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

Ryan S. Dancey ryand at organizedplay.com
Mon Apr 21 14:36:30 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

From: Threshold RPG [mailto:business at threshold-rpg.com] 

> And DAoC has over 200,000 participants. Everquest has over 400,000
> participants.

The original poster suggested that D&D was suitable only for play by
small groups.  My response indicates that the system is being used
in larger communities.  It was not an attempt to compare the size of
the "Living" campaigns with the very largest MMORPGs, merely to
provide information on larger community use of the rules.

> The game system of D&D is incredibly far less complex than CPRGs,
> MMORPGs, and MUDs. A few examples:
>   COMBAT: A D&D combat involves very few factors and is ultimately
>   resolved by a d20 roll. If a "hit" is scored, another die is
>   rolled for damage. That is it.

That's a pretty big misstatement.

The >resolution< of an individual attack is reduced to one random
event.  However, the calculation used to determine success or
failure takes into account dozens of pre-calculated factors and a
smaller (but still significant) number of values which must be added
to the calculation on the fly (such as terrain and weather effects).

> On most MUDs every round of combat involves *HUNDREDS* of
> computations.

I suspect that most MUDs and MMORPGs have simple resolution
mechanics with large numbers of precalculated component values and a
smaller (but still significant) number of values which must be added
to the calculation on the fly (such as terrain and weather effects).
In other words, essentially the same basic concept used by P&P game

And I'll reiterate that any system which uses a large number of
factors but uses them across a large number of attack tests will
essentially give the player the mean values for those variables;
meaning that they could, in virtually all cases, simply be reduced
to constants.

> You also mentioned weapons as being more complex in D&D. My mouth
> hit the floor when I read this. In D&D weapons are basically
> clones of the exact same thing.

3E D&D weapons have five basic qualities:

  Attack Type
  Threat Range
  Crit Multiplier
  Damage Dice

This I suspect, maps very closely with the kinds of quantification
values used by most of the on-line games. (Although the concept of
differentiating between a "Threat" and a "Crit" may be less common)
However, in addition to these five basic qualities, dozens of D&D
weapons have additional, varient qualities - each of which would
need to be programmed as a part of the overall code tree rather than
generalied from basic roots.

Example:  The 3E "Whip" weapon stats are as follows:

  Size:  Tiny
  Type: Exotic/Ranged
  Attack Type:   Slashing
  Threat Range:  20 feet
  Crit Multiplier: x2
  Damage Dice:  1d2 (subdual)

Notes: Because the whip is an "exotic" weapon, characters fight with
a penalty unless they elect to use a "Feat", a very limited
character-development resource to master the art of fighting with
the whip.  This makes the whip "overcosted" within the matrix of PC
development choices, because using the Exotic Weapon Feat to master
the Whip is almost always a suboptial choice, given the other
options avaiable at each step in a PC's career.  A PC choosing to
become a "whip master" will probably also select a number of related
Feats and skills, choose a certain kind of armor, select from a
specific group of class combinations, etc.  Thus, "whip masters"
constitute experienced players who know how to maximize the game
system; rewarding players for paying close attention to such details
and adding value to those people who do so.

Because the whip is a "ranged" weapon, using it provokes attacks of
opportunity (basically, free attacks) from opponents threatening the
wielder.  The wielder can burn other "Feats" to gain limited or
near-total immunity from these attacks if desired.

Because the whip is a "Slashing" weapon, its "Threat Range", (a
numeric value that is used to determine the chance that any given
attack results in a chance for a critical hit) via a Feat (and via
magical enhancement).

Because the whip has a 20 foot threat range, the weilder can hit
targets at a distance, before they can close to normal melee range;
and the weilder "threatens" a very large diameter area on the
battlefield for the purpose of creating and making attacks of
opportunity against various targets.

Because the whip only does subdual damage, targets may be rendered
unconscious but not killed (barring the use of various feats, player
options, and special conditions).

While it only does 1d2 points of damage (1-2 points), it will also
deliver extra damage based on the weilder's strength bonus, and
potentially damage from special character effects such as
sneak-attack bonus damage.

The whip has additional, varient qualities.  The whip can be used to
attempt to make a trip-attack vs. an opponent (a trip-attack creates
an opposed test where the target may end up prone if the trip attack
is successful).  The whip can be dropped by the wielder if the
target wins the trap-attack test (ordinarily, if the target wins the
test, the wielder could be reverse-tripped).

The whip also adds a quantified bonus to an attempt to make a
disarm-attack vs. and opponent (an opposed test where the target may
have its weapon torn from its grasp).

That's a pretty complex weapon.

> When you get into the area of magic weapons then D&D is further
> dwarfed.

That was true in previous editions.  In 3E just using the DMG and no
supplementary content, magic weapons can be enhanced with two dozen
special magical effects, including the ability to act as a separate
entity on the battlefield (Dancing), deliver special damage
vs. undead (Disruption), or enhance weilder defense (Defending).
One of these effects (Spell Storing) is really a "meta effect",
because it allows the weapon to inflict a pre-cast spell "stored" in
the weapon on the target following a successful hit; meaning that
the poential range of effects is tremendously enlarged.

Such enhancements are commonplace, and not at all limited to
extremely powerful and rare items.


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