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TexasJack

Idea for a hybrid version of Permadeath

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Hi all,

I'm researching ideas for an multiplayer rpg design, and I'm looking at penalties for when the player characters die.

I want a system which won't turn off players who have put in lots of effort to their character building, but I also want the stakes to be quite high, so I have come up with this system.

Players are given a "Sin" stat (or something similar).

PKing and other restless acts will add to your stat, but good deads lower the stat. When the player dies, their sin level is taken into account and the player enters a countdown. The higher the stat, the longer they spend waiting to respawn.

The players could even enter a hell, or a limbo stage of the game - where they are stranded until x amount of game time has elapsed.

Perhaps the sin stat could sink back down to zero after a long enough time passes without dying or sinning again - this way, innocent players who keep their noses clean, but defend themselves occasionally are spared unjust accumulations of sin?

I call it "Penitencedeath", a means of having a permadeath-esque element of risk, but without being quite as permanent.

The presence of a functional hell/limbo in a multiplayer rpg could also link in quite well to things like players cursing and hexing eachother. Player A placing a curse on Player B could result in a temporarily boosted sin stat... ...Demonic players who sell their souls for powers/perks/items must live with an elevated sin stat etc...

I think it could work pretty well, has anyone seen it tried before?

Let me know what you think.

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Sounds interesting. It reminds of one some of Richard Bartle's* ideas for MMORPGs. The idea of "morality" (defined in-game as anti-social behavior like PKing and excessive troublemaking) causing a little permanent stat degrading, only undone by doing 'pilgrimage' quests from temples to 'redeem' yourself and increase your morality rating.

The only thing I'd comment on specifically against your idea, is it has nothing to do with Permadeath (as no one permanently dies).

*[size=2]Mentioning him as someone who researches alot of MMORPG ideas and writes alot about them, not because I particularily agree with all of his ideas.

Personally, I'm a fan of creating ways for players to actually roleplay something like bandits or thieves, with networked assassin organizations and pickpocket organizations, smuggling networks, fences, and a black market network. This is completely hidden in the normal course of play from regular players, unless they know where to look and decide to build contacts with shady players.
Shady players with really negative morality ratings have bounties on their heads, are open PVP targets (once the bounty gets placed) even on non-PVP servers, and guards in cities attack them on site, but only if those guards specifically recognize the player (super well known in that specific city, or well-known nation-wide).

So you actually group players roleplaying criminal roles, but you up the actual difficulty of the game dramatically to meet how far they take their in-game unlawfulness (pickpocketting is less than murder, for example). Then you have actual methods that make sense within the world (Good players as bounty hunters, NPC guards, some kind of 'justice' system), to protect the civilian players from the criminal players. Then further, add additional methods for players to protect themselves (guilds), and further add incentives to play 'justly' (block access to certain areas, and certain quests, and certain features to criminal players).
But also make it fun (black market, criminal organizations/cartels, etc...) but increasingly challenging (real challenge, not artificial challenge), for players to play criminally.

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Here's the problem with the idea:

Look at any MMO that allows unlimited player agency, like Eve. Eve has, essentially, turned into a griefing game. The majority of players choose to play the 'bad,' guys, destroying other people's ships and taking their stuff. The NPC 'law' of the game is all but useless. At least that's how it was when I played, but I quit over a year ago because of those exact reasons. Hopefully they have fixed some of that stuff since, but given Eve's reputation, I doubt it.

Games like Eve prove that most players will choose the "bad," route in such games, because that route offers the path of least resistance, as well as the most catharsis. As such, the majority of players that join a server or area that allows PKing, are usually there for the sole purpose of PKing. For them, such a system that you propose would feel like punishment simply for playing the game the way they want to play it. This would result in a lot of player rage, and possibly dropping sales in your game because the players would feel as if they were being singled out simply because they enjoy PKing.

I'm not saying that your idea doesn't work. In fact everything that Servant pointed out I mostly agree with. But my mentioned example is something to keep in mind. Your system would only work in a game where the benefits of being the good guy and the benefits of being the bad guy are equal. One way to do this would be very harsh "legal" NPCs. I.e. somebody 'murders' someone, and the NPC law system basically declares them a murderer, and any other player may kill them for a hefty bounty (same thing could be reworked to only allow bounty hunters or player members of the law enforcement to kill them without penalty). This would force players who wanted to play the 'bad' guys to essentially form their own criminal underground, and could result in a much more balanced use of your idea, provided you balanced the system correctly of course.

I'm throwing these ideas very quickly, of course, so they are bound to have a multitude of holes, but I'm just shooting from the hip, so to speak. Another way to utilize your system would be to have it based upon a player's chosen morality. i.e. instead of a player having a particular morality forced upon him, he would choose a morality at the start of the game, and actions that violated it would increase your "sin," meter. This would allow the player's actions to have consequences without him feeling as if he is being punished. As in such a system, he would actually be rewarded for his playstyle, and only 'punished,' for things that deviated from it.

Another way to do it, is to cut out death altogether. When a player 'dies,' they would instead go to jail, or be captured by whichever faction killed them. They would stay imprisoned for the allotted amount of time, and then "respawn."

bottom line, interesting idea, but it would need a good deal of work on the underlying game mechanics to work without feeling like you're just punishing players who don't play the game, "Your way."

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I like your idea, although like many karma-related systems it does fall a bit on the preachy side. I have a few suggestions that may even it up:

1. After death the player has to complete a quest in the afterlife to be reincarnated. The quest differs depending upon what their goals are. For example, say you have good, evil and neutral alignments. Your alignment based upon your actions determines where you start in the afterlife world. There are 3 exits from the afterlife world, each corresponds to a spawn point in the real world: good town, neutral town and evil town. If you're really good you'll start near the good spawn point, and it will be quick to respawn in good town. If you're evil and want to respawn in the good town however, it will be quite a trek.
2. Same as above except the target corresponds to the "alignment" of your reincarnated self. Skills would be broken into good/neutral/evil too, for example lock-picking and assassination would be evil skills. Healing would be a good skill. Swordfighting and crafting would be neutral as people of any alignment may need them. If you reincarnate as "good", your evil skills will be "locked" or have a debuff until the next time you are killed.
3. Go the way SOTL suggested, create a simple framework for the community self-policing. Start with NPCs that do the job and PCs can replace them. PCs performing those roles have a buff or special weapons while performing the role, but can be voted out if corrupt.
4. Make spirituality a specific skill that can be practiced, or perhaps that is increased by other actions such as NOT constantly fighting. Spirituality lets you exit the spirit world faster. This means griefers either need to take time off griefing to increase their spirituality, or spend a lot of time waiting to respawn.

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I'm researching ideas for an multiplayer rpg design, and I'm looking at penalties for when the player characters die.[/quote]
Sending the player to another location (hell) upon death, doesn't really sound like a penalty. In my opinion PKing should be part of the game world, as well as permadeath. And instead of trying to prevent players behaving badly one should allow the players themselves to punish PKers as well as protect themselves from PKers. A system that allows bounty hunters and bodyguards would probably help here. Also, PKers attack players they thin they can defeat, so the less information about players your game gives to other players the better. If PKing becomes a risky activity (as it should be), then less people will do it.

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PKing and other restless acts will add to your stat, but good deads lower the stat. When the player dies, their sin level is taken into account and the player enters a countdown. The higher the stat, the longer they spend waiting to respawn.
...

I call it "Penitencedeath", a means of having a permadeath-esque element of risk, but without being quite as permanent.

To be honest, it sounds a little bit like being half pregnant.

I think that you need to distinguish between annoyance and fear.

When the only penalty is to wait longer, it gets just annoying. It is like grinding, watch a TV show while waiting for the counter to wear off. Permadeath is about the fear of loosing something valueable, you will only feel the full impact of permadeath after experienting the consequences.

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Sending the player to another location (hell) upon death, doesn't really sound like a penalty. In my opinion PKing should be part of the game world, as well as permadeath. And instead of trying to prevent players behaving badly one should allow the players themselves to punish PKers as well as protect themselves from PKers. A system that allows bounty hunters and bodyguards would probably help here. Also, PKers attack players they thin they can defeat, so the less information about players your game gives to other players the better. If PKing becomes a risky activity (as it should be), then less people will do it.


However it opens it up to griefers. A griefer could use an environmental feature (or a group of griefers could attack) with essentially throwaway characters that suffer permadeath.

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I think that you need to distinguish between annoyance and fear.

When the only penalty is to wait longer, it gets just annoying. It is like grinding, watch a TV show while waiting for the counter to wear off. Permadeath is about the fear of loosing something valueable, you will only feel the full impact of permadeath after experienting the consequences.


Good point. That's why my approach requires gameplay rather than a countdown where the player doesn't get to do anything.

On a different tack, there was a horror game... Amnesia?... where "death" means blacking out and being moved to a random location and all the monsters etc have moved. The "death" penalty was the fear of the unknown. Apparently it motivated quite well. So there are other approaches that motivate.

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Ok, here's a revision.

Penitencedeath remains as I suggested, but with a few additional features.

Sinners are assigned a bounty and capturing these players awards you their bounty, killing them does not increase your sin gauge. Killed sinners are sent to a hell stage, which could be made up of several rooms populated by fellow sinners, but nothing so interesting as to promote kamikaze tourism. An extra touch might be include a high-level spell which allows other players to visit the hell stage, to taunt prisoners, or as part of a quest.

Rewarding the capture of sinners would simulate the risky nature of a wayward playstyle and would also reward good players.

Perhaps to balance things, good deads could, after depleting the sin gauge, start building on an "innocence" stat. High innocence could increase your fortune, so your 30% chance of safely leaping a gap increases to 40% ect...

This also gives rise to a cool demographic of players, i.e. bounty hunters and vigilantes.


However it opens it up to griefers. A griefer could use an environmental feature (or a group of griefers could attack) with essentially throwaway characters that suffer permadeath.


Griefers doing this take care of themselves. If they kill one person, they are no big nuisance - if they kill several, they gain a high bounty, get hunted and spend a longer time in penitencedeath. Not to mention the fact that the only way to have a "throwaway" character would be to not invest time leveling it, this means that they would be using a puny low level character to orchestrate their griefing. This makes them less likely to get far on a killing spree, and much easier to dispatch by higher level players and bounty hunters.

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However it opens it up to griefers. A griefer could use an environmental feature (or a group of griefers could attack) with essentially throwaway characters that suffer permadeath.

It's the same regardless of permadeath.

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