The Daily Grind: How should player thievery work in a modern MMO?


We just ran a Daily Grind a few days ago in which I used the word “snooping” to refer to checking out characters’ attire, but in my first MMO – Ultima Online – snooping was an entire skill line, one essential for aspiring player thieves. Characters could snoop inside a fellow player’s backpack, evading detection if their skill was high enough, and then decide which item therein to target with the stealing skill – assuming the player’s backpack had anything worth the risk, as getting caught inside towns would summon the guards for your instant execution and getting caught outside town would flag you as an easy kill for all other players. In both cases, your death meant your corpse would be legally picked bone-dry and you’d take a karma hit.

I have a hard time seeing how such a system would fly in most modern MMOs outside of the gankiest gankboxes, though I know pickpockting still has its fans. And yet I remember having a lot of fun with the system, particularly thwarting thieves with tricks like poisoned food, trapped lockboxes, and “reagent bags” that were actually full of trash.

How should player thievery look in a modern MMO? Should it exist at all?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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