Pretty much all MMORPGs have some form of regenerative values representing parts of the character. Hit points and mana are the most common forms, but this includes any value that replenishes itself over time. This can include endurance, fatigue, energy or a dozen other synonyms.
But what about a stat that doesn't automatically regenerate? Is there a use for these type of systems in an MMORPG? I think there might be. The fundamental concept behind a value that doesn't regenerate is any thing that is expended once, and must be earned. In effect, the character needs to do something in-game in order to build their pool, something non-combat related.
Many games already have similar ideas in place, with special currencies for special vendors, or harvesting resources for crafting. The concept I'm envisioning here is one where there are known activities, quests, etc. that are used to gather the resources that are expended in 'normal manner'. i.e., casting a spell, interacting with an NPC, etc.
Some possible types of non-regenerative values.
- Mana is a good candidate for a non-regenerative value. The concept is that the energy used to create a spell must be gathered in another manner (ingesting magic herbs, visiting special places, etc.)
- Faction could be used like a currency to 'purchase' special benefits, but then the character must earn more favor to repeat the benefit or purchase additional benefits.
- Piety could be a religious counterpart to mana representing favor with a god. The god accepts piety in exchange for miracles. The character regains piety by praying to the gods or participating in religious festivals.
Possible benefits of a non-regenerative value.
- Additional activities to generate / earn these values must be added to the game. These could broaden game play from strictly a combat-focused affair.
- Extra time spent performing activities is more time for socialization and role-playing.
- The need to prepare before adventuring keeps the magic from being simply a fantasy weapons technology.
Even with a non-regenerative mana value, it is possible to have a maximum capacity to prevent the level 1 wizard from gathering mana for a month, then burning their way to max level. Granted, having expendable points like this might be more appropriate for a game focusing on a low-tech (low-magic) setting. I had hoped to have ways to transfer mana from one player to another, so even the front-line infantry would benefit from storing some mana, even if they couldn't use it directly.
The key to making a system like this palatable to players would be the 'fun' factor these new activities would have. MMORPGs already have time sinks galore, this would just be another.
Ideas? Thoughts? Questions?
Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.