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Alignment and Reputation

It is Holiday Season here at Goblinworks, and as we're perched on the edge of Seattle that means lots of rainy days and cloudy skies. Luckily the holiday break is rapidly approaching, and the Goblinworks team is going to be scattering to the four winds to see friends & family. As a result our blog posting schedule is going to be disrupted through the start of the new year. We will likely not have a blog on the 1st, but we will likely have a blog on or before the 8th.

This time last year we were deep into the "excitement" of the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter. Every day was a struggle to come up with imaginative new things to offer the community to induce you to help fund our project. A year later we're focused on building the game that your generosity helped make possible. It is hard to imagine that a whole year has passed—it vanished in the blink of an eye.

On behalf of myself, Mark, Lisa, Mike, Lee, and all the staff at Goblinworks we wish you a happy holiday and a wonderful New Year!

And now, we turn our attention to a critical system of great interest to all players.

A long time ago (or at least it feels like a long time ago), we laid out our plan for the Reputation and Alignment systems in Pathfinder Online. While the core of this plan has not changed, some of the specifics have. In today's blog, Lee goes over the plans again as there have been a lot of discussions about them and some minor tweaks since we last presented them.

Reputation

Reputation is our system for measuring how a player behaves in game. We want to provide a means by which a player can judge the aggressiveness of other players at a glance, get some idea how likely they are to attack, and get an idea as to their social behavior. Reputation only affects your interactions with other players; it has no bearing on your interactions with NPCs, quests, escalation cycles, or other PvE content. A character with a high Reputation is likely someone who only engages in PvP via feuds, wars, or factional combat (if he engages in PvP at all), while a character with low Reputation likely attacks people regardless of those PvP structures or is rude or abusive to other players. Reputation has no direct effect on combat, crafting, or skills, but does limit availability of training, facilities, and social interactions.

Reputation ranges from -7,500 to 7,500, with starting characters having a Reputation of 1,000. For each hour of play time during which the character does not lose Reputation, he gains Reputation. The exact amount of Reputation is likely to change multiple times in testing, but currently we're shooting for 1 Reputation per hour (minus .25 Reputation for every 2500 points below 0). So a character with -5000 Reputation would only get .5 Reputation per hour during which he did not lose Reputation. This means it can be pretty hard to dig yourself out of a Reputation hole. Every four straight hours the character earns Reputation, the amount earned increases slightly (currently by .25), up to a limit of something like 10 points per hour. So if a character behaves for four hours, he'll start earning 1.25 Reputation per hour instead of 1.

We've been working with the concept of Hostility: anyone who is at war with your settlement, feuding with your company, in an enemy faction and set up for factional PvP, or flagged as Criminal or Heinous is displayed as Hostile to you. You can attack them without fear of Reputation loss and they are treated as an enemy. There is a hierarchy to Hostility, so if you are in the same group with someone from a company you are feuding with, that party member is treated as an ally as long as you are in the group together.

When a character attacks a character who was not Hostile, the character making the attack gets flagged as an Attacker. If the character with Attacker hits their target again in the next thirty seconds, they become Hostile, and lose Reputation. Note that Reputation is lost on striking a target twice rather than on death; this means Reputation is lost when your intention to kill someone is made clear rather than if you are successful.

The amount lost is determined using a formula that uses the target's Reputation and ability scores. You lose more Reputation if the target has high Reputation and/or low ability scores (because low ability scores are a good measure of a newer character). Also you lose more Reputation for killing members of your settlement, group, player nation, company, faction, etc. We're looking at other ways to increase new player Reputation gain rates and make killing them inflict more Reputation loss. Our goal is to create a system where killing new players or people who are completely uninvolved in PvP are pretty punishing, while killing average players is moderately punishing, and killing low Reputation PvP players does not cost much Reputation.

We created the temporary Attacker aspect of the system to account for accidental attacks (like catching an ally in a Fireball); if you mistakenly hit a target and don't follow up, you can avoid Rep loss. However, if you have the Attacker flag and your target dies by another means before it expires, you still lose Reputation. This is to prevent players from attacking targets and then leading them into monsters to avoid Reputation loss, or getting a large group of players together and having each person attack the target once.

Characters with the Attacker flag (or that are otherwise rendered Hostile) can be attacked by other players without suffering Reputation loss. So if you accidentally hit someone, you'd best apologize quickly: they can hit you, or even kill you, if they can manage it in thirty seconds.

Characters that lose Reputation for a kill are flagged with the stackable Killer debuff, which is only visible to the player that has it. It lasts for four hours, and, if you suffer Reputation loss due to killing a player character in that span of time, the timer resets and your Killer stack increases by 1. For every stack of Killer you have, your Reputation losses increase by 20%. If you reach Killer 10 you gain the Mass Murderer flag and become Hostile to everyone for 24 hours.

Reputation can also be lost if the player is flagged for abusive behavior, such as racist comments, camping, abusing new players, etc. All the specifics of reporting and verifying such behavior are still being worked out but we hope to create a system that allows as much community control as possible.

The means by which we display Reputation is not set yet, but it will likely be some manner of icon over your character when targeted. It will display the general range of your Reputation so others can know what sort of threat you pose. More detailed information can be found by "inspecting" you via a character interaction option.

Alignment

Alignment is a measure of the character's morale fiber as measured along two axes: Good vs. Evil and Law vs. Chaos. The initial Alignment system is not going to be too complex, as detecting good or evil acts within the game is pretty hard aside from some specific actions. Making the system more robust is going to be a long term goal. That said, we think even the basic system is enough to get started with (and Alignment is a core feature of Pathfinder, so we don't want to leave it out).

Like Reputation, each Alignment axis runs the range from -7500 to 7500. On the Law vs. Chaos axis, Chaos is on the -7500 end while Law is at the 7500 end, and on the Good vs. Evil axis, Evil is at -7500 and Good is at 7500. For example, a character with -5000 on Law vs. Chaos and 5000 on Good vs. Evil is Chaotic Good.

Each player character effectively has two alignments, each with a rating on both Alignment axes: Core Alignment and Active Alignment.

  • Core Alignment is chosen at character creation and is the intended Alignment of the character. It is set at the middle of the ranges for the selected Alignment, so a Lawful Good character will have with 5000 in both Lawful and Good. Core Alignment can be changed by players at any time, but only to match the character's current Active Alignment.
  • Active Alignment is how your character is behaving. It begins at your Core Alignment values, but changes based on player action. For example if you choose Lawful Good as your core alignment but go around breaking laws and raising undead you'll quickly find your Active Alignment is no longer Lawful Good.

The following can change a character's Active Alignment:

  • Committing acts that are crimes in territory controlled by a settlement gets you the Criminal flag and decreases your Law vs. Chaos rating. Settlements can set a number of laws based on their Settlement Alignment.
  • Committing acts that are outright evil, like raising undead, gets you the Heinous flag and decreases your Good vs. Evil rating.
  • Killing random NPCs, like farmers or merchants, reduces your Good vs. Evil.
  • Attacking players who are not Hostile reduces your Good vs. Evil by a small but fixed amount (essentially, if you lose Rep, you also become more Evil).
  • Certain quests or other activities may reward Alignment points, both positive and negative.
  • Each hour you do not act contrary to your Core Alignment (i.e., do not gain any points that move you away from your Core), you slowly move back towards your Core Alignment. If you do not act contrary to their Core Alignment, you will eventually return to it. This does mean if you have 7000 in Good, it will slowly trend down towards 5000 Good.

Alignment has a number of mechanical effects on characters:

  • Some abilities, like Paladin feats and skills, are only available to characters of certain alignments. You can only learn and slot those abilities if both your Active and Core Alignment match the Alignment requirement. Also some of these abilities may require abnormally high or low Alignment scores, such as a Paladin ability that requires 7000 in both axes.
  • You can only join companies, settlements, and factions that are within one Alignment step (e.g., Lawful Good to Lawful Neutral or Neutral Good) of your own Core Alignment.
  • We've talked about having some sort of debuff when your Core and Active Alignment do not synch up, but we're not sold on it yet.

Alignment is not obvious and can only be detected via certain magical abilities. Note that even if you know a character is Evil or Chaotic, if you kill him while he is not flagged for PvP it is an evil act. Killing Evil or Chaotic (or Chaotic Evil) characters without cause is an Evil act.

Settlements, Reputation, and Alignment

Having a negative Reputation will mean that certain settlements will be off limits to you. Having a Reputation below -2500 means you cannot safely enter most NPC or starter settlements. Player settlements can set a minimum Reputation to enter safely; if your Reputation is below this value the guards will attack you and none of the NPCs will talk to you. Higher end structures, like tier 2 and 3 training and crafting facilities, require the settlement have its minimum Reputation set to certain levels to function. So if you want your town to have awesome training and crafting facilities, you have to set a high minimum Reputation to enter the settlement. This means characters that do a lot of PvP outside of wars, feuds, and such will be forced to visit less developed settlements that are wretched hives of scum and villainy.

Each settlement has an Alignment that is set by the founding company when the settlement is created. It must be within one Alignment step of the leader of the founding company and the company itself. Once set it can only be changed by leaders of the settlement with sufficient permissions. Only characters within one Alignment step in both their Core and Active Alignment can join the settlement, and if your Core Alignment falls out of that range you are forced out of the settlement.

Settlement Alignments have two mechanical effects aside from controlling settlement membership.

  • Corruption: Corruption measures how much inefficiency there is in your settlement, decreasing income from taxes and other fees. Corruption starts high for Chaotic settlements and low for Lawful settlements, but as laws are broken in the settlement its Corruption increases. So a Lawful settlement that enforces its laws poorly can end up with more Corruption than a Chaotic settlement (which is required to set fewer laws).
  • Unrest: Unrest measures how unhappy your NPCs are, causing them to work less hard and decreasing crafting and training efficiency so they take longer. Unrest starts high for Evil settlements and low for Good settlements, but, like with Corruption, Unrest increases when vile deeds are committed. Thus a Good settlement that does not patrol its borders for necromancers and the like may end up with higher Unrest than an Evil settlement (because peasants in an Evil domain are somewhat inured to the immorality of their rulers).

We know that striking the right balance of how fast Reputation and Alignment changes is going to be critical to making these systems work and be fun. During Early Enrollment we'll be experimenting with all the "dials" on these boards, seeing how various changes affect the play experience. We're also going to be talking with the community about the kinds of things that should cause Reputation loss, and changes in Alignment. As with all Pathfinder Online game systems, our goal is to start with a simple, basic set of rules, and then allow the Community to help guide us in making them more complex over time.

Our overriding goals for these two systems are simple. We want players to know how their character's actions will impact the experience they have as they play (the "no surprises" rule). And we want to use them as a part of an integrated, multi-dimensional plan to encourage good and fun play and a strong and healthy community by identifying players who are more interested in being disruptive and toxic than in sharing our values, and letting them know they need to change that behavior if they want to remain a part of our community, or enabling us to identify those who need to be removed (the "don't be a jerk" rule).

Discuss this blog on paizo.com.