Faction / Reputation system and hidden agendas

 
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BobTHJ



Joined: 19 Nov 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:30 pm    Post subject: Faction / Reputation system and hidden agendas Reply with quote

I outlined my Faction/Reputation system in the Alignment thread. However, I'm still struggling to determine how "hidden agendas" can be represented. The example I posed is of a powerful sorcerer plotting to destroy the city, but posing as a city magistrate, so all the townsfolk recognize him as a good guy.

I don't want the townsfolk to attack the magistrate on sight, because to them he's a benevolent magistrate of the city. However, I also don't want them to smile and wave at him while he kills them. So my question is: What factors do mobs take into account when evaluating another PC or mob as a enemy/friend?

One thought I had was clothing. The magistrate is dressed as a townsperson (shirt, pants, etc.) and not like a sorcerer (pointy hat, billowing robe). My thought was to code in a modifier to each piece of clothing that altered your faction scores. So wearing a holy symbol from the local temple will give you the appearance of having a higher reputation score with that temple when being evaluated by other mobs. However, while helpful for disguises and items that are distinctly related to a faction, this system does nothing for the magistrate situation. It wouldn't make sense to add a "+Townsperson -Evil Sorcerer" modifier to each normal pair of pants and shirt in the game.

Another factor is knowledge. A mob who has witnessed the magistrate commit an evil act, or who has heard about it from another mob should know that the magistrate is evil. The problem is, how do you represent the magistrate as being non-evil to mobs who havn't yet discovered his darker side (perhaps this could be tied into a Bluff skill?). Also, how do mobs recognize acts that are opposed to another mob's apparent faction and share that information with other mobs.

Anyway, I'm looking for some brainstorming on this issue. I would like the PC's to be able to attempt to be different than their actual faction (like pretending to be one of the bandits and bluffing their way into the bandit camp so they can assassinate the bandit lord), and also uncover/reveal mobs who are pretending to be other than what they are (the magistrate in the example above).

Perhaps a combination is the best solution. So in the bandit example above, the PC wears the red bandana that all the bandits wear (bonus to Bandit reputation), the PC uses their bluff skill to attempt to be a better bandit (bonus to Bandit reputation), and before leaving the PC has a Mage cast a Trust spell on him that makes the bandits more likely to accept him (overall positive bonus to repuatation checks). The PC is easily able to fool the bandit henchmen (who have a low Detect Motives skill) but the bandit lord quickly sees through his deception and tells the other bandits to kill him.
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Alister



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 62
Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Faction / Reputation system and hidden agendas Reply with quote

BobTHJ wrote:
I outlined my Faction/Reputation system in the Alignment thread. However, I'm still struggling to determine how "hidden agendas" can be represented. The example I posed is of a powerful sorcerer plotting to destroy the city, but posing as a city magistrate, so all the townsfolk recognize him as a good guy.


It strikes me that your proposed system already handles this, with a small adjustment. Whenever two people meet, calculate a different faction score for each of them, rather than a single one for both of them (though I guess at this point they might be more aptly called disposition scores). Do your first 2 steps as you describe them, but change your 3rd so that the reputation score is only ignored for the person who is missing it (otherwise treat it as some number - maybe a neutral 0). Now hidden agendas can be represented by giving someone a reputation score but not giving it to anyone else.


BobTHJ wrote:

Another factor is knowledge. A mob who has witnessed the magistrate commit an evil act, or who has heard about it from another mob should know that the magistrate is evil. The problem is, how do you represent the magistrate as being non-evil to mobs who havn't yet discovered his darker side


If you calculate two faction scores instead of one, you should be able to deal with this by shifting an observer's scores whenever he witnesses the magistrate do something evil/good.

Maybe what you need are two different types of scores: one for a person's dispositions, which change whenever they take actions. And another for a person's opinions, which change whenever they witness someone else take actions? *shrug* I don't know. What you're trying to do sounds pretty neat, though. I like it.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think of something like what you're describing not as hidden agendas but mere subterfuge, the act of appearing to be something other than what you are. A "hidden agenda" is more akin to taking some action because of a particular benefit to yourself while doing it with the pretense of something else. So let's say that we have player Tod and Bob. Tod is the town magistrate (guy who's like judge, jury, executioner when it comes to the law) and his rival is a guy named Bob.

Tod doesn't really like Bob, because Bob saw him getting drunk and hitting on prostitutes and has threatened to reveal it to the public at large. However, Bob likes to drink a lot, and Tod knows this, so he books Bob into the local jail on a trumped up charge stemming from Bob's rampant alcoholism and beligerant abuse of the townfolk. This gets Bob out of the way and he can no longer reveal Tod's dark secret.

This would constitute a hidden agenda, as I said before, what you seem to be facing a problem with is the art of subterfuge, or making people believe that you are other than what you seem. It would seem to me that you are on the right track with your ideas, as far as clothing, skills and spells go. It should be pretty obvious that I won't just recognize an arch-wizard on sight if he's wearing the street clothes of a common peon. Unless he has an otherwise distinguishing mark or I have had interaction with him in some way before. Therefore, it would be quite simple for the arch-mage to posture himself into the city magistrate position simply by making sure he does not reveal himself for what he is to the townsfolk, for once they find out, they're sure to lynch him and burn him at the stake on the village green.

The problem becomes more complex in the case of trying to blend in where you don't belong, i.e. your bandit example. Perhaps the bandits have secret handshakes and passwords and little medallions that they wear around their necks. So perhaps your player, in wanting to infiltrate the camp of the bandits, will watch the entrance from a concealed location to learn the secret handshake or password, or perhaps he mugs one of the bandits after he notices him stumble out of the local tavern, taking his clothing and demanding information about the camp before he leaves him tied up and gagged in a dumpster somewhere. Then, once the player has the certain required knowledge he can attempt to sneak into the camp using the skills provided in your original post (i.e. bluff). If he's good enough at pretending to be a bandit, then they let him in, no big deal (not to say particularly that there may be an additional level of security to get in to see the Chief). However, if he's not very good at bluffing and the bandits get suspicious, they may realize that they've never seen him around and start asking questions he can't answer, resulting in him finding a knife in his back and his head on a stake.

The system does pose a large amount of promise and I think it's well worth the effort. Good luck, this has been my two cents, something to chew on.

Vopisk
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As discussed on the Creature properties thread, this is the way I'm considering handling mob factions. It is not an original idea by a long stretch - in fact it's a highly simplified version of the reputation systems that I've seen discussed for the last decade. But I don't really need anything complex.

Each mob may belong to a faction. When you kill a mob, it can affect your reputation with multiple different factions. For example, supposing we had the Green (G), Red (R) and Blue (B) lizardman factions:

Code:
         Green  Red    Blue
Green    -2     +0     +1
Red      +0     -2     +0
Blue     +1     +0     -2


Each time you kill a green lizardman, your green reputation goes down by 2 and your blue reputation goes up by 1.

If you kill lots of green lizardmen, your reputation with the blue lizardmen will eventually reach the point where they cease to be aggressive, and instead allow you to trade with them.

Your initial reputation would be 0 across the board, although it may be adjusted based on class - for example a dragon should have a large reputation bonus when dealing with sauroids, and a werewolf might get a bonus when interacting with centaurs and other beastmen.


Here are some of my concerns:

Sauroids love dragons, but particularly love draconians. Should draconian form get an extra bonus? If so that means forms in general will need to have bonuses, which adds a lot of complexity.

If a dragon goes on a sauroid-killing rampage and lowers his reputation with them, should he be able to recover it faster than normal (because they're more willing to forgive him), slower than normal (because they feel he betrayed their trust), or the same as anyone else? Once again, if it varies based on class, then this is going to add to the complexity.

It may be possible to gain reputation by completing tasks - but as tasks give one-off bonuses, does that mean you'd have to re-earn it the hard way? Or perhaps completing a task raises the cap on what a reputation can be raised to (eg blue lizardmen will trade with you, by only by returning their sacred horn will you ever be able to reach the point where they'll sell you their best stuff).


Thus my initial proposal would be to try and keep it fairly straightforward and do something like this:

* There will be a specified number of factions, each of which can store any number of other faction names along with a like/dislike rating.

* Each faction will also have a maximum rating (which may depend on class and/or completed tasks).

* Each player begins with a rating in each faction based on their class, and these ratings will vary as they kill things.


Your rating might affect you as follows:

100+: They will trade with you.
25+: They won't attack you on sight.
<25: They will attack you on sight.

This could later be expanded to include more options, for example mobs that hate you so much they'll actually form bands to hunt you down, or mobs that love you so much they'll offer you gifts (accepting a gift would lower your reputation with them, however).


Someone also suggested to me that each clan could keep track of its own reputation, so that members of that clan would have an overall reputation based on both their own interaction with mobs as well as the interaction of their clan as a whole. If my clan makes a habit of butching blue lizardmen, then green lizardmen might choose not to attack me, even if I hadn't personally met any lizardmen before.


Note that non-intelligent creatures would have a faction but wouldn't use the reputation system - eg giant ants from the same nest wouldn't attack each other, but they'd attack anything else, and you could never improve your standing with them.
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 134
Location: Emily's Shop

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A small suggestion: I would be inclined to set a sharp cap on the extent to which you can gain reputation points with a faction by killing its enemies. It's reasonable that a normally suspicious criminal gang might become neutrally-disposed towards someone who kills policemen and members of rival gangs. But it's a different proposition to suppose that they will eventually become friendly towards someone simply because he has killed their enemies in the past. I doubt any criminal organisation would grant a stranger the rank of "friend" until he has repeatedly and directly proved his loyalty by doing jobs for them, not merely by upsetting their rivals.

Quote:
If a dragon goes on a sauroid-killing rampage and lowers his reputation with them, should he be able to recover it faster than normal (because they're more willing to forgive him), slower than normal (because they feel he betrayed their trust), or the same as anyone else?

I would argue on grounds of realism that they would be far less likely to trust someone who has betrayed their trust in the past than they would be to trust a stranger. Once bitten, twice shy. Getting back in someone's good books after actively going against them should be very difficult indeed.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I would be inclined to set a sharp cap on the extent to which you can gain reputation points with a faction by killing its enemies. It's reasonable that a normally suspicious criminal gang might become neutrally-disposed towards someone who kills policemen and members of rival gangs. But it's a different proposition to suppose that they will eventually become friendly towards someone simply because he has killed their enemies in the past. I doubt any criminal organisation would grant a stranger the rank of "friend" until he has repeatedly and directly proved his loyalty by doing jobs for them, not merely by upsetting their rivals.


Very true, but I think this could probably be covered by "Each faction will also have a maximum rating (which may depend on class and/or completed tasks)". Your criminal gang example might be handled something like this:

-100: They consider you a serious threat, and have placed a price on your head.
-50: They consider you a minor threat, and will attack you if they get the chance.
0: You are just another potential victim for them.
50: They think you might have potential.
100: You're a provisional member of the gang.
200: You're a full member of the gang.

You would start with a reputation of 0, but could lower it by killing their gang members, becoming a policeman, or joining a rival gang. You could also raise your reputation as high as 50 by killing policemen or rival gang members.

However there would be a maximum rating of '50' for the gang - upon reaching that point, you would then have the option of performing a task for them to prove your worth. After successfully performing the task your maximum reputation would be increased to 100, meaning that you could go out and kill more rival gang members and eventually become a provisional member of the gang. At that point you could then complete more tasks to raise your maximum even further, eventually becoming a full member of the gang.

If you didn't do any jobs for the gang, however, your reputation could never exceed 50, no matter how many policemen or rival gang members you killed.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose that it's relatively easy to keep track of a, hrm, I guess it would be a grid, like a football "pool". So that you can graph each organization or faction's relations with each other, maybe a two-dimensional array would work the best. Such that you determine the modifier to one faction for performing a task for the other, such that if you kill Gang Member A from Gang X your status with Gang Y will go up, and maybe you'll also get a heightened reputation with the local law enforcement for killing any gang members. KaVir's initial example of this is the best I can think of, only on a larger scale to incorporate all factions. Or you could go the route of having each faction store information concerning those factions which are related to it to spread the workload out.

I still wonder though, who is going to store all this information and where? Because the number of organizations and factions that you have to track could quickly become immense. I suppose you could keep individual faction scores on the player, using a dynamic container of some type so that you only need to keep track of those groups who the player has either raised or lowered their status with, defaulting to zero if the faction is not found within the container. This way also, a faction does not need to keep a list of every player that it likes or dislikes, the player itself can tell the faction how much they like him.

A question that comes to mind is, how would one go about becoming something of a "double-agent"? That is, they might be a member of one gang, but infiltrate another gang to find out where they're storing their latest batch of smuggled goods so that your fellow gang members can go and burn down the warehouse. To infiltrate the other gang, you would raise your status with that gang, which, by performing tasks and positive actions for the rival gang, would subsequently lower your faction rating with the other gang, perhaps to the point where the system tells you that they no longer like you, even though you are still working for the original gang in question.



A though regarding betrayal. I think in harmony with the reputation cap system that has already been described, betrayal can be dealt with by reducing the player's "level" as far as reputation cap goes and setting their reputation score for that faction to some level that is fitting for the degree of their betrayal. The player should then have some sort of modifier which makes it more difficult to re-raise their reputation score with that system. So if the betrayal is a significantly bad one, it may take a very, very long time and a lot of work to regain the trust of the group in question, perhaps even making it all but impossible. In the given example of a gang thinking you might have potential at a reputation score of fifty, if you become a trusted gang member and then betray the gang, your score may be set to -100 and you cap level reduced back to zero (meaning you have to first get your score back to 50 before you could even begin to start working for the gang again). Then, with a modifier you could make it so that instead of +1 to your score for each rival gang member you killed, perhaps you will only gain +1/3 of a point. Meaning that now, instead of 150 gang members to be killed to regain your current position you would need to kill 450. A significant leap.

Once again though, the consequences of betrayal should depend on the severity of the betrayal. A minor infraction might only lower your score slightly and give you a slight modifier until you regain your previous ranking.

Anyway, I'm rambling and not making much sense I think, so I'll let it go at that.

-Vopisk
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I still wonder though, who is going to store all this information and where? Because the number of organizations and factions that you have to track could quickly become immense.


It depends how many factions you want, and how many are interconnected with each other. For my purposes, most factions don't care about each other at all - eg the lizardman tribes only care if you kill lizardmen, killing other things has no impact on your reputation with them. I'm also not likely to have that many different factions, as a lot of creatures will be isolated (animals, giant insects, etc).

I imagine I'll probably have no more than perhaps 20-30 different factions, and no faction is likely to care about more than half a dozen other factions.

Quote:
A question that comes to mind is, how would one go about becoming something of a "double-agent"?


I doubt I'll have double agents, but if I did want them I'd probably allow players to assume a fake identity, which would have its own separate reputation. Combined with a character recognition system, you could allow friends to know your 'true' identity, so that they would use your real reputation.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
Quote:
A question that comes to mind is, how would one go about becoming something of a "double-agent"?


I doubt I'll have double agents, but if I did want them I'd probably allow players to assume a fake identity, which would have its own separate reputation. Combined with a character recognition system, you could allow friends to know your 'true' identity, so that they would use your real reputation.


Ahh, the idea of fake identities, the idea springs to mind more ideas that are probably best suited for an entirely different discussion, but I must say, this seems to be an elegant solution to the problem I proposed. And, it works well with the OP idea of how to allow the evil sorcerer to display one front to the townsfolk, while at the same time, maintaining his original persona that no one knows about.

There's promise in this idea, but I don't have much thoughts on it at current,

-Vopisk
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