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Old 08-28-2008, 10:30 PM   #1
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Player Killing and Player Looting

Player killing, also known as pk and as pvp, is a feature found on many MUDs and other online RPGs. I've seen player killing in many forms - limited, unlimited, chaotic, lawful, strictly kept to battlezones, and more. On my own world, once a player joins pk, there are no safe rooms they can run to keep away from other players. I've seen worlds where there is no player killing, where player killing is a limited aspect of stricter roleplay, where non-killer players can be killed by other players in "pk continents", etc.

I have noticed that worlds that allow player killing also allow player looting, that is, if a player kills their opponent, they can take one, several or all the items of their victim. "Allow" isn't quite the right word; I do not recall seeing a world that allows player killing but no player looting. That's not wholly true, either, given the existence of battlezones, although most times battlezones do not prevent player equipment from being destroyed.

Has anyone implemented a system that divides the two?

I am not talking of systems that have "lawful", "neutral" and "chaotic" rooms which allow a certain amount of looting, but a system whereby a player not only must join pk to kill other players but must purposefully join "p-loot" to loot other players. I take it as given that joining the looting ranks makes one open to looting.

I am asking about a system where people who join pk can kill other players but cannot loot them, not unless they join "p-loot", too. So we have three types of players: those who neither kill nor loot other players, those who may kill other players, and those who may kill and loot other players. I don't suspect there is a system that allows player looting without the potential for being killed.

Why do I ask?

Frustration. On player killer worlds with a small player base, like ours, those who are established in the world tend to have a noticeable advantage over those who are new both to the world and to player killing. As some might expect, our world has had a fair share of players who find some perverse delight in killing and fully looting their victims, veterans and new players alike. Ours is not the first world to experience this.

Their victims are not as delighted being stripped naked. The killing they seem okay with - our world is, afterall, a player killer world, and players log on expecting to fight other players. It is the looting, especially the full loots, that upsets them. When it becomes too much they leave the game. But because it is a "pk" world, the more extreme player looters say, anything should go and the immortals should not interfere. Let the player base sort it out. I doubt I am raising eyebrows.

In short, if the immortals don't interfere, the new players give up and leave, and if the immortals do interfere, the player killers become angry, shout, rebel, etc.

After some time finding ways to deal with power looting, introducing features like one-item-at-a-time looting and timed delays while looting, and after finding our efforts thwarted, I struck on an idea. Player killers - at least the ones I've gotten to talk to - say they are in it for the challenge of combat with other players. So I took them at their word, and thought, well, if player combat is all they are really after, why not just remove the ability to loot altogether, unless their victim allows looting? Treat looting as we do player killing - just as players have to type "pk join" to become a player killer, have them also type "loot join" if they want to loot other players.

This gives players who want to kill, but who don't want to loot, other players a chance to join player killing without fear of having their items disappear.

I presented this idea to one player killer who was a rather well-known looter. He was absolutely livid at the idea of the inability to loot. He mentioned in previous conversations how he enjoyed player killing for the challenge, and I told him that this wouldn't go away, his victims still would remain challenging. This is when the truth of the matter appeared: it wasn't enough to merely kill his victim, he had to have some sort of trophy, some prize which he could show others or which he could use to further frustrate his victim. He made it clear, if our world were to move in that direction, he would move to other worlds, because ours would have "lost part of its charm" in allowing unlimited looting.

I am doubtful we will code my idea into our game. However, I wanted to see what others might think of it, if they have done something similar, and if they have done something similar, find out what the result of the move was. When I was a mortal, I learned the ways of player killing, and could kill with the best of them, but I generally refrained from looting much, knowing how it would affect the people I played against. So, from my point of view, losing the ability to loot doesn't amount to much, because I still can fight other players all I want, anywhere I want, and "one-up" them through sheer gameplay. I find this view is not shared by all.

Any takers?
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Old 08-29-2008, 12:44 AM   #2
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Re: Player Killing and Player Looting

We call PK "CvC" (character versus character) on our game . I have posted, "There will be no player killing in our game. Anyone that kills another player will be banned, at least!"

Now I know the accepted term, and what it means, but do believe that there needs to be seperation (in our game) between what a player does and what a character does.

In our game:
We also are a more role-play centric game, more then a PK game. Characters can be killed by other characters, but only after role-play that provides justification.

Most characters join clans. Clans can set a "morgue", to which bodies of members are transported upon death (if the clan maintains enough "clan experience", based on character level). This allows them to retrieve their corpse and items.

Those that choose not to join clans can be looted pretty easily.

As we are in alpha this is all subject to change, and likely will experience changes.

Now on to your situation:
If it is a trophy for bragging rights, why not "the head of <character name>"? Let them parade around with the head for bragging rights, and attach a timer to it so that that it rots to "a bleached skull" after a while. This way they will need to kill them again for another head, and the skulls can be used to "count up" their kills (or even exchanged for goods, points, whatever).

When taking away from what some perceive as their enjoyment it may be beneficial to give them something they may value in return.

End of the day, it is the administrators decision on how game-play is set up in their world, and the players decision on whether the game-play suits their entertainment needs. Have a public discussion with your player-base, explain your concerns and how you plan on addressing them. Ask for input on the new system (if you want it), make a decision and implement it.
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Old 08-29-2008, 01:24 AM   #3
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Re: Player Killing and Player Looting

Last I knew God Wars II -- a mud designed as a pure PK game -- has no player looting.

Interestingly there were players there asking for something like looting to make PK more interesting for them.
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Old 08-29-2008, 03:13 AM   #4
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Re: Player Killing and Player Looting

Sentience mud has limited player looting, they have NPK and CPK (chaotic player kill) if your killed in a CPK room you will loose all your equips that are not flagged no_loot.
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Old 08-29-2008, 05:41 AM   #5
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Re: Player Killing and Player Looting

I think it's perfectly possible and reasonable to have player killing without player looting. We are not planning on having looting after death in our game, however it will still be possible to take the odd item through theft or other means if that is your thing.

If as you say players enjoy looting because of the 'trophy' aspect, why not try replacing loot with some other visible token of victory? Maybe allow players to scalp one other, pull out teeth or cut off ears to keep as trophies to mark their victories. Introducing a public PK ranking system or ladder may also have the same effect.

Unfortunately I don't think there is much you can do about the 'griefer' who enjoys looting because of how it upsets his victims. If you stop them looting they will only find other ways to express themselves. How you deal with these types of players is a whole other thread!

Looking at the major muds, Iron Realms are well known for PK but AFAIK none of their games have any kind of corpse looting. I think the notion of corpse looting is very much a DIKU thing so you might want to have a look at how non DIKU muds handle it.
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Old 08-29-2008, 08:55 AM   #6
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Re: Player Killing and Player Looting

Originally Posted by Ide View Post
Last I knew God Wars II -- a mud designed as a pure PK game -- has no player looting.
That's true, however even the original God Wars had only a very limited form of looting, a concept which carried over to the majority of its derivatives - and that covers a sizable percentage of the PK-focused muds currently online.

In the original God Wars, players had the ability to "claim" an item for a very small price, and could then call that item to them at any time. Players would therefore claim everything they wanted to keep, and whenever they died simply type "call all" to make their gear instantly teleport back into their inventory. Only the junk would be left, things they didn't consider important enough to claim.

There were also some very powerful magical items called artifacts which couldn't be claimed. Each was unique, and players couldn't use than one at a time. They were intended to provide an incentive for PK, although in practice it didn't work out quite as planned - many of those who obtained an artifact would spend much of their time hiding in safe locations, for fear of losing their prize.

Decapitation would also leave you with a token, as was suggested earlier in this thread. You could also crack open the severed head to get out the brain if you wished.
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Old 08-29-2008, 09:50 AM   #7
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Re: Player Killing and Player Looting

To me, conflict between player characters is a natural and necessary part of role-playing games. Mortal combat is part of that, and so is "looting." The problem arises when mechanics allow characters to kill one another, steal each other's stuff and then squirrel it away where it can't be retrieved. In my opinion, the battle over items can be a healthy and exciting part of gameplay if mechanics exist to support it. In my mind, the perfect system would allow characters to attack one another and steal stuff post-mortem while offering possible IC protections against having having corpses looted as well as options for retrieving items that have been taken.
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Old 08-29-2008, 05:59 PM   #8
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Re: Player Killing and Player Looting

Thanks for the replies, all.

Orrin, we also allow player theft, and in fact have a career choice perfectly suited to it. But we don't allow thievery of player characters without the rogue being pk joined. I do not know if players would want to play a thief if they can rob mobs only.

Will, you make some good points, and they are some we've observed in our game. We have players who loot their victims then immediately pass it on to their out-of-pk-range friends. Or they might give the item(s) to a no-kill mob. Player characters (in our game) also get a 'private stash' that stays with them after death and that allows them to place six items in it. Most use it for quest items and other important objects. Some use it to stash away items that once belonged to their victims, making the items unreachable. Players can be counted on to take a good idea and make it rotten.

Battling over items can be healthy. And believe me when I say we have tried numerous techniques to keep power looting to a minimum. For example, we made player corpses harder to loot by making them one-item-at-a-time for non-owners, and we added a brief time delay on such actions by looters. So smarter looters started using their charmed mobs, which can loot corpses as much as they want, to get around the restrictions. We made it so charmed mobs have to follow the same rules. So smart looters charmed multiple mobs, ordered all to loot the corpse at the same time, etc. We haven't yet disallowed charmed mob from looting at all, because what is the use? A player gets three friends, all in the same pk range, and they attack and kill the loner. They all loot at the same time, four items at a time. Thus we are back where we started, power looting. So we make it so the final player to land the blow gets to loot. Unfortunately, the one who wants the item(s) didn't land the final blow, and as the item is no-drop, his friend cannot really grab it either without dying later. And on and on.

The victims can recover their items, provided they can get to them. Usually they have to kill their killer. This may prove impossible if their killer is part of a group or the killer has made the item(s) unreachable, giving them to friends, to mobs and so on.

They could form a group of their own to get their items back, if there are player characters to do so. That's one of the problems of having a small player base on a player killer mud. A small player base also means there are fewer experienced players to advise newcomers on the craft of player killing. Thus people new to player killing likely won't be able to get their items from more experienced players. I'm not complaining, just stating what we've found, and how we have approached this particular problem.

So I agree, Will, player looting is not necessarily a bad thing. But I am still of the mind that player killing and player looting do not necessarily have to be tied. Some of you, like Ide, have confirmed this. Thanks again, everyone.
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