[MUD-Dev] Secondary characters as a mechanic

Sasha Hart hart.s at attbi.com
Fri Feb 7 03:03:55 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

[Brian Hook]

> This is a wacky idea that someone has probably already thought of
> and shot down, but I figured I'd toss it out and see what others
> had to say.

I am so glad to see an idea that I would be pleased even if the
following were 'Hey, what if we had trained pigeons running all the
NPCs?' At least that might result in some novel game behavior, and
has a remotely accomplishable implementation.

> Along with the standard "bigger stats, skills and stuff" reward
> system, how about augmenting it with more simultaneous characters?
> For example, you have a primary character, and as you gain power
> and prestige, other characters can be added to your party.  These
> new characters would be at some level of power lower than your
> primary character.
> These characters can be played simultaneously, but the game would
> focus on the "party as character" and "primary as character".  For
> example, faction would be carried at the party level.

I took an approach much like this as a step toward the solution of
several simultaneous problems: I wanted permanent fictive character
death, I wanted player roles to start out (and for the most part
stay) important instead of pathetic and insignificant, and I wanted
players to have a fairly large extent of control over their avatars'
welfare, and mitigated loss, despite also being able to engage with
the world, be able to 'lose' and interact with others, etc. Various
other concerns came into play - the above decisions ramify in a
fairly vast number of ways which I am still very much exploring.

So, the current state of the world: players have a primary who is
POV, easily protected, e.g., by cowardice, and does not have
'skills' per se (but also really wants for nothing fictively, and
for little in terms of game mechanics; a somewhat godlike person,
ideal for roleplay and other peaceful occupations). The player can
maintain some number of subordinate secondaries who are the fingers
of the hand - some in the immediate protective entourage, others in
squads which can be set to do things like guard areas, research, or
procure/produce goods. Secondaries sustain shallow per head
investment, advancement granted per day on a short ladder. Their
configuration/combination ultimately determines the strengths and
weaknesses of the player within the game. Secondaries are resources
used in fighting other players, most immediately their squads. They
are expected to die with use, and may even be wiped out if the
player is incautious - but the player will not be wiped out unless
he was very stupid or bold. Even in that case, little is lost that
cannot be regained quickly.

So, although there are a few sticky problems, this idea is the guts
of what I think are some really GOOD ideas that have NOT been shot
down. In terms of the total space of possibilities, they have not
even really been tried to the extent where they could enter into
serious criticism. But in another sense almost none of this is at
all new under the sun. A lot of it has seen heavy duty outside of

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