Death penalty options
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elanthis



Joined: 13 Apr 2006
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm fairly happy with the system I was first introduced to by MUDs 15 years ago.

Players have life credits.

Life credits can be done in a number of different ways. The basics of the variation I prefer (which still allows a lot of flexibility for further variation) is this:

When a player dies, he becomes a corpse/ghost. His corpse lays there and his (invisible) ghost hovers around it. If he gets resurrected within some suitable amount of time then he comes back to life with no lose, other than whatever injuries and equipment damage he took in the battle that killed him.

However, if time runs out, then his spirit loses its link to the world. At this point, he loses a life credit. If he already had zero life credits, then he is now permanently dead, and the player has to make a new character (which may allow some sort of limited carry-over of reputation/equipment/coin/xp from his recently deceased character). Otherwise, the character can still be brought back to life.

How that character can then be brought back to life can be just about anything. In a MUD I prefer instant and automatic, potentially also moving the player to a different location (like a temple) in case they died in a rather nasty and difficult/impossibl to excape location. I'm also pretty familiar with systems that still require some other (more powerful) resurrection spell to be cast once the player has lost his life credit.

How life credits are gained is again quite flexible. The first MUD I played with this system used a donation system. You had to donate some amount of coin to your temple to gain a life credit. The amount of coin was based on your level, standing with your deity, and total number of life credits you had. I'm also familiar with a system in which you gain life credits every so many levels and system in which you buy life credits with experience points.

The great thing about most life credit system is that they require some sort of action to gain additional life credits. (New players usually have a grace period in which they have infinite life credits, so they don't have to run through 10 characters just to learn the ropes of the game.) So you end up with a perfect explanation of why Farmer Bill being butchered by orcs was so horrible when Adventurer Fred got eaten by a dragon and resurrected 5 minutes later by his buddy. Farmer Bill didn't have the life force (built through the hardships of adventure, wealth, or special attention from a deity) that Adventurer Fred had. The same might go for a king in a game in which deific favoritism or adventuring is required to build life credits. If the king isn't pious or special enough to be in favor with a deity and is too much of a fop to have done any real adventuring, then he won't have the life force for a resurrection.

You can extend the life credit system into other aspects of healing, too. For example, dying and not being resurrected in time might cost 10 life credits. Getting a limb regenerated might cost 3. Getting blindness cured might cost 1. A character who dies might lose one life credit every minute up until 10 life credits are lost, making the speed with which the resurrection is brought about important. Characters might sacrifice life credits for unique abilities, information (trading a bit of life energy with the witch of the swamp, say), and so on. High level monsters might be able to drain life credits without even killing their opponent.

There are tons of ways you can alter a life credit system. You can even remove perma-death from the equation, with some ingenuity.

Life credits provide a fear of death, whether it's a combat-oriented game or an RPI game; they remove the danger of a single "lame" encounter spelling the end of an accomplished character; they allow for worlds in which NPCs still have a reason to fear even a single death; and they don't (have to) enforce irritating down time of any fashion.
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Alexander Tau



Joined: 15 Jan 2006
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very well designed system Elanthis, and I am sure it works well.

But for me it is a whole lot of work wasted on a subject that just does not deserve the effort. But I am sure someone here will read it and get something useful out of the idea.



A.T
(-)
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jmurph



Joined: 19 Oct 2006
Posts: 21
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why does it always have to be death?

I think this is one of the flawed assumptions in MUD design which leads to the whole death "situation". In most MUDs combats are almost invariably to the death. Since combat is a frequent occurrence.... But it need not be that way. In my current design, armed conflict only continues until a participant flees or is too badly injured to continue fighting effectively. This need not be total incapacity, a crippling injury will suffice. Of course this is bad in and of itself, since the game uses persistant injuries- you don't take 15 points damage, you get a punctured hand or broken leg, etc which affect appropriate abilities. Wounds heal over time (with proper treatment). And, generally, following up on a wounded foe is murder (exceptions exist, of course, especially for war or substinence- no one cares if you "murder" a field rabbit).

Incapacity can result from severe injury (shock and blood loss), or simply being knocked out by a good blow with relatively little injury. Severely wounded individuals can limp or crawl away. Death, then, results mainly from conscious act (IE murdering another, which is of great severity when between players) or foolish decision (leaving severe wounds untreated which can lead to infection and death). NPCs are generally content to maim players and leave them be. Only a few will go so far as to slay them, and this is generally very foreseeable.

Usually a "dead" player should just be an "unconscious" player. Then it doesn't require such stretching to handle the situation. It is much easier to state that the character was dragged back to civilization, found bandaged (but robbed) along the roadside, etc.

Permadeath and harsh penalties in standard MUDs are usually unappealing because of the ease and frequency of death. It is disappointing to see that a broken connection leads to an unseemly permanent deletion. It doesn't make players avoid death, it makes them resent the game. Good game design never discourages players from playing the game. This also applies in situations where a corpse is made, but chances of recovery are remote. If the eq is necessary to effectively play, and recovery is not viable, the situation is intensely frustrating.

In a more standard DIKU format, I liked a ROM mud where death was handled by slapping the corpse and gear in the morgue, your religion resurrected you with no penalty (well, other than being out of HP, MP, Mv, etc,) and some money was deducted for the privelege. Out of cash? No big deal- you obviously need the help! You did lose any buffs and the like. So death wasn't that bad at all. Instead, it tracked deaths by PCs and NPCs, so fewer deaths was a bragging right. In other words, instead of focusing on the downsides to dying, focus on the upsides to not dying. Other things to consider are temporary rewards for extended periods of surviving such as buffs, boosts, bonus xp, etc.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Why does it always have to be death?


In some situations you can get away with unconsciousness - the robber knocks you out, or the bandits left you for dead.

But in other situations it simply doesn't make sense. Why didn't the flesh-eating zombie eat you? Why does everyone always survive a 50 foot fall into a pit full of spikes? How exactly did you bleed so much that you fell unconscious, yet then wake up and drag yourself 10 miles home?

If PK is part of the mud then this becomes a particularly important issue. My evil warrior doesn't want to just knock people out - he wants to kill them. I don't mind the occasional blow knocking someone out, but I want the opportunity to stamp on their head afterwards, while they're down, to make sure they die.

You can have death as the result of a conscious act, as you mentioned later in your post, but if you do that you've still got the exact same issue to deal with - you need to have a decent way of handling death.

I do actually use the unconsciousness thing for most self-inflicted injuries (eg you accidently hit yourself with your own weapon, or someone blocks your headbutt with their shield, etc), but for regular attacks I find death gives a better feeling of closure. Perhaps more importantly, there are many creative and descriptive ways to kill someone, allowing for some very entertaining combat messages.
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JWideman



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What we do is transfer people to the temple when they die, put their corpse in the morgue nearby, and delevel them. Level 1 characters don't delevel. We did this because losing your eq is just annoying and you spend more time just getting your stuff bank. Losing a level, however, makes you be more careful the next time. There is no permdeath, though.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JWideman wrote:
What we do is transfer people to the temple when they die, put their corpse in the morgue nearby, and delevel them. Level 1 characters don't delevel. We did this because losing your eq is just annoying and you spend more time just getting your stuff bank. Losing a level, however, makes you be more careful the next time. There is no permdeath, though.


To be honest I'd rather loose equipment than levels. Losing your equipment is indeed annoying, but losing levels would feel as if I'd just wasted the last X hours of playing time. A run of bad luck might strip away weeks of work.

Also, if your equipment is level-based, then losing levels might well mean the player can no longer use their current equipment.

What about hit points and such? Would they go down when you dropped level? If so, and they're not fixed, could someone keep lowering and raising their level to get a huge number of hitpoints? If hit points don't go down, particularly combined with keeping your eq, I could see PKers deliberately lowering themselves into lower-level PK ranges.
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jmurph



Joined: 19 Oct 2006
Posts: 21
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:

In some situations you can get away with unconsciousness... [b]ut in other situations it simply doesn't make sense.


Exactly my point- it is a design issue. I think too many MUDs simply "assume" death because it is what has been done before. But it is a design element just like names, parsing, combat systems, and building that should be considered. If the game is designed to reflect the harsh reality of slave fighting pits where death is final, then so be it. But if the game is a high fantasy romp where heroes can be expected to dash into near suicidal combats and get out with a quick retort and a few scratches, then perhaps death is not an ideal solution.

It also depends how "game-like" the environment is. Concepts like 1-ups, lives, credits etc. are very "gamey" and would seem to detract from an RP intensive environment. OTOH, they might be ideal for a more mechanics oriented situation (think Nethack v. Castle Marrach). The level of necessary Admin involvement is another issue. Perhaps you can come back if a "Storyteller" okays it. Otherwise you stay dead.

You can also use death as an excuse to add content. Dead? No problem. You now head to the lands of Hel where you must quest amongst the dead to return to life. Of course, you can't "die" in such an area, but can be defeated, in which case your miserable spirit re-coalesces at some pre-determined point (probably with some mockery by the resident Reaper, Overlord, Archdaemon, or other power).

Heck, maybe the whole game involves the deceased eternally vying for position, influence, or escape!
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JWideman



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:

To be honest I'd rather loose equipment than levels. Losing your equipment is indeed annoying, but losing levels would feel as if I'd just wasted the last X hours of playing time. A run of bad luck might strip away weeks of work.

In my experience, losing levels causes you to be more cautious. Losing eq causes you to die over and over in an effort to retrieve it.
Quote:

Also, if your equipment is level-based, then losing levels might well mean the player can no longer use their current equipment.

I don't have a solution to this yet. Making equipment not be level based might be the way we go.
Quote:

What about hit points and such? Would they go down when you dropped level? If so, and they're not fixed, could someone keep lowering and raising their level to get a huge number of hitpoints? If hit points don't go down, particularly combined with keeping your eq, I could see PKers deliberately lowering themselves into lower-level PK ranges.

Nothing is carved in stone yet, but one solution i've seen in the past was storing all the information for each level upon level up. That is, when they reach level 5, store their current stats, hp, and skills - before adding any bonuses. When they die and go back to level 4, restore all that and remove the entry for level 5.
That does mean storing a lot of data, but we use mysql and have plenty of space.
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 110

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JWideman wrote:

Quote:

What about hit points and such? Would they go down when you dropped level? If so, and they're not fixed, could someone keep lowering and raising their level to get a huge number of hitpoints? If hit points don't go down, particularly combined with keeping your eq, I could see PKers deliberately lowering themselves into lower-level PK ranges.

Nothing is carved in stone yet, but one solution i've seen in the past was storing all the information for each level upon level up. That is, when they reach level 5, store their current stats, hp, and skills - before adding any bonuses. When they die and go back to level 4, restore all that and remove the entry for level 5.
That does mean storing a lot of data, but we use mysql and have plenty of space.


We handle this by making everything generated as a function of your level and stats. That is, we don't roll hp for a given level, you get a fixed number modified by your constitution. Then level loss is handled automatically - whenever the game needs your max hp, it calls the function which in turn looks at your current level.
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JWideman



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kjartan wrote:
JWideman wrote:

Quote:

What about hit points and such? Would they go down when you dropped level? If so, and they're not fixed, could someone keep lowering and raising their level to get a huge number of hitpoints? If hit points don't go down, particularly combined with keeping your eq, I could see PKers deliberately lowering themselves into lower-level PK ranges.

Nothing is carved in stone yet, but one solution i've seen in the past was storing all the information for each level upon level up. That is, when they reach level 5, store their current stats, hp, and skills - before adding any bonuses. When they die and go back to level 4, restore all that and remove the entry for level 5.
That does mean storing a lot of data, but we use mysql and have plenty of space.


We handle this by making everything generated as a function of your level and stats. That is, we don't roll hp for a given level, you get a fixed number modified by your constitution. Then level loss is handled automatically - whenever the game needs your max hp, it calls the function which in turn looks at your current level.


What happens then if you raise your stats, delevel to level 1, and start levelling with maxed stats?
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 110

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The deleveling wouldn't affect anything in the end, because as soon as you raised your stats in the first place your hp would have gone up the proper amount even at the max level (e.g. if I was lvl 10 and my stats changed to give me a new +1 max hp per level, I would immediately get +10 max hp, and my hp would heal up to that level at the healing rate). The game recalculates your max hp all the time.
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JWideman



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kjartan wrote:
The deleveling wouldn't affect anything in the end, because as soon as you raised your stats in the first place your hp would have gone up the proper amount even at the max level (e.g. if I was lvl 10 and my stats changed to give me a new +1 max hp per level, I would immediately get +10 max hp, and my hp would heal up to that level at the healing rate). The game recalculates your max hp all the time.


Okay, so your max hp is based on your current stats and level, rather than getting a bonus to hp each time you level based on stats?
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, exactly.
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Kelson



Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 71
Location: SC

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But a more key question is if there exist opportunities at lvl 10 that would give me advantages over someone who was lvl 1 and which wouldn't disappear when I delevel. For example, lets assume there is a skill - lets call it dance - that one can purchase upon reaching lvl 10. If I manage to delevel to 1 with this skill, then I'd be able to out charm every other player since they don't have my fantastic dancing skills. This is a rather arbitrary example, but that could extend to ANY advantage which isn't immediately removed upon deleveling (imagine the fright of players spending 5 years grinding dance only to delevel and lose all that effort expended though!)

One thing I like about deleveling is being lvl 100 isn't a given in that situation - unlike an item loss on death, which doesn't punish the player in their path to max level (just makes reaching it more difficult). I'm going with an exp/item loss combined with possible permadeath (if the player jacks up the survive-the-afterlife-quest, they are gone - other players can influence this process) solution, but I haven't really seen many other options - not to mention ones I really like.

Permadeath is good because it inserts a 'lose' condition for the player character. It is also bad because it forces players to lose their investment in the game, perhaps leading to their departure (though this may be a good thing for some players...)

Loss of renewable resources is good because it ties achievement with 'staying alive', but not to the degree mentioned above. In effect, this provides some consequences for death, but avoids removing all of a player's investmnet.

No loss at all is good because it avoid damaging player investments at all! It is bad for the same reason though, achievement doesn't mean anything if you have a billion attempts to accomplish the goal... everyone can't REALLY be a hero, even in the game, though we can pretend I suppose.

What about loss of a non-renewable resource though? Perhaps there is no permadeath, but instead after N deaths you can no longer enter town - for example - or perhaps you can no longer use magic - or you can no longer naturally recover hp? Perhaps, after N deaths, you are limited to a pure observer role (some people have suggested this as an alternative of permadeath).
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 110

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In our system, level gives you access to abilities (spells, skills, etc.) and when you lose the level you lose the access. However, you also have a skill level in each ability which determines how likely you are to be successful when using it. You gain skill level by finding (and, usually, consuming) specific items or people once you have access to the ability.

If you lose the levels, you lose access but not skill level. Losing the access means that you can no longer use the ability, and are equivalent to any other lvl 1. However when you get back to lvl 10, you don't have to perform the tasks that got you the skill levels again - you still have the skill level, once you "remember" the access to the ability.

I don't believe you get any nonrenewable resources (like hit points or practices in classic diku) when you level in Sloth.

Of course, the deleveled 10 likely has better stuff than other level 1s.
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