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Old 02-03-2003, 08:03 PM   #1
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Take a domesticated dog and a human with the same intelligence and experiences as that dog.  Stick them both on Mount Everest, in the Amazon, in the Sahara, or some other extreme.  Who is going to life the most satisfied life?  I'd place my money on the dog.  If it were a cat, or a pig, or an antelope, or a canary, I'd still place it on the animal over the human.

When it comes to evolution, humans don't look all that much different from each other compared to how different different breeds of dogs look.  Consider the chihuahua vs. the great dane. For humans, even our smallest pygmies would be of a roughly normal height if properly nourished.   Probably the most surprising difference between humans is eye color, something that would not factor in much when it comes to races on a mud.

Frankly, humans just don't seem all that "adaptable" to me.  Intelligent, yes, but not adaptable in the way that muds mean when they say "adaptable."  Muds generally define adaptability as something other than intelligence.  Somehow elves can be more intelligent than humans, but less adaptable.

This "adaptability" is often expressed in terms of the number of classes/guilds the human can choose from.  If adaptability were defined in terms of intelligence, I would understand that.  The more intelligent you are, the more broadly you can educate yourself, and thus the more opportunities you will have for future education.

If adaptability were defined in terms of culture, I could still understand it to a certain extent.  By all means, put particular guilds only in particular cities, and restrict particular races due to prejudices or social pressures.  But even then, I would expect humans to have an equal chance of being the race exluded.  One race may turn out to be the most adaptable race, by chance of social pressures, but there's little reason why that race would be the humans.

Certainly you need to make your mud human-centric enough that people can relate to the story.  But that should not require an artificial advantage, especially not if your world is supposed to make sense RP-wise.  Why not just make your other races human enough?  Or else, why not find a natural advantage humans would really have and use it instead?  Or surprise everyone and make humans something other than average through and through.  Give them that extra intelligence that we consider so important in ourselves.  Make them something other than average, and they will be no less a benchmark.  What will keep them from being a good benchmark is if their advantages and disadvantages aren't realistic, such as "adaptability."
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Old 02-03-2003, 10:05 PM   #2
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Human instincts are severely diminished when compared to other animals; this is related to their adaptability. While a number of studies have been done on the nature vs. nurture debate on both animals and humans, humans without a doubt obtain more survival-essential material from the nurture side than animals do.

This is also a major factor in their being more adaptable than animals: Optimal survival knowledge varies from area to area. It's easier to instill knowledge when you don't have to override any instincts that were evolved for a different climate, food abundancy level, regional predators, competing humans, etc.

Adaptability is most definately a metric separate from intelligence, although the two are closely related. Biology courses often show that evolutionary adaptability is closely related to the lifespan of the animal. But intelligence plays a much more intricate role as far as adaptability is concerned. Intelligence is generally used to indicate memorization or skilled-sets of knowledge such as magic or foreign languages. Wisdom is generally used to indicate how easily one picks up new knowledge, perception and cynicism, and applications of knowledge. One can be a highly-intelligent but absent-minded professor, for example.

The reason I point out the note about lifespans with relation to adaptability and what intelligence is generally supposed to measure is that they are two keys to the puzzle of explaining why humans are considered adaptable. Elves having high intelligence but longer lifespans generally result in Elvish traditions lasting longer than human traditions. When new generations are fewer between, values such as "thou shalt not become a berserker" are less likely to be challenged, causing Elves to be less adaptable than humans.

That being said, I do agree that it would be better defined in terms of regional culture than by race. It is silly to assume that humans never place restrictions on themselves, just as it is silly to assume that there are no exceptions to another race's adaptation.
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Old 02-04-2003, 07:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by
Or surprise everyone and make humans something other than average through and through. Give them that extra intelligence that we consider so important in ourselves.
The problem then is deciding what is "average". By the very definition of the word, the average intelligence cannot be above average - unless you were defining the stats from the viewpoint of another race or species.

But is it really beneficial to list (for example) the stats of an ogre as "average" across the board, and then give all the other races huge strength penalties and intelligence bonuses? Or would it be easier to let people to judge the strengths and weaknesses of the different fantasy races by comparing them against humans? I would say the latter.

But then it comes on to the issue of game balance. You've now created a situation in which each race is particularly good at a certain activity, and thus the obvious choice for certain styles of play. A halfling will make a better thief than a human, an elf a better mage, a dwarf a better warrior - so why would anyone play a human?

Whenever you develop a mud, you always need to decide where you want to draw the line between realism and playability. If realism was your only concern, you wouldn't worry about the races balancing out - you might well have one race which is far superior to the others. But muds are also games, and if you have a supreme race, almost everyone will want to play it.

Thus you need to some incensive - some advantage - for every race within the mud. But if humans are supposed to be "average" at everything (the measuring stick against which other races are judged), what can you give them that's special?

Well, let's examine the big picture. Supposing we have the elves who are geared towards magic, the halflings who are geared towards thievery and the dwarves who are geared towards combat. That means that humans are likely to be the second best at all of those - in other words, they are more adaptable to a wider range of roles than the other races. A human might not be as good at adapting as an animal, but when compared against the other humanoid races they are obviously the best "all round", the "jack of all trades" so to speak.

Once you've decided what needs to be done to maintain a balance between the races, it's easy to explain an in-game reason for it. The most obvious one is that the dwarves like to live underground, the elves like to live in the forest, and the halflings generally prefer to live boring lives in their shires. As humans have the shortest lifespans, they also breed a lot faster. Combined with the fact that they have no "preferred" place to live like the other races, the chances are they'll learn to adapt much quicker to other environments. Not only do elves not *want* to live in the desert, but it's also going to take around 10 times as long for each generation to appear, making it that much more difficult and time consuming for them to adapt.

Of course that doesn't mean that humans have to be boring. There's no reason each race can't have their own unique form of magic or styles of weapons (humans included). Equally, there's no reason why you can't have different races of human, each of which has learned to adapt to a certain type of environment.
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Old 02-04-2003, 09:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ Feb. 04 2003,07[img[/img]6)]But then it comes on to the issue of game balance.  You've now created a situation in which each race is particularly good at a certain activity, and thus the obvious choice for certain styles of play.  A halfling will make a better thief than a human, an elf a better mage, a dwarf a better warrior - so why would anyone play a human?
If you're running a MinMax game with little character accountability ("Hi, I'm a storm giant ranger paladin wandering through humanville.  Hi Mr. Guardsman, don't mind me!") probably no one would feel the need to play a human.  It is just be another statistic set to complement 'classes'.

If one were running an RP-oriented game people would play humans just for the sake of being human.  

Sure, it doesn't do much for game balance, the 19 dex Halfling will always be a little quicker, the 20 str Ogre will always be a little stronger.  Life itself isn't fair.  If you wanted to realistically balance it, have equipment size (or yuck, race) based and affect your character.  The nimble halfling thief isn't going to want to be bogged down with equipment (nor would his people be prone to forging plate mail to begin with (ethnic varieties aside), nor is the ogre going to be able to walk through a human city unmolested (in general, non-specific fantasy realms) and buy human equipment (which probably wouldn't fit him anyway).  Yes, something like equipment fitting might be an extra 4 hours in the code and a few weeks in the object editor - but if you're worried about game balance, it would be worth it.  Some races would probably shun wearing equipment anyway.  Ever watch someone put a sweater on a dog for the first time?   They definitely don't like it.

Other balances?  Sure, ogre might be stronger, but they are (generally) not as intelligent.  So don't max out ogre intelligence or wisdom when/if they level.  Don't have their max be a point or two less than the max of humans.  Halve the sucker.

Myself, I'm a big fan of game balance as well.  Just like most problems, if you've got foresight enough for it everything can be quelled by a better game design.
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Old 02-04-2003, 10:49 AM   #5
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On DM, I think most of the races are nicely balanced, and anyone can do anything if they're willing to spend enough time at it. I've seen ogre mages and rowan (weak, spindly blue guys) fighters. Wanna be strong? Play a braman, and try to deal with not being able to fit into half the interesting places, and having only your trunk to manipulate objects with. Wanna be smart? Play a rowan, and not be able to cross mountains for years because you're so weak. Wanna be dexterous? Play a mohnkee and then not be able to lift a full suit of armor or that crop of tomatoes you just grew.

Humans tend to be average all the way around, and for some reason people still play them though. They're not nearly as common as other races, but then I don't think a fantasy world should have a huge emphasis on humans anyway. I think probably the main reasons people play them on DM are (a) they have an idea for a particular RP style which a human will work best for, or (b) they aren't familiar enough with the other races to try playing them. Basically, our humans can do anything, they just tend to suck at it because everyone's used to other races being ungodly good at one thing or another. And all the other races can do everything too, they just usually don't.

I don't know why people think humans *should* be the "superior" race in any way though. If anything, on DM orcs are the "superior" race...and yet you usually don't see 75% of the mud playing orcs, and you may see an orc mage maybe once every year or 2. Getting back to my point though, what's so good about humans, and in a world with a variety of other races, why should they be the most populous or powerful? With DM's system, it all seems to work out pretty evenly. We tend to have what I call the "race of the week" syndrome. One week everyone rolls up catfolk, the next week it's rowans, the next week it may be dwarves. Currently we have an awful lot of newbie humans. There's been times when very few members of a certain race are around (once upon a time it was braman, another time it was dwarves, now it seems to be catfolk), but sooner or later they always get their time in the spotlight. Even ogres. So I guess we must be doing something right, hehe.

-this pathetic drivel brought to you by a half-asleep mind distracted by a stupid TV show
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Old 02-04-2003, 03:17 PM   #6
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One possibility is that there is often dual class costs that are quite a bit higher than sticking to a single class. On the mud I play the cost is like 1M extra to get a second class and like 10% more per level, with additional restrictions on how many levels that can be gained. So, if humans only had to pay 500k extra and 5% more per level...

This would reflect both the difficulty of learning something new, as well as still providing for the more traditional view of races like the elves that one should 'master' a particular style of combat. Intelligence could effect this as well, so that the number of guilds and even levels you could make in a guild was a reflection of intelligence. So in other words, an orc might learn poor magic and a full set of fighting skills, but if he wants to be a pickpocket, he can't do so and still learn any magic.

Unfortunately most systems don't have a consistent reason for the balance, they just drop stats into a race that look good and tell the players to stop wining when everyone realizes how badly messed up the new race is. Thankfully ours is undergoing a complete revamp in that respect, including each one getting some unique power or ability. I just know that instead of getting one of the other powers like Kitsune-bi (Foxfire), the Kitsune race will end up with one of those stupid white balls that stories say they can store part of their Mana in or something...
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