Segregating Player Power
This is sort of a compromise that is made when the disparity between high and low power players is too great for a truly cohesive system to handle. Unfortunately this never works very well either. The basic idea is to force players of varying power levels into different regions, e.g. high-level land, newbie land, uber land, etc. Generally the solution is to limit certain hunting grounds to players that are (theoretically) within the power curve of the enemies found in that area, like a dungeon that restricts access to players of level A to B. There are three basic problems with this system:
- It effectively makes the world smaller for every player, as the potential explorable landmass is restricted.
- In most cases, safe zones like towns are still open to everyone, so the trickle down of unbalanced equipment cannot be stopped, raising your power curve for lowbies and encouraging twinking.
- It mandates something like a level-based system (or one based on total character point value) which, in addition to being a silly artifice with its own set of problems, is not a decent barometer of actual player character survivability, punishing characters who spend more time on noncombat activities and associated skills.
A compormise solution I came up with during one of my numerous pointless eternal arguments with Allerion involves a variable power limiter built into the structure of the game world. The idea is to separate the game world into various "planes" or "regions" that allow for varying levels of total player potential. For example, in Great Britain player characters have a reasonable power limit, and once you reach your potential cap, you cannot advance further in terms of raw prowess, though you can pursue things like construction and baronages if the system allows for this. However, step into the land of the Fey, and you can keep improving to normally superhuman levels, returning to your normal power cap when you step back into Great Britain. Thus, you allow the power player to go forth and be Superman in a dangerous realm full of enemies that merit such levels of power, but in the "real world" the character can still enjoy the challenge of the Pict invasion, fighting side by side with his not-so-uber comrades. The drawback of this (besides code to scale down characters when they return from the Fey) is that it necessitates the use of a cheesy black box like "high mana area" or "different physical laws" to explain why people can become godlings in one area but not another, and the tracking of 2 or more sets of attributes for every player character.