[MUD-Dev] Locker/Theft/Anti-Hoarding System Idea

Andrew Snelling asnellin at san.rr.com
Tue Dec 26 18:05:18 CET 2000

This is an idea I've been pondering, as a solution to the 'hoarding'
problem that many muds/mmorpgs have. It's sort of based on the
'locker' system that I've seen on some muds, coupled with a thievery
system. Given the 'nothing under the sun' rule it's probably already
been thought of and implemented somewhere, but I thought I'd offer it
for comment.
Basically, the concept is that each character in the game has a 'home'
of some sort, ranging from a bed in a common inn for new players, to
housing or castles for the moderate to advanced players. These may not
actually be represented in real space, depending on the structure of
the world, but every character would have a place to call 'home' and a
stash there, which would go with them when and if they upgraded to
better lodgings.
This stash would have a large capacity, possibly
unrestricted. However, it would have a different kind of limit on what
could be put in it: the power level of the character. Depending on
level, or some other measurement, a character could keep a certain
total value of objects in the stash. This value might be monetary, or
more likely based on the power of the objects, or a
combination. Anything placed in the stash beyond this limit would be
vulnerable to theft by other players. The player would be explicitly
told when they had exceeded the limit, and perhaps allowed to specify
which of their possessions would be protected and which left
vulnerable. The limit should be generous enough that a character can
retain everything she needs to play, plus some treasure and other
things picked up along the way (gold would perhaps be exempt, or
perhaps not).
There would, of course, be no guarantee a player would lose the extra
items to a thief, but no guarantee she wouldn't, either. There is a
notable difference here from the UO theft model, which allowed only
PvP theft (although house robberies were still common, despite all
attempts to code them out of existence). It shifts away from the
confrontational aspects of thievery, and gives thieves a clear
economic role in the system, and a justification. Because the stash
size would increase with player power, as well, this would suppress
the 'mule' syndrome since placing items of power in a newbie stash
would be approximately equivalent to losing them. Twinking would still
be possible, of course, but the patron would have to retrieve any
overpowered items at the end of each session to prevent their loss.
Additionally, this opens up the possibility of putting unique,
quest-related items and clues into the hands of players without
risking them disappearing into stashes and never being seen
again. These items can simply be marked as extremely high value, or
even 'infinite' value to make them always stealable, and in this way
they will be guaranteed to remain in circulation until a dedicated
player comes along to guard them and research their mysteries and,
ultimately, become involved in the plot.
Which brings me to the thief aspect. A thief could be caught, if
noticed by players or npcs, although the chance of him being caught
would be directly related to the value of the item they are trying to
steal and his skill as a thief. This means that below a certain power
level he would be effectively guaranteed to successfully steal an
item, at least if nobody was actively watching him. Trying to steal
something of greater power would result in more chance of passing
npcs/town guards/players noticing the act and having the option of
doing something about it.
A thief would be able to identify, from afar, the value of a
particular stash, although he would not know what it held, and thus
items of extraordinary power would attract thieves like flies. It
would be possible to retain items of power beyond your capacity, but
only through vigilant defense of the item's location. For example, a
player monarch with a castle would be able to post pc and npc guards
to keep the thieves away, but if this is neglected or abandoned, the
item returns to circulation. Of course, it works the other way as
well: If a thief makes off with your item of power, vigilant hunting
would eventually turn up its location and allow you to catch the thief
or steal the item back. Unless, of course, it was delivered to a rival
monarch who was interested in defending it from you. In which case you
might need to find a skilled thief of your own...
Also key to this system is the ability to 'punish' caught thieves, ie,
those who try to steal things far beyond their skill, in such a manner
as to keep them out of your hair for a certain period of time, but
that's a whole other set of ideas...

I've already identified one flaw, which is that people with always-on
net connections will have an incentive to sit online forever, with the
object in their personal inventory, to protect it. So, if of you
professionals want to helpfully comment/dissect/shred this, feel
free. :>

-- Andrew

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