The Multi User Domain (MUD)
MUDding gives you a way to take on the
persona of a mighty knight, skilled in the
use of weapons and armour, or that of a powerful
mage, filled with esoteric knowledge and gifted
in the use of spells, or perhaps a pious priest,
able to heal and invoke the presence of your deity.
On some MUDs you can even become a Jedi knight,
versed in the use of the Force, or a member of
the Psi Corps, using the unaided power of the
mind alone to assist you in combat. Youíll spend
time exploring hidden caves, fortresses sheltering
evil, vast plains and forests, medieval cities,
and lost, forgotten temples. Youíll go on quests,
interact with other players, form lasting friendships
and enmities- in short, youíll be able to live a
whole other life.
Most MUDs feature both role-playing and combat,
and the gateway to this exciting past-time, which
combines exploration and the thrill of new things
with simulated combat and interaction with other
real people from all over the world, takes place
on the Internet. All you need in order to MUD is
imagination, a bit of free time, the right internet
address, and Portal©.
A Unique Gaming Experience
People in the gaming industry speak of this genre
of entertainment as the one that gave rise to the
graphical adventure games Ultima Online, Everquest,
and the Call of Asheron, which label themselves
"persistent online worlds." Unfortunately enough,
they simultaneously imply that MUDs are a thing of
the past. These people seldom recognize that MUDs
and their relations now number well over a thousand
sites on the Internet. Some of these games are so
active that they have player communities of thousands
of active players, which is the size of a small town
where Iím from. With MUDs and other telnet games,
itís not the graphics or snazzy stuff that drive
the game: itís a sense of fun and challenge, but
most importantly of player community. These games
are often interactive and creative on a level that
nothing else in the world can match, and theyíre
Thereís literally no way to describe the available
themes for MUDs, MUSHes and other telnet games.
There are simply too many games of too many different
types to even begin to make a dent in them. The
majority are probably medieval fantasy, though youíll
also find Science Fiction MUDs as well as games
specializing in some rather esoteric themes: Star
Trek, Babylon 5, Robert Jordanís The Wheel of Time
books, Roger Zelaznyís Amber series, Frank Herbertís
Dune novels, and the White Wolf gaming system, just
to name a few. If you can dream it up, itís probably
out there somewhere on a MUD or MUSH.
Immerse Yourself in the Adventure
One thing is crystal-clear: role-playing is the
raison díÍtre of these games. How the games achieve
that role playing, how role playing is enforced, and
a thousand other details differ from game type to game
type, but fortunately there are some generalizations
which we can make as well as some basic commands that
differ very little from game to game. Like all
role-playing games, you can simply concentrate on
your own characterís development without paying much
attention to the people around you, or you can spend
a lot of time interacting with other people.
You canít come in and simply take on the persona of
a powerful magic-user or warrior. Instead, you start
out at the bottom and have to work your way up in the
ranks, gaining in power by practicing your skills
and killing monsters. Role playing, while often
important on MUDs, is only half of the equation.
The other half is character development, which
usually takes place through combat. Some folks
find the combat incredibly boring and repetitive,
while others love it for its goal-based nature and
consistently find ways to challenge themselves against
newer, bigger monsters. Long-time MUDders can aspire
to become wizards, arches or admin, depending on the
individual gameís nomenclature, and ascend from the
ranks of ordinary mortals to those who actually help
to create and maintain the virtual world.
LP? DIKU? What'd You Say?
MUDs come in two general types: LP MUDs and DIKU MUDs.
These two things are code bases for the server
programs that run the MUDs. Iíve seen at least one
MUD administrator say that as far as players are
concerned, thereís no difference. Iíve personally
never felt that way, and can usually quickly tell
whether a MUD is in the LP or DIKU family. LP MUDs
tend to be more complex and less "stock," or
identical to the prototype MUD of its sort; in
addition, LP MUDs are often long-lived, some
lasting for periods in excess of ten years. DIKU
MUDs are more often stock, with similar spells,
guilds and areas. Many feature "endurance points,"
which are required in order to move and which must
be regenerated or healed when they run out, as
well as a requirement that your character eat and
drink in order to stay healthy. The LP family
includes the classic LP MUD as well as the
Discworld driver, while the DIKU family includes
the ROM, Merc and Nightmare drivers.
MUDs of any driver type, usually emphasize combat
to a greater degree than MUSHes and their ilk.
This means that your character development will
usually require combat in order to gain experience
points, used to raise your level and statistics.
Level is a general evaluation of a player
characterís power and combat potential, while
statistics such as strength, intelligence and
constitution can modify this as well as other
things such as hit and spell points. Hit points
are how much damage a character can take before
being killed, while spell points are usually
used to power special abilities. Most MUDs
feature either guilds or classes, such as
warriors, mages or thieves, which govern just
what special abilities are available. Other MUDs
will have skills instead of guilds or classes,
letting you tailor your characterís abilities
a bit more to your liking by learning only the
skills you want to learn (so, for example, you
can mold your character into a spell-casting
thief like Fritz Leiberís Grey Mouser of
Erewhon). Still others will have skills and
guilds, with guild-specific skills costing
less if youíre a member of the appropriate guild.
Facets of Interest
MUDs often have two other common features that
make them more interesting: quests and clans.
The quest systems vary a bit from MUD to MUD,
but they are of two general types. In the first,
questing is required to advance levels at certain
intervals. In the second, questing is optional
and either gives rewards such as equipment or
experience, or it is simply added to your score
and used to determine whether you have the potential
to become a wizard/arch/admin. The clan system in
MUDs varies dramatically from game to game, but
all are centered on the idea of simulated player
killing in organized contests. Clan systems might
take place in a special sub-section of the gameís
virtual reality, or they might work in the regular
game environment. There might be special clan
guilds, or you might use your characterís normal
abilities. All, however, work on the basis of
teamwork during wars, and can add a lot of spice
to your gaming experience, as well as greatly
enhancing the social interaction on the MUD.
Some of the other classic features of the normal
MUD are events such as invasions. An invasion is
when a group of monsters tears into the central
town or start location and starts randomly
killing everything and everyone they can. These
events can be great fun, though for low-level
characters they often spell disaster when the
monsters approachÖEvery MUD seems to have
invasions, though the degree of regularity is
anything but consistent from game to game. Other
events vary wildly from MUD to MUD, with anarchies
or wars, in which any player can kill any other
player, but the deaths donít count, coming in a
close second in popularity. After youíve been on
a mud a while, youíll usually learn about any
particular events that the wizards run.
Playing with Evil
Another fascinating option on many muds is player
killing or PK. Player killing is a topic thatís
near and dear to the hearts of some, while to
others, itís the most horrible thing thatís ever
existed in a game. Simply put, itís the process
by which one player goes out and kills, not a
monster, but another character played by another
real person somewhere out in the real world. There
are three basic systems by which player killing is
regulated: (1) A free-for-all PK system, meaning
that player killing is allowed on the MUD whenever
and wherever the players deem appropriate (though
there are usually a few safe rooms). (2) A
restricted PK system, in which player killers
must register. Only registered PK players can
kill or be killed by other players. (3) The No
PK system, in which the MUD doesnít allow any
player killing at all. If you are concerned
about PK, pick your mud with care, and you may
not ever have to deal with it.
Getting Yourself all MUDdy
The commands on MUDs are, to some degree,
standardized. These commands will work nearly everywhere:
Any time you log on to a new mud, youíll be
prompted to give a name and password before you can
begin the character creation process. On some muds,
youíll have to register via email before you can
create your character. On nearly every mud, you can
log on as "guest" and look around to see whatís going
on and what the place is like. Finally, many MUDs
have home pages on the World Wide Web, as well as
player-run pages giving additional hints, tips,
maps, and the like.
"help" will always call up the gameís help system.
"help newbie" will generally give you a file containing
a lot of specialized information for that particular mud,
including where and how to start out.
"say 'text'" will usually cause your character to speak
the designated text.
Typing in one of the obvious exits (e.g. south) will make
your character move in that direction out of the current
room and into the next one (assuming an exit of that direction
Abbreviations for directions (s for south, sw for southwest,
u for up, etc.) nearly always work as well.
You can always "look at" things as well.
Combat can usually be initiated by typing "kill 'thing'"
Finally, "score" will usually give you a glance at the nature
and characteristics of your character.
Your first move upon logging into a new MUD should
always be a review of the help files. Thereís usually
a "help newbie" command which will give you a list
of the ways in which the MUD might differ from
"standard" MUDs, as well as instructions on how to
get started and what areas are appropriate and not
as deadly for the new player.
Copyright© 1999 by Axid of 3Kingdoms - Used with permission