[MUD-Dev] "Mud-school", character-gen and role-playing

&lt &lt
Mon Jul 10 12:24:10 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Sat, 8 Jul 2000, Travis Casey wrote:
> If you're interested in getting players to think about their
> characters and what they're like, a life-path system might be a more
> useful way to do that.  In such a system, the player makes a series of
> choices that are about the character's history.  For example:
> Was your character raised by:
>  - Nobles
>  - Merchants
>  - Workers
>  - Peasants
>  - Slaves
>  - Nobody

In my "normal" character creation mode, I use a series of questions much
like this.  Here's the list of questions, for those who haven't played it:

Your mother:
 a) was an extrodinarily wise and caring parent
 b) was a mighty warrior who died in battle
 c) was a respected leader in your community
 d) gave you up for adoption when you were born
Your father:
 a) was an extrodinarily wise and caring parent
 b) was a mighty warrior who died in battle
 c) was a respected leader in your community
 d) left home when you were young
You were born:
 a) on a fine spring morning in your parents' house
 b) on a battlefield to the sounds of clashing steel and death cries
 c) in a hospital, surrounded by friends and family
 d) during a furious thunderstorm in the middle of the night
As a toddler, adults noted:
 a) how quickly you learned to walk
 b) your above-average size
 c) your seemingly unquenchable curiosity
 d) your unusually quiet disposition
When you were young, you spent most of your time:
 a) playing make-believe with other kids
 b) playing sports
 c) reading books
 d) sneaking about, trying to overhear conversations not meant for kids
As a teenager, you found yourself:
 a) spending most of your time chasing the opposite sex
 b) working out to increase your strength
 c) doing extremely well in school
 d) prowling the streets, looking for trouble
When people meet you, the first thing they notice is:
 a) your outgoing personality
 b) your well-developed muscles
 c) your commanding air
 d) your unfriendly attitude

This was inspired (although some might say "ripped off") from the
character creation for one of Owen Emlen's early muds.

I'd like to expand this system quite a bit but it's on the just-haven't-gotten-
around-to-it-yet list.  (FWIW, there's also an "advanced" creation mode
for experienced players that just want to set up their character directly.)

> Such a complex system would probably better be done through a set of
> web forms than on the mud itself, but IMHO, that's true of any
> moderately complex method for character generation.

Yeah, but doing game stuff on a web page sucks.  Although I try to offer
a lot of really nice features to assist gameplay through the web page,
I make sure to never make anything there a requirement.


One really cool character creation system is the White Wolf virtues/flaws
system.  (Ars Magica and Vampyre: the Masquerade use them, at least.)

In a nutshell: you choose virtues like "You have giant blood, and are much
larger and stronger than a normal human" or "You have a careful personality,
all Botch skill rolls get a bonus of +2" and flaws like "You are bad at
communicating spells and get a -4 to all communication rolls" or "You have
a big nose that people find commical".  Each one has a score, with flaws being
negative and virtues being positive.  You choose as many flaws and virtues
as you like, but you must end up at some constant (like say, 0).

This would be especially interesting to implement on a mud, because you
could make a dynamic "economy" of character traits.  Each time a trait
is chosen, its cost raises by some tiny amount (say, 0.01).  Each time
a trait is present and not chosen (or, alternately, if the trait is not
chosen at all within a 24 hour period) its cost goes down by 0.01.  Only
whole numbers are displayed to players.

This means that the most "popular" character traits will quickly become
inflated, and people will start shopping amongst the more uncommon traits.
Which is a desired effect as far as I am concerned.


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