So, following on my previous post on Cartography, and my comments on in-game stories, here’s another idea for a crafting profession.

The Loreweaver is a seeker of knowledge, a scholar of ancient languages and cultures, and is deeply interested in unearthing the history of the world. From a design standpoint, implementing the profession fulfills the following goals:

1. It is aimed at lore enthusiasts, those players who want to know more about the story of the world. One of the products of the profession is exactly that, in-game books dealing with history, mythology, culture and other such subjects.

2. As a crafting profession, it does not require exploring the world, killing monsters, or finding gear for progression.

3. It is a new way of delivering narrative to players.

4. It is an experiment in player-created content, after a fashion.

The main mechanic of the profession is, like other crafting skills, acquiring materials and combining them into finished product. In this case, materials are snippets of lore. These can be obtained in a variety of fashions:

Studying:  The player can use their study skill on any in-game book or text-scroll item in the game. I will refer to these as Sources. The actual process of studying a Source could involve a word- or letter-based minigame, with the player’s score dictating what is gained from the studying. Sources could be level-coded, such that some can be studied sooner, while others require a minimum skill level to study successfully. Alternately, each source could only be studied once, or once every X amount of time. This would have to be designed and balanced to suit the Vision(tm) for the game.

Studying a source, apart from granting some amount of experience, would also yield a ‘note’. Notes are the essential loreweaving materials. Some sources might yield more and/or better quality notes. Notes would then be used to compile ‘Theories’. I haven’t ironed out the exact process, but in World of Warcraft, for example, the player would learn Theory recipes from the trainer, and combine specific types and amounts of notes to craft theories, gaining skill points in the process. For a different game, however, I would devise a system where a source can yield notes with different ‘subjects’ from various categories, and a ‘value’. A note might have the subjects ‘Humans’ and a value ‘3’. ‘Trolls 5’, ‘History 2’, ‘Language 4’ and so forth would all be possible. The player would then to try to combine a number of notes to accumulate a certain value in one subject to formulate a theory on that subject. The system could either simply produce a Theory with whatever combined value on all the notes is highest, or it could have a weighted probability of producing a Theory for any of the subjects found on the notes.

For example:

If the player combined 4 notes with a total ‘Troll’ value of 20 in the hopes of forming a Troll Theory, but the notes added up to a ‘Language’ value of 22, the resulting theory would be either:
1) a Language Theory (first scenario) or
2) (22+20=42) 22/40 chance of being a language theory, and 20/42 chance of being a Troll Theory.

Alternately, for a much more complex system, subjects could be divided into Categories. Categories would include things like Races, Disciplines, and so forth. The system would then parse the values for different categories, decide what combinations of categories are possible from the subjects of the note, and eventually produce a very narrowly defined subject for the Theory. In the above example, Troll would belong to the ‘Races’ category, and Language would belong to the ‘Disciplines’ or ‘Culture’ category. If those were all the subjects on the notes, the resulting theory would be on Troll Language.

The values of the subjects are also important, as the higher the particular scores, the more Advanced the resulting Theory would be.

Exploration: Certain locations throughout the world, namely those steeped in history, but any would work, would be sources of books, scrolls, tablets, paintings, and other such items that the Loreweaver could use to obtain notes. These could appear as ground spawns in said locations, a book on a shelf inside an old abandoned monastery, for example. Loreweavers could theoretically go out into the world and look for these items, but adventurers would likely find them throughout their travels,. If the designer wants to encourage loreweavers to go out and explore the world rubbings, explained below, can also be used.

Purchase: As I said, adventurers would find these items, and could theoretically sell them to vendors for a meager sum (they are essentially vendor trash to non-loreweavers), or to Loreweavers for considerably more. Alternately, some vendors could be implemented in the game that keep track of how many of these items have been sold to vendors in their city in the last 15 minutes, and update an inventory populated with random items from a list every so often. This inventory could be unique for each loreweaver (a form of vendor inventory phasing) or all loreweavers could be buying from the same limited inventory. Alternately, with vendors like those in Everquest, loreweavers could spend a lot of their time hunting through vendor inventories trying to find their much needed source of notes. Whichever system is used should be conducive to Loreweavers having a consistent, convenient source of materials, without actually having to go out and get them themselves.

Once the Loreweaver has enough notes, they combine them to create a theory. Theories are basically that, hypotheses the Loreweaver arrives at from studying source material and compiling notes. They are also where the ‘experimental player-created content’ comes in.

Theories need to be proved. As such, they require either more information, or actually going on a field trip to study the subject matter.

As such, when a theory is formulated, the Loreweaver would receive two items: One would be a commission, and the other the actual Hypothesis of the theory.

In WoW terms, the commission would take the form of a ‘This item begins a Quest’ item that can be traded. The Loreweaver can click on the commission and see what exactly needs to get done in order to complete the quest. They can then either choose to do the quest themselves, accepting the quest, or call out in city-wide chat or a trade channel that they have a commission to go do X. Alternately, they could very well take the quest, and then offer to share it with people, in order to get more than one person to accept the quest.

The quest itself would involve travelling somewhere associated with the subject matter of the theory, and either interacting with an object (getting a rubbing). The interaction with the object would complete the initial quest, and yield the rubbing as a reward. Rubbings are similar to notes, in that they are materials for Loreweaving, and little else (unless the game is also using inspirations). So, the adventurer completes the quest, gets a small experience reward, and now has an item they can sell to the Loreweaver, or turn in to them for the previously negotiated price. Delivery via in-game mail would also be possible, with the possibility of using C.O.D. to ensure payment. If the original Loreweaver no longer needs it, chances are some other Loreweaver might. If not, it can still be vendored.

The actual quest itself doesn’t need to end there, however. The original quest could very well just be the beginning of a quest chain, or it might have a chance of triggering a quest, or it might give a follow-up selected from a list of quests. Whatever is feasible and the designers feel they can get away with.

Once the Loreweaver has their rubbing, and other associated materials (all of which are listed in the handy hypothesis scroll’s tooltip), the player can either right click the Hypothesis – it would be a ‘Use: combine this item and X, Y, Z to create A’. – or throw it all together in their research satchel (one of the Loreweaving professional tools) and hit combine. The results would be either a proven hypothesis, a refuted hypothesis, or an unproven hypothesis. The unproven hypothesis would return the loreweaver to the questi-giving stage of the process, and yield experience and notes, and possibly another hypothesis/quest to give out. The refuted hypothesis would also grant experience, and more notes than the unproven hypothesis, but would not yield another hypothesis. Finally, the proven hypothesis would be the most desirable result, since the loreweaver could combine it with some writing materials and implements to create an actual in-game book. This book could then be studied for more notes. There might even be different qualities of books, with some only being a few pages long and not very in-depth, all the way to detailed accounts of events, cultures, languages, etc. There could even be terrible books that were obvious fabrications, or wildly inaccurate. Even these would have some merit, if only for entertainment value.

I’ll add more to this later, but for now, that’s what I have.  I have a couple more ideas in this same vein that I will put into writing soon(ish).