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Old 08-25-2010, 12:56 PM   #1
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Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

A thread on roleplay brought to light the following and so I created this thread for some discussion on the topic. Please feel free to chime in if you have information or comments. The original thread is here:

http://www.topmudsites.com/forums/ta...people-rp.html

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
One need only look at the RPIs who've lost so many of their veteran players by dumbing down their role-play standards and enforcement. The best RPI today doesn't hold a candle to the worst RPI of ten years ago. Looking at all of the great players who've walked away from RPIs because of this drop in quality can be painful, especially when compared to what passes for players and staff nowadays on some RPIs.
Are there players out there that have stopped roleplaying because of a lack of quality in current "RPI" style MUDs. I had thought several new versions of these games were coming out like and if so can more information be talked about on them? And to branch out, what would would you (the reader) consider the best or worst RPI style game?
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:40 AM   #2
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

Three of the present eight members of the RPMUD Committee used to play RPIs but don't anymore. Of the staff of TSOY, the RPI I've been working on developing since 2005, four of my five staff are former RPI players who have given up on the existing ones and don't even play MUDs at all any more as a result (one of the motivations in starting and persisting in keeping TSOY alive despite our trials and tribulations is the hope of providing a RPI that will appeal to the veterans of the genre who have since left it in frustration). I can think of a several other former players and admins who've turned their back on RPIs, most on MUDs altogether. These don't even take into account the natural process of life dragging people away from MUDding due to jobs, family, children, etc. Each of the people I've mentioned so far voluntarily quit RPIs and MUDs in general. As a result, you're going to find it very difficult to get them to post responses. Even if they were still playing MUDs it would be hard since none of the individuals I've listed had accounts here even when they were still playing. It's been my experience that most RPI players don't really integrate themselves into the greater MUD community as they're interested in that particular type of MUD or even just a particular game rather than MUDs as a whole.

Jason aka Falco

Last edited by prof1515 : 08-26-2010 at 12:40 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:31 AM   #3
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

Thanks for the update and comments. I hope things go better for the community as I think one of the hugest benefits to our community is the diversity and ability to meet many nitches in the the gaming community that the larger commercial games can't. This might be a bit advertising'esque, but perhaps you could post a bit more on TSOY and the features that will bring back some of the hardcore players of the past.
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:40 AM   #4
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

While I've not turned my backs on MUDs in general, I will say that I've been without a home MUD for quite some time and, after giving some of my old favorites numerous tries before finally being repelled again for the same old reasons that Prof's mentioned, I don't think that is going to change anytime soon.

I've heard about the number of new games opening up but therein is the problem: they are all still in Beta or Alpha. And a few of the rising stars, while excellent games that I will gladly support, just don't suit me because they don't offer the kind of experience that I personally want on a day-to-day basis.

Like Prof, I'm spending my time these days working on a MUD of my own or contributing to community services. Unfortunately, my game is in a much earlier stage, as I'm still just trying to write the base code and get the place set up for more streamlined development. I don't see the project going the way of [insert dead MUD here], because there's much more on the line than just my fancy with owning a MUD, but I also don't see it popping up in any listings any time soon.

I do know that I have a few different main goals than Prof's TSOY. While we are still technically going after the same audience and overlap in a few major features, we are still offering different things.
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Old 08-28-2010, 02:33 AM   #5
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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I do know that I have a few different main goals than Prof's TSOY. While we are still technically going after the same audience and overlap in a few major features, we are still offering different things.
That sounds very promising. Feel free to list your goals and features as they come to pass. I like the idea of making a platform that will return some of the Veteran roleplayers back to the fold.
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Old 08-28-2010, 11:19 PM   #6
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

I disagree with some of what Prof has said above. While real life and general disatisfaction with some RPIs have certainly driven off many great roleplayers/players over the years (the same could be said for any genre of MUD, by-the-by), there are always just-as-great players finding the genre and stepping up to become the RPI veterans of today and tomorrow. Additionally, I'd challenge the concept that the best RPIs of today cannot hold a candle to the worst (or any) RPIs of the past. Shadows of Isildur had a hay-day in the old days of Osgiliath and Minas Morgul - and then another hay-day during the year of 2009 in which the Mines of Moria and Northlands existed; unfortunately, those areas are now closed. I cannot speak to the olden days of ARM, but it still remains a quality game.

Beyond that - to plug my own project, Atonement RPI, we achieved things in ALPHA that RPIs have only been able to shallowly promise for years. The ability for players to have complete control over the destiny of the entire gameworld, create society themselves from the ground-up (literally - they all played amnesiacs) through organic roleplay, a sophistication of code and building that allowed for immersiveness on levels far beyond the capabilities of previous games - and a society built upon mutual respect between players and staff, without the corruption and selfish administration that has chased off many great players from other RPIs.

Infact, a lot of the old veterans who quit playing other RPIs were some of the most active and supportive members of our community during our ALPHA campaign.

Despite calling the first four months of play on Atonement "ALPHA-phase", I fully believe that we were able to do things that RPIs have only dreamed about being able to do in the past. BETA will be even more improved, in every way imaginable.

The challenge for the RPI community is not to allow apathy to cause us to stop taking chances, stop creating new games - and to re-integrate itself with the rest of the MUDing community. There's really no experience in any game, text-based or not, which is similar to an RPI. As long as there continues to be energetic new creators to re-imagine what RPIs are capable of, I really do not fear for the genre and its niche.
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Old 08-29-2010, 11:38 AM   #7
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Beyond that - to plug my own project, Atonement RPI, we achieved things in ALPHA that RPIs have only been able to shallowly promise for years. The ability for players to have complete control over the destiny of the entire gameworld, create society themselves from the ground-up (literally - they all played amnesiacs) through organic roleplay, a sophistication of code and building that allowed for immersiveness on levels far beyond the capabilities of previous games - and a society built upon mutual respect between players and staff, without the corruption and selfish administration that has chased off many great players from other RPIs.

Infact, a lot of the old veterans who quit playing other RPIs were some of the most active and supportive members of our community during our ALPHA campaign.

Despite calling the first four months of play on Atonement "ALPHA-phase", I fully believe that we were able to do things that RPIs have only dreamed about being able to do in the past. BETA will be even more improved, in every way imaginable.
I like what you said here. It sounds quite positive. I know delays, upgrades, and modifications can take a long time and estimating dates on MUD building is normally very difficult to determine with any accuracy, but when do you think you will cross into BETA?
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:29 PM   #8
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

I think the steady decline of the size of the mud community has led to a scramble for players across all server types, and out of fear of losing precious newbies games are dumbed down, which in turn makes the veterans lose interest as it's all about them newbies, instead of what the actual players want.

That's about all I can say. I've never played a RPI because I don't care too much about soft fiction genres, which unfortunately most MUDs fall under.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:49 PM   #9
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

We also need to take into account how hard it is to hold onto veterans.

If games don't change, then they stagnate. They will either be great stand-alone games that you can explore until you get tired and leave, or they will be as great as they always were, but fall behind in comparison to newer games (How great is Doom? It's still great, but I'm not going to play it through again, I'll play something newer with more features and better UI)

So that means adding in new features, and updating game design. And isn't it the case that we can't please all the players all the time?

So what we end up doing is layering more features and systems on top of an existing game, making it more and more complicated. This is great for the veterans, it keeps things fresh for them, and continues to give them opportunities for advancement. It's not great for the new players, the ones who now arrive find a more complex game, and have a larger barrier of entry before they can compete with the existing players - they have a harder time as a new arrival than the veterans did.

So if we want to keep the game "equally easy" for a new person to join as it was when the veterans first joined, we need to simplify some things, give 'easy ins' for the new arrivals, etc. - which leads to veterans feeling that things are dumbed down.

No win situation? Not quite. It's quite possible to add more systems & options without adding to the complexity for a new player.
Imagine a scenario where a new player can be a ranger, with a fully functional hunting system. You add the ability for new (and old) players to be miners, with a fully functional mining system. It's not really any harder for a new player, since if they choose to be a ranger or a miner, they still only have one system to learn. They need to make a choice of which career, but it's pretty obvious what sort of activities they will be looking at.

But it's still hard to get that right. How will mining impact the game economy? Will profit from digging up gold be balanced well against profit from killing animals? Will you just be splitting the player-base between twice as much area as before (especially with less players where the player-base should be consolidated...) and so on. It's possible to get it right. Just not easy.

And every time you make a mistake, you'll risk loosing players. But you also risk loosing players if you don't take the risks and chances.
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:30 AM   #10
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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That's about all I can say. I've never played a RPI because I don't care too much about soft fiction genres, which unfortunately most MUDs fall under.
What MUDs do you play? Do you have a home MUD?

Also, what's a soft fiction genre? Surely there is nothing soft fiction about Lord of the Rings, right?
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Old 08-30-2010, 08:09 AM   #11
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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What MUDs do you play? Do you have a home MUD?
I played Mortal Realms until it went down late 1999, after that I've played about a dozen or so MUDs, typically getting bored within a year and moving on.

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Also, what's a soft fiction genre? Surely there is nothing soft fiction about Lord of the Rings, right?
I agree that the Lord of the Rings is hard fantasy, though it has some soft edges, like dragons, ents, rare minor magic, obscure magical powers (like in Gandalf's case), mithril, immortal races, wraiths, and there's probably more, though I think that's most of it.

A good Tolkien mud would keep those (imo) to a minimum, but I wouldn't be surprised if most add much more magic, mithril, and implausible beings than the books allow for.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:53 PM   #12
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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I agree that the Lord of the Rings is hard fantasy, though it has some soft edges, like dragons, ents, rare minor magic, obscure magical powers (like in Gandalf's case), mithril, immortal races, wraiths, and there's probably more, though I think that's most of it.
What is your opinion of "Magic Lite" settings?

As in, they have those "soft fantasy" elements, but the magic fades in the background in comparison to "normal technology"

The sort of setting where you can throw a fireball, or summon food. But most people would find it more convenient to fire a crossbow, or bake a loaf of bread.

Is that the sort of thing that you're after? Or would the ability to throw the fireball at all, even if it comes up rarely, already be the deal-breaker?

(My questions are motivated by not really understanding what you mean by "hard fantasy" - since Lord of the Rings, as you point out, is full of fantastical elements. Giant spiders, dragons, something crazy at every turn... I don't really see the distinction between that & most muds, aside from the lack of magical powers that the primary characters carry with them, and even then, there's a significant number with quasi-magical power, and others with actual-magic)

(Would true "hard fantasy" be a fantasy story set in a realistic medieval world, with no magic, but still swashbuckling adventure? Like "The Princess Bride"? Or am I on the wrong track?)
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Old 08-31-2010, 10:07 PM   #13
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

I was wondering the same thing actually since in my experience and understanding "Hard Fantasy" is usually along the same vein as "Hard SciFi" only with a fully fleshed out fantasy world, generally they're low magic as well but that may just be a personal preference. I can't name of as many things that I consider "Hard Fantasy" as I can "Hard SciFi" but I'd think Tolkien would count, as would I believe The Wheel of Time books, just not neccessarily games based on either of those. For a game that I'd consider "Hard Fantasy" I'd suggest DartMUD which is possibly the most fully realized world I've ever come across, magic is fairly rare, and death is oftentimes permanent. If it had the playerbase of some of the larger MUD's out there it'd probably be one of the best games anywhere.

Sorry for the blurb there though, didn't mean to go off topic like that.
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:19 PM   #14
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

Magic is not so much the problem as its ramifications. Imagine someone figures out how to teleport and it proves to be fairly easy to be taught to most people. In your typical soft setting most people can teleport, which is wonderful, and business continues as usual.

In a hard setting the ability to teleport would dramatically change the world. How do you deal with crime and prisoners? How do you stop illegal immigration or the import of drugs? A butterfly effect would ensue and the challenge of hard fiction is to make it logically sound, which is easiest if you closely model the real world.

The Lord of the Rings is fairly low on magic compared to D&D which most MUDs seem to be modeled after. I never managed to get passed the first chapter of The Wheel of Time and the only fantasy authors I like are Tolkien, Zelazny, and Rowling, other than those I primarily read science fiction and generally avoid fantasy.

I guess I'm one of those people for who things have to make sense. I'm not entirely sure why I like the Harry Potter books, Rowling fails at creating hard fiction, but she gets points for trying.

So (imo) the hardness of fiction is the logical soundness of the scientific and fantastic theories, as well as these having a logically sound impact on the universe.
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:52 AM   #15
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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So (imo) the hardness of fiction is the logical soundness of the scientific and fantastic theories, as well as these having a logically sound impact on the universe.
I had no clue what you were talking about until you wrote this last blurb. In this case Ursala LeQuinn with "A Wizard of Earthsea" is probably my favorite author and book (albeit short) in terms of sound, well developed magic.

Tolkien (imho) blows in this respect as his books have superb historical, descriptive narrative, and lineage information (similar to the bible) but his magic thread is weak in the extreme and follows no set bounderies, rhyme, or reason. Example: in the Hobbit, Gandolf is hiding in a tree lighting pinecones on fire to fend off these wolves like some 2nd class boyscout and later on is casting spells to make demons pause. I mean what the hell, he just jump 50 levels? Where is the Dungeon Master controlling this massive cheater with the 8 pair of 20-sided dice up his sleeve?
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:48 AM   #16
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

<de-rail>There have been many academic attempts to comprehend the laws of Magic in Middle-Earth. One of my favorite summary articles is below.

Principles of Tolkien's Magic
</de-rail>

I think that labeling RPIs as "soft-fiction" is over-generalizing the genre. On Atonement, for instance, there is a lot of thought put into the science of the fiction - as well as its reprecussions; it's actually one of the game's main themes. On Shadows of Isildur, there is a reasonably low amount of unexplained "magic" in the game, but of course, with a high-turnover amongst its Storyteller Administrators, consistency can become an issue there on rare occasion. Ultimately, though, an RPI is more likely to take a "harder" approach [than other MUDs] to fiction because of its attempt to create immersion and a foundation of (subjective) realism in its roleplay.
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Old 09-01-2010, 03:50 PM   #17
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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<de-rail>There have been many academic attempts to comprehend the laws of Magic in Middle-Earth. One of my favorite summary articles is below.

Principles of Tolkien's Magic
</de-rail>
Thanks for the insight DonathinFrye and my appologies for bending this topic off the rail, so to speak.
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Old 09-01-2010, 10:33 PM   #18
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Ultimately, though, an RPI is more likely to take a "harder" approach [than other MUDs] to fiction because of its attempt to create immersion and a foundation of (subjective) realism in its roleplay.
I'd have to agree, though the RPI genre remains somewhat elusive to me. I think hard fiction is better suited for a MUD where being in character is mandatory as to not break the immersion for others, but roleplay itself, most notably the pressure for one to be sociable at all times, is not the main focus of the game.

Atonement has an interesting setting, is it inspired by Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky?
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:12 AM   #19
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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Magic is not so much the problem as its ramifications. Imagine someone figures out how to teleport and it proves to be fairly easy to be taught to most people. In your typical soft setting most people can teleport, which is wonderful, and business continues as usual.

In a hard setting the ability to teleport would dramatically change the world. How do you deal with crime and prisoners? How do you stop illegal immigration or the import of drugs? A butterfly effect would ensue and the challenge of hard fiction is to make it logically sound, which is easiest if you closely model the real world.
Gotcha!

In fact, you hit on one of my own pet peeves too. Why do messengers even exist in D&D at all? Why don't the mage guilds just teleport the days mail to the other cities? Even if you've only got a fraction of the needed mages (say, one delivery each day, with seven cities you deliver mail to, you're still delivering the mail within a week. Much faster than (presumably) a messgener could get there by horse) - so you'd need an explanation. Maybe mages are proud and arrogant. But you still need to explain why the messengers don't sign up as apprentice mages. Or why the cities don't offer high enough fees to get past the mages arrogance. or...

And that's only talking about delivering mail! If a mage can make a magical whistle that is heard from miles away, why isn't that standard required adventuring gear? Heck, why is there even the concept of "an adventurer" or "levels" - that's just not how the real world works.

It drives me nuts when I read D&D inspired fiction, and they are exploring some cave and come across a magical fortress. YES, I know there is a spell to create that, and the insane wizard used it. But honestly, how many insane people really truly live in caves? And how many of them are able to become scholars at an exotic topic? And how many of those insane scholars will then take themselves away from society and any ability to learn more. It. Just. Makes. No. Sense.

*ahem*

Sorry.

So I guess I wholeheartedly agree. I just hadn't thought of it in terms of a category, I'd just considered it "well considered" or "badly considered" writing.

It's been something of a hobby for me to try to make my game internally consistent - we do have to break believability somewhat, because the players are the "special characters" - so even though only a small fraction of dead people are resurrected (in our setting) for the players characters, 100% of the time they get resurrected. Which leads to the unfortunate effect of them all acting like everyone gets resurrected. We have made "natural effects" of this, tough. For example, it's the church that does the resurrections, and they are extremely strict and picky about who they teach it to, to maintain their power. And they never, for example, resurrect someone that was legally executed for a crime.

The other way we've tried to make things sensible is to seriously limit the amount of magic that is handed to the players, and seriously limit the frequencies of NPCs with it.

Where I fall down, more than the magic, is in the believability of normal things. Players tend to be pretty accepting that it's possible to throw fireballs or summon skeletons. They rarely look too far, and see the seams where things don't quite fit together right. However, the ability to craft unlimited wheelbarrows? That seems to offend players more. "It's impossible to make that many wheelbarrows so quickly!" - they're right. But interesting that the one causes offence and the other doesn't.

But, yeah, since the game is political, we put a huge effort into enforcing consequences for player actions - which also includes things like law enforcement adapting to new abilities such as teleportation. (or, if teleportation is meant to be an old ability that the players are only now learning, we'd start with law enforcement already knowing how to deal with it before giving it to the players)

I tend to refer to this category of problems as "believability" - I don't care if it's realistic or not (it's not realistic for dragons to exist and breathe fire) - I care if it's believable that dragons fit into the world. If dragons exist, and can be tamed, then I would find it unbeliavable if armies didn't field them in battle, like elephants were historically used. So I'd want an explanations (dragons are pacifists and refuse to fight...) or I'd want that to be part of the game. If dragons are regularly used in battle, I'd expect the military medics to be good at treating burns and trauma from falls, and so on. - And I think those elements are really easy to build into the games, and adds a lot of richness. In this example, we wouldn't even need to put in an army or dragons. It's enough that a book that teaches a medic how to treat burns might come with an explanation that it's a military medic manual, and talks about how dragons on the battlefield lead to many burns and falls from height, and thus it explains how to treat them.

Interestingly, our game has *very* few mythological creatures. No dragons, griffins, etc. - there have been zombies a few times. Yet the players roleplay pretty well, and often play that their characters are superstitious, and believe in dragons and giants, etc. - it's nice, helps us make a world where it's believable that there are mysteries, and a zombie turning up is an amazing sight and not just "ah, the necromancer is at it again"
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:32 AM   #20
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Re: Veterans of Roleplay Intensive MUDs

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In fact, you hit on one of my own pet peeves too. Why do messengers even exist in D&D at all? Why don't the mage guilds just teleport the days mail to the other cities? Even if you've only got a fraction of the needed mages (say, one delivery each day, with seven cities you deliver mail to, you're still delivering the mail within a week. Much faster than (presumably) a messgener could get there by horse) - so you'd need an explanation. Maybe mages are proud and arrogant. But you still need to explain why the messengers don't sign up as apprentice mages. Or why the cities don't offer high enough fees to get past the mages arrogance. or...
One of the things I liked about the Eberron campaign setting is that they really tried to address what sort of impact a high prevalence of magic would have on society. In Eberron, high-level magic is very rare, while low-level magic is very common - primarily due to the Dragonmarked Houses (magical guilds, each with a monopoly on different areas of commerce) and the magewright NPC class (the idea being that most people in the world belong to the common NPC classes, with players being among the few who are exceptional enough to belong to PC classes).

Thus House Orien operates a postal service, and they will indeed use teleportation if the price is right - but teleportation is a higher level spell, and can't be used to transport large amounts, so most people would rely on other means such as the lightning rail (an elemental-powered train) or a House Lyrandar airship or elemental galleon. However if it's just a message you want to send, you could visit a local House Sivis enclave and use one of their speaking stones to instantly transmit a message.

It's the same with other things, such as the magical lanterns used throughout the continent, 'featherfall' tokens for those living in Sharn (City of Towers), etc. I think the author must have sat down with a list of all the low level spells and thought to himself "What would society be like if most people had access to these spells?"
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