TorilMUD and the End of the Harsh Death Penalty

I haven’t written much about TorilMUD of late.  My last recollection of the old days in my Leuthilspar Tales series was posted over a year ago.  In part this is because I cannot piece together much more in the way of coherent posts from memory… my most recent real play time in TorilMUD is now more than a decade in the rear view mirror… and in part because not much has been going on in the world of TorilMUD.

TorilMUD_logo

I peek in every so often using the web-based MUD client they offer on their site. (Rather unfortunately triggered by the ‘Log in’ button rather than the ‘Play Now’ button that needs a local telnet client.)  But news out of the game has been sparse.  A year has passed since their own last posted update.

But things have suddenly stirred.  There was a fresh post earlier this week gathering up some changes and updates that had gone into the game.  Nothing astounding there, but at least it was a heartbeat to prove that the game was still alive.

That, however, was just a warm up for the big news that hit today.  TorilMUD is changing how death and the death penalty works.

This is a monumental change.

As with so many aspects of EverQuest, TorilMUD’s death penalty was the prototype as to how things would work in Norrath.  And it was a harsh example to follow, with experience loss (a quarter of a level, and likely your current level to go with it if you weren’t far enough into it) just the opening salvo when you died.  Then you had to go back to your corpse because all of your equipment remained with your dead body.  That meant going back to where something that killed you lay in wait, only you had to go there naked.

In the three dimensional world of EverQuest this was multiplied by the difficulty one could encounter in just finding your corpse.  In TorilMUD you could at least scroll back and find a room name.  Out in a big zone like West Karana, you could be anywhere on that bad linoleum texture landscape.

Bandit Camp Gone Bad

Bandit Camp Gone Bad

SOE had to lighten up on the whole death penalty thing within a couple years as competition came along that offered an easier time with this sort of thing.  I remember a friend speaking glowingly about Dark Age of Camelot primarily because dying wasn’t such a game stopping, gut wrenching event.

But TorilMUD carried on as it was.  For as long as I have known about the game, and I started playing back in 1993, the death penalty has been about the same.  A couple of years back they removed level loss from the equation.  You would lose exp, and even go into exp debt for your level, but you wouldn’t lose a levels any more.  But that seemed to be the only concession that the team seemed willing to make when it came to that hard core aspect of the game.

And believe me, I know the pain of losing your corpse and all the hard earned equipment that might be on it, not to mention the complete horror showing of finding your corpse some place dangerous and dying repeatedly to rescue your gear.

So it comes as something of a shock that the TorilMUD team has decided to change their tune on the whole death experience.  The stated justification was put forth as:

The penalty for failure is so high that it’s terrifying to lead a zone or follow a new leader. After all, you may have spent years building your equipment. Do you really want to risk it on someone else’s leader training? Also, death comes so swiftly and suddenly on this MUD that every play experience is a potential hours long corpse retrieval. Not many people have time for that, and I’d rather they spend their time in the game having fun.

At a high level, the new system replaces equipment and experience loss with item damage and death fatigue penalties.

It is hard to argue with that.  And in a time when the population of the game is rather sparse, to the point that if a full group of 16 wipes you probably can’t find enough equipped people to come and save you, it probably makes a lot of sense.

The bullet points for the change are:

  • You will no longer lose experience on death. Ever.
  • When you die, you will be transported to a special holding room wearing all of your equipment.
  • From there, you can either wait for a resurrect or re-enter the game at your guildmaster via a portal.
  • Though you will have a corpse for resurrection purposes, your equipment stays with you at all times.
  • If you choose to enter the game via the portal your empty corpse will vanish. You can either get resurrected or enter the game yourself, but not both.
  • However you re-enter the game, you will have two penalties: equipment damage and death fatigue.
  • Resurrect will reduce these penalties significantly.
  • A new spell, raise dead, works similar to resurrect but doesn’t reduce the penalties very much. All Priest classes get it.

An end of another era.

I can understand why.  Even back in the day when you could count on there being more than 100 people online during most evenings and multiple 16-person groups would be out doing zones, people were still choosy about who they might follow.  That often helped assure failure, as a new group leader could not count on the best players and would end up with a second tier group that would be much more likely to wipe, thus reinforcing the perception that this new leader is not yet ready for prime time.

Now death’s sting will bite in a different way.  After more than 20 years TorilMUD has gone with the equipment damage and death fatigue option, both of which are staples of the MMORPGs that followed on after EverQuest.

More details on the change here.

4 thoughts on “TorilMUD and the End of the Harsh Death Penalty

  1. bhagpuss

    I once went afk to make a coffee and left my druid in tree form in West Karana. I came back to find her naked back at bind. I forget what killed her. Maybe it was that werewolf.

    If you think it’s hard to find your corpse in WK, try finding it when it looks like a tree. Same as the other 5000 trees.

    Like

  2. Khoram

    As painful as that was, no other game that doesn’t have rules like that has stories like that either :).

    I just started playing on Project 1999 after leaving EQ in 2001. Nostalgia overload. It’s all there, the glorious things that make EQ so much more than any of its pale imitators, and all the hideous things that make it so harsh. I had a half day and an empty house today, so I spent 5 hours playing my level 6 shaman. Someone brand new to the game wanted to know how to get from Qeynos to Freeport to meet their co-worker who talked them into playing the game, and just for the memories I had to lead her. It was wild. Then I joined an orc camp group in EC and after a couple deaths, I had less than 3 bubbles of exp (3/5 of a level) in level 6 to show for 5 hours. LOL.

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