A conversation this weekend gave me reason to think over something I've thought about for what seems like forever now (mid '90's). Let's talk superstitions. As players we might have one idea, but let's adopt our Mud Developer hat for a moment and look at it that way. Some superstitions are simply that, but others are the result of clever players actually reverse-engineering game logic/code. Assume Nda's are iron-clad and there is no chance of an insider defecting.
In the Elder Scrolls games, starting with Redguard, astrology has an actual impact. Those whose sun-sign is The Steed, for example, enjoys increased Speed whereas those born under the sign of The Thief enjoy improved Luck. These mechanics are explained in both the publisher's OOC documentation and in-world IC fiction. Would it ever be acceptable to say nothing at all? Isn't saying nothing in fact tacit approval of whatever superstitions/theories/hypothesis the players develop, even if the players are wildly off the mark?
There is still a sizable population in WoW that insist Hunters should always be the first to enter an instanced location because Hunters have better "loot tables". The publisher has repeatedly denied this. Would you?
Some players of DDO to this day assert that one should always use their Diplomacy/Etiquette skill against a chest before doing anything to it, because that decreases the chances of a trap and improves the loot within it, ostensibly because one is making the chest "nicer" to the character. The publisher has repeatedly denied this. Would you encourage it?
If you were a developer, would you create mechanics to encourage the formation of superstitions, or would you always provide some means for the player to determine if they are or are not on the right track. Consider DEF and TRISTITIA and BODYSCAN. Would you hide some of this information? What of the Divine? Should They foment superstitions, or should they reveal the true (read: mechanical) aspects of the world?
Bartle, in his book (Designing Virtual Worlds) insists that as much fun as the above might sound to some of us, players will determine it sooner than we expect and will publish it on websites in short order (he even gives real examples). I can't find too much on the subject beyond Nick Yee's research and conversations on the MudDev mailing list, so it looks like the topic is wide-open yet.
Would you, as a developer, encourage superstitions (pre-science humanity), or would you encourage a mechanical and regular universe (post-science humanity)? Clearly some of these answers might depend on how much information you would share with players. Do players see absolute numbers (Str: 18, you did 7 points of damage), or do they see comparatives (You are stronger than most, your scored a glancing blow)? Either way, I'm curious what most people like both as an academic exercise and how/if that might impact how/if we play Lusternia.