An Introduction to Relia

by Florian Finkenzeller

Dedicated role-players have experienced a multitude of worlds, from medieval fantasy to far future science fiction. Yet all of these have been predesigned and most of them don't allow players to change the environment through in-game actions, thus being completely predetermined and static. MUDs usually are equipped with a toolset which allows online building (MUSHes are a major example here), but on most of the traditional MUDs building priviliges are reserved to certain people and the act of building is not an in-game action, but more an administrative act like adjusting global variables, editing the code base or similar.

The ultimate goal for developing a role-playing system is to predesign a very basic world infrastructure which is as minimal as possible and then allow it to grow with the actions and the behavior of its inhabitants. Dural takes first steps in this direction. It is true, that it starts out with a heavily pre-built infrastructure, but the governmental power of Dural?s nations for example will be transfered to the players themselves, allowing the political map of Dural to shift according to their actions. The creation of legends and tales will be supported by the fact that players will be allowed to write and edit their own books and scrolls. The STAGE server for Dural will also allow characters to build their own houses and found new settlements, effectively creating a semi-dynamic world.

Relia is an effort to take this development even a step further and to reduce the pre-designed infrastructure to a minimum. Players will start out in one of two medium sized towns which are seperated from each other by a vast area (depending on the server) of untamed wilderness. To encourage players to travel into the dangerous regions outside the towns several measures will be taken:

1. Both cities will be interdependent. The first city, named Lybaras, will be located at the shore and have a surplus in food but it will be unable to statisfy the need for natural resources like iron ore and other minerals. The situation in the second town, Sordal, will be the exact opposite. Due to these dependencies it will be highly profitable for traders to travel between both cities. Within a short period of time a first trade route will be established and taverns and resting places will pop up along it. A first ?life line? will thus be established and will serve as a starting point for other trade routes which lead even further into the wilderness. (For example to a few mountains where a bunch of dwarves have founded a settlement and opened a mining business.)

2. The wilderness will not be as empty as it seems on first glance. Hidden treasures, temples and other inhabited or abandoned buildings will offer enough excitement and profit to chance venturing in regions of the world which no character has yet visited. Additionally quests taken in the two starting cities will often require players to search for an item, character or building in unknown areas.

Over time lone houses in the wild will grow into settlements and later into full-grown towns and cities and finally some towns will unite to form small armies to protect themselves against raiders and other alliances.

There are certainly difficulties with this concept, forseeable (the world will be more prone to excessive player killing for example) and unforseeable ones. Relia will not need very much preparation in advance (Bryce even speculated about creating the wilderness with a random generator from scratch.), especially because it will use a lot of material developed for Dural, like the "WerldWerx" rule set, races or the magic system. (All possibly altered to fit into Relia?s system.)

Apart from requiring additional server features to run (for example the server used must be capable to dynamically create and remove structures like houses from the game and it must be able to handle the founding of nations, etc.) Relia will depend heavily on good administration. Especially in the first stages it will need supervision to iron out system difficulties and prevent the world from taking an undesired course in its evolution, like shifting towards a hack'n'slash environment. Thus Relia will be a greater challenge to its administrators than Dural in the beginning. In later stages however, due to the growing number of players and the establishment of institutions and infrastructures, it should become more and more difficult to disturb the game balance and the importance of actively supervising Relia will diminish.

Administrators considering developing their own genuine gameworld for the WorldForge system but reluctant to start completely from zero should prefer basing it on Relia rather than Dural due to its nature. Those that are fans of MUSH-like worlds should also consider taking a development approach like Relia to give their players the maximum of freedom in creating the world of a coherent theme.