Non player characters, or NPCs, are monsters or personalities programmed by wizards to populate the MUD. They make up a highly important part of the MUD landscape - indeed, a MUD town is often heavily populated with these somewhat interactive creatures going about their daily business, usually unaggressive unless provoked by a player. You are able to interact with these NPCs. Some NPCs give out hints and clues about a quest or the game if bribed with gold or some other special item. Some NPCs carry a lot of gold or interesting weaponry which will be of use to an adventurer. A player can always engage in battle with an NPC, although the outcome depends very much on the relative strengths of both. If you slay an NPC, you will gain experience points based on how difficult it was to kill, and loot its corpse. In turn, you may be killed by an NPC, in which case you'll have to return to a church or temple to pray and regain your body object, losing a significant amount of your experience gained so far.
NPCs have evolved a lot since the early days of MUD. Nowadays, NPCs can be made very intelligent and interactive, much to the amusement and awe of players who encounter them. Like players, NPCs come in different levels, with varying skill levels in battle. The higher level they are in general, the harder they are to slay, and consequently, the more lethal they become. Some of the most fearsome NPCs on a MUD also carry with them vast amounts of treasure or coveted weapons which many players would spare no expense and take all sorts of risks to obtain.
There are also peaceful and essential NPCs who tend the bars, man the shops and attend to players at the bank - providing routine and mundane services which no actual player would be willing to carry out. Refrain from killing these NPCs unless you're willing to do without the oft-essential services they render.
NPCs may be programmed wander aimlessly around town, or they may sit patiently in one room, waiting for adventurers to stumble upon them. Some of them are merely ambient monsters, such as the ubiquitious and annoying Harry in the generic LPMud 2.4.5 who follows players around asking inane questions, and more often than not, ends up a steaming corpse.
When slain, a corpse is all that remains of an NPC, which will slowly rot away to nothing in time. The corpse contains all the belongings of the NPC and may be looted by the player.
MUDs have a reset feature that is specified in the MUD driver code - every 20-30 minutes on average, the MUD checks to see if the NPCs are still in their correct rooms. If they have been killed, a new replica of that dead NPC will be created in its place - a process referred to as 'regeneration' or merely 'regen' by hardcore MUD players. If regeneration did not take place, then within a few hours, players would easily have cleaned up the entire MUD and there would be nothing left to kill. However, in special cases, there will be some NPCs who will not regenerate - those NPCs are usually very hard to kill and provide fantastic weapons or armour, items which wizards naturally do not wish to see being used by more than one player at a time.
A sample encounter with an NPC:
|>You have entered the inner sanctum of the
Temple of Absolutely No Hope and Utter Darkness. There is a heavy whiff
of incense in the air. The flagstone floor feels hard and cold beneath
your feet. There is an imposing oak door to your south.
You can go south from here.
A fiddling monk.
This is a greyish monk with a pinched face and
a dusty complexion. He obviously hasn't seen the light of day in years.
Most of his features are hidden behind a thin, long beard reaching to his
waist. He appears to be concealing something beneath his dark, grey cassock.
You have entered the inner sanctum of the Temple
of Absolutely No Hope and Utter Darkness. There is a heavy whiff of incense
in the air. The flagstone floor feels cold and hard beneath your feet.
There is an imposing oak doorway to your south.
Corpse of Monk.
This is the fresh corpse of Monk.
>get all from corpse
You get: a scroll
This may not really appeal to some of you, but the fact remains that slaying NPCs is the most important way to gain experience points in the MUD.
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