Harley Hahn's
Guide to Muds

Chapter 4...

Social Muds and Action Muds

Later in this guide, I will show you how to go about choosing a mud. Before I do, however, I want to explain the various types of muds and how you should think about them.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of muds. Social muds are for talking. Adventure muds are for game playing as well as talking.

(By the way, I am using these names informally; they are not strict technical terms.)

The main purpose of a social mud is to provide a place for people to meet and talk. Although you participate as a character of some type, you spend most of your time walking around, meeting other people. Many social muds are organized around a particular theme or area of interest. Some involve role playing, others are less concerned with staying in character.

Over time, social muds attract a core of regulars who develop their own culture and traditions. Although you will sometimes find quests and puzzles, social muds are primarily for people who want to socialize. Some social muds are devoted to utilitarian pursuits. For example, there are a number of educational muds (without role playing) where people gather to learn, teach or have serious technical discussions.

You will sometimes see social muds referred to as "talkers" or "chat lines" (although not all talkers and chat lines are real muds).

— hint —

You may be familiar with the 1980s American television program Cheers. The setting was a bar in which a group of regular customers would gather to talk, philosophize and discuss the issues of the day (including personal problems).

If you ever thought it would be nice to be a regular in such a place — where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came — a social mud is for you.

Adventure muds offer more than socializing. There will be some type of overall activity in which you participate actively (in the role of your character). Adventure muds are complex environments, usually designed around a single main theme, where you will find many places to visit and things to do. As you travel throughout the mud, you will talk, interact, plot, fight, kill, explore, gather materials, meet people, go on quests, encounter obstacles, form alliances, and so on. On a typical adventure mud, you will get equipment and weapons. As you travel around, you will find monsters (and sometimes other people) to kill.

One of the appealing features of an adventure mud is that you can return again and again, playing with more and more skill as you gain experience. With most adventure muds, you can move from one level to another as you achieve certain goals. Moving to a higher level will increase your privileges and improve your status.

There are a large variety of adventure muds with no clear-cut groupings. However, it is possible to loosely categorize adventure muds into three main types. First, some muds involve a lot of strategy and are based on a complex set of rules and interactions. These muds are heavy on thinking and planning. If you like Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, you will like this type of mud.

Other muds have more action and are less obsessed with elaborate scenarios and characterizations. These muds are sometimes referred to as hack-n-slash muds (although the term is somewhat derogatory). Hack-n-slash muds are satisfying because they have a nice mixture of culture, planning, learning, achievement and killing.

Finally, player killing muds are devoted to killing other players. On other muds, you devote the bulk of your aggressive instincts to killing monsters. On a player killing mud, you spend all of your time trying to kill everyone else. When you die, you are automatically reincarnated, at which time you go back for more. ("Please sir, may I have another?")