relevance of paper RPGs (was Re: [MUD-Dev] D& D vs. MMORPG "complexity")

Threshold RPG business at
Tue May 20 02:10:34 CEST 2003

On 15 May 2003, at 17:37, Troy Fisher wrote:

> With the point at hand I think it is essential to 'lift' the
> design of a paper system for use in a MUD.  In fact I would go so
> far as to say anyone or any system that does not use design
> elements from paper systems is broken, or will be broken.

I think this is quite possibly one of the WORST ways to design a

This is a square peg, round hole situation. A pen-and-paper system
is designed to be simple and playable by people sitting around a
table. It is designed to minimize the amount of dice rolls and
calculations that need to be done so gameplay can flow.

If you have a powerful computer at your disposal and all you do with
it is roll a d20, you have seriously wasted your resources.

> Development Time. It takes time to develop an RPG.  It's a fact.
> To create all the aspects of it from scratch is just a monumentous
> job.  Writing a Mud from scratch takes time.

As it should. If you are not willing to put 1-2 years into the
development of a game, then you have no business adding another game
to the massive pile of games that already drown out the marketplace
and make it extremely hard for a new player to find one of the
quality ones.

> Why spend the time developing your own system from scratch and
> waste the time that could better be used developing your code, or
> playtesting your system?

Your question is basically: Why make a good game when you can make a
cheap, stock knock off?

> Enjoyment.  A Paper system has one goal in mind, to sell books!

> Playability.  Most paper systems have had the snot tested out of
> them.


> Balance.  This is the most important factor in taking paper
> systems and applying them to a MUD.  First off, I have never
> played or heard of a MUD that is balanced properly (I haven't
> played every mud!)  Most Muds apply patches to fix the balance
> issue, remorts, level eq, etc..  Yet I have yet to play a paper
> system that is grossly broken.

That's funny. Every single PnP game I have played is hideously
unbalanced. It is generally not relevant because the DM can tweak it
on the fly by handing out extra stat points, magic items to suit the
'weaker' character, etc.

Michael Hartman, J.D. (
President & CEO, Threshold Virtual Environments, Inc.

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