[MUD-Dev] The Best Guy on the Mud Thing

Travis S. Casey efindel at io.com
Mon Sep 20 09:18:29 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

On Fri, 17 Sep 1999, Wes Connell wrote:
> On Fri, 17 Sep 1999, Travis S. Casey wrote:
> > Why would he be a rich warrior?  The warrior almost certainly doesn't know
> > whether it's a new spell or not -- the only thing he can do is take it to
> > some mage to get it identified.  At that point, the question becomes
> > whether the mage is going to be honest.
> The scenario doesn't matter I was just giving examples to the system being
> discussed. The warrior is still rich whether he knows it or not. A thief
> could steal it from him, a demi-god could strike him down with lightning,
> or he could get smooshed by a runaway wagon full of orc-breath ale. He was
> still "rich". 

I don't disagree with your point -- looking back at it, I think it was
your terminology that got me.  To me, saying that he's "rich" means that
he'll be able to automatically make a great deal of money off of it -- I
don't consider "having something highly valuable" to be the same thing as
"being rich."

> The point of the example was to show that the -finding spells- system
> could have other in-game benefits. It has the potential of unique spells
> (atleast for a while anwyays). These unique spells would be extremely
> valuable. A good amount of game systems and games I've seen allow spells
> to be easily obtainable. In UO I simply purchase scrolls from a vendor and
> drop em in my spell book. In stock diku types I get the spells
> automatically when I level. Etc. Etc. 
> As pointed out by the rest of this thread, the quick spread of information
> stops this system dead in its tracks.

Agreed on both points.

> Idea: Take out the spellbook factor. Have only scrolls/tablets/etc  that
> dissapear when they are used. Then spells can really be rare. Just make
> spells an actual resource. All it takes from there is to control the spawn
> rate depending on your reset system. 

Spells could be made a resource without making them a physical resource.
IMHO, the problem with "word-combination" spell systems is that finding
spells is being made a player-level puzzle, rather than something that's
done on the character-level.  At the player-level, players can help each
other out easily.  If spell knowledge is moved back to the
character-level, it becomes much easier to restrict.

For example:

 - Each character starts out knowing a few spells.  The player is given
   descriptions of those spells and the commands needed to use them.

 - The mud keeps track of which spells a character knows.  If the 
   player issues a command for a spell the character doesn't know, he/she
   simply gets a "your character doesn't know how to do that" message.

 - Spells can be learned in several ways -- from the guild, by researching
   them, or by learning them from another player.

 - Learning from the guild is simple:  you pay money, and they teach you
   the spell.  Unfortunately, it's also incredibly expensive.

 - Researching a spell is harder.  First, you need a library and
   laboratory, which cost money.  Then, you have to have an idea of what
   spell you want to research (i.e., you have to know the name of the
   spell).  You start the spell research process, and the system 
   automatically makes checks for you when you have enough time (spell
   research takes place during logged-off time).  After a while, you'll
   either learn the spell or have to spend more money.  You can keep 
   researching a particular spell as long as you want, but you can only
   research one spell at a time, and in some cases you may not be *able*
   to discover a particular spell, in which case research is effectively
   wasted time and money.

 - Learning from another player could be the easiest, but there are a
   few restrictions.  First off, you can only learn spells from another
   mage of the same type -- e.g., a necromancer can only learn spells
   from another necromancer.  A necromancer couldn't learn a spell from
   another type of mage, even if he/she has a spell that the necromancer
   can, in theory, learn.  Second, it takes time.  After the two wizards
   inform the system of their intentions, the system waits until both
   have been logged out enough and then a learning check is made.  If
   it succeeds, the student has learned the spell.  If it fails, then
   that teacher can never teach that spell to that student.

 - A couple more things:  each spell is a skill with a rating.  What
   rating you start with depends on how you learn the spell -- research
   gives the highest, learning from the guild next highest, and learning
   from another character a variable rating, depending on the skill the
   teacher had.  (At best, though, learning from another character can 
   only equal what learning from the guild would give.)

 - Some spells exist that the guild does not have access to -- those
   cannot be learned from the guild.  The only ways to learn them are
   by research, from another player character who knows them, or from
   specific NPCs or items.

Naturally, since this is just a quick example, there are problems that
would have to be worked out before implementing this.  Still the basic
point remains:  you can get greater control over who knows what spells by 
making it an element of character knowledge instead of player knowledge.

A few other random thoughts:

 - A spell prerequisite system could be used, like in the paper RPG GURPS.
   This would mean that only a character with the proper prerequisities
   could learn a spell -- trying to learn it without those would simply
   be a waste of effort.  Of course, if you do this, players will start
   to compile lists of prerequisites.

 - AD&D limits how many spells characters can learn -- a character can
   only know so many spells of each level.  Further, AD&D gives a 
   "chance to learn" for spells.  If a character fails to learn a spell,
   that character has to wait until he/she has gained another level before
   being able to try again.  Since there are a lot more spells on each
   level than most characters can learn, players are forced to pick and
   choose which spells they want.

 - GURPS requires characters to pay character points (the equivalent of
   experience points) to learn spells.  Thus, even if someone can teach
   you a spell, you can't learn it unless you have the spare XP to "buy"

 - Runequest and the Fantasy Trip both have systems where the number of
   spells a character can really "know" are limited by his/her
   Intelligence score.  Wizards can cast spells they don't know from
   scrolls or books, but doing so is slower and may be difficult in

 - Runequest also has a Divine Magic system, wherein a character has to 
   go to a temple or priest and sacrifice Power (magical ability) to 
   learn a spell.  The spell so gained can be used instantly at any
   time, which makes it very useful in combat, but is a one-shot -- once
   it's used, it's gone.  Priests can gain non-one-shot spells from their
   gods, but others cannot; the priests can rarely adventure, though, 
   because of their duties to the gods.

 - Runequest also has a Spirit Magic system, in which one learns spells
   by forcing spirits to teach them to you.  One Shaman cannot simply 
   teach another a spell, but a shaman can help another shaman to defeat a 
   spirit and thereby learn a spell. 

There are all sorts of options for controlling how spells can be learned
-- the key is to find something that you and your players can live with.

       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) 

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