[MUD-Dev] historians

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Mon Nov 1 18:04:40 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On Mon, 30 Aug 1999, Philip Loguinov -- Draymoor wrote:

> >Excerpts from muddev: 1-Nov-99 Re: [MUD-Dev] historians by Matthew
> >Mihaly at best.com
> >> Sure, historians disagree, which is why I kept making sure I said that I
> >> wanted people reasonable objective rather than completely objective. The
> >> problem with encouraging history that is explicitly from one, very biased
> >> viewpoint, is that you end up with an unfocused history of the world,
> >> which confuses people.
> 
> I believe that having many viewpoints of history is a very good idea.
> But there are a couple facts in the real world i'd like to point out.
> 
> A: Historians are historians, they're opinions are as varied as there
> origins. But history books are written by the winners.
> If you were to take a look at the accounts of a war by two opposing sides,
> each would make the other out to be evil and wrong. But who gets there
> opinions known? The side that wins.


Yes, I agree with this, and made a point of not implying that any
historian is going to be completely objective. However, unlike in real
life, a MUD can have historians who are above mortal conflicts and who has
a far superior chance of being objective, by virtue of emotional distance,
than a mortal historian would. In the same way, while accuracy of modern
historians commenting on ancient times decreases due to distance in time
(compared to historians of the time, generally), their accuracy increases
in other ways, by virtue of lack of emotional attachment to the content.
In a MUD, you can have someone who is trans (or non) cultured oriented,
whereas that's nearly impossible irl. Players can still write their own
histories, but what I am concerned with is establishing an official
version of history, that is as close to possible as what really happened.

Histories that speak of Hitler as being worse than Stalin are blind of
course, but that's unlikely to happen with a historian God who is removed
from mortal conflict. Actually, as I think of it, there is a character
like that in fantasy "literature". Astinar or something like that in the
second Dragonlance series (Legends?). He seemed to be semi-immortal and
was portrayed as being above petty mortal conflicts. That's really what I
want. It's great for players to write extremely biased histories extolling
their virtues, as it binds their sides together (though Achaea doesn't
really have any problem there. It is extremely factionalized, and wars
over good vs. evil, or chaos vs. order, or urban development vs. nature
are constantly happening), but when a newbie wants to know "What happened
to the Second Kharon empire?" I'd prefer to be able to refer him to a book
in the library that contains the official version of the truth, than a
propaganda piece by mortals.


> It would be a good idea to keep an unbiased history. No mortal access to it.
> Then once some epic event has aged enough, perhaps the subject of which is
> longer playing, bring it up again.

Hmm, well, that's an interesting idea. I definitely want an objective
history for my own use. Hadn't considered just not letting mortals read
it. Seems like a shame though, as inevitably, a history overseen by me and
written by a character whose job it is to do that is going to be far
superior to anything mortals will write, especially in terms of regular
chronicling.


> Real event: Extreamly powerful mage gains leadership of a weak faction,
> recruits a lot of members, occupies the main city. Later, he is slain and
> banned from the mud from breaking tons of rules. The wizards
> powerful restrung Quest staff is siezed "For Posterity"
> 
> Legend: A long time ago, an evil wizard raised an evil army of dread. He led
> an assault on the world, in an attempt to rule all. Finally, he occupied
> most of the known world, but he was not happy and tried to oppose the gods
> in heaven. A battle ensued and sundered much of the realm. In the end, the
> wizard lost, his soul was captured and is now being tormented by the gods.
> The gods, however, where not totally successful, for a part of the wizards
> mind was in his staff, and it now tries to free the soul and resurrect the
> body.

Right. Well, history would, of course, always be utterly IC. Banning
someome for breaking rules makes no sense IC and would never be even
referenced to by me in the game.

I think the misunderstanding is that you understand me to mean that an
objective history will be a retelling of things from a rather ooc
perspective, which definitely wouldn't be the case. As an example, one
time I wanted to have three new gods. I wouldn't have just written a
history saying "Sarapis decided some new gods were needed, so he appointed
them." That'd be crap! Instead, I made it into a big IC plot called The
Coming of the Morning Star, where a massive star collided with an abyss in
space (think blackhole, though we'd never call it that), and the resulting
energies left us with two new gods (Aurora, Goddess of Light, and
Apollyon, the Malefactor). Unfortunately, the resulting release of energy
swept over the world of Achaea, killing every living thing (plant or
animal) that wasn't at least about 100 feet underground. During the
pre-programmed sequence of events I had done to convey all this to the
mortals, a bug occurred, which stopped everything. I wouldn't have put
that into the history either *g*. Instead, I quickly decided that Aeon,
God of Time, had felt the anguish of mortality, and turned back time to
try and prevent this catastrophe. Sadly, though he could turn back time,
he was unable to prevent it. Finally, in the end, an old God (never
played, only referred to in the histories), Vastar, the Skylord, appeared
the cleanse the atmosphere of the harmful radiation, and then he and some
of the other Gods set about restoring life to the land. 

Anyway, that's the sort of thing that would be written down. Actual, IC
versions of what happened, not actual, ooc versions of what happened. A
little dramatic license is ok as long as the facts and sequence of events
and such are generally straight.

> Or whatever. Basicly, biased confusion is a wonderful tool. If players know
> all the truths of the world, then it looses a lot of pottential mystery.

Yes, though no history is going to capture anywhere near to everything
that goes on in the world. One can always refer to events that are only
weakly referred to in the histories. The great thing about a concrete
history is taht it provides an immediate framework in which to understand
a world. New players go to our website, read the histories, and then get
excited when they hear about things in the game that are referenced in the
histories.

--matt




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