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trapdoor

All fantasy RPG's and alignment

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Wether it be MMO's, singleplayer RPG's or some other form of multiplayer, I've always wondered about alignment. While most classes / races don't matter so much about alignment, some do. Such as Paladin. I will use Paladin (or monk) as they are the best example of what I mean. Their alignment is lawful good. It is not possible in the true DnD world for a Paladin to be evil or unlawful. Should they go down that path, they cease to be Paladins and lose all respective abilities. In a singleplayer game, it is somewhat possible to control this. It is built into the engine. But what about multiplayer. (I don't care if it's just simple multiplayer like Diablo or if it's MMO like Everquest or World of Warcraft). From a DnD point of view, you can't have Paladins running around killing everything they see and quite often mocking their enemies. They are supposed to be Knights of Light, even though they may be a little stuck up about it. But the problem comes in as to how to check if a pally is being "mean". GM's will be much more busy with catching cheaters and responding to bug reports than to chase after pallies being mean. So the question comes in (I won't forget to ask this time), how do you check or ensure that pallies play right? Now I want to make sure that people get the right idea. I don't want a game where the GM's or server admins will slap the wrist of any naughty pally. I want it to be more server based and make it look like the Light the Paladins worship has turned its back on the Paladins as a direct result of their own forsaking the light.

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Have a series of massive quests in which a character can become a paladin, or they can become an evil version of a paladin (whatever that might be). But make the quest teach the player. Because you can't force a player to be good or evil they have to choose it. You could however have them do quests that show them what a paladin is supposed to do. If they don't do it too bad.

If all else fails punish the player by using some higher power that will hurt their paladin powers. Since paladins are holy, doing something like killing small animals for fun in a game would hurt them. This could be hard to implement, or you could use faction based gameplay like WoW uses. Paladins are on the good side and such.

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How about using ‘Class Points’??

These points will decide how much of a paladin you are.

Example: Doing any action/quest that shows loyalty to the specific class will gain class points for that class and also loss points for other classes that defies the current class (like: QUEST #32 -> +2 PLD, +1 WAR, -2 THF, -5 DRK, etc…)

What do these have to do with class performance? Well, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to decrease the performance of the player’s PLD depending on the class point. But as a reward (or penalty) a major skill may be available or not depending on how many points you have.

So you can be a bad PLD, but as a penalty you won’t be able to use (from the top of my head) a powerful skill that increases your DEF 3 times for 3 mins. Of course, you can live without this skill. You can still kill and join teams and even be a good tank. But having the higher skills would make life a little bit easier :)

Just a thought.

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If you're playing a game where people call paladins "pallies", then there is no hope of enforcing roleplaying. You seem to be basing your complaint on WoW. Nearly everyone in WoW knows that paladins are supposed to be holy warriors, but nobody cares. They just want to pwn hordes and lol. The amount of GMs that would need to be hired to enforce proper roleplaying in the chat channels is unimaginable.

Roleplay enforcement only works in small-scale games, like pen&paper or Reasonably Sized Multiplayer Online RPG's (RSMORPG's) like Neverwinter Nights.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
personally, id just give the mods the ability to remove a paladins ability for a month, if that happened often enough, I doubt you would find many mean paladins ^.^

there gift of light is supplosly given by the 'god's', they should be free to remove it at will

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NeverWinter Nights handles this by tracking a character's actions. A lawful-good character starts with a number of lawful "points" and a number of good "points". If your character then runs around stealing items from people's homes, you lose lawful points. If you get below a certain number of points, you become neutral. Further loss of points moves you towards chaotic.

The same goes for evil/neutral/good. If you kill a good player/npc without provocation, you lose good points. Lose too many points, and you find yourself evil.

Similarly, certain actions can add lawful or good points.

Also, certain quests can add/subtract points.

If your alignment reaches a point outside that allowed for your class, you can no longer progress in that class.

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It would be almost as easy to do this in multiplayer games as single player. Every action in the game, be it between a single player and NPCs, or between players and other players can be detected and checked by the engine ... so when you "initiate combat" with an opponent (of any sort), it can adjust whatever values it tracks appropriatly (for instance if opponent is "neutral" it can raise your "aggresiveness / cruelty" factor or if they are highly evil it can increase your "crusader of light" rating. Likewise if your game supports loot choices, it can track the value of all loot the palidin earns, and then when the visit the town it could give them like 1 hour to tithe appropriately or suffer the consequences. Likewise giving money to "good" allies could aid your ratings, but trading with "bad" people could hurt your purity. Etc.. of course you can be as heavy or light handed in these effects and details as you want.

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As others have said, yes, it's easy to mark certain interactions with NPCs as "evil" and hit the paladin with evil points because of that. But I think the original poster knows that, and is questioning how to stop paladins from talking smack to other players in an online game and stop them from just acting like asshats all the time, as many MMO players are fond of doing. There isn't a way to do this. You could try and have the profanity filter pick up every time the paladin says "lolz ur ghey f4g" and hit him with an evil point, but then paladins will just start saying "lolz ur ghaye ph4g" instead. I believe what the original poster is looking for is a way to enforce a certain amount of actual human decency towards other people in an MMO, which currently there is no algorithm for. That's why GM's exist.

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I believe what the OP is looking for is ways to assess and respond to complex in game actions in a multiplayer enviroment WITHOUT the use of GMs, and with rules that seem correct to the game and not just punishment for enforcement of arbitrary rules.

The key to doing it I think is not any change from the conventional single-player engine method of accessing and responding to situations as detected and programmed for by the engine. I think the key is just getting smarter and smarter assesment and response systems in place, things that can handle many of the common "gray" area of multiplayer games ...

truthfully I think it would be easy for a paladin, but hard for the general case ... why? because a paladin is SO rigidly controlled that you can assess most actions fairly easily and ridgidly (attacking a good person because they insulted your mother is not acceptable paladin behavior ... dealing with an evil player because he offers you good is not acceptable paladin behavior ...) and when in doubt the game offers things like "detect evil" "detect good" that can be used by the player to make choices that arent't obvious. Heck you can even provide a "Pray for Guidance" feature the paladins could use to get help. Either something where they click on target and pray for guidance and it accesses common actions and tells them how the god might feel about them ... or a google like system where you "pray for guidance" ... on "Grektar trade orb of light" and it searches for hits and their associated "good/evil" values. Obviously hard to implement, but getting easier all the time.

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Firstly, should I enforce such strict paladin playing, I would also have such races where the opposite is the case. Say for undead / vampire / lycan, if you go kindly upon any character without the reason of "boredom was preventing you" then you'd be labeled a sympathizer. But anyway.

I had this idea where volunteers who will be chosen as from those who take the game way too seriously, can vouche as a "council" or maybe the light themselves. It was always a goal of mine to give the player something to do with there's nothing to do. such as travelling or if they dont' feel like doing anything etc. Maybe they can do it as a power trip.


I think there's a lot that can be captured by the engine, but stuff such as chat is much more difficult. Even still, there are situations where the right thing to do may not be to help or attack. There might be a bigger distress or enemy to vanquish than what is posed right infront of them.

Knocking good points off for attacking a lower level for no reason or whatever. Even still, I can see how it's going to be extremely complicated.

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Don't punish the player for doing something he shouldn't but reward him for doing something he should.

In this respect, you shouldn't penalise the player for playing a paladin badly. However if he/she plays a paladin well they should be rewarded with greater powers, experience, magic items, guild ranking, whichever. In this system badly played paladins will miss out on the bonuses but not actually feel like they're losing anything, but many hardcore gamers will want to play right in order to gain the extra perks.

Actions that could help could include some of what's already been mentioned: completing 'good' quests (or maybe doing quests a certain way - try and cure the madman rather than kill him); donating to church/charity/the poor; healing the sick; not harming good creatures; killing/capturing evildoers.

Of course the speech thing is hard to do, but I'd consider that more to do with profanity filters which will always be countered by ever more complex l33t speak.

Anyone who gets seriously into an RPG will *want* to play their character right. Providing a few carrots to point them in the right direction might be all you need.

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While in games in general I agree with the "reward instead of punish" technique ... I have to say if you stay with this completely it removes a whole realm of graet opportunity for experience, immersion, story development.

In many games, the best part of playing "bad" is doing it on purpose to see what the game can do to you ... like in the original GTA just killing as many people as possible to see if you can survive long enough to get the helicopters after you. Or betraying your allies in an RPG, "going evil" and having to survive so precariously avoiding guards forevermore. Its like an ironman game at that point, really hard and one wrong move will be your downfall.

Rewards only have true felt meaning if they are given for difficult acomplishments. Acomplishments ususally met with failure for the lesser men (which usually includes your own former selves). It is so great to die 63 times over 4 days trying to beat a really good boss and then asomplish it. (not so great if you constantly have to replay through an hour of easy boredom to get their) ... just like it was so great to finally after years and year be able to beat your older brother or father at something. Such is the nature of reward.

Also, punishment can be so rich in storyline and plot and fun. A paladin is basically a really hard thing to become (because of the high requirements to even start in games like D&D) it has really high rewards, and just becomes a regular warrior when they fail at being a paladin. But a normal warrior with a ton more story to them than the average normal warrior. In fact I have played good characters for months in D&D just to make them evil. Its not good enough to say "oh, once I was good, now I'm evil" ... you had to invest the time crafting the person you we're, building the experiences, and finding a personal justification for what is bringing you to evil now.

"Now that my love has died, I will no longer save damsels or treat women with respect" ... slowly causing you to earn dark points ... culminating in a situation that brings it all down.

Another thing is the idea of "goodness" and "badness" as an agregation of little things may be correct, but for story and memory purposes we really focus on the few important defining moments ... that is something your engine could capture. Certain activities could be "contributing factors" but not "primary events" ... so they would slide you on the scale but be unable to push you over certain threasholds ... until that day you cross the line - that act enough to reverberate in your memory, to change people's perception of you, most importantly, to alter your own self image.

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what about enforcing some gameplay gimmciks?

Like... When you're a paladin, you're supposed to help defend the widow and orphan, and give your money to whomever asks for it... and this kind of stuff. You're not supposed to pillage random chests found in the realm, especially if they are in someone's house.

So let's say that, playing a paladin, you can only open the chests found in dungeons, not in the houses of NPCs. Any NPC is entitled to beg to you with impunity, and you'll give him. You cannot loot corpses, but have to give them a decent burial. And instead of getting money from corpses, you're entitled some money from your church, at regular intervals, to equip yourself.

What if the same applied to other archetypes? Would you, as a thief, feel cheated by the game if it didn't let buy you in regular NPC shops, but only allowed you to try to steal? If you could only buy things from dark shops in hidden alleyways?

What if a Warrior couldn't help but taunt his opponents before hitting his first strike? this would leave ways for the opponent to strike first, in fact, but would give you the sensation of REALLY being a stupid fighter... A mage could never see his HP rise, and even if he dominated in ranged spell combat, he would flee combat as soon as his HP drop below a fourth of its total?

I don't know! Anything can be seen as roleplaying, but if you're not doing it, then you're merely playing hack'n slash with a different skin to your mincing machine.

Have it the way you want...

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Guest Anonymous Poster
To be honest, it would be a huge improvement for any game to recognise the difference between playing as a good guy or a bad guy and measure accordingly, but anyway...

In terms of the extreme argument of applying the rules to other archetypes, it becomes clear that a reward system for doing actions of that alignment seems to be a good approach. A thief COULD buy the item, but gets more experience (and preferably an adrenaline rush) from stealing it instead. Similarly, it's up to a warrior to issue a battlecry before attacking, and potentially get a bonus to their attack or a fear roll for their opponent in the process. In terms of the mage (or any ranged-combat specialist) their hit points would raise in melee combat with spells,or with undertaking physically difficult tasks, however they will benefit in terms of their magic by using powerful spells.

So how does this apply to paladins/monks/priests? Firstly, they need to display piety in order to get bonuses such as turning undead, healing or blessing (if implemented correctly, the ability to bless items should be enough incentive to encourage pious actions). Secondly, they must NOT be kicked out of their given denomination or they lose access to places to demonstrate piety, thus reducing access to bonuses. This would reduce them to basic warrior-type characteristics. Some offences that could auto-kick them would be stealing, killing members of their own church or desecration of religious items. Finally, don't make the paladin class accessible at start. If they have to be pious to become a paladin from a warrior, they will have more respect for the work they put in.

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What about this:

First. Would-be paladins are first warriors as mentioned. With the proper alignment and display of paladin like qualities, they can then advance to paladin. So right away, any gimmicks and whatnot to detect bad paladins are already in place to prevent warriors from becoming paladins in the first place. They must act like good warriors first.

Second, with all the gimmick catchers in place, a good paladin my slide very close to being neutral which would force them to be warriors, but not until they cross a clear line such as those mentioned by other posters. The closer they are to losing their alignment for paladin, the more action options they can take to lose it. Or perhaps if the game "always" is running such as in a persistant world, where your character actually doesn't leave the game when you do, your character may be swayed to lose the good alignment. So while you're playing the game, your goal might be to keep your paladin good enough, that he/she doesn't lose the light when you're not there.

Thirdly, should any righteous paladin wish to give up the light for something else, perhaps there's a path that they can take that can make up for all they have lost from the paladin class. Something similar to a Black Guard but not quite. They then cannot work with anyone still affiliated with the light unless they repent and atone for their sins. (Purely optional of course). It merely serves as a vice to feed the now evil player.

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Quote:
Original post by makeshiftwings
If you're playing a game where people call paladins "pallies", then there is no hope of enforcing roleplaying. You seem to be basing your complaint on WoW. Nearly everyone in WoW knows that paladins are supposed to be holy warriors, but nobody cares. They just want to pwn hordes and lol. The amount of GMs that would need to be hired to enforce proper roleplaying in the chat channels is unimaginable.

Roleplay enforcement only works in small-scale games, like pen&paper or Reasonably Sized Multiplayer Online RPG's (RSMORPG's) like Neverwinter Nights.


I am inclined to agree.

I'm also somewhat opposed to hardcoded alignment checks at the best of times. It's not so much the deed but the motivation that's important, and that's something the engine can never take into account.

Quote:

Firstly, should I enforce such strict paladin playing, I would also have such races where the opposite is the case. Say for undead / vampire / lycan, if you go kindly upon any character without the reason of "boredom was preventing you" then you'd be labeled a sympathizer. But anyway.


I particularly disagree with this. Evil doesn't necessarily mean 'stupid psychotic mass murdering nutjob'. A well played evil character does not generally go around murdering people for no apparent reason - rather, they would appear to be good guys to gain trust and confidence of the people around them, so that their nefarious schemes go unnoticed and perhaps even helped by the good guys.

All too often in single player RPGs at least you get blatant 'good guy' and 'bad guy' choices, and a 'neutral guy' choice', e.g:

[GOOD OPTION] "Of course ma'am, I will gladly risk life and limb to rescue Fluffy the Kitten from the evil Arch Demon of the Ninth Circle of Hell. It is my duty, the honour of fulfilling it shall be all the reward I need!"

[NEUTRAL OPTION] "I'll rescue your kitten for you ma'am, but it's a dangerous job, and I'll need you to cover me for expenses as well as some reward to make it worth the time and risk. I think 20,000 gold is the going rate for invading the Ninth Circle of Hell and defeating an Arch Demon. Sound OK?"

[EVIL OPTION] "I have a better idea: why don't YOU go to hell and find your stupid kitten yourself, you lazy old sow! Here, let me help you on your way!" *STAB*

Unfortunately, this reduces evil characters to one dimensional psychopaths who just aren't particularly interesting at all.

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Maybe we should just do away with alignment completely and let players develop character's personalities on their own. I remember the most fun I had in any game was playing the original Vampire: The Masquerade PC game online. I developed a cool character that made friends with many others who I played with regularly, but had his own evil schemes behind the scenes. It was fun watching the others try and figure out my real motives, and fun for them too as they were trying to figure my character out.

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Quote:
Original post by TheOddMan
Maybe we should just do away with alignment completely and let players develop character's personalities on their own. I remember the most fun I had in any game was playing the original Vampire: The Masquerade PC game online. I developed a cool character that made friends with many others who I played with regularly, but had his own evil schemes behind the scenes. It was fun watching the others try and figure out my real motives, and fun for them too as they were trying to figure my character out.


I totally agree with this idea in the general scope of role playing.

That said however, there are many great things in D&D like fantasy worlds tied to "reputation" or "clout" with various factions, which includes gods. Being "Good" is actually no more than a term for being what the major societies and their "Good" gods want you to be ... and thereby earning their trust and sympathy.

So MMO games can have so many great things ... you know boons from the Iruva - God of Travels (that perhaps like to quinch your thirst if you have proven you have a true traevler's spirit by previous actions - or on the punishment side, steals your camels if you forget to pray each day in the desert), an artifact that hightens and rewards Bloodlust (something like weakness when not acted on enough and bonus when is) ... etc. When you get to general cases, these are no different than action / alignment concepts (say the artifact was not bloodlust, but a whole general category of traditionally "evil" or at least "violent" behaviors.

You don't have to have good/evil. But you do benifit by having the concept of axis/scales on which a characters past actions are used to determine their currect position (violence, generosity, faith, selfishness, loyalty (to x), worship (to x), faction / race / class attitude (per group), ...).

This is exactly the kind of info you embed in the behavors of well crafted NPC characters, so there is no reason to think it cannot benifit you to assess it about a PC.

The main distinction seems to be between assertions (I am LAWFUL GOOD) and history (I have acted very violently this past week, but mostly peacefully prior to that).

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You could also think about how Morrowind handled things. There was no alignment there. People could behave as they chose. You could become 'evil' by joining darker guilds like House Telvanni, getting into necromancy and so forth, or join Temples and House Redoran to become a good protector of the people. Who you were was entirely the players choice. A member of House Redoran could be an evil scheming thief, but as long as he/she wasn't caught out, he/she was fine. Of course, if you got caught, you were kicked out of the guild, preventing further progress.

Morrowind also had a crime rating and reputation system. Rather than this being an indication of the character's personality, it was more how the character was percieved by others.

The point I'm making is that restricting the character's behaviour is wrong in a game that is supposed to be open ended. Perhaps approaching it from the other side, how the character is percieved by others, would enable a better system to be created.

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These are only true statements if you want a D&D cookie cutter.

If you want to be original the person should be referred to as a Zealot or a Crusader... who develops factions or reputations for performing duties in the name of a God(s) and tries to convert the heathen to their faith.

Then you can have an Order of the Paladin who follow a particular God, say, one who represents peace, or the ethics that are expect in the D&D cookie cutter. If I recall...

A Paladin never knowingly speaks a lie.
A Paladin always defends the weak.
A Paladin always seeks out the truth before his sword.
A Paladin upholds justice to all costs.
A Paladin will sacrifice himself before the blood of an innocent should be spilled.

Some things like that... and make the person actually uphold a reputation (you can garnish this with good AI). That way you can still have your guys with a holy symbol who can turn undead...

Though one of the ways we built it in a MUD I belonged on (it was open-skill so there were no classes) if you developed your fighting and faith skills, you were typically referred to as a Crusader; when you devoted your entire career to a certain God and did rituals to please them, you could earn a holy symbol and use it to do certain effects related to the God...

For example those who followed Luna the Moon Goddess were able to cloak when they empowered their symbols, during the night.

Those who followed Gnossis (yes, pun was intended) received a cross-like symbol that could be used to burn the undead.

Those who followed Lori'j (Goddess of Peace) were able to use their symbols to create a barrier of invulnerability over an area; it would essentially prevent any creature that wasn't out of their league (super creatures like noble dragons and liches) from being able to engage in combat in its area of effect.

----
But really to ensure paladins are playing "right" you can do the classic alignment method. Make it where ever living object (npc/player) has an alignment integer between -1000 and 1000, where -1000 is absolute evil, 1000 is epitome of Goodness. Then make it when ever you kill something it gives you a very small movement in the reverse direction of what you killed. You can make some creatures (such as a really wicked Witch) give more then others.

So... you set a Ghouls alignment to like (-100) [evil]
You would run a check...

if(Slain->Alignment() > 0)
{
Player->AdjustAlignment(random(abs(Slain->Alignment)));
}

and do the opposite for if they were good... now I'm sure someone else can come up with a faster routine for doing this...

Another cool thing to do is to keep an array of the last few dozen monsters a player has killed and make it where when they enter the chapel to train, the statue of their God say, ignores them until they repent for their sins if one of those creatures is said to have been innocent.

Now of course with this system you'll need to add an ability to judge (you can go back to the holy symbol) so players can tell what is good/evil/neutral. They can 'hold' the symbol and the hotter it feels to them, or more it glows, the more evil the enemy.

Even cooler would be to start Paladins with an Avenger weapon that glows when ever evil creatures are nearby and amplifies in damage. If it spills the blood of innocents, you can make it where the Paladin slowly degenerates into something like a Dark Knight/Anti-Paladin.

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There are several problems with MMOGs, some of them are unavoidable, others are a matter of design. There are simple design changes that can handle part of the problem, actions are easy to define as good or evil, things people say are much more difficult.

Example: Paladin (or otherwise 'good-aligned' character) kills the priest or avatar of a good deity, this is easily quantifiable as an evil act. The same Paladin talks sh*t to someone, it's impossible to really say that it's an evil (or even not good) act.

Unfortunately, there is usually very little of the latter in most MMOGs, not to mention that there is usually as little for an evil person to do against good forces, so there is also very little for the good to do against the forces of good. More than half of the time, good and evil both go against forces of evil that are aligned against them.

The last annoying thing though, is that games like WoW, while there is plenty that you can consider evil in the environment, there is just as little that you can clearly define as evil in the player environment and it's just as difficult to determine which side the 'evil' is on. The Warlock on the 'good' side is really no more good than the warlock on the 'evil' side and they're commonly no more evil than each-other either. It's unfortunate that in most games, if there are 2 sides, they are invariably separated into 'good' and 'evil', regardless of whether either side is really good or evil or just various shades in between.

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If you're looking at a small scale game, it's fairly easy to reward the "role players" though as a Game Master.

In fact, thats one of the major elements all these big time games are lacking is any "divine" intervention. I would rather pay $50 a month for an MMO where the GMs are constantly intervening in the world (almost like those servers on EverQuest, but with a game that was meant to handle that dynamic content).

In all reality though, if you're going for a game where roleplaying is the key... then tells shouldn't exist. You should only be able to yell (goes to a large radius), say (small radius), and emote (obviously the people have to see you).

If an NPC catches you saying something filthy in say a chapel, they could forcibly tell you thats inappropriate for a man of your stature and adjust your alignment. Or heck why not make them run and try to report you to your pastor? Or some NPCs like a drunkard, won't give a crap?

It seems to me like the whole fix is really in writing a more interactive game and none of these problems are unsolvable. Even if you wanted to leave tells, those are a completely out of character situation, as are any sort of chat channel; leaving them ill tied to the character's actions.

However, killing a "holy" NPC... refer to my previous block of possible code. You just give NPCs an alignment integer and when they're slain, the slayer gains a small (to large) reverse amount of that alignment.

Or take some of the Oblivion approach if someone witnesses you committing murder, they can report you to a city guard... or worse you can make it where the Paladin even loses the ability to call upon their own God's power until they've repented.


---

And I don't see why roleplay enforcement can't be scaled to 2000 players either... It takes more man power, but I really do think people would be willing to play for it. Not to mention, alot of it is just creating _BETTER_ artificial intelligence and some divine intervention; again you're going to have to charge more because you are going to eat more server CPU running these behaviors on NPCs...

But I'll keep my mouth shut since thats part of our project and I don't want to leak anymore ;)

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Quote:
Original post by Chacko
Those who followed Gnossis (yes, pun was intended) received a cross-like symbol that could be used to burn the undead.

I'm sorry I can't get the pun, there....

----
But really to ensure paladins are playing "right" you can do the classic alignment method. Make it where ever living object (npc/player) has an alignment integer between -1000 and 1000, where -1000 is absolute evil, 1000 is epitome of Goodness. Then make it when ever you kill something it gives you a very small movement in the reverse direction of what you killed. You can make some creatures (such as a really wicked Witch) give more then others.

So... you set a Ghouls alignment to like (-100) [evil]
You would run a check...

if(Slain->Alignment() > 0)
{
Player->AdjustAlignment(random(abs(Slain->Alignment)));
}

and do the opposite for if they were good... now I'm sure someone else can come up with a faster routine for doing this...

Another cool thing to do is to keep an array of the last few dozen monsters a player has killed and make it where when they enter the chapel to train, the statue of their God say, ignores them until they repent for their sins if one of those creatures is said to have been innocent.

Now of course with this system you'll need to add an ability to judge (you can go back to the holy symbol) so players can tell what is good/evil/neutral. They can 'hold' the symbol and the hotter it feels to them, or more it glows, the more evil the enemy.

Even cooler would be to start Paladins with an Avenger weapon that glows when ever evil creatures are nearby and amplifies in damage. If it spills the blood of innocents, you can make it where the Paladin slowly degenerates into something like a Dark Knight/Anti-Paladin.



I have always advocated the multiple fame counters. First, there is one scale where you get famed for killing animals. This one can affect people sensible to this kind of particular thing. A nature lover may be shocked of being seen discussing with someone famed for chainkilling wolves, as an example.

A second one may be a human-shaped targets scale. The more you kill humans, be they NPCs or mobs, and the more the NPC population will fear you.

A third may be "fame". This one may have either as positive or a negative value. You get positive fame for completing quests (such a kind man!!), for every purchase in classic NPC shops (known for spending lots...) and for probably other things, like showing faith in one of the many Gods (being God abiding is always a plus, everywhere.) Negative fame can be gained by killing PCs (He is the PickAxe Pegasus! He is the madman who singlehandedly killed six armored Knights in Orbatra, last week!), by performing foul deeds like desacrating holy places (holy for ANY God), stealing (if your game permits it), or by fleeing a battle (put on you by your former team mates if they choose to.) This fame is very volatile. You gain sudden buffs of fame for any particular feat, but, on the whole, after the buff wears off, you're stuck with only one(1) point of fame, in one direction or the other. So a particularly GOOD character, known for helping the poor, and never breaking in other people's houses, or looting corpses, would probably get a negative buff in his fame if he killed someone in broad day light, right in the middle of a city, but NPCs may decide afterwards to find him excuses (negative fame buff wearing off) and still like him. If the guy decided to play his character evil from then on, he would get more and more negative buffs, and reduce his good fame gradually, one point at a time.

A fourth scale may be like your Morrowind's factions. It could be with gods, or with factions, but gaining points in one is likely to make you loose points with others. You may gain faction points by completing quests for a particular faction, and you may loose some by failing to complete a quest. But undertaking a quest for a faction would always make you loose points in opposite factions.

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I don't feel satisfied just yet.

I'd also like to note that any automatic action forcing the player to play "good" would be done in such a way that seems natural. If a good paladin commits unspeakable evil, he loses his holy abilities. These abilities would come from his/her god, therefore, it would be natural for these abilities to be taken away. Nothing is stopping that paladin from becoming evil, just that they can't have their cake and eat it too. It would be a known consequence that doing evil means losing paladin abilities and becoming a regular warrior, maybe with the option of becoming a black guard.

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But I want to stray from that kind of thinking for the moment as I'm beginning to see how hard it is to capture true alignment. Some things are easy to catch but as mentioned before, and summed up in the court of law, you need both the action AND the motive. Without motive, it's just an accident, without action it's just a thought. together and it's evil. But I doubt i'll be alive when they figure out how to properly capture motive within a game or just a device for that matter.

This means I have to take a different route.

Just looking at the numbers generated by warcraftrealms, there are about 300k paladins. How many are active at one time I dont' know but 300k is a lot. This probably rules out having GM's hover over any holy character and ensuring they stay holy. either that or have the "god" not have time to keep an eye on everyone at once.

Still I bet a lot of the actions deemed as evil will be disputed as they reveal their true motives (even still, they could be lying about it). Like a paladin killing his leader. Only to explain after his powers were gone that he had secret proof that the leader was secretly evil.

But one thing that is beginning to change my mind on the whole alignment issue is as follows. (Sorry for so many WoW references, I've played many other MMO's but the others were all sci-fi). The Scarlet Crusade consisted of many paladins to which were all extremists. If you weren't part of the Crusade, you were an enemy, yet dispite their "fallen" ways, they still had holy powers.

And a real life example are the Templar Knights. Supposed to be holy warriors, they fought and killed for land when the logical thing for their religion was to not even start the war in the first place. Yet they are still seen as holy.


Maybe my one best option is to explain how such a holy character can do such wrong. Maybe they holy person really just has access to holy spells and that the deity doesn't care so much about what they do as long as their powers are being used. Or that they will be judged in the "afterlife" that we will never see. Or that any evil action will just have an NPC response (just words than anything else).

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