I either just had a great idea or I'm tired. How about putting some experience into the game that draws you in, on a personal level? Like in a future epic maybe have the player have the ability to choose to (or not give a choice) do something we may later regret or feel bad about that by the time the epic leads to Mordor we have a chance to redeem ourselves for?
I'm not one of those "let the bad guys win" kind of guy but giving us players a black mark on our conscience that would keep us playing to find some way to get rid of the red in the ledger to paraphrase a recent movie. Also provide a deeper catharsis when the story line finally ''closes''.
I got the idea while doing Tal Methadras (for the 7th time). Now in a way I have no right to even suggest this since I don't always read the text of quests, I'm more of a speed leveler (hence 7 75s). I was thinking about how the leader of the place will betray the player and his friends. Later we come back and quest more but what if the player, seeking revenge, goes a little overboard and crosses some lines. Nothing distasteful, after all some realities of war have no place in a game like this. Something like putting the village to the torch, blaming all residents for the actions of its leader(s) and forcing them from their homes to flee. Something that later interactions with npcs reveal the player's personal impact on the landscape, not the player's race or class (which are very generic).
The Silmarillion has some real dark stuff in it. Like an elf watching his brother have his hands, feet then head lopped off. I think it might enrich the players experience to start painting them in some somber tones so that we might shine the brighter at the end. Right now might be a great time to really consider this so that if all agree then it can be implemented in a timely manner.
I either just had a great idea or I'm tired. How about putting some experience into the game that draws you in, on a personal level?
There's already a little bit of that. In III.1, the player is sent to tell various Rangers that it's time to join the Grey Company and head south. With one of them, you get the choice to let him go or stay. If you tell him to go, he shows up in various later situations; if not, not.
Back in Asheron's Call, at one stage in a quest chain, you'd find an NPC named Nuhmudira being tormented for her crimes, which were horrible. You had the choice of allowing her to stay there and suffer, or freeing her -- which you would do by sacrificing some of your own life force, whereupon you'd wind up at your Lifestone suffering 5% Vitae penalty, which you would have to work off.
If you freed her, much later in the game (a year or two later, if memory serves), you would find her in another place and if you had helped her, she would help you. If not, I suppose not -- I never chose not to help her, so I don't know. I *liked* being one who would be merciful to a repentant sinner -- and she was repenting; she was in agony. You could hear her moaning on the soundtrack.
But in each case, you can see that the decision the player made didn't really change the script much.
The idea of letting the players write their own scripts sounds neat until you think about the results. Have you ever run a tabletop RPG? With live people sitting around a table pushing little figures around on a map? Have you ever tried to GM a group that just doesn't want to follow your script?
Now imagine a couple of thousand people trying to do that online.
Like in a future epic maybe have the player have the ability to choose to (or not give a choice) do something we may later regret or feel bad about that by the time the epic leads to Mordor we have a chance to redeem ourselves for?
That sounds more like the original design of MEO before it was LotRO: player characters would get various decisions to make, and what choices they made would lead them down the path towards good or evil alignment. This idea was scrapped early on and I cannot see it ever coming back, particularly at this late date. Except out in the Moors, we are all good guys, all the time.
We may get a few more decisions to make, but they will be about trivial things, not important ones.