Tao of the Hunt
Letters to the editor
- A Shriner
Player Killers Exposed
- Lexley Vaughan
Ethics and Virtual Reality
- Chuck Haeberle
It's Only A Game
You Were Different When You Were A Player!
- Selina Kelley
Role-Play vs. Multi-play
- Brad Smith
Art of Language Independence
- Ben Greer
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Role-Play vs. Multi-play
by Brad Smith
As I sit down, trying to quench my addiction to D&D by mudding, an
interesting question comes to mind. While multi-playing is prominent on
many online games, does it reduce a player's ability to role-play? I
feel, that in all actuality, it does.
I'm as big a fan of multi-playing as the next guy (or gal). Who
doesn't enjoy the ability to run not one, but two (or even more, although
two is usually the limit) characters? This, from only a player's
standpoint is usually very fun. However, there is also the admin side of
Clan McRae's ancestral home.
The administrators of most muds do not allow multi-playing. There are a few
administrative advantages to not allowing multi-play. First, there is the
challenge of having more than one character to control. While some people
will create interesting personalities for each character, most of the
time, these "multis" are nothing but mindless drones being pulled around
for experience and levels. While this is not necessarily bad on
some muds (e.g. talkers), those striving for role-playing should really
wonder why 30% of their realm is introverted.
The second point, and one that affects a large majority of mud players
is conflict of interest. Sure, you could have five, six, twenty
characters all in different positions in the realm. (This goes double for
muds that have an active clan and player-killing system). Even the best
role-player who keeps his characters completely separate from each other
will get accused of not role-playing, and using his characters in a manner
that is based upon personal gain and benefit. There are some people who
will actively try to use every one of their characters for personal gain.
These are the people who will put a character in every clan, and when you
kill one of their characters, drag half of the mud into a massive battle.
While the odds of 50 to 1 may seem good in gambling, they're not that
great in player-killing.
Now, there are various solutions to the problem. The first is removing
things like clans and player-killing. This, of course, won't work. Why?
Because pulling these aspects out is more detrimental to role-playing than
the worst abuser of multi-play. Also, trying to "fix" these skills to
avoid conflicts of interest is near impossible and takes time away from
work that could be put into the mud.
The other obvious solution is to remove multi-playing. In an ideal mud
world, having no multi-play would lead to many beneficial aspects.
First, people would actually (heaven forbid) have to meet people! This
takes your introverts and makes them massive extroverts. With detailed
alignment code, you would have your paladins fighting side by side with
holy clerics, and evil vile demon worshippers playing with dark priests
and antipaladins. This "variety" in groups makes for better role-playing
people won't use their cleric in the holy light of goodness to heal
someone deeply tainted in shadow.)
Second, it gives people time to delicately refine their character's
personality. If you want a warrior who is kindly and benevolent to anyone
who is kind enough to smile and give him the time of day, you can work and
refine this kindly warrior into someone with needs, wants, and desires.
(Perhaps he lost his wife and he's only smiling to keep from crying?)
This even works for the characters with evil alignment. Perhaps you want
a young mage or thief hungry for power. The lack of multi-play gives a
good chance for that mage to make a name for herself without being beaten
senseless by everyone and their multi.
Third, it encourages good role-playing. The excuse "He's my
and "He's my brother" might work well with multi-playing, but without
serious work, this excuse can lead to a pitiful attempt to create
individual characters. These characters, once brother/father/uncle to
your other character, might instead become a member of a rival house that
is against your family. Or maybe just someone totally different from all
your other characters. The lack of multi-play helps add anonymity to your
characters. Without a blunder on your part, or some higher being
divulging your secret, you can be as bad as you want to be.
Lastly, it stops what I lovingly call "kit sharing". This sharing is
taking all of your equipment off your warrior, and giving it to, for
example, your paladin. I really see no logical role-playing excuse for
giving all of your belongings to someone, only to take them back after a
day has passed, and giving it back in three more.
Sadly, most muds are not ideal, and need multi-playing to attract
players. These muds, while boasting excellent code and in-depth areas,
need the extra boost of "You can have a cleric and a warrior!" to
bring new mudders, thirsty for power, to their realm. This is much easier
than giving them all remorts within a week. Plus, it's easier to adjust
NPC's by giving them more hitdice, damagedice, or even more spells and
So, in conclusion, should mudding be solely resticted to one character
online per person? Perhaps. If you strive for role-playing, it's
definitely an experiment worth trying. But, if your main interest is
running a mud where players can create ten characters on two sets of
equipment, or even a mud where role-playing isn't important, then perhaps
multi-playing is right for you.
October 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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