Monday, March 5, 2012

The Old Republic : Master and Apprentice System

A thought about the Master and Apprentice System
"Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it."
―Darth Bane

I have not done any research into the possibility of TOR integrating a system similar to the one I talk about in this entry. It could be that they, in all their infinite wisdom, have something planned just like this. I don't have any knowledge about TOR's plans for the future, and like it that way.  Surprises make me happy. 

I don't know how much I buy into the whole 'rule of two' thing from the Sith, but I do believe that the relationship between a Master and Apprentice is something that gives a lot of depth to the Star Wars universe, Sith and Jedi alike.  

Seraphki - My  Pretty Sorcerer.
For the Jedi, the relationship between Jedi and Padawan has always been represented as a deep bond that is uncharacteristically tolerated in the Jedi world. Teachers of the Jedi way generally have their panties in a twist about letting your emotions obstruct your logic, discouraging indulgence in any sort of personal relationship, lest it confuse your rationality. Or cause fear, and we all know where fear gets you.  However, in the movies as well as many stories in the expanded universe, many dramas revolve around the loss of a Master, betrayal of a Master, ect.  It makes sense, considering that's bound to be the most common source of Jedi emotion, and lets face it: a story without ANY emotion might get old after a while. Think about it: the episode where Spock goes all crazy cause he desperately needs to bang something? Interesting as hell! Chaining down emotions only makes it more interesting when they're unleashed.

Then we have those crazy Sith.  The relationship between Master and Apprentice for the Sith is just good old' fashioned evil fun. I mean, at first glance, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Why in the world would you train someone if, by taking them as apprentice, you update their goal in life to becoming your DEMISE. "Aaarrggg... curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"  However, Sith are crazy evil and therefore their motives can't be rationalized, and that's not the point anyway. The point is, it's a big ol' dollop of opportunity for writers to create all sorts of amusing mayhem.

The goal of this whole rant is to point out one simple fact: The master and apprentice relationship is important to the Star Wars universe.  Therefore, its my belief that it's current representation in TOR is... lacking.  Right now it seems more like a convenient quest dispensing mechanism than anything.

As of now, the storyline provides you with a master (or a few, depending on how many you kill) that does nothing but send you on quest after quest. While some good plot lines come from this, I think it would add some depth if the Master and Apprentice system were player based, and the current 'Masters' were simply high ranking Jedi or Sith NPCs (or whatever) who see you as a convenient source for delegation.

Why in the world do you want this?
Imagine that you're just starting out; You've got a fresh new copy of the game, and you're excited to take on the Universe. You're wandering around the starting area, completing your various quests, and you notice that there are a lot of high level characters around, inspecting the new blood. Imagine there are arenas that you can compete in to prove yourself, and therefore win the favor of a high level character. Imagine having a high level character ask you to complete a quest that THEY invented to prove your worth. You check their card and see that they've successfully trained 3 apprentices, and that they're a very renowned player. Imagine the excitement and realism this would add! Interactions from NPCs can be cool, but I guarantee no NPC will cause the excitement that a player who as established themselves as a badass in the game will.

When I used to play Ragnarok, the first hunter to max his level on my server once helped me out with a quest cause he was bored, and I was lucky. I was SO excited and flattered, being able to say that 'Meepo helped me with a quest!'... Imagine a renowned character taking you under their wing! 

In today's MMO world, interactions from high level characters can be... unsavory. A lot of them couldn't care less about a newbie character, cause the POINT of the game is to make YOURSELF a badass. But if you could help yourself by helping others, and you had to actually act like a human being in order to gain this facet of renown...
I like the idea. Obviously.

Now imagine that your character has grown old. You've seen and conquered the universe, and you've run out of things to do. You've become bored of the arenas, done all the flashpoints, and are looking for something new. Now imagine there is a space on your character's profile, their legacy if you will, that shows how many characters you took as apprentice, and the general proficiency of these characters. A whole new dimension of renown is added to the character, and a whole new opportunity to do things once you've become tired of the rest of the game. Gameplay between two friends would be pushed to another level, the more experienced player feeling responsible for the younger character's progress, since their reputation would be on the line; People without younger level friends would be left to scout low level worlds for good potential Padawans or Apprentices. New titles like Trainer of Heroes start cropping up for people who've trained a certain number of people who have now maxed their levels.  Trainer of Champions for people who have trained a certain number of people who have an arena ranking over a certain threshold.

For low level characters, it adds a level of excitement above and beyond being accepted into a stellar guild. For high level characters, it gives you something to do when you've done everything you can with your character, and you're looking for something else to do to gain yourself some renown.  It just. Makes. Sense.

I understand that there's a really good reason they hobble a high level character's ability to help you level up. I've been in a game before where they hadn't yet instituted such rules, and high level areas would be rife with high level characters spawn-camping all the bosses while low level characters sat around the edges of the map leeching the experience.Without control, too many people abuse the system and the game becomes less fun for those who are there to play for realsies.  However, that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen ever. 

If you were to institute certain restrictions, (e.g. Once you take an apprentice, you can't take another until said apprentice reaches a certain level.) it could be balanced enough to make it fun. Especially if you gave extra motivations to the high level character (Legacy points anyone?)  and integrated special game mechanics for this.

Now, since I'm avidly argumentative, even with myself, I've made many good points to myself about why this wouldn't work.  I've also attempted to argue back.  I decided to write out 2 of those arguments, for funsies.

Wouldn't that kill those carefully plotted storylines they came up with?
But Amanda! I say; Wouldn't this severely effect how the current storyline unfolds? Good question other Amanda! While this is a good point, my rebuttle is that a lot of your interactions with the current NPC 'Masters' aren't unique or personally involved.  Admittedly, I haven't played through all of the class storylines, but it seems to me that the characters assigned to be 'Masters' for your characters act as much like your masters than the random people you encounter in town that ask you to do things for them.  They never accompany you on missions, (though, to be fair, for the Sith this might be more accurate) and they rarely teach you anything. They just have you do their bitch work. Hell, the guy who teaches you skills is a random ass dude in the nearest temple. I feel these characters would be more suited to being cast as politicians within their respective fields, taking an interest in you as a way to gain favor or popularity within whatever political system they're batting for. For example,  in the Jedi world, this could mean a member of the council who has taken a special interest in you.

I think it would be much more interesting if your 'Master' was a player character that could either send you on quests (much like you send your current companions on randomly generated BS quests) or go with you to accomplish other quests assigned by NPCs. Said character could also be your 'trainer' for new skills, and all you'd need is another section in your companion window. (You could even pay THEM for it: more motivation for high level characters)

What if nobody likes you enough to be your Master?
There is already a companion system, use that to make a dummy-master. Dun. If you had a 'dummy-master' to start with and then picked up a player character master, you could either kill your dummy-master (if you're a Sith) or just tell your master to meet you on Alderaan for a cup of tea and then never meet them (if you're a passive agressive Jedi).

You do realize there are more than just Jedi and Sith, right?
Yeah yeah, but Jengo had Boba, and Luke threw around the word 'cadet' which I think suits other classes perfectly. It still applies. (Grow your own Chewbacca kit!)

I'm tired of writing now.


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