The Virtual Dungeon Master, or vDM, is a sophisticated AI which tracks all events, NPCs, players, and environments inside Theleston on both Free to Play and Gold Servers. The vDM operates constantly, ensuring that player's encounter the correct experiences due to their System Tags while interacting with NPC's or the world. The vDM operates and oversees all Free to Play servers and also operates on Gold Servers, but as a supplement to the Story Tellers.
"The vDM is sort of a fuzzy-logic based AI that uses our ubiquitous surveillance system (The Panopticon) to analyse the state of a server and its playerbase and then direct content based on those analyzed conditions. So, it looks at tag patterns (both geographical and generational), character movement patterns, economic state and other collections of data points and runs them through its decision making AI to pass some judgements about the state of the world which then tell it how it needs to respond and provides a bunch of options it can then use. And mind you, because of the way we shortcut stuff by calling it the vDM, in truth it's this massive recursive thing that operations on multiple levels of granularity, from the miniscule ("What should I do with this one character, or this one back alley?") to the macroscopic ("What should the nations and gods be doing right now?")." - Snipehunter, Lead Designer.
The vDM both reads and assigns System Tags, monitoring their patterns at all times. However the vDM does not have a sense of ethics on its own. The vDM will not try to determine if an action taken by a player is a "good" or "bad" and will only assign (or remove) relevant tags.
In the discussion about System Tags the following scenario was posed to Revival Developer Snipehunter by player Nightalas:
Character A commits a horrible crime. Shortly after that he is killed by Character B, and that kill was witnessed by Character C. How will Character C know whether Character B killed Character A for lawful or evil purpose?
"In the example you gave, character B would gain a tag that says he's taken a life, but the tag itself isn't going to try to determine whether character b justified or not in doing so. Likewise character A is likely to gain a tag that says something like "murder victim" but if that character had in fact wronged character B, the vDM would consider the vendetta settled and would remove the tags that sent character B (assuming character B is an NPC) after character A in the first place. Meanwhile, character C's relationship with character B changes, because character C now knows that character B is not only capable of killing, but has. Depending on how character C feels about that, the relationship between the two of them can sour, with C thinking B is a terrible person and running to the guard to report the murder, or change in some other way (e.g. C hates A, so now C thinks B is pretty alright in C's book and thus the murder goes unreported). No matter what C chooses to do though, the murderer tag and the murder victim tab still hangs on the two characters and both tags will do whatever their game effect packages say to do.
Likewise, if Character C calls the guard and the guard comes to investigate, the guard is unlikely to care about the ethical implications, and will instead investigate the crime itself. Did B murder A? Yes? Then B is a murderer. Depending on the legal system of the government the guard works for, what happens next can vary from "so kill B as punishment" up to "so bind B for trial and let the judge decide" or land somewhere in between. Maybe the guard hates A and so says, "Well B did totally murder the crap out of A, but A had it coming, so I guess I was at lunch when this happened... see ya." or maybe the guard hates B and so he just punishes him on the spot, not even bothering to investigate. Or maybe the guard doesn't trust C and so he ignores the report completely. tl;dr version: the vDM is pretty cool, but it's still just a robot, so we generally don't let it make moral decisions about what happens, trusting instead that moral actions will rise emergently out of the interactions between player characters, NPCs, and the various systems that govern their actions and decisions more directly." -Snipehunter, Lead Designer.