|Dilemma:||It makes sense that a character should be
able to specialize on several levels. First of all, they should be able to
choose a broad area of expertise, such as melee fighting, psionics, or
alchemy. Within that, they should be able to focus their studies in an
area, such as fire alchemy or earth alchemy. Ideally, we'd like to let
them specialize further, say in using earth alchemy to form barriers.
If we broke up all skills to the lowest level (the extreme specialization) and allowed the player to build each up separately, however, then they might choose to become very good in selected specialties (such as earth alchemical barriers) without putting any work into related skills (such as earth alchemical regeneration, or fire alchemical barriers). Moreover, they could choose several totally unrelated specialties -- perhaps one in alchemy, another in psionics, and another in necromancy. If we gave them enough "skill points" to be passably good in all skills in a group (such as all alchemy involving a particular set of three elements), then they could excel in several very narrow areas.
While this might make for an amusing game, it certainly seems to push the borders of realism. Also, it dramatically increases the combinations of powerful, unrelated skills that characters might combine, and would therefore make balancing the game extremely difficult.
|Possible Solution:||Rather than simply composing a list of all
the extreme specializations, set up a hierarchy of skills. For example,
there might be a skill for each element of alchemy, and then subskills
used for specific kinds of alchemy involving that element. When the
character performs an action, they derive bonuses based on the level of
the specialized subskill being used, but also based on the higher-level,
Do not allow the broader skills to be raised directly. Instead, the broad skill is based on the levels of the subskills beneath it (probably an average, or a sum divided by some arbitrary constant). Becoming skilled in a particular specialization therefore confers a lesser bonus on related skills. By practicing many related specialties, each confers bonuses upon the other and the overall skill in the area is higher.
The tree could be several layers deep, conferring larger bonuses on closely related skills and smaller ones on remotely related skills. Theoretically, the depth does not need to be the same for all parts of the tree, but if it is not constant, this raises questions as to the relative "value" of the end skills (the ones that are raised directly) and therefore has the potential to significantly complicate the mathematics of character construction and advancement.
|Dilemma:||Whenever a new character is created, it
seems reasonable that they should begin the game with some equipment.
Entering the world naked, unarmed, and without a penny to your name seems
a rather wearisome way to start. Moreover, in the spirit of making
character creation very customizable, we would like to allow the player to
alter his starting equipment and wealth (with appropriate tradeoffs).
However, once the character has entered the game, this equipment or wealth could presumably be transferred to another player character. The character which possessed it initially could then be deleted and a new character created, which might even immediately take the other character's wealth. The players therefore have the ability to create wealth and bring it into the game at virtually no cost.
|Possible Solution:||Place a very strict limit on the amount of
cash that a character can start with (make it trivial), and prevent the
character from transferring or dropping any of the items/equipment with
which he starts the game (they may, of course, be consumed or destroyed).
The only starting equipment or wealth that can be transferred is the cash,
and this amount is too low to make it worth the player's while to do so.
Of course, this is a rather inelegant solution, doesn't particularly make sense, and has the potential for interfering with all sorts of perfectly legitimate activity.
|Possible Partial Solution:||All starting equipment and wealth is
tracked for a period. Any time a character is deleted within a certain
time period (perhaps a month or so) of being created, all that character's
starting resources are automatically removed from the game. This means all
of the character's starting equipment and gold, any equipment purchased
from an NPC with that gold, and any gold obtained by selling the starting
equipment to an NPC -- regardless of who is carrying it at the time.
Players conducting trades will be able to see whether money/equipment has
this "newbie" status, and the date at which it will lose it and
Alternatively, simply disallow characters from being deleted within a month of their creation if more than a certain (small) cash value of their starting wealth or equipment has left their possession.
The problem with this, of course, is that there is no particular reason why the character would need to be deleted -- it could simply not be played. This might become a better deterrent if combined with limitations on the number of active characters per player or some similar restriction.
At best, though, this would likely be effectively the same as the above solution, except that people choosing to abuse the system now have a way around it. Players would generally not want to trade for money or equipment that might suddenly disappear.
|Possible Partial Solution:||To at least keep players from giving
equipment to themselves in this way, track all starting equipment for a
period of time (perhaps a month or so) and do not allow it to be picked
up, carried, or otherwise used by any other character controlled by the
same player while it is marked. If it is impractical to track money in
this way, starting currency could be of a special type that cannot be
dropped or given to another player, but can still be used to buy from NPCs.
This doesn't seem to prevent the player from starting with a lot of money, buying something, and transferring it, though -- also, it doesn't prevent one player from giving money or equipment to another.
|Dilemma:||It seems like it would be a great feature
to be able, under certain circumstances, to imprison a character. This
could be useful for certain quests (if the player gets captured somehow)
and for "criminal justice." However, if players can run their
own justice systems in areas they control (and especially if they are
allowed to take prisoners of war), then it must be possible for one player
to imprison another player's character. If this is the case, how can this
power be limited to prevent its misuse?
|Possible Solution:||Although different rules might apply to
NPCs, players could be prevented from forcibly moving other players'
characters (or applying restraints, etc.) unless the targeted character
either gives consent or is unconscious. If one player is capable of
rendering another unconscious, then he is almost certainly capable of
killing him, which seems like it would rarely be preferable to
imprisonment for the victim.
|Idea:||Personal restraints (ropes, etc.),
especially those commonly available, are relatively easy for the captive
to break free from (given time) if he is not kept under guard; therefore,
in order for these to remain effective long-term, the captor must either
constantly supervise the captive, or be able to hire a guard. While you
can theoretically keep someone captive even if they log off, they will
have the option to instruct the computer to make their character attempt
to break free if an opportunity presents itself, and furthermore can log
back in at any time, so the greater burden of attention is placed upon the
captor. You cannot instruct your character to watch a prisoner when you
log off. NPC guards sleep, and so to thoroughly guard a captive, several
hired guards would need to work in shifts.
Prison cells (which are capable of holding someone for a longer period of time) could be hard to come by, so it would be very difficult for a random vagabond to make use of one. Someone with appropriate skills (pick lock, etc.) could also probably still break out of one (given ample time) in the absence of guards, so it is necessary not only to build such a cell but also to staff it.