[MUD-Dev] Horror Themed Muds [was CthulhuMud Driver 6]

Mik Clarke mikclrk at ibm.net
Sat Feb 20 23:37:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

Christopher Allen wrote:
> At 09:55 AM 2/13/99 , Mik Clarke wrote:
> >For those who are interested in the odd features I've mentioned over the
> >last few months, the CthulhuMud Driver 6 code base is now available for
> >download.
> Though I'm not interested in the code, per say, I am interested in your
> insights into the development of a game behind a horror based mud (which is
> what I assume that the original Cthulhu Mud was, which could be way off
> base ;-)

Yes, that is something of a problem.  It's made worse in our case
through us starting with a Diku derivative where the only way to advance
is to go around killing things.  At the moment it's a bit like Doom -
modern setting, running around killing things.  I want to make it a
little more intelligent.

What I'm looking at providing should push the game tpwards a sort of
hack'n'slay version of scooby-doo, but it's better than doom...

o Mobs able to reward (or punish) players for doing things (simple

o Deeds, which record things players have done.  This can be used as a
part of the simple quests, to record sins/actions that mark the player
until they are attoned for or to ward certain parts of the game so that
they can only ever be played once.  The latter is useful for special
adventure areas, where the player has to investigate, analyse, make
decisions and if they make the wrong decision they can't go back and try
again after the next reset.  This is sort of like the permadeath
discussions later, except that what dies is a part of the game world,
but only for that player.  If they missed something or didn't get all
they could, then tough, there's no going back for it.

o Plots, which enable you to string a sequence of actions together,
crossing the gameworld, and which can only be progressed through in a
certain fashion.  A plot might start through talking to an NPC, then
become a search for a book and a jewel.  If the book is found first, the
jewel will be stolen by an NPC that the player will have to hunt down. 
If the jewel is found first and the wizard owning it isn't killed, then
winged demons will hunt the player down.  Once the player has both jewel
and book (and the wizard is dead), the player is able to talk to the NPC
to get directions to go to the top of a particular building and details
of a particular spell to cast there.  When they arrive they face some
human cultists who intend to cast their own spell...  Once we have
enough plots built, I'd like to move to a model where plot completion is
the main form of XP gaining. 

o OOC restrictions - OOC communication costs mana, long range IC
communication costs move.  The idea to to make the players feel more

o Movement restrictions.  Movement between major sites (eartly
continents) takes time.  You have to go sit on the ship or the train for
a while.  No nipping back to the friendly MUD schoool when you need to
recharge or recover.  Again, trying to stress isolation and self
sufficency.  They will also be limits on movement through spells, most
generally being limited to the same planet.  There will, of course, be
other spells for moving to other plaents or other planes.

> Take Cthulhu for instance, as a genre, the 'investigators' are quite weak,
> and never will compete with the monsters on any sort of basis other then
> avoiding them, and keeping others (NPCs or other players) from invoking them.

Yeah, the big baddies should be able to kill most players out of hand. 
The mythos does, thankfully, contain a large number of much less
powerful beings - Deep Ones, Ghouls, Zombies, Serpent people and, of
course, humans who can provide defeatable opposition.  It is more
characters vs NPSs than characters vs gods.
> A more pure horror, the genre has to have considerable suspense, and that
> means real fear that your character might die.

Yes, and we're going to have to do something about this.  The old AD&D
trick of reducing stats might be worth a shot.
> How can the game system in a mud better support this type of genre? Fantasy
> based muds seems to lead to game design that are very different and
> potential incompatible with the horror genre, as you are suppost to be able
> to grow to be fearless of the horrible (say a dragon) and even evil can be
> commonplace (some of the necromacy that I've seen in some MUDs for
> ressurections would in any other culture be evil, but isn't even commented
> on in the mud.)

Although the brave hero can overpower the dragon (almost always through
trickery), the vast majority of the population could not and would like
as not end up as crunchy snacks if they challenged it.  The ability to
overcome your fears and slay the dragon is an important part of the
game, and should also be an important part of a horror game.  A game
where you are constantly terrified isn't a game.  There needs to be a
way for the character to advance and to overcome the challanges they
face.  The alternatives are either a life of cowardice where the
character does not advance or crunchy snack time.  The fantasy setting
is a good abstraction of part of the human condition.  The world is full
of strange and wonderful things.  Some look dangerous, some do not. 
Some might hurt us, some might reward us.  Unless we look and explore we
will never become more than we are.  This means that there should always
be a path to success, and one that a reasonably well equipped,
thoughtful player can find.  For Cthonic horror this generally means a
way of walling the monsters away or returning to the narmal world.  The
monsters are not gone.  They still lurk beyond.  And, although, the
player has defeated them once they are, like Doctor Who, left with a
dark forboding that they have not seen the last of them.
> Can anyone point me to a mud that has tried to solve this problem?

Comments and criticisms of CthulhuMud are welcomed.,
port 9999.


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