An Introduction to MUDs

MUDs stand for 'multi-user dungeons', which is merely a fanciful name for text-based, interactive adventure games on the Internet based on the popular Dungeons and Dragons role playing games. Users just need a reasonably fast connection (people have been known to play with 2400 baud modems in the past) to the Internet to telnet into a MUD which is running in a specific MUD server (a workstation or fast PC) on a particular port.

A typical MUD address may be: 4242. This just means that the MUD server (essentially a software driver and a library of C-like code) runs on a machine called on the Internet and listens to connection attempts on port 4242 (the default telnet port is 23 unless specified otherwise).

MUDs allow you to play a particular character of either gender, race and class. You can choose fanciful names for your character - indeed, few actually play under their actual names, and depending on how seriously you take the role-playing aspect of the game, you can either behave like yourself or whatever personality you wish your character to possess. Unlike many such games, your character is automatically saved when you leave the MUD, so the gaming process is continuous and takes place over a long period of time. In time, not only does your character advance in terms of experience and skills, but you will find that he or she will also develop a certain, unique personality of its own - in a sense, it is an extension of one's self in a cyberworld where breaking the rules of convention is part and parcel of being a Mudder and more importantly, carries with it none of the real-life repercussions.

There are many different kinds of MUDs, each with its own characteristics and quirks. To name a few, there are LP-MUDs, DikuMuds, TinyMuds, Mushes etc. Each MUD differs in playing rules. Some MUDs are purely social, where players congregate in rooms to talk, whereas others are geared for hardcore gamers. Since I am mainly an LP-Mudder, this primer is slanted heavily towards LP-MUD characteristics, although in general, this applies to most other kinds of MUDs.

I first discovered MUDs in late 1992 while searching for a friend who had effectively cut himself off from the outside world - he was unreachable by phone and none of his dorm mates knew where he was in the evenings. Finally, an email from him arrived containing rather enigmatic instructions to telnet into a site called Dartmud somewhere and look for a character called Libra. I did as instructed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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