Imaginary Realities 2001 December Edition

Summary of December 2001 issue of Imaginary Realities. Imaginary Realities was an ezine dedicated to MUDs.

Summary of "A Face in the Crowd" by Wes Platt

Wes Platt (AKA Brody) created OtherSpace MUSH.

New players on roleplaying MUSH's will find it easiest to get started, if they join an existing group of active players. Starting a "lone wolf" style character, rarely leads to many roleplaying opportunities.

On OtherSpace, the following are good organizations to join.

  • The Vanguard military
  • The Demarian Senate
  • Sanctuary's security force
  • The bounty hunters guild
  • The Boromov crime family
  • The Martian Legions military
  • The Cabrerra crime organization
  • The Nall Clawed Fist Fleet

"If you're reading this and you run an original-theme game, take heed: Don't underestimate the power of groups. Give people fairly easy slots to fill - the shallow end of the pool - before throwing them into the deep end. They can dive into murkier water after they learn to swim in your pond."

For new players, assign Newbie Helpers, provide group information, make sure groups are welcoming to new players, and give groups activities and quests.

Summary of "Cartoon - The Mud Slimmer" by Rebecca Handcock

This cartoon has been lost to the digital void--probably gone forever.

Summary of "Choosing a Setting" by Delphine T. Lynx

Choosing a setting is first huge hurdle to overcome when designing a MUD. Start by picking from Fantasy, Historical, Horror, or Science Fiction. All of these genres can be further broken down into subcategories. Historical are the most difficult to prepare for, because factually in accurate descriptions will sour the game for history buffs. Horror is extremely difficult to pull off, because you must pull off the emotional responses (terror, intrigue, and suspense) in you players that make it into horror. Science fiction and fantasy are easier to pull off, and allow for a great deal of flexibility.

When choosing from the above genres, ask your self:

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • What type of player interaction do you want to see?
  • What excites you, personally?
  • What are the opinions of people you know who you'd like to have play your game?

Here are a break down of possible subcategories of the above genres.

  • Fantasy - Myth & Legend, Society of Magi, Magic as a 'rumor', and Every Day Magic
  • Historical - Ancient History, Ancient Greece or Rome, Medieval or Renaissance Europe, and Modern World History
  • Horror - Paranormal, Mystery (with horror themes), Classic (vampires, caves, "evil men with weapons"), Hunted (running from a overwhelming power like a corrupt government)
  • Science Fiction - Science History ("What if King Arthur had the machine gun?"), Classic, Cyberpunk, Espionage/Crime (Jame Bond)

"A last, unmentioned type is one that combines two or more of the above. Excellent examples of this include the Star Wars Trilogy (Rare magic use with classic Science Fiction), The Matrix (a Hunted setting along with manifestations of extraordinary talent) and, perhaps, Final Fantasy, with it's combination of magic, fantasy and modern inventions."

Summary of "Dump Alignment Now" by Ilya

In most MUDs, evil and good are merely defined by whether you kill "good" or "evil" NPCs. The real world is much more complex than that.

Alignment systems typically tell you want team a player is on in a global conflict. There's team Good and Team Evil, and nothing really distinguishes between the two teams.

"It's my idea that a more convenient and workable system would endow groups with conflicting goals, dreams, aspirations, etc, while avoiding the good/evil designations altogether. Perhaps even add in some benefits or debilitations based on the accomplishment of these goals." Motivational goals could be to protect nature, protect resources, or change the use of resources from decorative jewelry to weapons and armor.

In a goal/motivation based system, there should be some tangible benefit to moving the world closer to the player's goal. Small rewards should come from each small step toward the bigger goal.

Summary of "Dweezel's Guide for the Beginning Thief" by Raven

Raven was the admin for Dartmud.

"The successful thief is usually the descendant of past generations of dishonest, but less successful ancestors. You may not be a successful thief, but if you are quiet, observant, and clever, perhaps some day a niece or grandson might distinguish him or herself. You may wish to keep a secret journal of useful information to pass down. This is my journal for those who may come after me. Alas, I fear my line is lost, so I hope you will consider me your adoptive ancestor."

Respect the code of "honor among thieves", but don't expect other thieves to do the same. If they rob you, learn from the experience. Don't swear allegiance to any group, unless it gives you a chance to steal their treasure. Never trust a thief that is aligned with any group.

Don't get caught with thieves tools.Don't let anyone know you are a thief. Don't be seen visiting thieves guild headquarters. Don't associate with thieves that are stupid enough to do these things.

Never reveal thief holes, and watch for enemies at thief holes.

Steal from marks that aren't there to protect their treasure. If you steal from the young, poor, or defenseless, use it as practice, and return what you stole so others can practice, too.

Steal from drunk gamblers on winning streaks. They won't notice it. Bribe their croupiers with a few drinks for their help.

Don't steal from healers. They don't have anything worth stealing, and it isn't worth the risk.

Be careful when stealing from nobles. Wedding guest are great targets, if you can get on the guest list.

Don't get caught sneaking. Sneak rarely. Avoid lit mages and full moons. Watch your marks from the safety rooftops, if possible.

Listen to conversations. This can help you find easy marks, or avoid deadly mistakes.

Bejeweled daggers sell for a lot more than the loose change a noble might have. And remember, a mage that is missing his supplies can't use them to cast fire at you.

Don't leave your takings in your inn room. The landlord will find them.

"Again, avoid the population centers when practicing sleight of hand. Start on yourself. You must be able to move the largest object you can palm from pack to hand to floor and back without being noticed before you attempt to filch even a farthing from the hoku shi of a sleeping fuzzy."

If working as an assassin, never miss on the first shot. If your prey survives, don't do anything else until you finish the job.

Summary of "Generalized Design Rules when Implementing Content Systems Driven by Players" by Eric L. Rhea

Make sure players cannot place objects in an area, unless it makes sense. "If region A is designated as a cornfield and region B is designated as an advanced city zone, it might be curious to your players as to why in the middle of a city a cornfield blossoms."

Prevent players from setting up MOB farms.

Carefully craft how player-placed objects can interact with other players (ie theft, defense, etc.)

Player placed objects probably shouldn't interact with MOBs.

Player placed content can lower the builder's overhead; be enjoyable to many players; lead to higher player retention; and add more variety to the MUD.