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Old 10-06-2007, 07:46 AM   #1
Kleothera
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RPing War and Conflict

I am not sure how to start this. However, supposing a MUD (that is RP encouraged, NOT enforced, but with a sizable group of fairly serious RPers and many fast learning to RP) was to set up sort sort of system of RPing invasions and wars, what would be some of the pointers we should keep in mind?

It has been to a large extent a consent based system of resolution of RP conflict. However, the attempt to manufacture consensus in terms of what each side can and cannot do results in a lot (arguably a majority) of people unhappy with the resolution. It is not a PK mud, so you cannot kill a player that acts above his or her level/ability/opponent expectation to bring him/her to a reality check. If an immortal intervenes, there are allegations of high handedness; failure to intervene results in sighs about favoritism and grumbling about powerplay. I feel that this may to a large extent because of the lack of a clear set of guidelines for war RP.

1. How have other MUDs solved the question of RP of large scale conflict without a PK system?
2. What weight should area NPCs (important sentient ones atleast) have in the resolution of a RP conflict?
3. Any documentation online on this theme that anyone can suggest?

I would prefer a code-light version for this, since the number of people with whom this is an issue is relatively small and it would be a pity to pull a coder to code a fix for the sake of 4-6 people (usually the older and "professional" RPers forming a tight RP clique). The player base is middle-small, with 10-15 during the day (but growing; and I would hate to see this issue magnified when the numbers rise again) . And it is also an old game (8 years+ game development during which time it has moving from pure hack and slash to fairly intense RP).

Any suggestions?
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Old 10-06-2007, 09:52 AM   #2
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Re: RPing War and Conflict

This is an excellent question.

Just last night on OtherSpace, we had a massive space battle between 24 NPC Phyrrian carrier vessels (and their hundreds of automated sappers and fighters) vs. the PC-occupied Regreb Bay destroyer and 50 other NPC Allied fleet ships.

It was an epic fight, involving about a half-dozen PCs and lasting about five hours of real time.

And it was pretty streamlined.

The Phyrrian warships are pretty much unstoppable on paper - Phyrrian War Combat - OtherVerse Wiki - a Wikia wiki - and, by all rights, would have been a player's nightmare, wiping out the entire Allied fleet in short order.

So, I struck a balance between the sense of risking life and limb against wanting players to have a good time. I scaled down the sappers and fighters, let the Allied fleet lay three waves of mines to stop as many of those sappers as possible, and taking out an uber-armored Phyrrian carrier was as simple as getting a gunnery skill roll high enough to penetrate the carrier's armor one time.

By the end of the battle, all the Phyrrian carriers were destroyed, but so was the Regreb Bay (the ship carrying the PCs - the players decided to use it as a giant missile against a Phyrrian carrier as its dying act), the Indefatigable (Sivad's Royal Naval Service flagship), and a bunch of other NPC Allied ships.

Players won the day, but with a pretty big in-character cost. Had this been a war between player factions ... it would have been a lot more complicated. Luckily, I set up those NPC Phyrrian bowling pins with the intent to have them knocked down at some point.

And the war's still ongoing. But I think our approach is a pretty good one that could be emulated elsewhere in similar circumstances. Give your players a chance to emerge victorious against a superior NPC force, but make it dangerous enough so that they get a sense that they could have died in that conflict.

In a player faction vs. player faction situation, I'd save the big hero NPC types for really hopeless situations vs. other NPCs. But you might find it useful, similarly, to allow players on both sides to have proxy NPCs to fight for them initially. If the Phyrrians were still a player race on OS, I'd let them have a certain number of counters for their fighter squadrons, sapper clouds, and carriers. The Allied players would get a certain number of counters for their own fleet vessels. We'd roll player proxies against each other until one group of NPCs emerged victorious. At that point, we'd probably say the outcome of the battle has been determined and the team on the losing side gets to A) fight a last-ditch battle to the death, accepting death as a possible outcome or B) retreats to fight another day.

The only code this should require would be the ability to roll dice or, in a MUSH, to use rand(20) or however many sides you want the virtual dice to have.
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Old 10-06-2007, 10:55 AM   #3
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Re: RPing War and Conflict

Some very good points there. The idea of using our Wiki to describing the situation of our current scenario in
terms of troops layouts, relative strength and above all who is where should have been so blindingly obvious, except I didn't think of it!

About the credible threat part. Do you suggest the creation of actual physical NPCs as the means of creating that credible threat? Since our system has until now been fairly consent based, lot of RP has happened over notes/boards to communicate with people in different time zones (playerbase is fairly spread out in terms of time). Loading actual NPCs does add that extra element of reality, however, in case of complicated multiple alliances, a horde of NPCs wandering the capital city (and you cant make them aggressive since they would kill the non-RPing/newbie/uninvolved PCs of the city- so they cant ACTUALLY hurt you) has not particularly contributed much to RP. I guess the wiki would be a partial fix though by informing people about the complexity of the situation.

I have been toying with the idea of a dice system for our game too. In a straightforward scenario like the one you described the equal counters to both sides proposal is a fair one. However, assuming the situation was a little more complicated- as my current predicament goes- we have the (NPC) administration of the geographically most central city of the realms (under attack), the PC clan that has been aligned with them formerly (but apparently going through some sort of internal rebellion- attacking them), two mortal lead clans (good aligned) called on the request of the NPC city administration after the NPC alliance collapsed and a few rogue individuals with axes to grind with the first clan (helping defend; along with some members of the attacking clan that have held to the original alliance). Trying to balance this lot is turning into a minor nightmare! Addressing the unbridled imagination of a dozen PCs in different time zones from 4 different clans and an NPC city administration is more complicated then I remembered

Also as one of the players I suggested dice pointed out, an erudite and efficient RPer with great persuasive skill losing to a PC who cannot talk well just because the dice said so, doesn't sound very fair either.
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Old 10-06-2007, 11:04 AM   #4
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Re: RPing War and Conflict

Your situation does sound pretty complicated. I didn't physically create the Phyrrian fleet, though. I wrote down on paper what my assets were versus the players. As the players destroyed those assets, I marked them off. I did @emits for the swarming, menacing superior fleet, of course, and I was informed by a couple of players that they messed up their Underoos when making some risky dice rolls during the fight - so, I think it still had the desired effect.

If you did want to involve the NPC leader from a neighboring town to bolster the creative RPers who thought to call on them for help, maybe you could give them credit for a number of "counters" to represent assets from that neighboring town.
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