One approach to handling the mob mode greeting problem is to allow players access to a conversation editor and allow them to edit the canned conversations that their PC would engage in while in mob mode. Nobody will take the kind of care with such conversations as a player could. A character could branch conversation trees based on who is speaking with them, when and where. A player who aims to be a merchant could open trading and even possibly negotiation conversation branches; even setting buy/sell prices based on who is asking. The player could allow friends of the character to pick him/her up and go out on runs. For example, two players plan to go to the dark dungeon of doom in the far corner of the server that evening and one can’t log in until sometime after the other.
Just stop by the tavern and pick X up. She’ll go with Y if he asks her. Then you can be most of the way there by the time I log in.
It could be a powerful tool. Combined witzh the ability to script the behavior of a PC while in mob mode, you may even be able to reap the benefits of player created content and have your streets filled with living breathing, lovingly crafted characters.
Or the streets could be full of Drizzts speaking SMS.
There is one issue that you would need to address however. By allowing characters to craft conversations to be used by PCs in mob mode, you are essentially giving your players a license to create NPCs. This should be handled with great care.
How do you control the population of player NPCs so that the servers don’t become overwhelmed?
Do you want to limit the number of characters per account or IP address? This would open up muling and multi-boxing possibilities galore.
How do you prevent players from abusing this for the benefit of their main?
How do you maintain standards? Do you only give this ability to players who have proven themselves? To all comers?