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

Sean Kelly sean at ffwd.cx
Thu Apr 10 12:43:53 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


On Wed, 9 Apr 2003, Ryan S. Dancey wrote:
> From: Matt Mihaly [mailto:the_logos at achaea.com]

>> 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 think you'd be surprised at the size and complexity of the
> economic model that underlies the current version of the D&D
> rules, and the size and complexity of the demographic model that
> the economic model is based on as well.

This is true, but there are a lot of holes.  The FRCS, for example,
contains some fairly detailed information on region-based resource
production, trade routes, politics, etc. but fails to address any of
the natural consequences of a high-magic world.  That is, in a world
where portals are not uncommon, why do huge cities with massive
resources continue to rely on such unreliable means of trade as
wagons and ships?  Clearly, a resident high-level mage could be
recruited to construct a permanent portal between two cities
(potentially even on different planes) and trade would be risk-free
and near instantaneous.  This completely destroys regional
dependence on local resources as well as the traditional economic
trade model.  And what about resurrection?  Or divination spells?
All of these have potentially serious consequences for a real
persistent high-magic world.

While much work has been done to create depth in the traditional D&D
campaign settings, the development has all been done to support the
basic play model -- small parties of adventurers.  The NPCs players
interact with either act in supporting roles (merchant to supply
equipment) or aid/opposition for a story arc (ie. they are
adventurers too).

That isn't to say that D&D is a fairly open system that can be
adapted quite readily, only that IMO it is a fallacy to say that
existing campaign settings accurately represent the "living,
breathing world" that would result from such an environment.

> Living City, a D&D campaign being managed by my company
> OrganizedPlay under license, currently has about 2,500 active
> participants.  Living Greyhawk, a similar campaign operated by
> Wizards of the Coast itself has more than 20,000 particpants.  In
> addition to "bashing", both campaigns support a fully realized
> virtual world consisting of NPCs, politics, economics, religon,
> etc.

Living Greyhawk is intriguing but I'll admit I haven't investigated
it much.  Though AFAIK WotC maintains Greyhawk as its official
campaign setting, all the actual campaign material being released is
for the Forgotten Realms.

Sean

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