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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:23 am    Post subject: Diseases Reply with quote

One of the things I'm thinking of introducing in the future is diseases (primarily as one of the signature powers for a future Lich class), and I've been toying around with some ideas for an early prototype to test the concept.

Diseases will be affects much like any other, but they will differ in three important ways:

1) Each disease will have multiple stages, with each stage having a different affect.

2) Diseases can often be passed on from one victim to another, although the means and strength of contagion varies.

3) If you survive the disease, you often become immune, depending on the disease.

Here's an example, roughly loosely modelled on yellow fever:

Stage 1: 3-6 days after being infected, you feel sick (gain no healing benefit from eating food) and suffer maximum pain penalties regardless of damage.

Stage 2: After another 1 day, you stop regenerating wounds, and suffer a penalty to speed and movement rate.

Stage 3: After another 1 day, you start suffering damage due to bleeding from the eyes, mouth, nose and stomach.

Stage 4: After another 10-14 days, the symptoms vanish, and you become immune to future infections of this disease.

The problem with this approach is that the affects take so long to show up, it's not really a viable option except in the most long-term of planned PK. You certainly wouldn't want to bother infecting a mob during combat, because it'd be long dead before any symptoms showed up (and might also infect the rest of your group).

Perhaps supernatural diseases would be the way to go, with extremely fast lifecycles (minutes instead of days). The immunity could also become a problem, quickly rendering supernatural diseases useless as each player builds up their immunity - so perhaps the immunity should have a limited duration as well, perhaps representing time it takes for the disease to adapt itself.

For supernatural creatures (such as Liches) I think it'd be rather cool if they could actually design their own diseases. They should also be immune to their own diseases, perhaps acting as a carrier but not suffering the ill affects.

I remember a mud I worked on many years ago, before I started the original GW, which had diseases. Everywhere you went there'd be mobs coughing and choking - almost the entire mob population became infected - and of course that meant that all the PCs kept getting sick as well. It was rather amusing, but I'd really rather avoid a repeat performance.

Anyone have any thoughts on diseases, or seen any approaches that worked well?
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the problems with usual disease implementations is that they're a prime example of something that inconveniences players without there being any noticeable upside. Disease tends to come under the same heading as a typically boring food and drink system. Such a system requires players to eat and drink regularly or suffer penalties, but does nothing else; inevitably all of the players dislike the system, and the whole thing ends up doing nothing except fire off client-side automated triggers.

Maybe if you're going to include diseases you need to make them not purely negative in their effects.

Obvious examples could include variations on vamprism and lycanthropy, but you could have subtler effects too. There's an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that I recall which features a monster that is invisible to everyone except to people who have a borderline-fatal high temperature. Buffy therefore has to deliberately infect herself with a massive dose of flu virus in order to make herself ill enough to be able to see it. In the same sort of way, a player might have to voluntarily inflict on himself an effect similar to being stabbed by a Morgul blade (i.e. steadily becoming more wraith-like) in order to be able to get close enough to an enemy wraith-creature to harm it.

In a magical world one could imagine all sorts of bizarre, random effects from diseases that might, on occasion, actually be advantageous. Maybe a side-effect of a disease is unpredictable shifts into the ethereal plane. When it happens the character would drop every single piece of equipment and become an intangible ghost - but could walk through doors and walls in that state. (But he would not have any conscious control over when that happened).

Or a disease that causes blindness might correspondingly amplify the other senses (like the Marvel character DareDevil). Or a disease that makes the eyes over-sensitive might causes disadvantages in sunlight, but grant night-vision while underground. Or an accelerated metabolism might require a constant massive consumption of food to stave off instant starvation, but grant the character increased resistance to frost).

An alternative to diseases might be parasitic infestation - one can imagine sentient parasites attempting to take control of the host body, but granting it increased abilities in the process (a little like a Go'a'uld).

If disease effects remain purely negative, then I can imagine some quests revolving around disease: the player having to search for the ingredients needed to make a cure for a plague, while trying to avoid catching the plague himself in the process.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some interesting ideas, shasarak. As I mentioned earlier, my main reason for working on diseases is as a signature power for a future Lich class, and as an offensive ability it should be (at least mostly) negative.

However positive side-effects might be an interesting twist for Liches who make a mistake while designing a disease - or perhaps they can deliberately add a positive side-effect to earn extra points for investing in more nastiness.

Perhaps Liches could even design positive diseases, like the luck virus in Red Dwarf, so that their signature power is both a customisable curse/attack and a customisable buff. That'd certainly be more interesting than a pure offensive power.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few comments about the diseases you're working with.

First, granting immunity to a disease is fine and reasonable, except in the case where infecting you is a player's ability. In this case, you get the ability, basically for free, to be immune to another player's ability. This is not really acceptable. A resistance would be more reasonable, especially if that resistance decayed over time (as with many IRL diseases).

The idea of players (in this case liches) designing their own diseases, I think, is really cool. However, it could be problematic if the player is only allowed to design a finite number of diseases. In that case, if s/he messes up in building one, s/he has basically messed up his/her build. A solution to this would be to allow a set number of player-designed diseases, which can be replaced at little or no cost.

Another aspect to consider is, if your game includes it, the various effects on a disease on various races. That is to say, a given disease may have one effect on humans, but a totally different effect on elves. Perhaps orcs show no symptoms, but are carriers, while dragons are simply immune. This is an area where racial effects are more apparent and reasonable than most other aspects of a game.

I do think that the idea of a supernaturally quickly progressing disease could make a fight very interesting. For example, consider one disease which starts off with symptoms akin to the common cold, progresses to give the shakes (penalty to attacks/dodge, and small chance of action failure), and finally causes the skin to erupt into flames briefly before returning the character back to normal, all over the course of a few minutes. A player fighting a liche who starts to exhibit symptoms of the common cold may realize that the symptoms will quickly get worse, and likely require a change in tactics.

Also, I really like the idea of a healer laying on hands to heal someone, and inadvertently infecting the target of his/her goodwill with some terrible flesh-eating disease. But I'm a sucker for irony.

I'd be interested, too, in hearing what you end up doing.


Edit: Also, a magical disease in which the subject suffers hallucinations of whoever infected him/her could be terrific....
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like this idea.

I especially like the idea of the Lich itself being a carrier of the diseases it brings to bear. This gives a nice self-limiting factor, especially if you factor in the "positive" diseases that it carries for itself.

I also like the idea of Liches designing their own diseases. If I were producing such a system, I might be tempted to look at the Morrowind/Oblivion spell creation system for inspiration. Perhaps if each disease were rated somehow by power and complexity, they could carry a certain total rating of diseases within themselves?

For example, Common Cold has a rating of 5, and Yellow Fever has a rating of 50, and the Lich can carry a maximum of 75, carrying these two diseases contribute 55 towards his total, leaving him 20 for a possible Minor Bubonic Plague, or something.

A question, though: who would create counters to these abilities? Would other Liches be more resistant to diseases? Would they be able to create antigens on the spot for their party?

I see many tactical elements to this.
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