was removed; since Grunger maintains that he is still a
battle axe, Beldin believes him... and continues to wield him in
battle. (The image of an eight-foot barbarian swinging a screaming
dwarf around by the legs and beating his enemies senseless with it
makes for great comic relief.) If Beldin were not large enough
and/or Grunger were not small enough for this to work, the
characters become unusable. Likewise, if there is no magic or battle
axes are uncommon, it falls apart.

> Let's pretend I was a 45 year old nuclear physicist, and I decided
> I was bored with my job, and wanted to go into genetics. I'm
> getting rather old, but I've still got time enough to do it. What
> carryover value will my career in nuclear physics have to biology?
> Virtually none, I would really be better off (in a mudding world,
> anyways) to just "start over" as a biologist instead.

Not true! To maintain the example, you no longer need to satisfy
"core" requirements for your degree -- english, history, etc. You
can skip the bachelors and masters altogether and proceed directly
to the doctorate.  Rather than a twelve year study program, you can
instead embark on a three-year program. In addition, your existing
scientific experience would go to credibility in the community, and
provide added value to your genetic education. The combination is
more compelling than either alone.

Now, if you were a 45 year old warehouse stock manager and wanted to
get into genetics, that's another matter. ;)

> If you really wanted to make your character into a biologist,
> would there be a significant difference in loss between "jumping
> ladders" and starting over? I guess it depends on the design of
> the game system.

Perhaps what we need is a "class web"; see AD&D's view of the class

          Priest of Foo
          Priest of Bar
          Priest of Baz

While AD&D does not implement this as such, it is reasonably evident
that each class is related to its brethren; house rules commonly
relax the rules to allow "switching ladders", allowing a fighter to
later refine his skills into those of a ranger or paladin, or
perhaps allowing a thief to take up music and become a
bard. Certainly the mage and cleric can later specialise into a
specific school/deity. While jumping from wizard to warrior is
certai nly difficult (the warehouse manager), jumping from ranger to
paladin is probably not *as* difficult (the nuclear physicist).

Most house rules, incidentally, decimate game balance all to hell
(cf. the Arduin Grimoire).

> I don't want to deprive a person of all of the benefits they
> attained in their old class, but at the same time, I don't want
> them to carry it all over into the new one either.

Exactly! This is precisely the dilemma I have with permadeath! When
you die, which becomes more likely as you rise in power due to
several factors, you basically drop to zero. This is not fair. But
if you lose nothing, then what was the impact of dying? Virtually
nil. Somewhere in the middle there is a place where death remains
undesirable, but is no longer a prison sentence in newbie hell.

> I think we've all seen our share of out-of-the-box muds that
> really don't have much to them. No new features, no new ideas,
> maybe a few new classes, races or skills.

This has value, actually. I *like* being able to count on knowing
the lay of the land on practically every Diku-variant I
encounter. :)

> It seems to me, from what I've seen, that both class-based and
> classless based muds can both be equally effective, it's just the
> ways the mud tries to get people to come together.


| Caliban Tiresias Darklock            caliban at darklock.com
| Darklock Communications          http://www.darklock.com/
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