New MMO idea — shoot it down!

I was thinking about the differences between soloers and raiders, and how some games don’t put enough separation between crafters and adventurers, and I came up with an idea to building systems around these differences.  Thought I’d throw it out for you folks to hack to pieces, and maybe together we can find the germ of a good idea.

So last night I was once again in the Lone Lands (LOTRO) with a level 13 character trying to grab a quest item he needed in order to advance in his chosen crafting profession (Scholar).  I’d done the same kind of thing with a level 21 or so just a few days earlier (in that case, Weaponsmith). In both instances, I did complete the quests by being sneaky, but some professions require you to kill a mob to get the quest item; I never would have been able to finish those crafting quests with these characters. I’d need help.

Unrelated on the surface is the difference between solo/casual social players, and raiders. Raiders have the time and inclination to spend long hours in-game and get the best loot. Solo and casual social players never get this stuff, and normally it doesn’t really matter because they don’t need it. But what if they did?

What we need is a way to transfer bound loot and quest rewards from one player to another. Now we could just make them not bound and let players sell them on the Auction House, but that’s not very interesting and it’d really promote ‘farming’ items and would probably throw the in-game economy out of whack.

But what if we decided to treat *experience* as a form of currency that, under certain controlled circumstances, could be transferred from one character to another? How? By player-created quests. What if Character A could form a contract with Character B to go get the Fizzling Falchion of Foozle, currently hidden at the bottom of the Dungeon of Really Unpleasant Unpleasantries, which Character A needs to complete a quest. The terms of the contract are that Character A will give Character B 1000 experience points in exchange for the Falchion. That 1000 points is *not* negotiated by the players — that is the pre-defined value of the Fizzling Falchion as determined by the devs (all loot and quest rewards would have an “experience value” assigned at creation).

That’s the core of my idea. The experience value of items would have to be chosen pretty carefully — an item would definitely have to “cost” more than the quest it completes generates (otherwise it’d incent players to always “sub-contract” their quests). The solo/casual player would have to work on do-able quests or monster killing to earn the experience to pay for the quest reward, but at least they could complete these otherwise impossible (for them) quests. And the higher level player would have another type of quest they could do to keep things interesting. Or it could work the other way, too. A high level player could “pay” for lower tier crafting items with experience by contracting a lower level character to go collect them.

There’d need to be a lot of checks and balances to prevent exploiting the system (and the game would have to be built in such a way that there was a need for this kind of contracted questing). But I think it’d add an interesting new system. It isn’t the same as gold, because you’re not just selling a quest item to the highest bidder. Instead, you contract to complete the quest and now you essentially have the quest, until you collect the item, at which point the exchange is made automatically. And there’d have to be some kind of time limit, so the hiring player has some idea of when the quest would be completed (or, alternatively, either side can break the contract with 24 hours notice or something).

Like I said, this idea just came to me this morning and I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it or develop it, so I’m sure the idea is still full of holes, but I’d love to hear some feedback.