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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!
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.
The alignment and reputation system exists for three primary reasons:
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:
Behaviors we don't want:
There are other behaviors aside from these, but this hopefully gets you the idea.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We've discussed many of these before, but we've now streamlined them.
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.
The character has broken the law of a settlement while inside its boundaries.
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.
The character has recently been killed.
This flag is only gained when a character attacks a character with a PvP flag up.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Enforcer is for characters who want to enforce the laws of their own settlements or others.
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 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.