[MUD-Dev] Balance... RPG or Role-Playing Game?

Malcolm Valentine spin at fastlink.com.au
Thu Jul 27 15:54:26 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Wed, Jul 26, 2000, Patrick Dughi wrote:
> 	There has been alot of talk recently on this list about how we
> ought to not stratify the players, make them all nearly equal in ability,
> or lower the effective range of abilities.  Sure, this is great for
> encouraging the casual gamer, for many reasons which have been discussed.
> However, it discourages the concept of a Hero.  When everyone is nearly
> the same, you end up with a world which has the same difficulty for
> everyone.  In a system where everyone wants to strive to be a hero, it's
> hard for static, alike characters to differentate themselves.  If in the
> end you kill a dragon, there's not much to stop your friend from killing
> a dragon, and so on.  You're not a hero, you're a regular.  Then it gets
> boring.

  This seems to assume uniform motivation and action of players. Certainly,
many of them may wish to slay a dragon. Jill may favor trotting up on her 
"mighty war-horse"(tm) in full armour with lance, whilst Jack thinks the best 
approach is to maneuver it into a position from which a very large rock can 
be dropped on it. I could probably roll off another hundred ways to slay
a dragon, but the point is that what is supported within the mud defines
the actions of the players.

  A simplistic "automated" combat system often presents only few methods
to "slay" a dragon, thus yes, every dragon slayer will be the same. On
most Diku-based muds, the thought of taking off all stat-increasing 
trinkets and spells and facing off with a "dragon" man-to-beast is
considered suicide, not heroic. (Hmm, the point of this last sentence
being that there are even fewer methods for "dragon-slaying" then may
first appear to be present, not the "realism" of the combat). A 
dragon-slayer is reduced to someone who has dealt out x hp damage whilst
absorbing/avoiding y hp damage in return.
> 	Maybe this is one reason quake and other games (AD&D) where the
> ranking is immediately obvious are popular.  People can see who's the
> best, and in some cases, by how much.  People like being competitive, they
> like striving for goals as long as they're attainable, and they're more
> entertained with an earned victory than a given - well, some people.

  This certainly applies to something like combat, where the "best" is the
person left standing at the end. Qualifying the "best" in other pursuits
can be somewhat difficult. Who is the "best" painter? Who is the best
Mother? Who is the best priest? If I desire to take these roles in a
fantasy game, with whom am I competing to be "the best"?

> 	Basically, I'm saying that a good step for a mud is to make a
> division between your regular, and your hero.  Make it so it takes more
> than playing time to be a hero - perhaps a characters max abilities are
> set at generation. 

  As I've stated previously, depending on the game being created, players
should be "heroes" from the start. Let the NPCs assume the role of the

  For an aside, most heroes tend to live fast and die young, yet many
players feel they have "invested" too much into their characters for them
to be cast down at a whim. Perhaps it is impossible to have true heroes
without some form of permanent death, although I can think of a few
cases where "Boffo recovers from personal tragedy to fulfil his destiny"
comes into use.

  Malcolm V.

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