[MUD-Dev] Permadeath or Not?

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 15 13:18:40 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Thursday, December 14, 2000, 7:55:58 PM, Ananda Dawnsinger <ananda at winterreach.com> wrote:
> From: "J. Eric Townsend" <jet at well.com>
>> "Jeff" == Jeff Freeman <skeptack at antisocial.com> writes:

>> Jeff> Here's a zone with bears and wolves wandering around in it.  You
>> Jeff> want players to wander around in it hunting for bears and
>> Jeff> wolves.  But you put a freakishly HARD mob (or two, or three)
>> Jeff> out there in the zone wandering around with the bears and the
>> Jeff> wolves. 
>> That's it in a nutshell.
>> It's not a zone of bears and wolves and maybe a couple of really
>> strong bears or wolfs that you might have a chance of at least running
>> away from.
>> I'm going to show my ignorance here (I've never designed a zone or
>> level, and my pencil-and-paper days were a decade ago) and ask why on
>> earth anyone would put together such a zone/dungeon/level?
>> If the uber-mob is generally friendly, perhaps it isn't a problem.
>> But why on Earth would you have a hostile uber-MOB wandering around
>> that can whack anyone without them even having a chance of running
>> away?

> I can think of a few reasons offhand, some more compelling than
> others:

> 1) The inevitability of death slows down player advancement, keeping
> players from reaching too high a level in too short a period of time.

> 2) The constant threat of inevitable death adds a sense of danger
> ("excitement") that might not otherwise be available from hunting
> creatures at your level.

> 3) The threat of inevitable death leads to a sense of community as the
> players in the zone band together to track and avoid the uber-mob.

> 4) Uber-mobs encourage high-level players to hunt in a generally
> low-level area, leading to interaction between newbies and veterans.

Some more reasons (please note that, once again, I'm not talking about
just EQ here -- I'm thinking of for RPGs in general):

5) To teach players caution -- such things as using commands that let
you see ahead into the next "room", using magic spells that can detect
danger, etc.

6) Realism.  In the real world, if you go hunting in a true
wilderness, things aren't conveniently divided up so that you'll only
run into animals that are of a certain danger level or less.  You may
go out to hunt deer, and run into a wolf pack, a mountain lion, or a
bear.  Similarly, in a D&D-style fantasy world, you might go out
planning to hunt wolves and bears, but come across a hydra, dragon, or
other much more dangerous beast.

7) To teach players that there are other options than just fighting or
running.  For example, in a D&D game I was in once, our low-level
party was crossing a plain when we were spotted by a flying dragon.
We couldn't fight it, and running would have been useless -- its
flying speed was way faster than our horses could run.

So what did we do?  We figured it was probably looking for food, and
abandoned our horses.  The dragon went after them -- after all, we
wouldn't have made much more than a snack to it -- and while it was
occupied, we used magic to hide ourselves.

> Now, as far as I'm concerned, 1 and 2 aren't reasons in their own
> right, but ways of patching up weaknesses in game design --
> overly-rapid advancement in case 1, lack of challenge and intrinsic
> interest in case 2.  (Not a slam on EQ -- show me a game system that's
> perfectly balanced and unbreakable even under severe overpopulation
> and stress, and I'll nominate the designers for a Nobel Prize.)  3 and
> 4 are real reasons, but I'm not sure they're worth insta-killing
> characters.

> I can see doing something like this on occasion, especially in areas
> that are supposed to be dangerous.  But not in every freakin' zone.

I definitely agree with that.  And there should be *some* chance or
way to avoid them, if the players are cautious.

       |\      _,,,---,,_    Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)   

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