[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Tue Feb 1 21:53:36 CET 2000

On Mon, 31 Jan 2000 00:53:05 -0800 
Lovecraft  <dave at darkages.com> wrote:

> J C Lawrence wrote:
>> A simple model:

> * Non-Political * The model doesn't state what status gives.  

Good point.  My intent was that the definition of the positions and
the powers thereby invested in it et al would be defined by the
social group which creates the position.

I intensely dislike the common trend of trying to wedge fit current
political systems (democracy, oligarchies, feudal systems etc) into
MUD societies, usually by the game designers/programmers
pre-implementing the structures for the players and them attempting
to wedge them into them without any sort of self-modufying feedbak
loops.  I'm almost conviced that the concept of directly applying RL
political and social systems to VR is inerhently flawed and that
given the chance a VR-unique organisational system will eveolve
which more closely fits the functional structures of virtual


This is one of the reasons I'm so pleased to see that you allow your
players to define the laws, rules, and mechanics of their societies
in DarkAges (not sure why I didn't mention it before).  I've been
thinking for a while now about a system that would allow the members
of a group to dynamically define themselves, and the patterns that
tie and rule them in-game without necessarily resorting, but just
haven't come up with an algebra capable of expressing such rules
that was not also not overwhelming to lay players.

> If it only gives unique identification, such as luxurious clothing
> or wealth or other non-coercive power points, then it sounds fun,
> but not political.  Asheron's Call's allegiance system is similar
> to this, which is a good system.


Bother.  Either.  Or.

> * Political * If it is a political model, and if there is implied
> responsibility with greater rank, then historic (as opposed to
> romantic) feudalism or bureacracy may develop.

Yup.  I suspect at this point in VR societal development that the
base nature to evolve towards heirachial systems cannot and should
not be fought, but should instead be actively encouraged and even
accesllerated so as to strengthen the violence and force of the
reaction against.  This way we can really get the pendulmn swinging,
breathe some life and activity into the political evolutionary
process, and get the bloody ball rolling.

> Historic feudalism is better than barbarism and it is like an
> innoculation to barbarism.  

Precisely.  A "reaction against".

> If you have your lord's protection, barbarians (as meaning: any
> hostile outsiders) will not loot you.  However, the same locked
> loyalty can overwhelm sense of justice, which many users demand.
> The lord will retain power with the aid of the vassal (appointee).
> The appointee needs the lord to retain power to retain his own
> power.  Just vassals will not become unjust, but they will lose
> their positions more often than an unjust, but highly loyal and
> highly effective, vassal.  This is not to say the simple model is
> bad, but that it needs a few buttresses to counter act cronyism.

I'd argue the other side: Actively encourage cronyism and the like,
and then once it gets bad enough, start shoring up the capabilities
for the system to then swing in some other direction ("expressive
fertility"), and see what happens on the other end of the swing.
Then just repeat the process ad infinitum, keeping on throwing
capabilities and supports in there for players to build organisation
without actually (you) ever defining how those organsiations should
be structured, built, organised, or function (ie leave that to the

We need polotical revolutions, assinations, coups etc.  I realise
that this is not a popular position (it means that a large number of
players will be very upset and uncomfortable for extended periods),
but I'd rather get the pain over with quickly than a more protracted

> Another variant of the historic feudalism is organized criminal
> law.  It's the same function: replace "lord" with "leader" and
> vassal with "follower".  Replace "tribute" with "favors".

Bingo.  There's been discussion of this here previously.

> Hierarchic bureacracy may be the next--slightly more just--stable
> state of the simple model.  


A problem with the RP accural system is that it effectively mandates
a heirarchial system of collection feeding thru a tree to
increasingly few nodal points.  One of the obvious next steps would
be to build a variety of systems to allows for cross-links to be
established, attempting to turn the trees into bushes, and then
finally into meshes more than vertical structures.

> Again, this is not to say the model is bad, but that this director
> believes it could, as is, evolve into one of the two above stable
> states.  Each is stable because each has "locks".  Feudalism locks
> support in this model; and bureacracy locks support in this model.
> A more justice-conscious system will be unstable, because
> feudalism or bureacracy will be more effective at retaining power.

<nod> You'd have to aggressively destablise them by adding enough
capabilities to encourage the development of other systems.

> The part about, "Should the high ranking player lose his position
> thru lack of RP's, all appointees will also lose their position as
> it they had failed to acquire enough RPs to maintain their own
> position." if changed will create more just stable states.  First,
> and most boring, is to eliminate this part and make the model even
> simpler.  Doing so eliminates some cooperation.

Aye, the goal of that statement was to encourage volatility and
political overthrow.

> A couple variants may be worth testing: 1. "For an initial amount
> of time ... Should the high ranking ..."  2. "For an initial
> amount of time Should the high ranking ..."  And when this time
> period expires the high ranking player may negotiate with the
> appointee to buy him again.  This causes the high-ranking player
> to renew his benefit.  Indentured servant becomes employee.
> Bureacratic underling becomes contracted service.

Mmmm, I like.  These are obvious extensions that players could
define for the model they are attempting to create.  More grist for
the mill and the revolutionaries.

> The political system Dark Ages uses is like the model mentioned
> without the "should the high ranking ..." part, and with details
> about rank-point interaction between players, including
> maintenance cost (as you wrote "automatic debit").  Even without
> the loyalty-incentive part, cronyism has rears it's head.  To
> date, anti-cronyism keeps it in check.  This is done by other
> players.  Some of the other players do it out of self-interest.
> An official that does not take action against a corrupt official
> is a co-conspirator in the eyes of this external operator.  I
> began politics feature believing I could reduce my time spent in
> politics and justice to where I would never even intervene.  It
> would be the perfect machine someone offered as example.  That was
> naive of me, but I personally find out what goes on, so find out
> and intervene as needed.


>> Have you had any voter disaffection, or voter apathy to a
>> significant/noticable extent?  Is the voting game effectively
>> played by only a small (and mostly constant) minority of the
>> players vieing among themselves, or do most players partake
>> fairly regularly proving a more general game of politiking?

> Yes.  Several voters do not consider their vote seriously[1].
> It's tossed for poor political criteria[2].

Are the "poor political reasons" your judgement, or their's?

<<footnotes moved up to immediately below>>

> [1] That's what voting does.  There is little real cost to a vote.
> When votes cost, decision making improves.  If a player pays a
> dollar to cast a vote, that vote will be considered more
> seriously.  Paying money for a vote is not acceptable to players,
> including game-money.  Some players will decry for free (no-cost
> to vote) democracy.  So no-cost to vote is a stable state, but the
> consequence is voter apathy.

Well, of course.  The various systems that penalise non-voting
(again, such as Australia's fine for not voting in an election),
just exacerbates this as it removes choice.

> [2] However, statistically, the end mix of officials contains
> enough good people.  As one advances to the higher ranks, the poor
> quality officials become more and more rare, because one needs
> more and more support from a (in the short term) fixed supply of
> citizens.  Higher ranks have prerequisites in the lower ranks.  No
> one gains sudden power.


J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                              Other: coder at kanga.nu
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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