[MUD-Dev] D&D vs. MMORPG "complexity"

Martin Bassie martin at lyrastudios.com
Wed Apr 9 14:05:24 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

Matt Mihaly wrote:

> D&D has a lot of breadth and some depth in a very limited part of
> gameplay: looting and leveling. It doesn't even begin to approach
> the overall complexity of muds (or mmogs or whatever you want to
> call them) in that it pretty much only deals with bashing
> monsters. There are no formal politics, no formal economic systems
> and you only have to deal with a handful of people at a
> time. There is very little complexity beyond the bashing in D&D.

I beg to differ. The items mostly detailed in the D&D base system
are combat and leveling rules. If you go a bit further, and dig
through some of the additional resource books, you should find quite
a bit of non-bashing information between the usual fighting stuff. I
personally love the Book of Vile Darkness.

Any additional complexity isn't covered by the "official" rules (of
which there are none, if you follow the old "DM's word is final"
dogma). Instead, it's added by the players and the DM. About 70% of
the D&D sessions I'm involved in these days don't even involve
meaningful creature bashing (maybe one fight in a session). Instead,
the plots tend to include quite a bit of intrigue, sneaking,
non-combat skill usage and politicking.

Sure, there are no fixed rules for some of those situations, and
it's possible there are some systems which completely describe and
regulate every bit of play we can come up with. Not having these
fixed rules is what makes roleplaying non-combat situations so darn
interesting, because the -players- cannot use those rules to their
advantage, as they so often do with combat. Unlike computer-driven
RPGs, D&D (and a lot of P&P RPGs) gives the DM almost infinite
freedom to implement his own rules, and until CRPGs manage to
simulate the same freedom, they can't ever be as compex as a
well-hosted D&D session. They don't have to be, though.


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