What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?


  • Pitcrew

    Obviously most tabletop RPGs were never designed to handle 30 people crowded into a few rooms. But that's what a lot of mu*'s have to deal with. Not to mention a more accurate description is 30 people in separate rooms all over the world trying to communicate.

    I don't think it's viable to slap a tabletop RPG into a mu* and call it good. On the other hand, you have games like Road to Amber which went IMO totally overboard in the other direction.

    What rules, either formal or informal, do you find yourself adding to make mu* games run in a somewhat sane fashion? What would make your ideal mu* RPG?


  • Pitcrew

    One thing that tabletop systems pretty much never address, which MU*s desperately need, is a ruleset that assumes from the outset a persistent setting without any real central theme or plot, and how characters continue to express development within that context.

    Improvement mechanics in tabletop games typically assume a centralized campaign structure where the PCs rapidly improve as they are subjected to serious ongoing (and escalating) challenges to overcome and learn from. Trying to put this in a MU* unaltered typically leads to the dinosaur/sheet monster effect, where some (or all!) of the PCs have the kind of stats and resources that the game system assumes that MAYBE one in a million people have access to. And even systems which are prepared for PCs to become monsters of power assume that as the PCs assume that mantle, that they will have changes and complexity of challenge that is commiserate with their abilities. In MU*s, they're just as likely to be solving street crimes as they were at the beginning of their careers.

    However, just capping or eliminating experience/improvement isn't a solution, either, because a lot of players are primarily incentivized by seeing their character become more power and get more Stuff. Remove the opportunity to mechanically grow and change, and you lose a lot of people's interest.



  • Most of my characters tend to run form neutral to evil for kind of explicitly the reasons you mention about characters continuing to grow and expand not being handled on MU*'s.

    The reason for this is because if I play a good character they can't just let an injustice go. The can't just sit by and let terrible things happen to people. They have to get involved... and then you have a freaking 18th level Mage nuking a small street gang.

    If I play a neutral character than as my scope expands, I can start letting things go. When I'm busy dealing with an entire corrupt police department and a systemic failure of society... I really don't have time to deal with someone stealing your purse. Deal with your own shit.

    Basically what I'm getting at is that the only way I can really think of to address the super exp dinosaur terror is on the player end. They need to either make a kind of character that can just let things go and can't be bothered with everyone else's problems because they have a mafia to run, or else need to work on expanding the scope of their challenges as they gain more power to avoid being the overbearing god smiting everyone for petty crimes. You need to make bigger goals as your power grows so that you're too busy doing those things instead of ruining the game for low level guys.


  • Coder

    @Ide

    It comes down to how I play the character. I wasn't thinking too much about it, but what @Duntada said about an 18th level mage nuking a street game made my entire history of posting on Wora (both of them) and Swofa and here swim into a particular focus: Tabletop games put the character in the role of the most important thing, while a Mush cannot easily be played this way.

    On a tabletop, throwing a fireball at a street gang may put your character in jeopardy with the local law, it's not going to end your character. The storyteller and your fellows at the table are going to roll with it and keep things interesting.

    On a Mush, it's likely that most people don't have that level of interest of you as a player. They're not going to cater to your play style.

    A possible way to solve this in the RPG systems we use is to keep the power level low, or if not low then relatively even, and if not relatively even then with the understanding that the game world is to be dealt with as a real thing and therefore have the understanding that some part of it will come down on your Level 18 Mage like a ton of bricks.

    A similar issue in the World of Darkness crowd used to be the Mage antagonists, the Technocracy. We've had Technocracy players and this shed light on a single problem: They had nothing to do but pick on the other Mages, and as they had a huge advantage of organization and backing, things quickly got into the realm of suck for the Mages.

    The lesson I learn from this is to not put a Level 18 Mage in a situation where fireballing some rabble street toughs is likely to happen. A Level 18 Mage shouldn't even be concerned about that. There should be dimensions and demons and nation-building and Level 18 Adventures to be had. In that, I agree with Duntada, but I also enjoy games where that kind of power disparity never happens or is hand-waved entirely.


  • Admin

    Most table-top games with social mechanics assume - naturally - the majority of characters' interactions will involve NPCs. That's not the case on MU* where the vast majority of your roleplay will be with other PCs.

    This often makes such mechanics elusive, redundant or plain wrong in actual practice, yet they are often too ingrained within the system to discard as well.

    So you end up with people who can't roleplay the charm or social grace their character supposedly radiates or who, on the merit of just plain being good roleplayers, are charismatic enough for their unlikable character to be irresistible anyway even when they are played correctly.

    It's what it is.



  • The best time I ever had playing on a Mu* was on a system that behaved much like a table top in the amount of metaplot and events that ran. With that, staff allowed for and encouraged the players to interact with the grid/NPC systems to control, manipulate and even take over what other players had. It wasn't a perfect system but this was probably 6 years ago and my friends and I still laugh and joke about the stuff we did in that game.



  • @Thenomain @Ide @Duntada

    I share Theno's and Dun's perspectives. Using Mage as a continuing example, what I see on MU*'ing is a need for ST-only Antagonists, and a need for something to counter your White Knights With Fireballs: Paradox.

    But not Paradox you can channel, counter, absorb or anything like that. I mean, you nuke a street gang, and you as a player +submit Paradox, and you get...say, five dots to fill. An entire gang? This fills all five.

    The STs are now required to run a scene.

    Turns out, that gang, was on the payroll of not just the Camarilla, but also had ties to the Giovanni, Setites and now the Euthanatos and Technocracy are coming after you for rocking too many boats.

    Good luck.


  • Creator

    @ThatOneDude said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    The best time I ever had playing on a Mu* was on a system that behaved much like a table top in the amount of metaplot and events that ran. With that, staff allowed for and encouraged the players to interact with the grid/NPC systems to control, manipulate and even take over what other players had. It wasn't a perfect system but this was probably 6 years ago and my friends and I still laugh and joke about the stuff we did in that game.

    One thing I've always liked about oWoD was attacking people's Backgrounds. It's something you rarely see anymore, but figuring out that someone has Allies or Contacts or high Resources or whatever and doing whatever you could to knock those out or take them for yourself was always fun, even on the receiving end, when you suddenly realize that the guy who was your one-dot Ally is now your one-dot Enemy. There's never been a perfect system for that, but Metro 2.0 dabbled in it a bit and I thought it was pretty cool how it worked.



  • @somasatori This was what RfK did.

    @HorrorHound That's kinda cool.


  • Pitcrew

    Tabletop RPGs also assume (and this gets a little into what @Thenomain was talking about) that there is a single game-runner who can put a ton of exclusive attention onto a small group of players (1-10), and that the game-runner will be involved in 100% of the scenes. On a MU*, that's really not practical.

    It's hard to keep a lid on "what fits" when you can't watch 100% of the scenes that players are involved in, so game-runners tend to have to keep a much looser rein on theme, just because some of their players will have a very different idea of the theme, and they'll be playing "unsupervised." This means that consequences are up to the players themselves--some players are great with this, and others are not, which tends to unbalance the world (why do the cops care that /this/ Level 18 Mage nuked a street gang, but not /that/ one?).

    I also think that the point @Arkandel made about social systems is a good one too. No one (very few people) wants someone +rolling Persuasion at them, posing shouting something about 'beer-flavored nipples' and then expecting your character to suddenly love them. But schmoozing an NPC? That's fine, NPCs don't have (the same) rights, and on a MU*, you're dealing with other PCs, especially in a non-teamwork manner, a lot more often than your standard tabletop game.

    Finally, the eternal progression issue that @Pyrephox brought up. This isn't so bad early on in a game, but when XP totals get bloated and you have characters who are literally good at /everything/ it becomes a problem. Even Epic Level PCs in tabletop games aren't good at /everything/. I like the idea of capping development at a certain level, and at that point, allowing PCs to shift points around for XP, but not to gain new points. It allows continued development and change in the character, but doesn't keep piling points onto a +sheet.



  • @Thenomain said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    @Ide

    It comes down to how I play the character. I wasn't thinking too much about it, but what @Duntada said about an 18th level mage nuking a street game made my entire history of posting on Wora (both of them) and Swofa and here swim into a particular focus: Tabletop games put the character in the role of the most important thing, while a Mush cannot easily be played this way.

    On a tabletop, throwing a fireball at a street gang may put your character in jeopardy with the local law, it's not going to end your character. The storyteller and your fellows at the table are going to roll with it and keep things interesting.

    On a Mush, it's likely that most people don't have that level of interest of you as a player. They're not going to cater to your play style.

    Extending this line of thought: MU*, of necessity, involves telling a different kind of story. It's no longer about the PCs directly, it's about the community, or the place. A common pattern for sphere metaplots in oWoD (which is basically all I've enjoyed playing in this format) involves eventually facing some kind of ultimate big bad. This is, fundamentally, a tabletop plot. It has a clear ending, a clear beginning, and you know when you've won.

    When you run that as a sphere plot on MU*, you end up eventually getting there and then.... what? Season 2, bigger and badder than before? That's a diminishing returns curve, and eventually every TV show that relies upon it either shuts down or jumps the shark, eventually.

    Arcs like that aren't metaplot, they're now subplots, and a lot of the meta is going to be player-generated, emergent content that happens as social circles, conflicts, and tensions are forged through general RP. I try to make my sphere metas be situations or conditions of the place. They're not things you fix (at least not without tremendous work, and generally all you end up doing is changing the status quo to some new thing that you now need to contend with), they're things you adapt to and they color all the smaller scale stories you're telling.

    Your character's story is braided together with plenty of others. You can still have your beat-the-badguy story arcs, it's just A story instead of THE story.

    @Pyrephox said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    However, just capping or eliminating experience/improvement isn't a solution, either, because a lot of players are primarily incentivized by seeing their character become more power and get more Stuff. Remove the opportunity to mechanically grow and change, and you lose a lot of people's interest.

    Retirement is an alternative to capping. Congratulations, you won. Time to start over with something new, maybe we'll keep this bit around for use as a powerful NPC and we'll ask you to cameo, etc. Still rubs people the wrongway sometimes but I think it's a nice enduring reward that doesn't necessarily unbalance the stock of active PCs as hard.



  • @Seraphim73 said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    I also think that the point @Arkandel made about social systems is a good one too. No one (very few people) wants someone +rolling Persuasion at them, posing shouting something about 'beer-flavored nipples' and then expecting your character to suddenly love them. But schmoozing an NPC? That's fine, NPCs don't have (the same) rights, and on a MU*, you're dealing with other PCs, especially in a non-teamwork manner, a lot more often than your standard tabletop game.

    But then that brings us back to the age-old question of which matters more, the xp that the player has put into their dice pools (vs. your character's resistance pool) or the player's actual social skills? It's a debate that we've gone back and forth on before on a MU.

    I think, in my ideal situation, I'd want a mix of the two. I want social dice to matter. I want character to be able to be persuaded to do things that they might not normally do, through charm or force. But I also respect that people have their weird quirky areas and such, and that they think their beliefs are all that matter because their characters' beliefs are their own.

    I'd probably split the difference, if I were running a game. Allow people to have a list of pre-approved things that they are absolutely immobile on (maybe, let's say, 5 big things to keep the list reasonable, with some kind of really good justification as to why these things are never ever possible ever, perhaps related to their individual backgrounds), and then use whatever social systems exist to resolve others. That way, you have to really choose the areas where you're going to be immobile, and social rolls determine the rest, with the caveat that a player who wins a roll against yours still wins, so you should provide guidance as to how something like that could come about -- mutual cooperation.

    And even then, social stuff is so touchy with people. I'm sure even that system, a middleground between 'nuh uh forever' and 'dice are king', is going to make someone's eye twitch on both sides of the aisle.



  • @The_Supremes said

    Retirement is an alternative to capping. Congratulations, you won. Time to start over with something new, maybe we'll keep this bit around for use as a powerful NPC and we'll ask you to cameo, etc. Still rubs people the wrongway sometimes but I think it's a nice enduring reward that doesn't necessarily unbalance the stock of active PCs as hard.

    I always loved the idea of retiring my PCs into the background of the game to maybe be used later in some epic plot. I mean, anything in Vampire that is Elder and Above gets...boring...to play. Redundant and, eventually, antagonistic to other characters but more so players. I know of atleast two people whom are sort of forced to be the game's boogymen, because without that threat, others, would go a bit ape, and that to me is a fucked up Mantle for players to have to adopt. Just to play their characters.

    Of course, I am also a fan of pwipes every three years.


  • Pitcrew

    @Derp said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    But then that brings us back to the age-old question of which matters more, the xp that the player has put into their dice pools (vs. your character's resistance pool) or the player's actual social skills? It's a debate that we've gone back and forth on before on a MU.

    Heck, it's a debate I've gone back and forth on inside my head. Repeatedly. I think that I've come down on the side of "Social skills are for influencing NPCs, and RP is for influencing PCs." But that's far from perfect too. It certainly doesn't line up with combat skills at all, which can generally "influence" both NPCs and PCs (unless you're on a consent-based game). But I'm one of those people who thinks that you can change a PC's body if you've got the stats (it may be FTBed), but you should never be able to change the PC's thoughts unless the player chooses to allow it. I realize it's an odd line to draw, and I think it comes from the point of view of a writer.

    That line has also frustrated the hell out of me. There is very little that infuriates me more than static characters, where it doesn't matter what you do, they're never going to change their view on the world. I realize that this is at odds with my belief that only the player should be allowed to change a character's thoughts, but... I've never claimed to be perfect.



  • @Seraphim73 said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    @Derp said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    But then that brings us back to the age-old question of which matters more, the xp that the player has put into their dice pools (vs. your character's resistance pool) or the player's actual social skills? It's a debate that we've gone back and forth on before on a MU.

    Heck, it's a debate I've gone back and forth on inside my head. Repeatedly. I think that I've come down on the side of "Social skills are for influencing NPCs, and RP is for influencing PCs." But that's far from perfect too. It certainly doesn't line up with combat skills at all, which can generally "influence" both NPCs and PCs (unless you're on a consent-based game). But I'm one of those people who thinks that you can change a PC's body if you've got the stats (it may be FTBed), but you should never be able to change the PC's thoughts unless the player chooses to allow it. I realize it's an odd line to draw, and I think it comes from the point of view of a writer.

    That line has also frustrated the hell out of me. There is very little that infuriates me more than static characters, where it doesn't matter what you do, they're never going to change their view on the world. I realize that this is at odds with my belief that only the player should be allowed to change a character's thoughts, but... I've never claimed to be perfect.

    Oh, for sure. I can see both sides of the debate, really. I just think that this kind of thinking violates our separation of IC and OOC that most games come to rely on, even as an unwritten rule. How you feel OOC is not necessarily how your character feels IC, etc, so this is the line that I tend to fall on, the happy middleground. Some things, sure, but too many times I've seen people just flat-out ignore social dice as if their character is some sort of socially omnipotent being who just can't be swayed to even so much as snicker by a dice roll.

    It's also why I think that there is no one universal way in which it should be done. The thing listed above? That'd be my choice, for my game. I'd also like to see a game where dice are king, period. And I think all the games currently running are pretty much in the camp of 'social dice mean only what the player thinks they mean', whether they've got that written in a policy or not.

    There should be games of all shades, and people can take the mixture of the rules and decide where they want to play. Unfortunately, there is not (and probably never will be) a One True Right and Only Way, as much as we love to shout across the table at each other as if we know it.


  • Pitcrew

    You know, I actually can't think of anything I've not seen handled by mechanics on a MU. I mean not everything at once, but in all the places I've been the only world/personal function I have /never/ seen coded or addressed at all is pooping.

    I've seen hard social dice, pregnancy rules, when/how/what kind of wounds in combat, personality trait shifts, status, 3D movement, food/water intake, shelter, transportation, even friendship/impressions between pcs. Advancement via narrative rather than XP, no advancement, or needing to give up skill/focus in one area if you wanted to shift in a static system.


  • Coder

    @Seraphim73 said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    But I'm one of those people who thinks that you can change a PC's body if you've got the stats (it may be FTBed), but you should never be able to change the PC's thoughts unless the player chooses to allow it. I realize it's an odd line to draw, and I think it comes from the point of view of a writer.

    It's not an odd line to draw for me at all. For performance/artistic skills, there are two facets: the objective quality and the emotional impact. Quality is something you can measure with dice. Wow, that was a really rousing speech. Man, that was a slick sales pitch. Whoa, worst pickup line ever.

    But the emotional impact? That's for the receiving player to decide. Just because it's the best sales pitch ever doesn't mean you're going to buy it. Not everyone likes the Mona Lisa. Not everyone appreciates Shakespeare, even though these things are objectively speaking considered amazing works of art by millions.

    Sure it's jarring if you've got someone who can't RP their way out of a paper bag trying to play a highly successful social animal. But that's not unique to social skills. You can get the same effect if someone's playing a doctor and knows zilch about medicine, or playing a tactical genius and knows zilch about tactics. Social skills are just more noticeable because they get used more often.



  • This topic is one I've been thinking quite a bit about lately! I'm glad to see it show up here. It's giving me tons of food for thought :)

    1. Tabletop vs MU*

    Tabletops are like braiding a rope. There is a limited set of main characters and generally only one person controlling the environment. Unless you have materials that just completely don't work together, you can get something passable in the end without too much effort.

    MU*s are like weaving a tapestry. Each person has an individual thread (or two, or three, or five), all of different lengths, and no one can agree on a color scheme or which corner to start from. Without excellent management and defined borders, it's bound to devolve into a mess of rainbow vomit. On the other hand, with that much going into it, you can get some pretty fucking awesome designs, too.

    Tabletops are a much more controlled environment from the outset, so you know more or less what you're getting via knowing who you're playing with (or getting to know them via playing). MU*s are always changing and have great capacity for surprise. So with that in mind....

    2. Social Dice vs. Physical Dice in a MU*

    If a system has a social dice system, my view is PCs should not be exempted from it on the sole account of being PCs. It's better to either take the social dice and throw them out the window completely (which some systems do), or accept the dice as part of the system.

    Here's an example of social dice used well as part of a tabletop game:

    In a recent episode of Critical Role (a DnD 5e game played over a Twitch stream), a PC had his very rare and valuable flying broom stolen by another PC.

    To deal with the theft, both players had to roll, one to steal, the other to detect. Then the thief's player rolled a bluff check to lie about where the broom went, and the victim rolled to detect the bluff. The victim failed both, so the thief got away with the broom scot free.

    This is a pretty simple transaction between two players who were friendly (or friendly enough) OOCly. But if you threw the social dice out the window, half of it would be up in the air mechanically, and in a PVP MU* specifically, this interaction might have baited out some OOC drama with some particularly sore losers because the dice would have left an opening for it.

    When social dice don't exist:

    I have played RPIs that did not make use of social skills. The only social skills built into these types of games were essentially solely used for hiding and eavesdropping, which had all sorts of interesting repercussions. Social interaction was not governed by other skills and entirely left to the wits of the players. In these cases, however, staff NPCs being socially influenced was a rarity; in RPIs, much of the NPC stuff tends to be governed by code to essentially run shops, drop snippets of coded gossip/quest bait, or act as killables. Staff pulling out NPCs that were sentient and could be affected by negotiation of some sort didn't tend to need social code, rules or dice to play them out.

    In the cases of these games, everything that had physical effects was solved by dice: combat, sneaking, thievery, assassination, magic (if applicable), and crafting. Everything else was left to RP. Game balance was designed around social interaction being ruled by something other than dice.

    Social dice that exist but are not used well:

    In many WoD-type MU*s, PVP social dice being nonexistent is often justified by an anti-creep policy. My opinion is this has the side effect of marginalizing social PCs in general. Unless a sphere has a powerful skill branch that makes use of social dice, that category is going to get dumped by a lot of people, because they can't really make use of it in general play. In addition, social resistance merits get dumped even more, because they're essentially worthless when you're hardly ever going to be defending against a social attack. If you're new to WoD MU*s and roll a social character, chances are high you'll never be able to display what your PC was optimized for unless you find the right ST.

    Of course, these sort of policies tend to be pretty general, too. Players may roll the aforementioned subterfuge vs. empathy check anyway and staff might not care even if the lie was something completely bald-faced, like, "A unicorn ate your broom." However, they might draw the line at using persuasion to follow the 'unicorn ate your broom' line with 'and you need to give me your wallet so I can try to go buy it back.' Or, they might only draw the line if you then try a persuasion check to use the line, 'And you need to go home with me or else the world will end!!!'

    WoD specifically is balanced to have primary, secondary and tertiary fields, but there's an advantage to playing a primarily physical PC in many setups, and to a lesser extent a mental PC, because of the research/crafting component. Socially powerful PCs certainly do exist, but very often it's in tandem with some particularly sweet sphere-specific powers that rely on social dice.

    I realize this is not the case in all games. AFAIK, I think Requiem for Kingsmouth(?) had a built-in system for taking advantage of PCs with social skills, which I think is awesome. This is the only example off the top of my head of a game where social dice existed and were used to any effective extent.

    3. Non-consent vs. Consent vs. Freeform RP

    What's the dividing line between letting something physical be ruled by dice, but not something social? Particularly when physical dice can often have social ramifications? What's the difference between being thrown bodily in a basement and tortured for the location of a macguffin, vs. being bought a few drinks and letting it slip because the charming and pretty person next to you asked nicely?

    I understand that many people do draw a line there, but I think it has less to do with the existence of social dice than a consent issue. In the above scenario, without the existence of social dice, a certain type of RPer would say 'I control the emotional impact of this!' and simply not let anything slip because they're too badass to suffer from pain.

    4. The Importance of a Well-Defined Ruleset, Setting and Reducing the Sandbox Syndrome

    Part of the reason I feel the way I do about social dice is because wiggle room with the rules and mechanics can lead to serious abuse. It's fine if everyone's in it to have fun and everyone accepts the same amount of wiggle room, whether it's for or against their PC, but that's never going to be the case in a large scale game of strangers who play from behind computer screens.

    Defining the consent level, setting and ruleset in clear terms reduces confusion. In a tabletop setting the ST would be guiding the process the whole way through. In a MU*, staff simply can't be around 24/7 to simulate the same experience. I believe RPI MUDs tend to compensate by having scripted mobiles and much more emphasis on PVP. MU*s seem to prefer the player ST route, but this can get problematic with player STs not playing true to setting, or otherwise not running arcs that are big enough in scope to be any more than a one-shot.

    When players are reduced to a sandbox setting, they tend to get bored and move away. Players have very limited power to change the world, so their storylines tend to stall out without major events to frame them around.

    .... that's about as far as I've gotten in working this through my own head. Putting together a MU* is hard. Respect to those who manage to complete them.


  • TV & Movies

    @Thenomain said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    A similar issue in the World of Darkness crowd used to be the Mage antagonists, the Technocracy. We've had Technocracy players and this shed light on a single problem: They had nothing to do but pick on the other Mages, and as they had a huge advantage of organization and backing, things quickly got into the realm of suck for the Mages.

    To be perfectly honest, that doesn't sound like a problem. That sounds like the way things were supposed to work. Except that players whine and cry because they want to use their powerz for frivolous stuff out in the open without penalty. Players have to respect the setting in order for the game to work, otherwise it doesn't.

    @acceleration said in What do RPGs *never* handle in mu*'s? What *should* they handle?:

    When players are reduced to a sandbox setting, they tend to get bored and move away. Players have very limited power to change the world, so their storylines tend to stall out without major events to frame them around.

    The sandbox syndrome is one of the biggest problems in MU*s that people don't want to deal with. Its the reason staff feels like they need to come up with a big bad or monster of the week. Because players don't want to play against each other . They want to play against something that makes them feel powerful cause they're gonna beat it down, usually with a much smaller chance of death, then brag about it to other PCs. And staff accommodates because its easy. You think up a thing, make it impossible to find and harder to kill - until the the PCs have jumped through enough hoops and ran around in enough circles, when The Thing is found with little difficulty and is killed even easier. Once you give into that sandbox syndrome it is a black hole of repetition cause that's what everyone expects now (which is, by the way, what most people expect now). The community is mired in sandbox syndrome. Kill big bad, feast on xps, buy more powers, rinse, repeat until PCs get so fat and bloated the players start complaining that they are bored and the game has no depth, as though they haven't perpetuated the problem the entire time they are on the game.

    But there are games that can be about something other than fighting a thing much bigger and badder. There can be games about things much smaller and gentler. Take WoD for example. It has an entire setting what constantly revolves around monstrosity versus humanity, yet humans on MU*s are constantly treated as inconsequential background noise. It always becomes big-bad versus PCs. What about greedy evil human versus the helpless poor human. The reason those kind of games don't exist? See above. Players want to solve the problem with loud, flashy powers, then get upset if their characters get killed off by the things that exist by theme to kill off anything using loud, flashy powers.

    Also, how to deal with XP bloat? Stop giving out so much xp. No. Stop. If you're giving out mounds of XP to get people to come to your game then you get people on your game who look for mounds of XP. If you think the only way your character can grow or change is by devouring XP, you're missing out on huge and varied paths of character development. Again: a learned and perpetuated mentality in the MU* community. Many people believe this because they have experienced this. They have not been able to change or grow their characters except by spending XP. They can't affect the world around them in any satisfying way so they have to be content with just spending XP. Because again, that's easy. Give XP, spend XP. Staff job done.

    We look for all the easy answers, usually because games are so big that is all anyone has time for. When staff does look to do more, they burn out and close quickly. And so we end up with the mess that we have now where everyone sees how bad things are and we keep recreating those bad games over and over and over again, despite the wrongs everyone sees and acknowledges but no one has the time or inclination to fix for any sustained period of time.



  • @Warma-Sheen

    The most elegantly I've seen it addressed are in RPIs, where the skill grind tends to involve the following:

    1. variable rates of learning contingent on intelligence
    2. a total cap of skills again contingent on intelligence
    3. actual combat effectiveness detracted from by prioritizing intelligence
    4. a very high death rate

    Personally, I quite like the 'gain XP quickly, die quickly' model, but that's much harder to do in an RPG MUSH environment for various reasons.


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