While researching some definitions on twinking, I found the following term: Live of the Land
I remember many years ago I was writing up the definition of what I think "Solo Self Found" meant and I was arguing that there are actually two types of SSF:Live off the Land is a purist play style in which a player only uses items his character finds themselves. No trading, twinking or muling is allowed.
Different players have different rules for this play style, and individual variance is to be expected.
The purest style of LotL, a ruleset that partially overlaps with ironman style, does not even allow a character to buy items from NPCs. They may only use items they actually find from monsters or objects.
The first type of SSF is what I consider "Player-based SSF", and the second type is "Character-based SSF".
Player-based SSF revolves around the human being playing the game. Thus you are collecting items, and storing them in your own stash, and all of your characters can share that wealth. Almost as if all of your characters are living in the same world or are in the same family guild, and thus you - the human - are basically the guild bank. Your characters' actions and lives impact each other and your future characters. Thus a "twinking" scenario is automatically created.
Character-based SSF revolves around the individual character. Each character is isolated from each other and each live in their own instance of the world and its history. Thus "solo" is about the character itself. At a high level, this seems identical to the definition for "Live of the Land". Since your characters are isolated, there is no possibility for twinking and trading. Muling is a slightly different thing and we'll get to that soon.
In modern times (probably for at least the last 10 years), when someone says "SSF", they are usually referring to the "Player-based SSF" definition.
In my Cactus Setup Video and in my Cactus Documentation, I described this Character-based SSF approach a bit and how Cactus' Templating & Labeling System can help you organize your characters and stashes a bit differently than what was easily possible before. This type of pattern is also what ended up happening with Alpaca. Since I removed the Shared Stash component, each individual character has their own set of infinite stashes. Thus if you were to use Alpaca for your play, and you never traded/twinked between your characters, then it would be considered LotL since you don't need to mule either.
Now on to the muling part. It was a clear and known design decision that Blizzard North made for Diablo II to have intentionally small stashes. Having a small stash (and no official way to transfer items between characters on Single Player. Excluding: TCP/IP (LAN), or Battle.net), meant that players were forced to make critical decisions about what items to keep and what items to throw away. In Diablo 1, you didn't have a stash at all, however, on Single Player, people would essentially use Tristram itself (the floor) as a stash. This was possible since saving a Single Player character, saved the entire game state. Including monsters killed, exact state of the maps (activated shrines, items on the floor, etc), meant that you could throw all of your extra items on the floor, and you'll be ok. The only time you would need to really make the final decision on what to keep and what to throw out was once you beat the game, and you want to "regenerate" the game world by starting a new game with the same character.. since a "New Game" would mean a completely fresh instance of the game state, which would wipe everything on the ground in Tristram. Given that history, Diablo II was made to have a stash, but a very small one.
With that said, the lines of what "muling" is could be blurred when taking a "Character-based SSF" approach with Cactus and determining whether or not that still fits the LotL definition. I would argue that it still is, for the simple reason that I'm looking at that type of style as "The main character has their own house with a single closet for storage. The mules are not really "characters" but are just extra closets". In that case, whether I have 1 closet (the main character), or 100 closets (each other mule holding stuff for the main character), doesn't change the fact that the main character is the only character that's actually playing the game. If you were to use Alpaca in the same exact scenario, that would allow you to transfer all of the items in your other closets (mules) into your main character, and allow you to remove all of the extra closets (mules). You would be left with one character file in that Cactus entry. This would be considered LotL since you are still playing the same main character, and you never need to trade/mule/twink.
Ultimately, having one Cactus entry per character, to isolate them from each other and have their own set of mules, is just a simple mechanism for overcoming a technical limitation (or in this case an explicit design decision by Blizzard North). It doesn't really change the fact that you are still only playing one character, finding items with only that one character, and storing those items "somewhere" (mule/bank/basement/ w/e). No other main character is helping you. Finding a godly Rare Item in one of your other main characters in another Cactus entry, isn't going to be used by your other main character in another Cactus entry. Thus I still think this is LotL. But even if we don't want to call it LotL, it still is "Living off the Land", even if just in spirit. Maybe call it "Cactus LotL" if you really wanna have another term.
Hopefully this brings some more clarity between these two terms.
What do you all think? How do you think about the lives of each of your characters, their relation to themselves, to each other, and to you - the player?