Cookies Disclaimer

I agree Our site saves small pieces of text information (cookies) on your device in order to authenticate logins, deliver better content and provide statistical analysis. You can adjust your browser settings to prevent our site from using cookies, but doing so will prevent some aspects of the site from functioning properly.

I Shot a Man in Reno Just To Watch Him Die

Hail, fellow crowdforgers!

After last week's explosion of comments on the blog—over 900 messages in the discussion thread!—we wanted to quickly return to the same topic with some of the ideas we've been working on to address some of the issues you raised in the thread.

Lee Hammock, Lead Designer, outlines our current thinking below. As always, these represent our current ideas, and they are subject to revision based on your feedback and input!

PvP Flags Blog Post

Our most recent two blogs, Blood on the Tracks and Screaming for Vengeance revisited Player vs. Player interaction. As this is probably the hottest topic under discussion by the community, we are following up with a third blog to delve deeper into a new system that we're adding to the flags and security model we discussed earlier.

We're trying to do some complex stuff, modeling thousands of extremely complicated decisions normally made by the players and gamemaster into a relatively limited automated system, so it's going to take a lot of fiddling and refinement to get things working. We've been reading the forums as well as having a lot of internal discussions about how to improve the system, and this will be only one step towards that.

A quick note to everyone who backed the Kickstarter. Just finished a meeting with Paizo's tech team about the Fulfillment system. Current plans are to make it available to all the backers in the second half of March! When it goes live you'll be able to get your forum icons and manage your pledge and reward tiers (plus Add-Ons). We will get your email addresses from the Kickstarter Backer report so we have no need to use Kickstarter's Survey tool; the first notice you get about the Fulfillment system will come via the email address you use on Kickstarter.

Goals

The alignment and reputation system exists for three primary reasons:

  • Behavioral incentives and disincentives.
  • Player identification.
  • The Pathfinder RPG legacy.

Behavioral Incentives and Disincentives

Through the reputation system, we want to reward some behaviors while punishing others. For example, we want to punish the deaths of new players, repeated griefing, unsportsmanlike behavior, etc. that produce an overall negative amount of fun for the game as a whole. While almost everyone likes being the wolf, very very few people like being the sheep without rest or respite, and sooner or later, no matter how powerful you think you are, you will all be the sheep. Thus Reputation works to punish these behaviors by limiting people who partake in them from building particularly good settlements, being allowed in highly developed settlements, etc., in addition to bounties, death curses, and other mechanics.

So what are we trying to incentivize and disincentivize?

Behaviors we want:

  • Large PvP wars. (Thus wars eliminate all reputation losses.)
  • Players able to defend themselves without concern. (Thus the Attacker flag.)
  • Players to attack each other over resources, money, territory, etc.
  • Most PvP to occur outside of settlements where there are no guards, laws, etc.
  • Players who are not PvP combat machines having some ability to discourage attacks via bounties, death curses, reputation loss, etc., but these should not be so onerous as to prevent PvP if the profit potential is there.
  • Players able to play their alignment, but at the same time not grief players of opposite alignment. If one player is chaotic evil and another lawful good, each should not be able to abuse the other without limit or recourse.

Behaviors we don't want:

  • PvP conflicts where the death of the target means no gain for the attacker, i.e. randomly killing people for no reason.
  • Abuse of new players.
  • Players cooperating to game reputation and alignment systems to their advantage.
  • Players willfully committing crimes or evil acts under the shield of reputation or alignment penalties so onerous no one would try and stop them.

There are other behaviors aside from these, but this hopefully gets you the idea.

Player Identification

We think, given the structure of our game, alignment is a vital way in which players will identify themselves. Already on the forums we see settlements and companies recruiting using their alignment as a major feature or requirement to join. This sort of player identification is highly desirable as it encourages social interaction between people based on alignment; we already have folks lining up on various sides of the good-vs.-evil and law-vs.-chaos axes, forming alliances and enmities based primarily on alignment. We really want to encourage that, but at the same time, we can't let the game turn into a grief experience for one alignment or another.

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Alignment exists as a major part of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, so we want to have it in Pathfinder Online. Restrictions like paladins being lawful good, barbarians not being lawful, etc., are longstanding parts of the game that we want to use in order to better capture the feel of the Pathfinder RPG.

First, a Bit of Math

Reputation and both alignment axes (law vs. chaos and good vs. Evil) break down to numerical scales, running from -7,500 to 7,500*. The exact numbers cited here will likely change, but this will give you some of where we are going. The scales break down thusly:

-7,500 to 2,501 -2,500 to 2,500 2,501 to 7,500
Reputation Poor Average Good
Law vs. Chaos Chaotic Neutral Lawful
Good vs. Evil Evil Neutral Good

Reputation is entirely a PvP-based metric, and it only changes through interaction with other players. Reputation goes down through PvP against people who aren't flagged for it (through flags like Attacker, Criminal, or the PvP flags below described below). It can also be lowered by people who lower their own reputation to try and lower yours, if theirs is higher to begin with, so be careful who you treat badly. Reputation goes up by an accelerating rate each day players don't lose reputation for their actions, from gifts from other players, and through playing their role in the PvP flags described below.

To give you an idea of how much these things will cost or grant in terms of reputation, killing a player with Reputation 0 who has no flags will cost about 500 Reputation, while killing an average low-reputation player (-5,000 reputation) will cost about 16 reputation and killing an average high-reputation player (5,000 reputation) will cost about 2,400. Note that killing Criminals, Attackers, people in wars, people with bounties, etc., all reduce or eliminate these reputation hits. So a high-reputation character who kills a low-reputation character without any flags is not going to suffer much for it, but if he does it repeatedly, the reputation hits will accumulate.

Law vs. chaos is a measure of obedience to the social groups of the game through the settlements they control. Lawful alignment means you tend to follow the rules in settlements, while chaotic means you do not. Thus a lawful good paladin may have trouble peacefully visiting a lawful evil town and not wanting to smack all the evildoers, thus getting the Criminal flag, while a chaotic good ranger can deal with them as he sees fit. If you want to just ignore a settlement's laws, get your settlement to declare war on them, or flag yourself as an Outlaw or Champion (see below).

Law vs. chaos follows a similar scale and flow to reputation. Each time a character commits a crime, they lose law vs. chaos and get the Criminal flag; this can be anything from assaulting someone in a settlement to being a member of an outlawed faction or race in the wrong place. What gives you the Criminal flag will vary from settlement to settlement based on the rules set in that settlement, so it's a good idea to learn the local laws, invest in Knowledge (Geography), etc., before visiting a new settlement.

For each day a player does not lose any law vs. chaos points, they earn law vs. chaos points at a rate that accelerates each day, so the longer they remain lawful the faster they get points. Characters with high law vs. chaos can also give law vs. chaos points from their own pool to more chaotic players to reward lawful behavior the system can't quantify, though the amount is limited.

Lastly, good vs. evil raises and lowers based on interactions with PvE content and PvP content. Here we can get into some murkier questions of morality than law vs. chaos or reputation, but we have to remember that the sheep and the wolf both must have fun if we want the game to succeed, the community to thrive, etc. Thus we have to view alignments not as absolutes, even in terms of good and evil. To give you an example, our interpretation of lawful good and paladins is that paladins do not have carte blanche to murder anyone they detect as evil. For all they know, that person could be working on atonement right at that moment. Killing is by nature a non-good action, but that does not mean it is not sometimes a necessary action or that all killings are equally punished. Indeed, a paladin who murders a peasant for no good reason will find himself quickly bereft of his powers, while one who kills a group of bandits is likely to need to perform some other good deeds to unburden his soul from the stain of blood upon it. Effectively, paladins have to go to confession eventually, or perform some comparable act. Any paladin who is prideful enough to settle all questions of morality with a sword is really not much of a paladin, or at least won't be for long. But demons, supernatural evil, and people with the Heinous flag are totally evil and you should kill them.

So what does that all mean? Killing other players without flags results in loss of good vs. evil along the same scope as losses in reputation described above. So if a paladin kills someone of average evil (-5,000 good vs. evil) they will lose 16 points on the good vs. evil scale. Assuming the paladin is likewise of average good (5,000 good vs. evil), they would have to kill over 150 people of average evil to lose their good alignment, though if they kill characters who are also good they will quickly find their alignment slipping to neutral and evil. Killing a single person of average good alignment will put most good characters on the verge of neutral, if not over the edge.

PvP Flags

We have revised and simplified the flag system such that it is now made up of two categories of flags: short-term flags and long-term flags.

Short-term flags

We've discussed many of these before, but we've now streamlined them.

Attacker
The character has attacked another character outside of a war situation, and the target character did not have a PvP flag. It denotes which character is the aggressor in PvP combat.

  • Anyone killing a character with Attacker does not suffer reputation or alignment loss.
  • Attacker is removed if the character is killed.
  • The Attacker flag lasts for one minute after combat ends.
  • If the character gets the Attacker flag he gets an Aggressor buff that lasts for 24 hours that has no effect besides being a counter. Each time he gets Attacker increases the stack of Aggressor by one.
    • If the character gets a high enough stack of Aggressor, determined by his Reputation, he gets the status Murderer, which lasts 24 hours and does not disappear on death. It acts the same as Attacker, allowing repeat offenders to be hunted down for longer periods of time.

Criminal
The character has broken the law of a settlement while inside its boundaries.

  • Each time a character gets the Criminal flag they lose law vs. chaos.
  • Anyone may kill a Criminal character without fearing reputation or alignment loss.
  • Criminal is removed once the character has been killed.
  • The Criminal flag lasts ten minutes unless the character does something to get it again before the duration runs out.
  • If the character gets the Criminal flag again within the duration of its existing Criminal buff, the count of Criminal increases by 1 and the duration resets and adds ten minutes, up to a maximum of 100 minutes.
    • If the character gets to Criminal 10 they get a new flag, Brigand, which lasts for 24 hours, and does not disappear on death. It acts the same as Criminal, allowing repeat offenders to be hunted down for longer periods of time.

Heinous
The character has committed an act that is universally viewed as evil, such as raising and controlling undead, using slaves to build structures or gather resources, etc.

  • Each time the character gets the Heinous flag they lose good vs. evil.
  • Anyone may kill a Heinous character without fearing reputation or alignment loss.
  • Heinous is removed once the character has been killed.
  • The Heinous flag lasts one minute beyond the duration of the deed unless the character does something to get it again before the duration runs out. Characters using undead for example will have the Heinous flag the entire time they are using undead.
  • If the character gets the Heinous flag again within the duration of its existing Heinous buff, the count of Heinous increases by 1 and the duration resets ten minutes longer, up to a maximum of 100 minutes.
    • If the character gets to Heinous 10 they get a new flag, Villain, which lasts for 24 hours and does not disappear on death. It acts the same as Heinous, allowing repeat offenders to be hunted down for longer periods of time.

Killed
The character has recently been killed.

  • This lasts for ten minutes. If the character is killed again within those ten minutes, the stack increases by one, the duration reset and adds ten minutes, up to a maximum of 100 minutes.
  • For each stack of Killed, any alignment and reputation benefits from killing the character are decreased by 10%.

Involved
This flag is only gained when a character attacks a character with a PvP flag up.

  • This flag is tied to the character/characters who bestowed it. For example, if Player 1 has the Champion flag and is attacked by Player 2, Player 1 gets the "Involved with Player 2 (and his group if he has one)" flag. Characters outside this relationship who attack those within it get Attacker unless the target has a PvP flag active. So if you come upon a paladin with the Champion PvP flag active who started a fight with an evil bandit, if you want to get in on that fight and help the paladin, you will have to flag yourself as a Champion as well to avoid getting the Attacker flag for attacking that bandit, since the bandit will have the "Involved with Paladin" flag (assuming the bandit doesn't have Murderer, Brigand, etc, or such a low reputation that killing him doesn't really matter).
  • This flag goes away one minute after combat ends, assuming the character does not have Criminal or Heinous.

Long-Term Flags

We've also added a number of voluntary PvP flags players can activate on themselves so they can engage in PvP within a specific alignment-defined role. The point of these is to encourage players to announce their intent, such as Outlaws intending to rob people, so other players can act accordingly rather than players being unable to be proactive in their own defense.

  • Long-term PvP flags will be activated through UI on the character window.
  • They put an icon next to the character's name that denotes they are PvP active and what flag they have.
  • Each of these flags has an alignment requirement to activate.
  • Only one of these flags can be active at any time.
  • Characters may only activate one of these flags when out of combat. Flagging is a thirty second process, during which there is some manner of visual signifier that they are activating the flag (flashing name, icon, etc.).
  • These flags work like other PvP flags: A person targeting the character unprovoked gains the Involved flag and does not lose any reputation or alignment upon fighting/killing the target.
  • All of these flags have bonuses that increase (up to a maximum) over time logged in while flagged. Certain actions can reset this bonus without removing the flag (as detailed within the entry). If the player loses/deliberately disables and reactivates the flag, it resets the bonuses to the minimum.

Outlaw (Chaotic)
The Outlaw flag is for players who want to rob other players, commit acts of banditry, etc. It can be used by chaotic evil players to be brigands, or by chaotic good players to be Robin Hood-style robbers. Outlaws use a new mechanic we are working on developing called stand and deliver, which allows the Outlaw to demand money from their victim through a trade window. If the victim refuses, the Outlaw gets to carry out his threats of force without losing reputation.

  • This flag cannot be disabled while Attacker, Criminal, or Heinous (or their 24-hour versions) are active.
  • While Outlaw is active:
    • The player gets more loot when searching PvP kills that goes up each hour up to ten hours.
    • The player gets a bonus to Stealth that goes up each hour up to ten hours.
    • These bonuses reset to the minimum upon gaining the Attacker flag unless the target was offered and rejected a stand-and-deliver trade within five minutes of the attack.
    • If the victim was offered and rejected stand and deliver, the Outlaw loses no reputation for killing the target within five minutes of the rejection.
  • If the victim and Outlaw completed a stand-and-deliver trade, the Outlaw loses double reputation for killing the target within 20 minutes. (If they pay, you should let them go.)
    • When an Outlaw receives a ransom from stand and deliver, they get reputation up to a daily max.

Assassin (Evil)
Assassin is for players who want to kill specific other players, or more generally kill other players (as who doesn't like a critical hit bonus?). Assassins do have a signifier of their assassin flag, so their intent may be detected, but they also have a Stealth bonus so they can remain out of sight. Some folks have voiced concern that assassins will not be able to escape since they will be marked as an assassin, but that's what Stealth is for (and if you could hide the assassin flag after completing your kill, the guy you just killed could use chat, a vent server, etc., to tell everyone who killed him anyway).

  • This flag cannot be disabled while Attacker, Criminal, or Heinous (or their 24-hour versions) are active.
  • While Assassin is active:
    • The player gets a bonus to Stealth and critical chance that scales up each hour they remain flagged, up to ten hours.
    • These bonuses reset to the minimum upon gaining the Attacker flag unless the target was the subject of a bounty or assassination contract held by the Assassin. (Remember: you don't get Attacker in wars, if the target already has a PvP flag, etc.)
    • If an Assassin has had his flag active for at least an hour and kills a character with an active bounty or assassination contract, the Assassin gains bonus reputation up to a daily max. (Any other kills made by the Assassin suffer the normal reputation and alignment losses, so keep collateral damage to a minimum!)
    • Attacks by an Assassin have a chance to sever a link to one of the target's respawn bind spots, meaning they may have not have access to their preferred respawn point if killed. Targets killed by an Assassin have a dramatically higher chance of this happening. So assassinating someone may take them out of the action for a while as they work their way back to their original location over a longer distance.

Champion (Good)
Champion is for players who want to proactively take the fight to the forces of evil. It allows players to more easily engage evil characters and earn reputation. As long as you limit your kills to evil characters, you get increasing benefits, but killing neutral or good characters ends your benefits; you still can suffer reputation and law vs. chaos loss for attacking evil characters. This flag is automatically disabled by gaining the Attacker or Heinous flag.

  • This flag cannot be activated while the Attacker or Heinous flag (or their 24-hour versions) is active.
  • While Champion is active:
    • Attacking unflagged evil characters gives the player the Involved flag instead of Attacker.
    • The player gets a bonus to Perception and Crit Resistance that scales up each hour they remain flagged.
    • The player does not lose good vs. evil for killing unflagged evil characters (but will still lose law vs. chaos if the attack is a crime, and will lose proportional reputation, so don't go abusing the evil characters who aren't much involved in PvP; just because you're a crusader against evil, it doesn't give you license to be a jerk).
    • The player earns extra good vs. evil for each character with Heinous killed up to a daily max.
    • The player earns reputation at the end of the first hour this flag is active. This award increases each hour up to a set maximum. This count resets whenever the bonuses from the flag reset.

Enforcer (Lawful)
Enforcer is for characters who want to enforce the laws of their own settlements or others.

  • This flag is automatically disabled by gaining the Attacker or Criminal flag.
  • This flag cannot be activated while the Attacker or Criminal flag (or their 24-hour versions) is active.
  • While Enforcer is active:
    • The player gets a bonus to Perception and Hit Points that scales up each hour they remain flagged up to ten hours.
    • The player gets bonus Law vs. Chaos for each character with Criminal killed, up to a daily max.
    • The player earns reputation at the end of the first hour this flag is active. This award increases each hour up to a set maximum. This count resets whenever the bonuses from the flag reset.

Traveler (Neutral)
This flag is for people who are primarily crafters or merchants, but want to be involved in PvP and get some extra speed and carrying capacity for the extra risk.

  • This flag can be activated if the player is neutral in regards to either axis (i.e., as long is the player is not LG, LE, CG, or CE).
  • This flag is automatically disabled by gaining the Attacker, Criminal, or Heinous flag.
  • This flag cannot be activated while the Attacker, Criminal, or Heinous flag (or any of their 24-hour versions) is active.
  • While Traveler is active:
    • The player gets a bonus to Encumbrance so he can carry more items. This increases each hour the flag is active up to ten hours.
    • The player gets a bonus to Move Speed. This increases each hour the flag is active up to ten hours.
    • The player gets a bonus to all Profession skill totals, improving his ability to harvest resources. This increases each hour the flag is active up to ten hours.
    • The player earns reputation at the end of the first hour this flag is active. This award increases each hour up to a set maximum. This count resets whenever the bonuses from the flag reset.

*This is one of the areas where MMOs are very different from tabletop games. In the MMO world, we have computers doing all the math, so tracking very large numbers, even when they're used in complex calculations, is trivial; if we asked people to do that by hand in a tabletop game, there would be open revolt. A lot of game systems in the MMO will work in scales of thousands or tens of thousands whereas a similar system on the tabletop would rarely use a number more than 100.

This also reflects a key difference in play patterns. On the tabletop you will rarely do anything more than a couple of dozen times during the lifetime of a character, except make a to-hit roll or a save. But in the MMO, there is a near-continuous series of tests and mechanics being undertaken "behind the scenes," and so we need numeric scales that are much larger to accommodate so many more potential mechanical interactions, and a much finer degree of resolution.

Discuss this blog on paizo.com.