Last week I discussed my basic ideas for “Troll Online”, the Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror MMORPG I would design, if I were ever given the chance. Today, I plan to discuss the mechanics a bit more in-depth, especially Combat and Instances.
First things first, as I said in the last article, the game would be level-less, so any player could go anywhere and fight mobs at their relative power. How could we achieve this, and still provide a challenge to players as they continue on through the game? Simple: The mobs would scale in power to the character attacking them. So if Player A is brand-new, has just starter gear and has earned no Skill Points yet, every mob they fight would scale down to match their relative power. If a character with improved gear and some earned Skill Points got involved in the same fight, the mob would scale back up to match them, but also lock Aggro onto the more experienced character until dead. All players involved in a fight would potentially earn rewards from that mob kill, though.
Now, since this mechanic could potentially lead to Griefing (say the higher power character were to break aggro, to loose the upgraded mob on the lower-power character), I already have a plan to deal with that. If a lower-power character is fighting a mob, and a higher-power character jumps in, not only does the higher-power character gain immediate Aggro from the mob, if they lose aggro and break off from the encounter, the mob immediately scales down in power to match the lowbie character again. As rewards will scale based upon the relative power of the mob when it dies, this thus encourages more experienced players to stay in the fight, or their rewards will frankly suck.
Scaling would be a major mechanic in Troll Online, as you might imagine, but not just for basic combat. In TO, everything would scale, for the most part! If you wanted to organize an outdoor raid fight, all one would have to do is find a secluded mob of any sort, and gather a bunch of players together to fight it. The mob would scale in power and difficulty based upon not only the relative power of the characters involved, but also the number of characters involved. Mobs that scale high enough would gain additional random abilities (appropriate to their mob type, of course) that normal dungeon and raid bosses might have, and of course their loot drops would scale as appropriate.
Besides this, players of TO would have a variety of instanced dungeons to enjoy, each scaling to the size and relative power of the player(s) involved. Yes, this means every single instanced dungeon could be ran solo, or with only a couple of players, but they could also be ran with a full group or even as a Raid. Difficulty and rewards would scale, as usual. Furthermore, to keep things fresh, these instances in TO would be 100% randomized each time you ran them! You would never find the same boss, because they would always change. Their abilities would be chosen randomly from a set group appropriate to their mob type (no Kobolds with Dragon Breath, for example), and even the architecture of said dungeon might change some from run to run.
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