[MUD-Dev] Respecting NPCs

Matthew D. Fuller fullermd at over-yonder.net
Fri Oct 26 11:13:49 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Thu, Oct 25, 2001 at 03:56:01PM -0700 I heard the voice of
J C Lawrence, and lo! it spake thus:
> What is the critical difference between a system which silently
> and officiously kills all players who do X offense, and an NPC
> which achieves the same effect,
> Yes, they can both be heavily flavoured and dressed up in various
> ways.  I'm interested if there's an actual critical difference
> which makes the use of an NPC fundamentally different from not
> using an NPC for mechanical enforcement.
> I don't think there is a fundamental difference.

I think there is.

The first violates realism.  Of course, you can say that 'realism'
in a virtual world is solely as it defines it, but realism can be
freely translated to 'consistency' in this case.  The results are,
of course, the same, but so are the results of making each new
character the highest level with the best equipment and all the

If the system itself kills players, that happens outside the context
of the world.  If a member of the world (our friendly neighborhood
townguard) kills players, that happens WITHIN that context.  It's
just like why we have specialized NPC's for training, or for
shopkeepers, quest givers, information dispensation, yada yada.  If
you want to go to extreme, that's why we have generic 'mob' NPC's
that give experience and gold and such.  It personalizes the whole
experience; you, and the things you prey on, and the things that
prey on you, all are parts of the world and subject to its rules.

If it's another force within the world, it's something to compete
with.  If you're struck down by something outside the world (as
auto-justice with no NPC face on it is), then it's just something to
rebel against or be annoyed at or be disgusted with.  It just
'feels' too arbitrary.

Matthew Fuller     (MF4839)     |    fullermd at over-yonder.net
Unix Systems Administrator      |    fullermd at futuresouth.com
Specializing in FreeBSD         |    http://www.over-yonder.net/
       "Klein bottle for sale ... inquire within."
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