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

Jaycen Rigger jaycen.rigger at sbcglobal.net
Fri May 13 17:53:30 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


cruise <cruise at casual-tempest.net> wrote:

> How is a player deposed? That didn't seem to be covered at any
> point.

Yes....there is that....

I know.  Right now, we're putting the last bits of the Clerics
together.  We've done some of the support system for the Ruler and a
bunch of the interface windows the Ruler will need to have.  I'm
hoping to come to a resolution on that question before we get there.

I wanted to say that any time the Ruler was "killed", he was
deposed, but none of my cities will have time to develop if I do
that.  Then I thought, "If the Ruler has to perform official
business within the castle walls, then we'll say he can only be
deposed if he's "killed" within the castle walls."

My problem with that is I'm afraid we'll never depose a Ruler.  So,
right now, I'm not real sure.

I have some awesome henchman AI that's working great right now.  I'm
not going to allow regular player characters to have henchmen (then
you get solo adventurers with a team of henchmen tagging along,
instead of actual groups of players which is gay <no offense the the
gay community> ).  However, Rulers can buy up to X henchman AI as
Elite Guardsmen with tax money.  I figure that's a necessity since
you can't guarantee the Ruler will have loyal subjects around to
protect him every time he logs in.

So, I'm not totally sure yet.

I didn't put it in there, but I've also outlined several "state
positions" that can be appointed by the Ruler, such as Court Mage.
I figure I'll put a crystal in the basement of every castle.  The
crystal will default to "active" and will make the castle a
null-magic zone.  Only a Court Mage can turn the crystal on or off,
so the Ruler has to make a decision - do I trust this wizard enough
to hand him that kind of power?  If the crystal stays on, even the
Court Mage can't cast spells within the castle walls, but that also
means no one can gate an army in to take out the Ruler.  Either way,
the Court Mage gets a big bump to his wizardly skills while in the
boundaries of the city (as opposed to benefits recieved for being a
subject of the city generated by the improvements, which are active
for all subjects of that city regardless of their location).

With the above in mind, I lean toward requiring enemies of the Ruler
to kill him inside his castle walls.  Beyond that, the Head Priest
of the religion that put the Ruler into power can excommunicate the
Ruler, then removing his Divine Right to rule.  That's why I allow
multiple religions to Annoint a Ruler character, thus allowing the
Ruler to secure his position through whatever personality traits
allow him to convince multiple powerful Priests to invest that kind
of power in him.

> And since most "fantasy" style MMORPG's have a medieval level tech
> anyway, it's fits thematically. It also arguably fits within a
> sci-fi theme too, with corporations replacing kingdoms, and
> Directors instead of Kings.

Exactly.  Yeah, I figure it works in virtually any setting.  Look at
Feudal Japan.  Look at the Hindus.  There are probably parallels in
our own society, though less so as Democracy doesn't derive it's
power from the Church.

> Interesting. Could this form the basis for removal too? If a king
> ever loses the support of enough of the religious groups, then
> they can remove him?

Yup.  In fact, in order for a religon to get a Temple, it must come
from the Ruler.  That is, the Temple is a city improvement.  I have
7 religions, thus each city gets 7 Temples.

A Temple can only be created in that city if the religion the Ruler
is creating the Temple for, is a "supporting" religion (i.e. the
Head Priest of that religion Annointed the Ruler).  Otherwise, it's
an empty building that just serves as background.  I hinted at
regional banking in my original post, and I didn't really go into
the individual Improvements much, but the Ruler must buy the Market
Place Improvement before he can buy a Bank.  Once the Bank is
bought, the Market Place becomes self-sustaining (no longer requires
upkeep from the tax coffers).

The Bank is regional.  It only works for that city.  However, if the
Temple improvement exists, the Head Priest can choose to spend
Tithings on a "Bank Branch" if that religion has an active Temple in
another city.  Thus, like the Knights Templar, the Church further
entwines itself into the socio-economic structure.

> If you impose this restriction on city management, then provide a
> "portal stone" or something that allows the player to instantly
> return to his castle (and then back again). Otherwise it's going
> to be boring as heck for a standard player to be forced to remain
> in the castle. Of course, some players will then treat your game
> as a God-game, ala Stronghold or Settlers, and be quite happy. If
> there is sufficient detail and control at this point, this would
> be an excellent way of providing longevity and variety (as per the
> "Game of a Thousand Faces" thread).

I considered the "boredom" aspect, but then I consider crafter
classes as the most boring thing you could possibly do.  I'm an
adventurer, and if we aren't out killing stuff or solving a puzzle
in a quest, there'd better be some high-tension role-playing going
on or I'm wandering off to solo a cemetary or something.

I think that you will find people who are quite happy to have to
spend extra time hanging out in their castles.  This is a natural
for socializers.  Finally, they can do what they love to do, and
people have to deal with them.

> So players with the best social skills are more likely to be in
> charge. Seems a reasonable enough mechanism. Also promotes a lot
> of competition between religous groups too, since if one can get a
> monopoly, they have complete say over who rules.

Aye.  If you're a politician, then you're a natural for the
position.  However, guile and cunning (oh wait, that's also a
politician) can help you get into power, too.  "If you put me in as
Ruler of city Y, I'll make sure my guild always protects your
Priests when you guys are on line."

> While I understand the reason for the reminder, a message
> informing them the taxes have been taken has much the same effect
> without lots of activity on the part of the player, which would
> get irritating. Having to log-out/log-in would be particularly
> frustrating.

Nah, it's not that bad.  They don't HAVE to log in and out, if they
keep a good amount of gold on them all the time.

Beyond that, I'm allowing Thief class characters to steal
non-personal items from your pack (gold, gems, spell components,
resources, etc).  If I allow you to pay automatically from the Bank,
you'll never carry gold and Thieves won't be able to support
themselves in a way that's contextually satisfying (to me.)

> Perhaps an interesting variation would be tax a small amount for
> each day the player is logged in. ie. If I can only play weekends,
> I only pay two copper pieces (or whatever). Someone with more time
> to play everyday pays 7. Now you'd be hard pressed to not make 1
> copper in a play session, and so doesn't hinder anyone, but means
> those most using the cities facilities, and getting the most
> benefit, pay the most. Scaling the tax per player level (if you
> have levels) is likely a good idea too.

No on both counts, and I'll tell you why.  First, it's going to be
hard enough to collect the gold to get the improvements bought and
maintained without having to scrape for every piece of gold.  If
players don't log for a few weeks, that will have a small impact on
the economy, but by ensuring I have the same amount of gold from
every player for a given time period, it makes calculations easier
for the Ruler to kind of fly the system.  If he never knows how much
gold he can expect from week to week, how can he rule his city?

Scaling per level isn't what I'm after.  This game server has
problems when item count gets too high.  Everything that exists
sucks a tiny bit of RAM.  Our machine has 2G which gives us quite a
bit of breathing room, but I really want to NOT encourage hoarding.
That is, I don't want to "discourage" it, but I want to encourage
behaviours that make the player look for a way to pay for something.
One easy way is to sell off all the junk in your containers.

This project is not only a resource sink to keep inflation in check,
it's a holistic system designed to drive player relationships and
conflict of a social sort.  Of COURSE there's the "my knights will
kick your knights butts any day of the week" aspect, but if I've got
a huge base of players who are working out plots and social
manipulations with and against all the other players, hell, I don't
have to have GMs on 24/7 to provide content and police the constant
picking and sniping because my players are bored.

Players will create their own background and my staff can do their
jobs (running broad plots and sub-plots).

> Jail is bad (there was a thread about it a while back). A similar
> system to your city tax shortfall recovery might work better,
> where the most expensive items within the property are reclaimed
> first. Though the little-but-often approach above should mean that
> no one could ever not afford their taxes.

I wish I'd seen that thread.  If someone has it, please forward it
to me.

I've given this a great deal of thought.  I originally hated this
concept....  I need a CONCRETE way to show a Ruler's authority over
his lands and people.  Besides, there are some considerations:

  1.  The maximum jail sentance will probably be 6 hours of real
  time (1 real day is roughly equal to 4 game days).

  2. Players on my server can create up to 5 players on 1 account
  (UO shard).  While one character is jailed, the player could spend
  some time developing that odd character he always thought of
  trying out.

  3. Since this is a contextual jail system, we aren't talking about
  GM powers to teleport a player and force them into confinement.
  The Ruler must have Knights whom he can deputize to arrest
  offending players.  Those Knights would actually have to "catch"
  the offending characters.  I've got a great script for the
  shackles graphic.

We aren't talking about players who break Server Rules.  Those guys
will be dealt with in a swift and efficient manner.  These are laws
of the Ruler which are enforcable through the game systems.

Housing will probably be in the 15K to 35K range.  You'd have to go
a lot of weeks before you racked up enough debt for this system to
kick in.  That's an estimate, because the script set I got
originally had out of control inflation.  The old admin started new
characters with 50K and all classes could make grand master crafting
status so gold only flowed into this system and barely trickled out.

I yanked a ton of the "junk" off monsters and only give what makes
sense (my buddy spent long hours comparing loot on all our mobs to
similar counterparts in the AD&D 2nd. ed. Monstrous
Compendium....the best ideas are always somebody else's).  My NPC
vendors only pay 1.5 gold per raw resource required to craft an item
in-game.  That means I pay you .5 gold for your labor.

This so radically alters the economy of this server, and I don't
even have it in beta so I really don't know how things will play out
economically.  I'm going by all the other servers I've played and
run on AND everything I could possibly read about it on websites
like Raph's and others.

> At which point the player is effectively playing SimCity :P Which,
> as I said above, is probably a good thing for many
> reasons. Allowing the redevelopments to be visible within the city
> for those wandering around it, seeing the construction taking
> place, etc. would really provide that sense of having an effect on
> the game world.

Thanks:-) One of my many goals with this thing.

> The main trouble with this is the cities with the most players
> become the cities with the best bonuses and therefore more players
> join them - you would eventually end up with maybe one or two
> mega-opolises. And no one would ever bother to found another city,
> because why would anyone want to join it?

I don't think so.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and a power vacuum is the
worst kind.  If the oportunity to rule exists, some sub-group is
going to break off and make it happen.

There are a bunch of papers on community size and societal
behaviours related to the size of the society on Raph's site and on
some of the links from his.  Once you get to a certain size, groups
of humans naturally break off to do their own thing.  The numbers in
the real world apparently match the numbers in on-line communities.
I guess it's an ego thing.

> As a suggestion, have upkeep for improvements scale faster than
> tax money as population increases (more people, higher running and
> maintenance costs). This neatly provides an upper-cap on city
> size, unless the player increases the tax-rate (at which point the
> appeal of the city decreases), or they start putting their own
> funds into the upkeep.

Awesome.  I didn't put all the details in.  I wanted to hear what
you guys had to say about the core stuff.  This paper has been the
subject of hundreds of hours of discussion and debates between me
and my friends (and countless people in chat rooms and on discussion
boards...basically, anyone who will listen).  I fully intend to
automatically scale taxation based on revenue levels.

I thought about scaling the system by number of Subjects, but I was
concerned that I'm punishing them for grouping up in a direct way.
Instead, I thought I'd build in some class warfare and say that as
the coffers grow, that means that the population has become more
affluent and therefore afford to pay more.  I also considered that
since you are drawing in a lot of gold, you probably also have more
people using more of the services.  Even if you don't, you probably
have characters accrueing more wealth, and they can afford to
pay...if the coffers drop below that same threshold for a period of
time, then I bump the rate back down and ease up on the peasants.

I've considered it critical from the beginning that the coffers not
be accessible by any player in any way that is direct.  Otherwise,
you'll get Super Cities where 5 mega-rich characters go in and just
stomp all over everyone else.  I really want to reward players for
forming a society.

> Additionally, the more people in a city, the less chance each one
> has to take advantage of the facilities - so slowly reducing the
> bonuses given for upgrades as the population rises provides a
> motive for players to join smaller cities - they get a greater
> benefit. Hopefully this would at least go some way to
> counteracting the so called "zerging" that games such as
> Shadowlands suffered from.

I think that what you say makes logical sense, but it falls under my
"don't make it too real or you might start sucking out fun"
category.  I really want the rewards to follow the behaviour of
creating a social structure.  I think they'll break off anyway, so I
just don't think it will be a problem for me to fill up my cities.

I'm not familiar with the "zerging" thing.

> Alternatively, would it not make sense to leverage the clergy,
> once more, and let them pick who from the highest ranking nobles
> they want to rule? And why then promote one from each other rank?
> Are there meant to be certain numbers within each rank enforced by
> the game system? Surely having increasingly exorbitant price tags
> on the titles would have a similar effect - and as soon as someone
> could afford the "promotion" they would simply buy it.

Yes, I figured I'd do 3 tiers.  3 at the top, 5 at the middle and 7
on the bottom.

I thought it would add an extra dimensions of politicing to the
game.  The Ruler is basically selling chits for people to bid for
his job.  That's a little nerve-racking, so what if a Ruler chooses
simply not to do it because he doesn't want to consider a world
without him at the top?  At least this way, he can try to fill the
positions with people who are loyal to him.

I intend to charge more for the higher tier positions.

You know, I think you're idea on the clergy doing the choosing is
brilliant.  It ties all three groups together (Ruler, Hierarchy,
Clergy) and helps to reinforce the whole checks and balances thing.
I'll run it by the group and see what they say.  Thanks.

> Now this, for me, is where a lot of interesting possibilities
> develop.

> A "fighter" can join the King's knights. They get better equipment
> and skills, but they now have to follow his orders or lose the
> benefits. A Knight can become a Paladin if his chosen religion
> approves. He gets additional, God-given abilities. But now he has
> to follow the precepts of his order in addition to those of the
> king.

Just to clarify, a Knight is a Paladin.  Sorry for the confusion.
The Paladin ties the Ruler's might to that of the Church.  Only a
Ruler can turn a fighter into a Paladin (through the knighting
process) but only a group of Priests can strip a Paladin of his
ablities and turn him back into a fighter.

A Paladin is basically a fighter with minor healing abilities, some
authority to execute arrest warrants issued by the Ruler and
low-level Clerical spell ability.  Oh, and a cool title.

I even thought about letting a Paladin retain his abilities if his
Ruler is deposed.  He's basically a "rogue knight" at that time,
like a Samurai without a Shogun.  I guess such a character could
free-lance to any Temple where his religion is active, or he could
go and become a subject of a different Ruler in another city.

> Additional interesting social complexity could be gained by
> granting the nobility command of some of the knights - then a
> noble could try and bargain with the religious groups to assist in
> any coup d'etat.

Another good idea....I'll have to consider how we'd actually
implement that.  I wanted to do more with the Hierarchy, but I
couldn't think of something that made sense and didn't overbalance
them.

> There is a lot of very interesting social interaction possible in
> having a true player run game, and it is a pity that it hasn't
> been done better before.

You know, I have been thinking the same thing for a long time, but
the system as I've written (minus the details) didn't come fully
into being until about a year ago.  I wrote most of the core of the
system down in a note book on September 12th and 13th of 2001 while
I was on site trying to help a customer get through an installation
of a machine.  I had almost gone home on the 11th when everything
went to hell, but I was only 4 hours by car, and I had a rental so
the wife and I decided that it wouldn't help anything for me to come
home at the time.  Might as well get the overtime and if any more
attacks came along it wouldn't be hard for me to get home quick.
Funny the kind of circumstances where stuff like this pops out.

I had just found Raph's webpage about 2 months before that, and then
Howard Collins' site.  Here were people who got paid to do what I'd
been doing for free for years, who saw the same problems I saw, but
they actually had technical, industry terms for what I just knew
intuitively.  I was elated.  I still am.
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