Rachel "Sparks" Blackman (seattlesparks) wrote,
Rachel "Sparks" Blackman

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Tabletop and RDP (part 1: RDP)

So, for a while, I've been working on RDP -- the Riverdark Project. RDP is a comprehensive set of hardcode and softcode changes to TinyMUSH 3.1 which provide for a sort of 'MUSH kit' for creating a detailed world. You can model economic power, political power and social power -- all of which take place mostly off-screen, but which affect players. RDP also provides lots of OOC administrative tools, and a user-customizable UI on a per-user basis which all globals use, etc.

The cool part about the RDP 'power/resource' system is how it's made of hierarchical entities. As an example, an individual character (PC or NPC) is an entity. To use the economic power example, they might be a crafter...perhaps a blacksmith. This trade would show up as a resource. Each resource has an inherent value, as well as potentially several input/output values. The input value, for example, might be that for every x amount of energy and y amount of time put into the trade, you get z profit out of it. You can assign percentages of your time to various resources, as well as amounts of money. Every person has a resource that takes money and produces energy, so you can determine how much money you are spending on food each month. This means you don't need to eat/sleep cycle on-screen like with Firan, and that your energy stores are determined by how much money you're willing to put into your food.

Other things can be more complex...an example might be a ship, which is an 'entity' under the system in its own right, which has resources of trade routes, and requires various costs in upkeep and running it. If you don't have the money to keep it running, it's only worth its inherent saleable value (in terms of calculating total worth), and produces no income unless you sell it. Entities can own other entities...for instance, a player could own a ship, or a percentage of a ship. In addition, factions can be formed... the factions can own their own resources, or just be 'valued' at the combined value of their members. An example of a faction might be a family, or a trading company, or a smuggling ring, etc. The beauty of it is that once you've set your percentages of input/upkeep to things, they stay the same and continue that way off-screen unless you choose to change your balances.

There are similar systems for social and political power...representing alliances, commitments, alignments and so on.

Of course, these are not wholly closed systems; the liquid assets are represented as the inventory money that can be spent for on-grid items, 'value' can be put into political and social powerbases manually by GMs, and so on. But the vast majority of the systems take place off-screen, making them a part of the world that affects things while not requiring too much OOC effort to keep them all going. RDP also has a stats system as well, to allow characters to be chargenned. The economic systems and others key off these stats; for instance, the amount of profit off a given resource is based on the stats of the person owning it.

The RDP system is also going to support the concept of karma pools in chargen/stats/code, as I prefer to use them in my tabletop campaigns, and I think they add a lot to GM'ing and to game balance. In my tabletop games, I've always used karma pools to adjust rolls; certain actions, or unspent points from XP, go into the 'karma pool'. You can spend karma to guarantee a roll doesn't fail, and I've even let players spend into negative before, but then I start tossing bad things their way in GM'ing. Karma will be harder to handle in a non-tabletop system, but I have some definite ideas still on how to create karma pools and make it work as an integrated part of the overall RDP codebase.

Eventually, there'll be other support systems. Things for tracking people around the grid, things for breeding animals, all sorts of other things. There's lots of parts of RDP still to flesh out. But these are the core systems around which RDP is designed; the goal being to provide a rich, balanced system for simulating a culture, with player input and prioritization but without too much OOC involvement required.

Now, eventually, I'll have a working prototype of RDP. I already have a fair chunk done, both in on-paper design and in actual functional code. What I plan to do when RDP is at a workable, usable phase, is to take the stuff from RDP -- the actual testbed game of the same name -- and put it into both Twilight and, longer term, a new game set in a new game world I've come up with. Post part two, to describe that game world, comes up next. :)
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