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

Threshold RPG business at threshold-rpg.com
Sat May 10 15:58:36 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


<EdNote: Edits made for repetition and brevity.>

On 8 May 2003, at 11:58, Travis Casey wrote:

> The same is true of paper RPGs -- some people consider D&D3 to be
> too complicated to be practical, while others consider it to be
> much too simple.

That's a nice point, but woefully off topic here. The point here is
whether or not D&D is "too complex" to be used in a modern online
RPG. Debating the relative complexity of D&D compared with other pen
and paper games is not the issue whatsoever.

> The number of factors in D&D is theoretically infinite, since it
> includes anything the GM can assign a modifier for on the fly.

But theory and practice are generally not the same
thing. Theoretically a whole lot of absurd things are possible. In
practice, D&D combat is the result of an extremely tiny subset of
factors- specifically those that are addressed directly by the rule
books.

Most good MUDs have "admin run" events where such myriad factors can
also be added to the mix. The question at hand is the complexity of
the core rules, not the complexity that can be created on the fly by
a good gamemaster.

>>   1) Weapon Speed: D&D toyed with this a bit in previous editions
>>   for modifying your initiative roll.

> "Blue book" basic D&D had this, and several other paper RPGs have
> it as well.  As it happens, it's not a particularly realistic
> addition in most circumstances, but that's neither here nor
> there...

Blue Book D&D had a bogus system that did not replicate weapon speed
in any kind of worthwhile manner. Weapon speeds affected initiative
rolls, and that's it. That, along with the complexity of it, is
largely why it got dumped.

>>   2) Weapon Material:

>>   3) Wear-and-tear:

>>   4) Enhancements:

The issue at hand is whether or not D&D is "too complex" for modern
technology to handle it in a MUD or MMORPG.

>>   Getting together the right set of gear with the right
>>   combination of magical modifiers and effects if often a major
>>   goal. [snip]

> This happens in D&D as well, with some groups of players, and can
> happen in other paper RPGs as well.  The greater the variety of
> equipment available, the more likely it becomes.

Exactly. Since the variety of gear in D&D is very small by
comparison, this does not happen to the extent that it happens in
current MMORPGs or MUDs.

> I think you're exaggerating greatly here.  In my experience, the
> "average MUD magic item" is just a +X item, just as in xD&D.

You must play some crappy MUDs. :)

> Some of these exist in D&D, and *any* of them can exist in D&D --
> the fact that someone can write custom functions for items is no
> different from the fact that one can write custom magic items for
> D&D.

The fact that people can, external from the official rules, create
things that replicate the level of complexity in an MMORPG is not
the issue here.

> Travis Casey

Travis, you have raised some extremely interesting points and your
knowledge of pen-and-paper RPGs is prodigious and intriguing.

However, that is not the issue here. Ryan Dancey made the assertion
that D&D is too compex for an MMORPG with the current state of
computer technology. That is a statement that, in my opinion,
demonstrates an extreme lack of experience with MUDs and MMORPGs. It
sounds like the opinion of someone whose experience with online RPGs
is the extremely stripped down Neverwinter Nights game created by
Bioware. The reality of *QUALITY* MUDs and MMORPGs is a far
different thing than what he seems to be familiar with.

There are certainly pen and paper games that are excrutiatingly
complex when compared to D&D. Such games are not, however, the
subject of this debate.

I would invite you to start a discussion on comparative PnP RPGs if
you wish to discuss that topic.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Michael Hartman, J.D. (http://www.threshold-rpg.com)
President & CEO, Threshold Virtual Environments, Inc.

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