Theory Crafting: Monsters as Nodes

Morashtak

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Morashtak#6754
One of the aspects of theme park MMOs is that groups of monsters (aka "mobs") will stand around (rarely move, and not very far) waiting patiently for an adventurer to craftily cut them down one-by-one (or no more than they can handle). If IS is going to think outside the box about monsters and how they relate to the world here's one idea for them;

Think of monsters as nodes;
  • The more powerful they are the larger their influence on weaker monsters, thereby making the weaker monsters into vassal states as has been described when discussing city nodes.
  • The weaker the monster the more numerous they can be as the can occupy more but smaller nodes.
For ease of argument we'll use the following as basis for our premise (exactness is not required) - The monsters will scale up from weakest to most powerful in a five tier system, the weakest will occupy many more nodes as the next higher tier, and each higher tier will exploit the lower tiers within their zone of influence (ZOI).
  • Kobolds - Weakest, least able to damage an adventurer in a one-on-one fight, numerous, prefers to fight in large groups.
  • Goblins - Fairly weak, able to damage an adventurer in a one-on-one fight, Fairly numerous, prefers to fight in medium groups.
  • Hobgoblins - Average, able to damage one or two adventurers in a fight, not quite so numerous, prefers to fight in small groups.
  • Trolls - able to damage small groups of adventurers in a fight, rarely seen, prefers to fight alone or in very small groups.
  • Hill Giants - able to damage medium numbers of adventurers in a fight, uniquely seen, prefers to fight alone or in very small groups.
The size of each ZOI will be in proportion to the monsters power and ability to bully the next lower tier(s). The number of individuals or size of the monsters village will be almost irrelevant as the size of their club determines the size of their ZOI.

A "Settlers"-like system would also influence the monsters actions - A kobold village next to the beach would use spear- and net fishing as the main means to feed itself while a kobold village in the woods would use hunting as its main source of food. The goblins demand a piece of the action and will be given a portion of the food. The hobgoblins in turn want a taste, then the trolls, and finally the hill giants.

When one imagines the city node system as a monster node system then you can see that the kobold villages are numerous and scattered, goblin settlements not quite so numerous or scattered, going all the way up to the singular hill giant encampment that rules over a very large area - Each higher node encompasses weaker nodes with a limit based on a maximum number of lesser nodes that can be its vassals.


When adventurers start showing up and begin to "siege" the kobold villages the node could revert from a "Monster Node Level 1" to Generic Node Level 0. From then on as the adventurers contribute to its progression it grows as described by IS. Should adventurers abandon a node and move on to other areas a generic node will revert to a lower level until it reaches generic level 0 which gives the monsters the opportunity to begin to level it up themselves.

Should the adventurers stick around and push out the kobolds the goblins will start to notice when the the food no longer flows in. They would then send out patrols to crack some skulls and get the kobolds back to sending in food. When the patrols find adventurers instead there could be various reactions - Immediately attack (this would happen during peak server activity times), wait and watch (most likely during low server activity times), report back to the goblin village elder, or a few other simple actions. Many of these actions would probably not be immediately apparent to the players but be handled behind the scenes by the server.

As the player made node ZOI grows they naturally come into contact with more and more powerful monsters. The monsters would "lay siege" to the adventurers (again during peak server activity times) in ever increasing numbers and higher tiers of monsters - If the goblins can't push out the adventurers the hobgoblins grab their weapons. Should the hobgoblins fail the trolls attempt to show them how to get the job done. Should the trolls fail the hill giants finally decide to grab their clubs a rocks and give it a go.

When the monsters are displaced by the players they do not auto-respawn as one would see in theme park MMOs but are pushed into other areas and nodes. The monsters would re-group and attempt to repair/regrow their hierarchy of nodes, again in a Settlers-like manner.

This cycle of destruction and creation continues until a much higher power comes to the salvation of the monsters (raid time!).


One of the downsides is that the theme park monster trope (die, re-spawn, repeat ad nauseam ) is such a standard that few players would see the variety that these types of encounters could bring - one or more types in mixed groups, with or without spell casters, different terrain types during combat, some monsters would use cover and terrain, ambushes by either side, etc. Players that only wish to rush to end level would be upset that their loot piñatas are nowhere to be found.

Another downside is that loot drop tables would be tailored to the monsters - Maybe only hobgoblins can make iron weapons and only give them to very deserving and loyal kobolds. Perhaps only trolls can cast spells and their loot tables reflect that. Hill giant armor doesn't fit player characters and have to be broken down to be used as mats. Would monsters have no use for money (why buy when you can take?) and so loot tables contain no gold pieces?


Could this be coded? If it could be one could imagine that a vast amount of monster data would be stored exclusively on the server and only shared on a need-to-know basis with the clients. Each server would by even more unique due to players making different choices on the different servers.

Does the size of the world envisioned by IS allow for this? Would the playable area need to be larger? Perhaps adapt this idea to underealm and undersea monsters so as to give encounters more variety - Even allow for interaction and cooperation between the different regions.


In closing - Make monsters live and breathe, give them a reason to act, a hierarchy to serve. Do away with loot piñatas.

Make monsters great again!

What have I missed?
 

squeetee

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squeetee#6525
I think IS has a semi similar idea already going to what you, have based on the city nodes level. As the nodes level up so do the monsters. Monsters close to the node center are easy while the further you travel away they get more difficult. Eventually higher level nodes unlock events or raid bosses.

I would rather fight tiers of mobs or mob nodes to take over and build from. It would be a lot of programing further past the basic node system IS is creating but well worth it. Especially if they can get the nodes to work in reverse. As player nodes downgrade to 0 they can be replaced by monster nodes. Affecting nodes in the vicinity. Would make a really interesting mechanic for the eventual servers with low population. As cities crumble to inactivity the servers would become treacherous to traverse.
 

Morashtak

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Morashtak#6754
As the nodes level up so do the monsters.
This goes against hierarchy rules - The larger the entity the more resources it needs to survive, whether this is a city or a monster.

What IS should do is rethink how the smaller monsters would be the raiders (kobolds, wolves, etc) of smaller nodes (and therefore quest targets for low level PCs) while the larger monsters would already be established as per the example given in the OP. As the PC nodes grow and proliferate they would come into conflict with the larger NPC nodes, and be quest targets for higher level PCs.

Now if this is one and the same (hill giants only attack once their resources dwindle) then it's moot. But would especially like to see the NPCs not be static to an area/node but can move and establish other NPC nodes in the same manner as the players establishing PC nodes.
 
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