Old-school MUDs/MUCKs/MUSHs/MOOs

This is probably going to be a short thread, but I know some of you used to play Multi-User Dungeons and their various role playing spinoffs. For younger generations, these were like MMOs with lots of players, but less graphics, i.e. text-based. For anyone that used to play them: 1) give us a story of your favorite MUD, 2) what MUD that you used to play is still online? and 3) which currently live MUD would you recommend to a newbie wanting to try it out, and what client/scripts would you recommend to them?

I have some great stories I’ll intersperse between others if I get any replies :smiley:


What a great topic, @Shalandir Shalandir!, I think this is probably something that a lot of us played–granted that we are old enough!

For those of you interested in trying out these things, go to The MUD Connector to find out more information!

  1. Aurealan Realms, my first MUD that I was introduced to in middle school. It was just fun being involved in a community with other people, role playing in character, learning about each other out of character, and also it felt like endless hours of playing and always having a new area to explore. I later found out that this was only a moderate sized MUD, and there were so many of them out there. The MUD later changed to heavy role playing and was very strict about this, so it made it less social. I was young and completely role playing was difficult. But I stayed on this one for about 2 years with different characters, etc. This MUD unfortunately went down and has been down for some time I think. I last checked about 6 months ago and it does not seem to have any signs of revival.

This was a great MUD because when it was in its prime, it had its own private client, nice color coordination and easy customization for individual players display preferences, there was plenty of simple ASCII art that made it fun to look at–and I tried my own hands at generating some ASCII art, with very little success… LOL! The best thing about this MUD was something that was so simple but rarely used by other MUDs, for early graphics, there was a small Room Map that displayed into each room you go into below the description, in addition to listing the directions available for movement. That made such a difference for me, to see a quick ASCII representation of the room and the directions that are open. I didn’t realize how much I missed this little feature until I tried other MUDs and they didn’t have them!

It was fun because of the different possibilities available to the player, the different skills/abilities, and that everything was text based and you could imagine for yourself what the world is like. There are plenty of descriptions and it’s up to you to read them and shape the world how you find it, which modern video games does not allow for much, since everything is displayed for you.

  1. The one I played that is still online is Aardwolf, and it looks like it is still going strong. I had friends who played this and I tried it too. I can’t quite remember why this didn’t draw me as much as AR (above) did, but I remember it being fun as well. I also tried other ones that were related to the novels I was reading, since I was really into the fantasy realms, but some of those had subscription fees, and I didn’t have any ability to pay to play at the time.
  1. Unfortunately it’s been too long. I am curious about what anyone else would say about this particular question though. I wouldn’t mind delving casually back into a MUD to see how these games have evolved over the years. I do know that above in the link to The MUD Connector, there is always a listing for new MUDs, and so I would recommend any new player to try to connect to these ones, I think newer MUDs tend to have people who have worked hard on fashioning out their worlds and perhaps not yet many people to try them, so they probably will be the most Newbie-Friendly admins that may help.

I do want to say that most MUDs, if not all, have a intro/tutorial area, so once again, if anyone is interested, it is definitely worth your time and effort, it is often easy to connect and to play, and you will hopefully meet some cool new friends too!

By the way, when I was in high school, I was feeling overly ambitious and helped to design a couple of small zones for developing MUDs, one of these never got off the ground, the other one was up for a year or two and was taken down by the owner because of lack of activity. But I really enjoyed doing that too. It was so difficult. Makes level editors in modern games look so simple. I remember trying to come up with enough descriptions and not too much, and the owner wanted to have extensive details because he wanted to have the players to be able to use their five senses in each room… That was a painstaking process!


First, thanks to @YQMaoski for the reply, MUDs are great, huh? Everyone can find one that fits their style!

Second, my first MUD story: I played a few different MUDs but ultimately settled on a PvE hack’n’slash Avatar (unrelated to the Nickelodeon franchise) from 1999-2007, took a 1 year break (aka got banned for getting really drunk and pretending to hack the devs accounts), came back strong for 2008-2013, took another break (by choice), and visit sporadically now (2013-2018). Avatar’s appeal was fivefold:

  1. the gear in the game was guaranteed to drop from specific mobs, like a boss might always drop a sweet helmet, but it could drop varying qualities of that gear. This of course led to players farming the best drop from each boss…because in addition to quality, you could also risk enchanting your gear - either permanently making it more awesome, or permanently destroying it. Gone. I loved the risk/reward because most of the best gear had terrible enchant success rates, even with the right caster and circumstances. 12% success rate was astoundingly good, we had thousands of lines in spreadsheets tracking our enchant data. If anyone played Ragnarok Online, that’s another game that used a similar system. Yet,
  2. when you die, your gear and everything on your character stays in your corpse until it decays (about 15 minutes RL) so it rewarded players that memorized zones, created charts/sticky notes, or wrote scripts to speedwalk them back to where they died quickly to retrieve precious gear. You could lose all your (possibly enchanted) gear if you didn’t get back fast enough, and trust me, this has happened to me more times than I care to admit. It was a challenge. There are some games that do perma-death, but this was more about perma-loss of gear, you kept your level and lost a bit of experience (half your current level typically) and all gold carried. Also,
  3. There are almost no limitations on gear/class/race combinations. You were allowed to create and “roleplay” as a traditional human warrior or as a dragon archer, lumbering around attempting to shoot with your bow. Trust me when I say, dragon archers are not good. It did, however, open yourself up to very creatively making awesome hybrid characters - I am famous for playing a half-elf “battle” mage for decades with the very best in tank gear accumulated and enchanted to obscene levels to put me on par with a normal tank using standard tank gear. I famously have over 12000hp on that mage, with an armor class beyond -2100 spelled iirc. it didn’t give me long-lasting casting damage (I’d lose out on about 20% manapool) but for comparison I was easily 4x tankier than while wearing mana gear, and most casters have half the hp (or less! sub-3000hp was common for lord sprite casters!).
  4. Remort classes (22 total, 5 remort) and races (47 total, 23 remort). You could fight for months or years rarely seeing your same combination, climb all the way to a medium-high lord, then restart your character as a different, possibly more powerful race or class. A good example are elves and drow can rebirth into High Elves. High Elves are objectively better at almost everything, albeit they level slower. This gave the game a ton of replayability, especially when consider 1-3.
  5. Finally, everyone thinks their MMO/MUD playerbase was awesome and Avatar was no exception, but we’d form longterm friendships and bonds over a (rather detailed) text game! One of my best friends, she was addicted to playing a dragon mage - why? Because she enjoys the thought of a dragon casting fireballs and creating maelstroms. It was silly, but the roleplaying+gameplay combo drew all of us in. The bond easily extended beyond the game as many of us meet up at conventions, created our own convention (dedicated to all board games of course), and most stay connected even after we quit playing the game itself. Knowing that, you can understand why I have 1000s of hours on dozens of characters.

I was originally a huge caster play-style fan because I tended to play as a secondary task like while I was working at a call center being one of the best telemarketers known to man (it was a college job, you gotta forgive young me, it paid well and I was good at it). I’d be taking inbound or outbound calls with my command prompt neatly hidden and my script memorized so I could focus on gaming more and less on the call. I’d still routinely win lead contests which were often $400/wk bonus or a new Xbox (original, immediately pawned it for $400ish) or other gift cards and such. Good times. Other part-time college jobs I abused include hacking a bookstore cash register where I worked so I could run a telnet prompt in the background, effectively alt+tabbing, waking up, killing a few mobs by surging high with spells, then going back to sleep once drained. Mana was supposed to be a limiting factor, so it regenned very slowly, even if sleeping and the coders purposely took out mana pots to encourage efficient usage of mana and other classes to group dedicated casters. What I did was 10-30 seconds of inefficiently emptying 100% of my mana pool, then 5-15 minutes doing real work while the telnet terminal was hidden in the background. :smiley: This was very effective if camping gear, but also worked for experience in a pinch (not super fast leveling, but it could be done without dedicating 15-30 minutes to a dungeon run).

The structure of the game involves a LOT of classes (22 unique) which I touched on. Late 90s early 2000s, we started with pretty run-of-the-mill 7: warrior, mage, archer, rogue, cleric, monk, psionist, etc. Nothing crazy…but then each class can go into 1-2 prestige classes after 50 levels if they want, the prestige system went crazy with druids, stormlords, wizards, bodyguards, fusiliers, black circle initiates, bladedancers, shadowfists, mindbenders, etc. that are all very unique. Unlike most of the original classes that shared 90% of their skills/spells and had 10% unique stuff (plus obvious bonuses for in-class skills), the new prestiges were missing entire chunks of the core spells and skills, making them more specialized and encouraging grouping to mask weaknesses so their strengths can shine.

The reason I loved that, I wanted one of every class as they debuted, and there was never any limit to number of characters or alts (alternates) - each is unique and separate, and you could log out almost anywhere in the worlds so I’d leave a mage camping a hard to obtain chestpiece by leaving him logged out in a nearby room to the boss (and log in, nuke, grab chest, log out), I’d leave a wizard in a pit people would drop corpses into because it had a boss animator that would resurrect them into zombie form and still give exp, so wizards were amazing at AoE damage and nuke the entire room once it had enough zombies for you to risk dying to a very high level animator. And finally leave an archer (dps), maybe a bodyguard (tank), a cleric or druid (healer/dps) and a rogue (tank/dps) at a central hub for friends that wanted to group for exp runs.

However, the game is split into 3 major tiers -

  1. Lowmort (levels 1-50) which focuses on learning the game, learning your class, learning the basics.
  2. Hero which starts at level 51, but you stay level 51 and start gaining sublevels from (1-999). The major benefit to staying level 51 is you can run in any hero area and still gain experience, but slowly gain sublevels that continue to make you more powerful. The differences can be extreme - a hero 51(1) tank might have 1000 hp, but a hero 51(999) might break 10k, 14k or even 15k hp. This means you can run harder and harder areas with less and less players in your group, ultimately allowing you to become a genuine monster of a character. It feels really good running around with any hero 500+.
  3. Lord 125(1-999). After your hero breaks sublevel 300 you can attempt to morph into a lord, basically ascending to a much higher power level. Lords exist on a totally different plane, and can’t even return to hero areas except as a shadow of their former selves. This means all new areas, and a focus on a different gameplay. While hero was more open-ended with solo casters, duos, and a wide range of group sizes but typically around 5ish being optimal for most areas, LORD planes have massive monsters, like trash mobs are equivalent to bosses. Even though you become grossly more powerful than your former hero, you had to work together in groups of 10-25+ to take down even the simplest of rooms efficiently.

These are all totally different and very fun, with progressively larger groups being the norm, but once a character climbs to the next tier you no longer can gain experience fighting in the previous tier’s world(s), zones, areas. So, if you enjoyed casters (me) this means you have a Lord Mage and a Hero Wizard. Plus a Lord Sorcerer, and a Hero Sorcerer. But wait, my Wizard was a Centaur, it levels so slowly so I wanted another AoE caster that leveled rapidly - enter my Gnome Stormlord. But someday I want a Tuataur (remort race only) Stormlord! Enter a Lizard Stormlord, since Lizards can rebirth as Tuataurs. So yeah…my alt list is extensively diverse with it’s own spreadsheet to maintain a list of who they are, generic stats/level, and maybe where they logged out or if they’re currently spelled and ready to fight, that type of info. Crucial spreadsheet because remembering 40+ characters’ login information is brutal when you’re as paranoid as I am about password security.

Crazy sidenote - the game has undergone 21 years of continuous patching, content additions, and updates. It is a very detailed game in 2018 with Twitter integration tweeting major player achievements, entirely new types of areas (Superhero targeted at 500+ heroes), complex NPC scripts that would put a modern MMO to shame, tons of quality ascii art, a major continent added to the primary hero content (in-theme, the story behind the continent crashing down was cataclysmic) and eventually a final tier beyond Lord (Legend) where your character’s actions can impact the ENTIRE MUD and you can respec your character to be basically anything. You are limited 1 Legend per person, ever. They are borderline gods, but it can get lonely up there…so we have a habit of becoming benevolent/malevolent on a whim, complete trickster Legends we are. Thankfully, according to the lore, your character is allowed to exist on 2 different planes (the Legend plane and 1 other) at the same time because you’ve effectively split your spirit and ascended your half along with 2 others in a Troika ritual, and it’s also the only instance the devs have explicitly allowed multiplaying at any time as long as your Legend stays on the Legend plane you’re allowed to focus on your other client playing as a hero or lord or whatever.

Anyway…that’s a deep dive into my childhood addiction! Mostly high school, college era - it carried over into my first job, but by that time I was starting to branch out to other games and activities instead of focusing solely on Avatar. It will run on a potato, I can log in from anything with an internet connection, and I know for a fact that it is still alive, albeit much quieter than it’s heydays. For over a decade it was Top 4 with a logged in playerbase of hundreds at any given moment, but now even Aardwolf, the number 1 MUD, struggles to maintain those numbers (it doesn’t). Avatar has 27 players visible online at 4am during it’s slow time, so it’s not dead but it has quieted down quite a bit, but the hardcore are still levelling up a storm! Honestly not logged in in…months, but if anyone wants to play I’d happily help them out.


One thing newer gamers don’t realize if they’ve never played a MUD - just how much it sparks our imagination.


I have never played a MUD. I almost played GURPS once…then we decided just to stick with AD&D. :slight_smile: