Harley Hahn's
Guide to Muds


Chapter 7...

Getting Started on a Mud

Getting started on a new mud is a multi-step process. There is no standard routine, but there are general procedures that are similar with most muds. In the next few sections, I will take you through the process of connecting to a mud and show you what you are likely to encounter. To start, let's take a look at the seven steps you follow with each new mud:

Connecting to the Mud

To connect to a mud, you use your mud client program. You start by specifying certain information: the name of the mud, the host name and a port number. Once you have specified this information, you can tell your client to connect you to the mud.

The host name is the name of the remote computer on which the mud resides.

The port number is used by telnet to establish a particular type of telnet connection.

(As I explained earlier, muds use the telnet protocol to communicate. Within telnet, a port number is used to indicate you are requesting a particular service from the remote computer. All muds use a port number. You don't need to care about the technical details. You just need to make sure you specify the port number in order to connect properly. For more information about telnet, see Chapter 3, Mud Clients.)

Here is a typical example.

I sponsor a mud named Zynna that resides on a computer named "zynna.com". Zynna communicates using port number 4000.

Thus, to connect to Zynna, you would specify the following information to your mud client:

name = Zynna
host = zynna.com
port = 4000

Once you connect to a mud, the first thing you will see is a welcome screen. You will then be asked to enter the name of your character and a password. The first time you use a mud, you will need to create a name and password. There are several ways in which this might happen.

On some muds, you can create a character immediately. This involves choosing a name and a password, and entering other information which I will discuss in a moment.

On other muds, you will have to apply for permission to use the mud. Typically, you will have to send a message to the mud admin, specifying your email address and the name you want to use for your character. With muds that are heavily into role playing, you may also have to send a character description as part of your application. Within a few days, you should receive a message confirming your new character and giving you a temporary password (which you can change at any time). You can then start to use the mud. Until then, you will have to be patient.

Finally, some muds allow you to log in as a guest by using the name guest If a password is requested, it will probably also be guest. For example, with many TinyMuds, you log in by typing connect, followed by your name and password. (There will be instructions on the welcome screen.) To log in as a guest, you would enter:

connect guest guest

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Choosing a Name

When you choose a name, you can use anything you want, although you will probably not be allowed to use anything obscene. Do not use your real name, but do select a name you will like and enjoy. My advice is to choose something that is easy to type. For example, the name Mxyzptlk may seem cool at first, but you and your friends will soon get tired of trying to remember how to spell it.

Some muds discourage name changing because it requires the assistance of a mud admin (who is probably busy). Other muds will let you change your name whenever you want.

— hint —

When you join an adventure mud, do not choose a name that sounds like the name of a monster or other non-player character such as Demon, Vampire, Beggar or Guard.

Someone who is careless or in a hurry might attack you without thinking. By the time you figure out what happened, you will be dead (which is inconvenient).

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Choosing a Password

Choose your password with care. Do not pick a word in any language, or a name of any type. Use something meaningless that contains letters, numbers and punctuation; for example, tln99!C

Do not use any of your regular passwords, such as the one you use to check your bank account online. It is best to make up a special password just for the mud. Most muds take care to protect passwords, but there is no sense taking unnecessary chances.

If someone guesses your mud password, he will have access to your character and can cause a lot of trouble. For example, he can go around being rude to people or breaking the rules, and you will get blamed for everything he does. In addition, he can steal your equipment and possessions for his own character.

Some muds let you enter a brand new name and password as soon as you connect. If you happen to pick a name that is already in use, the mud will assume you are an existing user and ask you for a password.

— hint —

If you enter a name and password, and you get a message saying the password is wrong, it means the name you have chosen is already in use.

Start again and choose a different name.

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Registering as a New User

Some muds allow you to pick a name and password right away. On such muds, you will often have to register by entering information about yourself. Typically, you will be asked for your real name and your email address. This information is for the mud admins, who want to make sure you are a serious player and not a troublemaker.

Other muds will let you choose a name and password the first time you connect, but will not let you play until your registration has been processed by the mud admin and you have been sent confirmation. In such cases, you will just have to be patient.

— hint —

On many muds, you can specify that your email address should not be made public. (Real names, however, are never disclosed.)

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Creating Your Character

The main purpose of social muds (such as TinyMuds) is to talk and socialize. Your character becomes your persona, and what you are to other people is based on your ability to socialize within the role you have chosen. On some social muds, people emphasize the role playing aspects of their characters. On other muds, the characters are less important, as people just want to talk. Regardless, you will not need to develop your character beyond giving it a name and writing a description.

On adventure muds (such as DikuMuds and many LPMuds), developing your character is an important part of the game. To develop a character, you specify various attributes. These attributes are of prime importance, as they will significantly affect how you interact with the mud and with the other players. For example, on many muds, life is different for a dwarf than for a giant.

To build your character, you choose characteristics in a variety of areas. In each area, you will have a number of possible selections. On a DikuMud, for example, you will usually have to choose a race, a class, a gender and an alignment. On other muds, the choices will be different, but the main idea is the same. (I'll show you some examples in a moment.)

If you have never used a mud before, it will be difficult to know which choices to make. On a well-designed mud, there will be help commands to assist you in creating your character. However, there is nothing wrong with guessing and picking what seems reasonable.

A lot of your character development will occur later as you use the mud. So make selections that seem reasonable, but don't worry about getting too detailed at the beginning. While you are creating a character, you may be offered a chance to customize the character. Say no. If you say yes, you will get a whole bunch of choices you won't understand, and if you try to guess what to do, you will just make a mess. My advice is to refrain from customizing your character until you have used the mud for a while.

— hint —

Playing on an adventure mud is like going to a costume party where the costume evolves over time.

Each adventure mud has its own choice of attributes for building a character. For example, a typical DikuMud might have the following choices:

  • Race: dwarf, elf, giant, gnome, hobbit or human
  • Class: cleric, mage, thief (rogue) or warrior (fighter)
  • Gender: male, female or neuter
  • Alignment: good, evil or neutral

Virtually all adventure muds require you to choose a race for your character. There is a large variety of races, although you may only see a few on any particular mud. Here is a list that I have compiled from some of the muds I have visited.

Artrell Elf Halfling Orc
Cartoon Fairy High Elf Pixie
Darkling Feline Human Satyr
Deep Gnome Gargoyle Imp Snotling
Demon Giant Kender Sprite
Dragon Gnome Lizard Man Troglodyte
DragonKin Goblin Merman Troll
Drow Elf Half Elf Minotaur Vampire
Dwarf Half Orc Ogre Xenomorph

Some races — such as human, dwarf, elf and giant — are so common as to be found on most muds. However, there is no official list and mud admins can add races as they see fit. Moreover, a race on one mud may not be exactly the same as the same race on another mud.

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Teaching Yourself the Basic Facts
About the Mud

Once you have logged in, registered and (if appropriate) built a character, you will be eager to start using the mud. Before you do, take just a few minutes to do four more things. You don't have to read pages and pages of documentation. Just do these four things:

  1. Read the rules that explain how to behave on that particular mud.
  1. Figure out how to display a list of all the possible commands. If you are not sure what to do, enter the command help and see what happens.
  1. Figure out how to display help for a specific command. On a well-maintained mud, every command will have its own help file.
  1. Read the FAQ (frequently asked question list) for the mud. If you are not sure how to display the FAQ, try the command faq In addition, many of the large muds have their own Web pages, which are always worth checking out. Such pages often have extensive documentation.

— hint —

If you get lost, try each of the following commands until you find one that works:

help
help newbie
info
news
commands
faq

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Meeting the Other Players

The best way to orient yourself to your new environment is to talk to other people. Mudding is primarily a multi-user experience. Although there will be help files explaining how the mud is designed to work, talking to other people will show you how the mud really works from day to day.

On some adventure muds, certain things may be left undocumented on purpose. To find out how they work, you will have to talk to other people and sift the rumors to see what makes sense to you. On adventure muds, you must depend on the help of your fellow players. The mud admins are not allowed to help you with the game. They can only help you if there is a technical problem, such as a bug in the program.

— hint —

As in real life, you will learn more from other people than from trying to figure out everything by yourself. However, it is expected that you will spend some time learning on your own, especially when it comes to the basics.

As long as you put in an honest effort, most people will be glad to take the time to help you when you really need assistance.

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