[MUD-Dev] DGN: Lords, Vassals, Serfs and the Clergy

Paul Schwanz pschwanz at bellsouth.net
Wed May 11 04:53:33 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Jaycen Rigger wrote:

> History provides the perfect model for a societal structure that
> will function in the context of a fantasy MMORPG.  The rigid
> hierarchy of feudal Europe is an ideal system on which to model
> the typically chaotic social disorder of a virtual world.

I think you make some good points, but why be so prescriptive?
Perhaps there will not be one "best" governmental system.  Some
players may prefer one approach and others may prefer another.

> There must be some motivation for the rest of the player-base to:

>     1. Put another player into a position of power.

>     2. To actually follow the rule of that player or another with
>     similar power. (i.e. What's in it for me?)

I wholeheartedly agree.  I've thought for some time that communities
need to be instituted with the ability to "level" in a similar way
to characters.  When a community levels, it would get the Ding! of
being recognized by a different community name (eg. an "Outpost"
might become a "Village") and additional community abilities would
then become available.  Perhaps better trainers migrate to your
town, stronger guards patrol the surrounding areas, local merchants
provide higher quality goods, etc.  Additional community leader
slots would become available as current leaders are promoted into
positions of higher privilege and responsibility.  In other words,
in a well-managed community, both the citizens and the leaders

If you put this together with a concept for leveling that is in some
way tied to the number of citizens who are members of your
community, I think the design becomes very interesting.  You could
let the players select their own sort of government with their own
rules.  Want to put together a fuedal system with draconian
role-playing requirements?  Go for it.  If that's the sort of
community people want to live in, they will come in droves.  Soon
your little community will expand to influence a large portion of
the gaming world.  If you are the leader who successfully navigated
the tricky waters of community expansion, you will have progressed
from Mayor to King.  As long as your people are happy (and none of
your rivals are particularly ambitious or astute) you will be living
large.  On the other hand, perhaps more players are interested in
being part of a democracy.  Not doubt a democratic system will be
less efficient, but maybe players are willing to put up with those
inefficiencies in exchange for the ability to vote.  Maybe they
aren't.  If both systems are available in a well-designed game,
we'll find out.

The point is that the game designer doesn't have to prescribe all of
this up front.  He can design the game so that the most successful
systems are selected for by the players.  Instead of the developer's
prescription, the governmental design becomes the player's choice.
If a player doesn't like a particular community design, she may take
her citizenship to a different community *in the same game.* I would
think this would be vastly preferrable to prescribing a single
community design where citizens who are not satisfied can only hope
to find a different community design in a different game.

-- Paul "Phinehas" Schwanz
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