Legend Weaver: On Online RPG's

The following article lists possible solutions and suggestions on how to enhance an On–Line Game. My background is in Role Playing games and most of my suggestions and ideas center around this. Many of the problems I see with On–Line Role Playing games are listed with possible solutions. Since I have done a lot of work on Legend Weaver: The Making of Heroes role playing game, many of my suggestions and solutions relate back to it and how it could be used to make a better On–Line game. Even with the suggestion that you take everything here with a grain of salt, I feel there is a lot of good material that if used (or taken into consideration) would enhance any On–Line Role Playing game.

Not All Are Created Equal

I love the idea of a game with a variety of races. It is great when you can pick that lizard or cat race. Or maybe be a fairy or gnome of some type. EQ gives you lots of races but fails because your race has very little bearing on game play. In EQ a gnome fighter is equal to an ogre fighter since strength has no bearing on the damage a character does (the only impact it actually has on game play is the amount of weight the character can carry). Makes me want to shake my head. I have always felt that certain races would just be better at certain things and so what if they are. The Trock in Legend Weaver, the Making of Heroes, edges out as the best fighter available in the game. Why? Because he is a big huge bruiser! His size and power just make him a better melee fighter. Now the Trock, like any other race in Legend Weaver, can develop any skill he wants. The thing is, it is very hard to use those big huge fingers to pick a lock or a pocket. So the Trock gets bonuses to his fighting skill due to his size, but then his size makes it very hard to learn those skills that take small fingers and great dexterity. I like a system that encourages class options while not forcing you to pick a class (i.e., you want a fighter so you pick a Human, Lazinar, Dwarf or Trock because they are all on the large size) but still allows you to do what you want (you can actually make a Trock thief, it just takes a lot longer). All the races should have their own distinctive advantages that almost correspond to a “class”. So the Elf and Fairy make the best magic user, the Gnome and Calt the best thieves. No one race is forced to be any one or set of “Classes” but what they are make them well suited to specific roles and not so well suited for others.

As a last note, systems that say humans are the best really need to make sure that humans are the best. I tend to dislike systems that use humans as a base line, saying they are the best while giving other races advantage after advantage. Some systems tried to use bogus restrictions to make up for this obvious shortfall. For example, in the older version of D&D elves could see in the dark and have a natural resistance to paralysis. They are listed as living for incredible lengths of time, are magical in nature, and basically think the same as a human but can only obtain level 11 as a magic user. Why? Well the reason stated by the designer, Gary Gygax was that no one would want to play a human. Of course, I think this whole problem came about by making humans the base line race. Don’t do this. Make the baseline some imaginary non–existing set of figures and adjust everything around them. Makes it a lot easier to give humans the bonuses they need to justify the reason that they are a viable and a great race to play.

In Legend Weaver I gave humans bonuses to learning (oddly enough, EQ's manual states that humans have an advantage when it comes to experience, but it has come to light that the only race that has an advantage is gnome... why, I am not sure). Elves may live a long time, but no one learns as quickly as a human. In effect, a human can learn skills to a level that far exceeds what you would think possible due to his short life span. This is one of the reasons humans excel and dominate Panjere.

Using Stats to Describe a Character

In Legend Weaver I went away from a set of stats to describe a character. I did this because stats force you to compare things that should not be compared. When you have an Elf and a Human and each have an 18 intellect, you are implying that they are equal and the same. They may not be. Lets take three obvious examples:

Example 1:

A troll with an 18 charisma is treated the same by human merchants as a human or elf with an 18 charisma. A troll’s charisma should only apply to another troll. By the same token, a troll might view a human who is beautiful to other humans as hideous to the troll.

Example 2:

The Trock has a Strength rating of fifteen on a scale of 1 to 20. He is 8 feet tall and weighs in at around 500 pounds. In walks the gnome who also has a strength rating of fifteen (which we will say is max for this example). The gnome is 3 feet tall and weighs about 80 pounds. Are they equal? Sadly enough, in most game systems they are. A real world example is EQ. In EQ, a gnome with an 80 strength is identical to the Troll or Ogre that has an 80 strength, and in actual fact there is no difference in the damage a gnome will do at level 5 with an 80 strength and a Troll or Oger will do at (say) level 8 with a 120 strength (this assumes they are using the same weapon).
Example 3:

You decide that what you want is a magic user so you max out the character's intelligence. Looking over the skill list you realize that intelligence affects 80% of all the skills in the game. So by maxing out the one stat, you give yourself a bonus in nearly every skill you will ever want to use! A real world example is AC. In AC Focus and Self are your primary magic using stats. But as you look down the skill list you realize that Focus and Self directly affect 22 of the 35 skills in the game. Most of the skills they do not affect are weapon skills and if you take out weapon skills (i.e., sword, bow, axe, etc.) then these two primes influence 22 of 26 skills in the game. This, to me, is a problem...

Since the game comes down to what a character can do, turf the stats and concentrate on the skills. Race will determine how easily a character can learn a skill so let this be the player’s guide to what he wants to play. When I start to build a character I always start to think of him in terms of what he will eventually do. I picture that big beefy fighter with the huge two handed axe hacking away at a monster. Or perhaps I think of the elf mage weaving his spells, or, oddly enough, maybe I have this mental image of the huge hulking Trock that slips over to the sleeping guard and picks his pocket dry… everything in the game must be possible, even is some race / skill combination are harder to get than others. The hardest ones to get often turn out giving the people the most satisfaction and end up being the most fun to play.

If you Must Use stats to describe a character!

If you are going to use stats to describe a character, then you must keep in mind one of the basic problems that I see with all systems that use stats. There are a few basic stats that seem to be pretty universal, strength, intelligence and dexterity being among them. On nearly every game I have seem, the stats you need to become a successful magic user are used in the stats you require to boost your trade skills. For example, pumping your intelligence helps your jewel craft and pottery and a whole host of background skills. Strength will boost such things as smith skill. What this normally means is that you can boost your primary stat and be good at all, or nearly all, the background skills in the game. Not only that, you can great bonuses to all the adventuring skills you are going to need.

First, this leads to a character being good at everything at once, or that every gamer that has played more than one character will pump one stat because that one stat will modify 20 out of the 24 skills used in the game. I myself dont think this is a good thing. People are not good at everything at once (and this is purely a personal preference). If you do use stats to describe a character then break out or include a set of stats that have to be high for the character to excel at the trade skills. For example,

Magic (Manipulation)
Mana (Capacity)

Depending on the value range, this can make it hard for the character to excel at all things. Break the trade and adventuring skills out so that a character is not automatically good at them by virtue of the class or primary abilities he is trying to develop. A magic user should be a master of magic, not of magic and 84% of all the trade skills in the game because his primary stat is used as a basis for determining how good he is / can be in the majority of trade / adventuring skills.

GM Tracking

I would love to see GMs with the ability to set a flag that records the actions for a specific player. Once people complain about a player, then a flag could be set to record the actions of the player. If the player does something else within the next while (up to a month if he/she has had people report him previously) the GM could review the log file. The log file would contain things like fights he was in (started or were a part of), the loc of the fight when it started and what / who took part. The loc of the fight when it finished (the mobs lost interest in the character), what is said by the character and what actions the character performs. If you are going to have GM’s mediate player disputes, give them the ability to find out what the hell is going on!!!

A house, a house, my kingdom for a house

It is very odd to me to see how much real money people will pay for virtual items. But even as it amazes me it confirms what I believe. Many people measure how good they are doing by what they own, even in a virtual world. This is one place where Ultima Online excelled. You could own a house, a keep or a castle. Do well enough in the game and be a virtual landowner!

I love the idea of saving up and buying a virtual piece of real estate, a place in the game world that is mine to use. It is even better when I can fill it up with objects and actually make it more like a real house. UO did this and it was so cool being able to walk into a house with pictures on the walls and candles sitting on the tables.

Where UO was poor was in its house placement rules. It allowed the players to place houses anywhere there was room and because of this people immediately got stupid. Place houses to trap people and create killing zones. Place houses to block passage to this or that area. There was no end to the tricks. I myself would love to see the following way of dealing with houses within a game world.

You have to buy a piece of land before being able to buy a house. Land and houses would be purchased from an existing town’s city hall. When you purchase land you are buying a lot. You get the area and the lot number and can go there and see it and what is around it. The land purchased would determine what you could build on it. Land would be divided into “Town Lots” and Independent Lots”. Some lots would be given away if your reputation where high enough (i.e., as a reward – more on reputation later).

Town Lots would represent areas within existing towns as well as areas of land that would allow for player owned communities. In any given “player owned community” there would be a limited number of house lots, a limited number of business lots (set up that blacksmith shop), one castle lot and possible a lot for a mage tower. Every property owned would pay tax to the “central” king (that nice drain on the money supply if you want it).

With player cities, the style of house would be based on the overall location of the player owned community. For example, you have a player owned community that is near a hobbit town and is considered to be in hobbit “territory”. Any house erected here would be the same design as the hobbit houses found in the rest of the area.

Some areas would allow for the players to build mixed communities (say gnome, human and Trock). The player could go to the hobbit “town hall” and buy a house and set it up on the lot. The player who owned the next lot over could go to a human city town hall and buy a house and have it set up right beside the hobbit hovel.

You could set up a series of caves for building a dwarf community, or a section of forest that could be modified to include a tree house for the flying races. Some races would not have houses at all. The Calt race springs to mind, being desert wanderers and traders.

Independent lots are similar to town lots except they do not have adjacent lots. These lots can be open for development (i.e., put any building you want there) or could be for a single type of building (want to be that magic user that actually has that mage tower in the middle of nowhere). One concern with lots that you would keep in mind from the start; monsters should not spawn on house locations. Nothing ruins your day than logging into greet that enraged critter that spawned in your house. Also, monsters that remain in houses for more than an hour or so should de–spawn (helps stop people from having that pet monster to practice on). It would also be neat for a person to own a flock of some type of animal (even if it is a small one). The animals would have to be kept in a pen of some type and fed in a semi regular fashion or they would go away (de–spawn).

As a last note, you may want to limit the number of lots a player could buy (or you will get scalping) or at the least, you have to buy a lot, and place a house on it before being able to buy a second lot. Basically, the King would expect that you would “develop” the land that you buy before buying more. I like the idea of one or maybe two houses per account because it means that more people will eventually work their way into land and house ownership. If you do allow two houses per account, a person could sell a house and still own one as he looks for a second bigger house or lot. The other way you could balance this is to tax those with multiple houses. Take the number of houses you own, and square it. Thus if you own one house, you pay normal taxes, if you own two, then it is four times the normal tax, three means you pay nines times the normal tax. Puts a cap on things really quickly.

Forges and work areas

The character can eventually buy a smithy. My own preference is that all shops of one type are available for sale in a given “city” except for one. This means that if a city has 2 or 3 smith shops, then a player character can buy all but one. The NPC smith would keep regular hours and do all the work a human smith could do, although the NPC would be of average skill.

Land Tax

When enough of the lots in a community have buildings, then a town hall is erected. The town hall acts as a focal point in the community and from then on lots and building are sold through the town hall. Once the Town Hall is built, the property owners pay local taxes. If the tax is not paid, then the house is “repossessed” by the state, the building destroyed (optional) and the lot is sold off to a new player.

The amount of tax gathered over time would be used to supply the town with a wall (the more money that is collected the better the wall) and town guards. The town guards would actually be able to help defend the town should it be attacked in a war (against monsters or against other players; more on this later). One option for a town is to build a town trophy that could be put up for ante when the town goes to war (i.e., a banner or flag of some type).

In any given “player” town you could reserve one or two lots that would become NPC owned shops at some point. These shops would be there to buy Loot off of players and to offer repair services for players. You may require these shops if you find that players are not filling all the roles needed by the players. For example, if the town lacked an Armor Smith, an NPC armor smith would set up. The one thing to realize about trade skills– people will become trades–people if it is worthwhile. If it is a waste of time, then no one will do it on a long term basis. If the players can make money, become popular and have fun they will perform trade skills and will set up shops and become “merchants” and “trades people” within the game. This is not a hard concept. People will go where the money is, even if it is virtual money. The trick is getting the balance (and this only comes through play testing), if it is too easy, then everyone will be doing it and if it is too hard, not enough will do it.

Player services would be more complete but you would still have the option to deal with an NPC once the shops have been set up (which could happen anytime after the town hall is set up). The NPC shops may come up for sale from time to time, but would not always be available for sale. If you wanted to buy the shop, you would have to check back from time to time to see when the shop was available.

In addition, it would be neat if the town’s outer areas would grow after each expansion. New land would be marked with pegs allowing towns and communities to grow in size.


Many viable trade skills are only viable if you have decay built into the system. The rate of decay is all a mater of balance. How fast you want to have the Plate Armor wear out will determine the demand for armor smiths (more on decay later).

Doors, Locks and Thieving

I think that if you give thieves that ability to break into a house, you have to give the owner the ability to protect at the least some of his property. The best way I have heard of doing this is make it so you can “bind” things to your house. This should be a spell that the players can get. Once cast on an item the item is “glued” in the structure. For myself, I think the item should be allowed to move anywhere in the structure but cannot be removed from the structure. I would also like to have the ability to hire guards that will protect the contents of my house. If a thief comes in, he will find that he is in for a nasty surprise. It should only be possible to buy guards if the house is in a community setting (the town hall has been erected) or if the structure is a mage tower. This would mean that certain single lots would not be able to enjoy the benefits of being able to hire a guard to protect their property. Magic uses should be able to build and sell golems. These are magical creatures of varying toughness (depending on what they are made from) that can be set up to guard houses and area.


I think a character should not be able to steal from another character. This is a skill that is best suited to PVP worlds. The character should be able to steal from NPC merchants and such, as well as the monsters that they are walking by or attacking. If you are going to do this, then give the monster two loot pools. One for the players or group that kills the monster and one for the guy using his pick pocket skill.

Monster AI

AI represents one of those gray areas in computer games. Most companies are quick to tell you that good AI is very hard to do. As a consumer I would like to give you my opinion on AI.

One of the last things a company works on is the computer AI and it is the one part they are most likely to skimp on. They skimp by giving the computer cheats to make up for the fact that they could not spend the time doing it right.

To be honest, even as a consumer I believe you have to build the computers AI as you build the game engine. Without doing both at the same time, you are forced to include machine cheats that would require actual changes in the game Engine to include. I will give an example of a very old game called Warlords. The first Warlords game was a strategy game of combating fantasy based armies and heroes. The odd thing about warlords was that the computer–run units did not cheat (the company took great pride in this fact) but that they were unable to make use of travel over water. The strategy used by the computer player did not incorporate movement over water because the game’s AI was the last thing that the game programmers worked on. The same company wrote Warlords II and in this game the computer made full use of terrain as it played its game and was considered one of the best computer opponents done to that point in time. The programmers said in interviews, that as they worked on the game engine they worked on the AI at the same time. The result was a computer opponent that was able to take advantage of the terrain as well as to what you were doing.

You may think that is out to lunch since it is an old strategy game and not an RPG. As a consumer, I honestly look at how the monsters work in an online RPG game to get a feeling about how much effort the company put towards the games AI. The more cheats and advantages the games monsters are given, the less effort the company put into the AI.

Monster Monster Everywhere…

That said I would like to list what I would love to see in a game. I would love to see a game in which the monsters had the exact skills (and penalties) that the players had. This means that the skill set the players choose from is the exact same as those that monsters could be given. There can be exceptions to this where it makes sense. A giant might have a “Step on Someone” form of attack due to its size (or even better, kick someone like a football form of attack).

Monsters must move around. Some monsters should actually act and travel as groups. This means that you could see a half dozen Orcs moving around as a single unit.

Creatures that are supposed to be intelligent (i.e., things like Orcs) should be able to see as far as a human. Which means that if they see a fight between a human and another of their kind, they should run in and join in. But this would be the tip of the iceberg. Given the Orc example, we can say that 1 in 20 Orcs are generated with a tracking skill. If this Orc sees a fight off in the distance, it might run in the opposite direction, gather up a little army or fellow Orcs and then lead its little band back to the group using its tracking skill. Nothing would be so cool as to have a group of monsters jump your group, especially, if the monsters where smart enough to stand behind a building and wait for you to start a fight with something else. Intelligent acting monsters would be totally great in an online RPG.

Unintelligent creatures should not have the same attack characteristics as intelligent ones, and the ones they are given should be reasonable. To give you an example of how not to do it I will describe a common situation in EQ (EverQuest). The mage sits down to meditate up and gain a bit of mana back. He is level 25 and a fifth level wolf comes along. The wolf ignores six other party members, to run up to and bite the mage. In EQ it is very common to see all creatures do a beeline to the meditating magic user for the sole reason that the magic user is meditating. A mage can get a fleeing Orc to immediately turn around and come back by sitting and hitting the meditate button (Quite the psychics those Orcs). It is ridiculous and every time I see it happen it’s a big slap to the games realism. At the least, make animals act like animals. Don’t have the bear ignore the fighter and chew on the magic user that just cast the spell at him. The bear shouldn’t know where the spell just came from, especially if the bear has 5 people beating on it and the magic user is casting spells from behind it. By the same token, having a spider or beetle attack a cleric that just healed the fighter is about as cheesy as it gets. Put some work into the AI and have the intelligent critters act intelligent, keep the dumb ones dumb.

By the same token, a town guard does not know you are evil until you perform an evil act unless you put in a guard that can read aura’s and can tell who is evil and who is not. You could give some cultures a class of character that wanders around town and is trained to look for such things. The character could be called an Inquisitor. You see one and you run if you have done anything wrong because he has the spells and abilities to root out the evil and "see" whom the heretics really are. Another possibility is for the town to have wanted posters. Once your face in on a wanted poster (i.e., enough people report your name) then the town guards would come after you upon seeing you.

It should be possible for characters to "Wear" their religious and guild symbols in plain sight. Some guilds may require this with the character risking reprimand should he / she approach an NPC guild member without the proper sign in display. By the same token, you may have to remove the symbol if doing a job that requires you to be in "enemy" territory.

And there would still be a character’s reputation...


Most of these comments are in response to how games currently treat death. The three games I am referring to are UO, EQ and AC. Of the three, the way EQ treats death is the biggest turn off to me as a player, but what must be said with EQ is that the designers do not want a lot of people getting to level 50 or higher. You see one and feel in awe that they were able to do it (or at least that is the way it is supposed to be).

When you play EQ, it is like playing three different games. You have three complete play styles, one for when you are level 20 and under, one for those that are between levels 20 and level 35 and a third for those over level 35. Many players start a new character when their current character approaches level 20. Why? Because the game changes! The game becomes very repetitive and the rewards for leveling are to spread out. It just takes too long to gain the level and the penalty associated with death becomes too severe. Besides, apart from the leveling there is not much to do in EQ. IMHO after you reach level 35 it becomes an exercise in determination to gain the next level. A single death can set you back 6 to 8 hours of play and that does not include the time it takes to get your body back. So what it means is that there are very few people reaching level 50 out of the population playing.

I really don’t think this is such a bad thing in and of itself. In EQ you don’t really have much else to do. All the secondary skills in the game are designed to take money out of the economy; even the game itself has poor role–play support. Although this can sometimes be hotly contested I believe that the little things show this up. For example,

Games like this come down to internal consistency. The more consistent they are, the easier it is to feel you are part of the world and are not playing a game. That is when role–playing can bloom. Each time your brain hits an inconsistency within a game, you are given a jolt that takes you out of the games world.

Of the three games mentioned above, the way EQ treats death is the least internally consistent. The penalty increases as you gain levels. Thus, death for a 5th level means virtually nothing. To a level 15 it is an inconvenience. By the time you are level 40, it is a huge set back. By level 40 you are looking at hours of work to regain what you had. In addition, it can be far harder for a fighter to get back to his body than a magic user since there is a far greater chance that the fighter will have a good distance to travel once he is dead.

AC handles death a bit better. With the use of the binding stones, you always know where you are going to end up and everyone has the same ability to pick a location that is close to where they are playing. The fact that you suffer a temporary penalty means you do not feel like the last 6+ hours of play have gained you nothing. Leaving some things behind still does not really make a lot of sense to me and I have to wonder why this was done.

UO treats death very well in many ways. First, you die and become a ghost. It is consistent with the game world. It is a pain but you rush off and look for a healer of some type to bring you back to life. With luck one is nearby. You’re brought back from the dead and rush off to where your body was. Once you find it your discover that the Orc that killed you took some things off of it when you fell. Argh! But at least it is consistent and makes sense (as much as raising the dead and Orcs running amok can make sense).

You have to realize, I play these games to have fun. Not to be frustrated by arbitrary decisions that do absolutely nothing to enhance the believability of the world. If you assume that people can be brought back to life, great, but don’t do stupid things with it. Try to make death something that can be fun as well, not a total exercise in frustration. That said, I must mention that I am not a fan of Player Versus Player. In some ways UO is too realistic since anyone can come along and loot your fallen body. I myself think that it would be a huge boost up to the game if only you could loot your own corpse. I have no problem trading realistic for less frustrating and in actual fact I would always trade fun for realism and frustration.

Loot that Makes Sense

I really like it when loot makes sense. Killing a skeleton and finding gold and silver on it does not make sense unless you also find the small belt pouch that held it. If a monster has a major piece of equipment (i.e., a piece of armor or a weapon) then you should see it wearing the item or wielding it as you come up to fight it. The world is so much more believable when this stuff is put in and it makes me wonder why it is not done.

A problem may well develop on the amount of armor and weapons that is found as loot. Legend has a certain built in mechanism to control this called Relative Size. You can only put on a piece of armor if it’s relative size is fairly close to your own. The armor built for the ogre will probably not fit too many other races. Ogre sized armor would have some residual resale value but not nearly the value a set of armor fitted to a human would have (or any other piece of armor that is capable of fitting one of the character classes). I like the idea that weapon and armor are sized. It means that the weapon you get off the giant is pretty much useless to any but a giant (and in all likelihood is going to be the size of a small tree). This is probably the single biggest thing that you can do to control the influx of huge piles of weapons and armor into the system.

Another aspect of loot that I would like to mention is keeping the number of loot items to a minimum. If you kill a rabbit, then the items you loot from it (fur, eyes, ear, tail… whatever) should have a use in the game. They could be components needed to make items. The ears can be used in spells that deal with hearing, the tail in items that bring luck. If you can’t tie the item back into something within the game, then don’t bother with it.

Selling Loot (charisma)

I have mentioned charisma before under stats, but would like to add a bit here in regards to selling loot. To me, charisma has always been a joke prime. Beauty has always been in the eye of the beholder. The beautiful young woman that walks into a store filled with young single men can expect better treatment than if entering a store of ugly old women. How can anyone imaging a troll with a 50 charisma is the same as the human with a 50 charisma. A beautiful woman would be hideously ugly to a male troll (except maybe as an quick snack). If you are going to include really ugly races (which I see as great) then have the ability to make racial adjustments to the price you get. If the elves hate the dwarfs then there would be a 20–point penalty to any dice roll made when trying to sell to them or perhaps there is a chance that a given merchant will never deal with a specific character (that would be neat so long as it was not overdone).

In the real world, when you go to sell something, what you know will help you a lot more than what you look like. For this reason, charisma should have nothing to do with the price you get when selling. You will get a better price when you know what you are doing when you sell an item. This means, knowing who wants it, when they want it, and how much they will pay for it, will allow you to maximize the money you get for an item. I have been in retail for a lot of years and am amazed at the number of assholes that make good money selling things because they know their market and the people they sell to.

There are several selling related skills that the character needs if he / she expects to get the best price for the items they have. The normal minimum price you get for an item is 20% of its retail value (ignoring racial adjustments). Those who have the following skills may get more:

Evaluate Goods

If you have any one of these skills and make you roll, then you get 40% of retail
If you have any two of these skills and make your roll, then you get 60% of retail
If you have any three of these skills and make your roll, then you get 80% of retail
If you have all four of these skills and make your roll, you get 90% of retail

If I ever get Legend Weaver onto the computer then I would make all skills adventuring skills (the skills listed above are Life Skills). The main reason I have life skills now is the number of times they are used in a human run game and keeping them as life skills makes it a bit easier on the Legend Weaver.

That said, a character would take his loot to a merchant and try to make a sale. Each merchant would have a modifier based on the character race and the race of the merchant. For example a human approaches a troll merchant. Generally, Trolls don’t like humans so there would be a 20–point modifier to the dice roll to represent this. This would mean that the character would have to roll under his base skill level on d20 while adding 20 to the dice (not going to happen). But advanced knowledge in the skill (i.e., if the character’s skill were 18+12) would mean that only part of that 20–point penalty would be applied to the roll (20–12 = an 8 point adjustment). With enough training in a skill, the character could pretty much sell to anyone and get a good price. He would be someone who knew how to sell… come on, say it… he would be a professional: one of those guys that could sell a fridge to an Eskimo.

To sum up, you would have to deal with the following things when selling loot

Location of Vendors

Some dungeons should be within easy access of places to sell. The odd one will be hell and gone away from the nearest sell point. In EQ the idea of gypsy camps is good as far as it goes, but the camp locations should not be static. They should be on the move and would in fact set up for a short period of time in a specific location. They would then break camp and move on. A character could sell to a camp on the move by hailing one of its members but the deal that could be struck would not be as good as the deal stuck when the camp were set up.

Language Options

It would be great if not everyone in the world new the same language. In most role–playing games a “common” language is done for ease of use, but not “everyone” has to know it. When you enter a town of Trocks, then a certain number will be able to speak common, including a certain percentage of the merchants. If you are not a Trock and try to sell to a Trock that knows how to speak common, then you Will Not get the best price. You will get a better price if you sell to a Trock and are speaking his native tongue. You can only get the best price possible if you are a Trock selling to a Trock.

Buying Items

You must offer the players a variety of ways to get good magic equipment. Character’s that accumulate skill can build many good items. Those that accumulate money can buy them and those that love quests can go on quests for them. I believe that each method should have its own unique set of items. For example, it may only be possible to get Boots of Wall Walking from a quest, killing a creature could only get the Nose Ring of Fearlessness and the Cloak of Invisibility must be made by a player. This would mean that you would “reserve” the three powers listed above and be consistent. This means that you would go so far as to say that any item that makes a character fearless (i.e. immune to fear based magic) could only be obtained through quests.

Players themselves should be capable of making some of the best items in the game. With Legend Weaver this is fairly easy to “Police”. Advanced items take bonus synergy. Thus an armor Smith can make a full set of plate mail for a fellow adventuring at the cost of 150 points of bonus synergy (just a number). This bonus synergy comes back at 1 point per minute so the rate of speed for this armor being introduced into the system would be over two hours per set (if you decided that synergy would come back at one point per minute and that it would cost 150 points to make the armor).

Player Owned Merchants

People need some way to sell what they have. A merchant belonging to a shop owner could be set up in any player owned shop. In addition, there should be places in every city that are designated as market places. Set up a sign (or a table or a small tent) and then a hired merchant will stand there and sell what you make (for space considerations I love the sign and vendor approach). You will have to supply him with the product, type in your own descriptions (flavor text only) and set prices. You should even be able to list items you WANT TO BUY, how many you want to buy and the price you will pay for them. If your merchant has the money, then he will buy them. If this were available as a list (e.g. a form) for buying and selling that would facilitate the use of the vendor.

Limits to magic items

First, I would like to say that many game systems suffer problems because the characters end up with a near infinite amount of magic equipment. Every mob that drops an item will eventually give every member of a group the item it drops. This is not an easy problem to solve but I do think there is a neat way to deal with it. The solution is not simple and requires more than a couple things to be in place.

Ideas for Magic Items

One of the problems with any type of weapon found in the game is that most people will gravitate and use the weapon that is perceived as the “best”. This may or may not be a problem with you since historically this is exactly what happened. With the development of the halberd, most troops, including normal castle guards and sentries were outfitted with one. As a weapon it is far superior to a long sword, but through popular culture you think that the long sword was far more popular. It wasn’t. In a game, most people will tend to gravitate and use the weapon they perceive as the best. They will figure out which weapon has the best damage versus time ratio and will use that. Add magic to the mix and you find that certain weapons will always be clear winners. But you can increase the number of winners very easily.

First, any magic weapon can have a speed bonus, damage bonus or synergy bonus or a defensive adjustment bonus. A weapon can have any or all these bonuses in any amount that you wish. But weapons can have “special” powers. These powers may be the ability to fight longer or the ability to heal the wielder. You should give each weapon or class of weapon a unique set of bonus powers that no other class of weapon has. For example:



Swords, small (short sword, long sword)

Swords, Curved blades

Swords (Large 2 handed size)

Mauls / Hammers

Short Bows

Long Bows

Cross Bows