Simulating moral code in NPCs

NPC groups will start out with certain (randomly generated) moral rules, which you can shift in a direction of your choosing by talking to people.

Value of life:

A. Every life is equally valuable.

B. The value of one’s life is based on their faction.
– For example, a master is worth more than a slave.
– Or one of us is worth more than one of them.

C. The value of one’s life is based on their actions.
– For example, heroes are worth more than cowards.
– Or those who heal are worth more than those who torture.

Attitude towards weakness:

A. Weakness is not tolerated.

B. The weak must be protected.

Team vs individualism:

A. Loyalty to the group comes first.

B. Self-preservation comes first.

Loyalty to the leader:

A. The leader is worth more than the fighters due to their knowledge and abilities.

B. The leader is just one of the guys.

Freedom vs health:

A. It’s better to be wounded and free.

B. It’s better to be a slave than dead.

 

In most cases, the majority of the group will follow a shared moral code. Peer pressure will ensure that very few will step out of line.

Wild cards – In any combat, there can be 0-5 wild cards that act opposite to the moral code in one way or another. They can be pacifists or cowards or ruthless killers.

Wild faction – When the fighting force is non-homogeneous, it’s possible that the moral codes of factions clash and cause a conflict between members on the same side. That’s why if a group is going to war with another one, the leader should hold speeches and rallies to unify the group so that the chance of a faction conflict breaking out in the middle of combat is decreased.

Combat and buildings

Ideally, it should be possible to move in and out of buildings automatically during a combat situation. Characters would hide in familiar buildings and gain an advantage to attacks on intruders. It should be possible to set buildings on fire, but fire shouldn’t spread insanely fast and shouldn’t be a guaranteed win against hiding people.

If the main group refrains from extreme violence, certain wild cards can engage in cruelties inside buildings when nobody is watching. Victims may be found after the fight is over and no one might know who was the culprit.

If the main group is very ruthless, wild cards may engage in protecting certain enemies, for example claiming that a building is empty when in fact someone is hiding there.

Maintaining and altering moral codes

Extreme moral codes are more likely to cause a backslash reaction. Maintaining an atmosphere of self-sacrifice or a preference to ruthless torture requires hosting events that reinforce the moral code. If your people are not exposed to frequent violence, they can’t become desensitized to it. That’s why if you want to maintain a culture of violence, you need to have things like public executions, floggings or bloody duels. Likewise if you want to maintain a society where the group matters more than the individual, you need to host events that boost a sense of unity and for example have everybody dress the same way or carry insignia that marks them as a member of the group.

If you are trying to change the status quo, you need to start small by talking to individuals, collect a sub-group of like-minded individuals and gradually increase your sphere of influence. If the moral code you are imposing is completely opposite to the reigning one, it will eventually cause a conflict and the group may split as a result. It’s better to start with a more subtle change and advance towards more radical views once you have a lot of followers. You can single out a sub-group based on a trait, such as gender or hair color, and convince the others that they are better than them while the others aren’t really even human. This makes the main group more prone to accept oppression on the targeted subfaction. If there is a reigning class, you can gather a subgroup of lower class people and rally them against the masters.

Even though I have previously said that all combat should be resolved instantly, actually it would make more sense to have a delay that depends on the size of the groups involved. An event like a single stabbing can happen instantly, but when there’s a whole battle taking place, it should last up to half a day game time. Status updates would be generated every 15 minutes and if the leader of one faction is online, they could call a retreat or surrender if necessary.

 

Questions to ask when starting a new society

Eventually people will be allowed to start new cultures in the game. Each culture has to be unique, and the founders need to figure out the answers to these questions.

Technology level

What is the technology level? Generally everybody starts from stone age, so if you want to start from a higher tech level, you will need starting equipment and knowledge of resource deposits nearby. Only if existing characters decide to establish a new community, they might have equipment they have developed or traded for in-game. If somebody wants to start a new society with starter equipment, it might be required that they make a donation.

Societal structure

Is the community homogeneous or does it consist of different factions? Are there layers/castes? How does the society treat the poor, the old and the disabled? Is there slavery? Is everybody considered equal or are some people worth more than others? Are there some people who disagree with the prevalent notion? How does the society react to dissidents?

Economy

Does the society recognize individual possessions or is everything shared? Do certain individuals get a right to a share of the earnings of someone else? Are there taxes? Is there money or do people barter?

Leadership

Is leadership defined by bloodlines, strength or popular vote? Are there factions who want to change this? If there is voting, who is allowed to vote?

Law and order

How does the society treat criminals? Which things are considered illegal? Does the society have laws that seem silly from a modern perspective? Are there things that are technically illegal but most people do it anyway? Are there criminal organizations? Does the government fund things like piracy?

Dressing conventions

Is there a reigning fashion or do people express individuality? Do different social classes dress in a specific way? Does clothing reflect status? Are there certain materials, styles or colors that are forbidden from certain social classes or genders?

Naming conventions

Do people have last names and middle names or just first names? Do they have patronymics or names that are based on occupations? Are first names based on traits of the owner or features that the parents wish the child to have when they grow older? Are children named by the day of the week, month, season or weather at the moment of birth, or perhaps how many siblings of the same gender exist in advance? Is it considered good or bad to have namesakes? Are young people allowed to pick out a new name when they reach maturity?