[MUD-Dev] Something complete different

Brandon J. Rickman ashes at pc4.zennet.com
Mon Oct 20 15:26:09 CEST 1997

On Mon, 20 Oct 1997, Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl> wrote:
>On Wed 08 Oct, Brandon J. Rickman wrote:
>> I am, it turns out, not after realism at all.  I am interested in 
>> storytelling.

>This is a distinction that occasionally causes heated debates  on the
>various mud newsgroups. Realism in muds does not mean 'like the world
>in which we live'.  Rather it means that the world behaves consistent
>and predictable.  This includes that rabbits are easily killed every-
>where or nowhere (to borrow from another subject on this list) and it
>means that people should not, in general manipulate more objects than
>they can hold in their hands.
>Advanced realism (that the talk here was about) requires things like:
>if a tree is downed by something  it is really down  and stays on the
>ground.  Characters should not normally be able to defeat tens of op-
>ponents at the same time and so on.

I have a lot of film theory bubbling around in my head right now which
I could apply here but I'm trying not to.  Just about anything causes
heated debate on r.g.m.admin, that and the fact that almost every time
you post to a newsgroup you get put on a spam email list is why I don't
bother reading them much anymore.

What are the cases where /realism/ isn't so important to storytelling?
There is the famous Man-Eating Rabbit from Monty Python Quest for the
Holy Grail (the most common source for high-level rabbit monsters in
muds).  It takes special means to kill this special rabbit, violating
the "easily killed everywhere or nowhere" rule of realism.

Characters defeating tens of opponents at once is a staple of heroic
action movies.  Similarly, guns never need to be reloaded until that
critical moment when suddenly the hero (or bad guy) runs out of bullets.

There is the debate about whether "heros" in a role-playing game
are superior examples of their race.  Yet, in most muds, the player-heroes
start out _weaker_ than almost anybody else of their race.  So it isn't
the starting state of the hero that is un-realistically heroic, it is the
high probability that the hero could eventually become superhuman.
Outside of death there is little tragedy in the life of a rpg hero, in
muds [where death is only a penalty] even more so.  For example, few
players are likely to play a crippled character [either because it
is perceived as "insulting" (to the truly disabled) or because there
is alway a magic healer in town].  Realism, where the world is consistent
and predictable, is simply too risky, too tragic, or too

In my personal opinion, as always, attempts to build a realistic
representation of the world can be useful and rewarding.  But in most
cases, realism tends to take priority over the creation of an
interesting environment for interaction - interaction with the 
world the designers made and interaction with other entitites.
Killing rabbits is easy in a realistic world because it can become
mechanical.  Being able to train killer rabbits, on the other hand,
involves a much more sophisticated, and potentially unrealistic, way
of interacting with the world.  But if mud gods can do it, why 
can't the players?

- Brandon Rickman - ashes at zennet.com -
While I have never previously found a need for a .sig, this
may be considered one for the purposes of this list

More information about the mud-dev-archive mailing list