[MUD-Dev] Secondary characters as a mechanic

Brian Hook brianhook at pyrogon.com
Fri Feb 7 10:15:11 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


On Thu, 06 Feb 2003 09:51:47 -0500, Paul Schwanz wrote:

> I've considered something similar to this idea with the addition
> that the extra characters would be family members.  I think that
> having the same surname is a nice IC convention for explaining
> *why* faction is carried at the account level.

Just the fact they're a party is enough to stay in-character I
think, assuming they're associated as a group.  The Fellowship and
Robin Hood's merry band would have group factions.  Of course, there
are some consistency problems and other subtleties if, for example,
your Fellowship has normally competing individual factions which
have to be resolved (e.g. primarily dwarves with one elf but they're
visiting an elven city).

> But I hadn't thought about the possibility of playing them
> simultaneously as an adventuring party.

This, to me, is the coolest part of it all.  It operates in a Ultima
III, Final Fantasy, Skies of Arcadia, Baldur's Gate, etc. fashion.

One complaint some friends have had is that it's

> When it comes to interacting with others and the game world, how
> would that be different to having a main character with a number
> of highly customizable pets?

The difference is mostly a matter of scope.  Most pets are treated
as dumb objects with limited skills and a limited interface.  For
example, a typical pet might only be capable of rudimentary attack
and defend commands.

What I'm proposing is a full character based interface for each
party member.  In fact, the idea of a "primary" doesn't have to be
emphasized.  You could instead emphasize the party and treat the
highest level character the same as the others.

Another area that offers an interesting dynamic is the level spread
(or lack thereof) between different characters.  If you get a new
character to add every 6 levels (or whatever your system uses), then
a level 25 primary would have a party consisting of:

  level 25
  level 19
  level 13
  level 7
  level 1

That's a broad range, and in many combat encounters the very low
level guys will have to stay back and act strictly in a support
role.  Also the combat system would allow wide level spreads in
combat.

The opposite direction is to remove levels altogether, and only have
something like prestige points.  Each character's power is fixed,
i.e. they begin at heroic proportions, and instead of gaining a
level, you gain a new party member up to some max.

In between you could have a system with the standard exponential
rise in levelling time, so levels begin to compress at the higher
end.  For example, you hit level 7 and gain a new member:

  level 7
  level 1

After a week of adventuring, it's now:

  level 9
  level 5

Then another week and it's:

  level 10
  level 8

And pretty soon it's just:

  level 12
  level 11

Whether you go this route or not depends on whether you think the
large power spread within a party is neat or annoying.

A friend of mine complained that the game would be too easy, since
you have so many characters together, but obviously you have to
scale the encounters appropriately.  In some ways it almost starts
to feel like an RTS.

Anyway, food for thought, I think it's an interesting direction to
explore.

-Hook



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