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Top Three Twinks - Part 2

Remember the Top Three Twinks on my list?

1. The Mud Advocate
2. The Professional Troublemaker
3. The Manipulator

For an expanded view on the Twink species, see my other articles on the subject. This paper will deal with the second of the three prize items:

2. The Professional Troublemaker

This is the player that gets banned from most muds for cheating or other crimes.

Personally I have a certain weakness for this type, probably because several of my best Mud friends have been Troublemakers. But also because they are usually very funny. If you have the slightest sense of humour and are not too stuck-up about your own dignity, the Troublemakers can provide you with lots of entertainment. And they can also bring new aspects to your game – aspects that you never even dreamed existed, until the player who thinks different than the mainstream exposes them to you. But Troublemakers can be a pain in the behind too.

Mainly this type is rather power hungry, not necessarily to be the strongest PKiller in the mud – (although that occasionally is the case) - but to have a Top ‘Position’. The power can be political, or represent knowledge, or possession of rare items. All mudders are driven more or less by these motivations, but the Troublemaker feels it stronger than most. But the Troublemakers, as the name indicates, also have another strong urge. They just LOVE to stir up trouble, to annoy people, mortals and immortals alike.

The Troublemaker is usually very smart and knows quite a bit about code mechanics. Some of them actually run muds themselves - mainly to get at the code and see how it works, and how it can be twisted to their own advantage. Since many bugs are generic to all muds with the same code base, the Troublemakers usually start out by exploiting those, (unless they have been fixed already). Then they move on to finding and exploiting the bugs unique for the game.

They – (generally they are males, although there are exceptions) – get bored easily, and like shortcuts. They know how to play the game properly and are very good at it too - but they prefer to cheat. Cheating is like a challenge or hobby or sport to them, and they spend a lot more time looking for bugs to abuse, than it would have taken for them to get along in a ‘legal’ way. They will eventually find and abuse every feature, every code bug and every Builder’s mistake in your game that can be used to their benefit. They might tell a few, selected friends about their pet bugs, but usually they are pretty secretive, because being the only one knowing about a bug gives them a certain power. If a bug gets widely known and abused around the mud, they sometimes report it, partly to score ‘brownie points’ with the imms, but mainly to irritate the other players and because the bug might be used to their own disadvantage.

The main characteristic of a Troublemaker however is that they like to tease people, or maybe ‘annoy’ would be a better word. This is where the sense of humour comes in. The Troublemakers generally have lots of imagination and humour, and their pranks can be quite hilarious. But, to put up with them, you need to possess and apply the same sense of humour yourself. If you lack it, there will be a clash sooner or later. Those of the players who aren’t too concerned with their own dignity usually think they are funny, and play along with their gambits. This can develop into very good roleplay situations at times.

However, they often go too far in their practical jokes. Some of those can be quite deadly too. If a Twink Newbie asks where the ‘kewl equip’ is, or demands to be ‘power-levelled’, the Troublemaker is likely to volunteer, then take him to the nearest DT and push him in. Or to give him a piece of cursed, negative-affected and/or poisoned equipment, telling him that it’s the best in the game. Or to present him with an item that teleports you to a very remote and dangerous part of the Realms, preferably no-recall too. This sure gets rid of some Twinks, but since at least a few of the Newbie Twinks can develop into decent players, I’m not totally sure if that is a good thing. Also it generally leads to bad situations when they expose ‘normal’ Newbies to their little pranks, even the more innocent of them. A new player, when being fooled in different ways by a professional Troublemaker, is likely to get pissed enough to leave the mud for good, and perhaps write a bad review about it too.

In general, the fate of the Troublemaker is generally dependant on WHO they choose as a target. If they mess with an imm without a sense of humour, they are very likely to get banned without any ceremonies. And if they do their stunts with players who are too full of themselves, you end up with a lot of complaining notes to the immortals. If they mess about with a ‘Mud Advocate’, the complaining notes will never end. And unfortunately – (or fortunately?) – pompous and arrogant players are their pet target. They usually cannot see an inflated ego without looking for a pin to bask their bubble.

So a clash between a Troublemaker and a Mud Advocate always leads to open conflict. Generally the Troublemaker is at fault, at least technically and probably morally too. So, however much your sympathies may be on the side of the culprit, HE is the one that has to be punished, if the rules of the mud are to be implemented. And if the victim finds your punishment too lenient, you are set up for a lengthy period of whining, discussions, complaints, mails and notes on the board.

The Troublemakers are usually not very popular with the staff, and often end up banned sooner or later. Why? Perhaps because most imps don’t like seeing their hard work being abused and/or ridiculed? Or perhaps because some imps have a minimum sense of humour and a maximum opinion of their own importance? Or perhaps a combination of the two?

Whether the Troublemakers get popular among the players or not depends both on the circumstances and personal temperament. Those who have a sense of humour generally love them, even when they occasionally get targeted themselves. Those whom they have helped in different ways love them too. (And Troublemakers are usually very helpful – TOO helpful! – but ONLY to people they like. They provide their friends and supporters with good equipment, take them on little excursions, teach them how to cheat a bit…) Naturally the players that don’t enjoy the same benefits resent this. So you can end up with a situation where half the player base stands against the other half. This is not unnecessarily a bad thing for a mud. In fact a bit of conflict generally spices the game up, and can be very good for developing roleplay. But if the resentment goes too deep, you may end up with a situation where one of the leading parties involved will have to go. And this is where things can get REALLY bad, because the Administration will have to step in and take side.

Like I said, I have this weakness for Troublemakers, but this doesn’t mean I let them get along unhampered. Instead the struggle develops into a sort of game-in-the-game between them and me. Generally we are on pretty friendly terms, with a sort of mutual respect and tolerance. I know that they would steal the shirt off my back, if given half a chance, so I generally keep an eye on them. And THEY know that I have no illusions about them. But I generally don’t punish mortals hard for bug-abusing, basically because it’s our responsibility as imms to see to it that there are as few bugs as possible to abuse. If I DO catch them red-handed, I slap their wrist a bit, and then try to fix the bug. My best moments are when I can slap them in a funny way, by turning their favourite bug against them. (For instance by making their favourite cheat Quest mob tell them to bugger off and teleport them to Hell).

Usually the Troublemakers are one step ahead of course, since they constantly find new things to abuse. New zones get built, and not all builders are skilled enough in their art. Some equipment may be a bit out of balance. And sometimes you let some mistakes slip past, when you check a new zone. After all, we are only human. So they lead, and you follow, trying to plug the leaches as they expose them.

Naturally you are better off working WITH a Troublemaker than against them. They make excellent zone testers, since they have this knack of exposing the bugs, by doing things out of the ordinary. But of course you have to make the decision whether to trust them or to check them, while they go through the new zone. Trusting them often works amazingly well, because they sometimes grow to the trust and start to really co-operate. Then again; they are just as likely to rip you off, so it’s a hard choice. Perhaps the best thing is to be frank about it and tell them that you’re going to check on them. Just following one of them around while they play a zone for the first time can be very educating.

Troublemakers also often make amazingly good Builders, because of their imagination, humour and game knowledge. In fact they are safest building, since that keeps them out of other mischief. Regrettably, they often lack the endurance and patience needed for Builders. But if you can keep them interested long enough, you may end up with at least one very good zone for your mud. Only, be sure to double-check it, since it’s bound to be full of little tricks, backdoors and cheat items, that you never even imagined could be used in that way. (My favourite examples is an item, which had the alias list of every healing potion or container in the mud. You just gave that object to your opponent in the middle of a pfight, and it kept him from healing, so you could kill him at your leisure. A neat little cheat...) :-)

As imms… Well, they MAY turn out to be very good imms, at least for some time. They are usually very social, make good Quests, rarely go powertripping and keep the players happy and amused. But they have a tendency to slip back into old bad habits, so before you know it, you may have a cheating imm on your hands. The best policy is probably to keep them as active as possible, and also to keep a sharp eye on them.

A bored Troublemaker can be deadly, whether he is an imm or a mere mortal. And if they really freak out, you may be left with no other alternative than a siteban.

And speaking about that, an interesting common streak in most Top Twinks species – (not just the Troublemakers) – is, that they usually do their dirty work rather discreetly at first. But once they get cornered and exposed, most of them flip out totally, start to openly and repeatedly abuse every bug they can find, to spam the open channels with harassment against certain players that they don't like and/or slander against the Admin. It's a rather childish gut reaction that they don't seem to be able to control. Like a spoilt child that doesn't get its way is kicking and screaming and telling its parents; 'You'll be sorry'...

As irritating as this can be to the community on a short-term basis, it has its advantages. It usually provides the Admin with a long list of valid reasons to freeze/purge/ban or whatever.

About the author:
Molly O'Hara is the Head Builder and one of the three imps of 4 Dimensions. But she also has a past as Manipulator, Troublemaker and even at times - *gasp!* - Mud Advocate on a Mud called Age of Chivalry, which has since then closed down.
E-mail: molly.4d@swipnet.se
Address: Homepage: http://www.4d.mud-puddle.net/
Mud: 4d.mud-puddle.net Port 6000