This document gives some basic "getting started" information for anyone who has not played a text-based MUD before. A what? I hear you say..
A MUD is a Multi-User Dungeon, though you don't need to know what it stands for to play it! Basically it is a role playing game where you take the part of a character, and guide that character through life on the world. This can include exploring, solving puzzles and helping out the inhabitants (quests), killing the inhabitants - both computer generated characters and ones controlled by other players, learning skills and crafts, joining a guild such as the Warriors, the Wizards or others, and at the same time interacting with people from all over the world.
Text based MUDS are just that - all room descriptions, character descriptions, information about what is happening etc is given in text. The only "graphics" are an occasional ASCII picture.
You find yourself at the Sumeria Market Cross - what should you do?
look - typing this will show you a description of your surroundings
look <item> - You can inspect something in the surroundings closer by looking at it. For example in the starting room the description mentions a monument. Typing "look monument" will show you a more detailed description of the monument.
search <word> - Some things may be hidden, though there are clues in the room to guide you. If you think that there is something hidden, then try searching for it. It may take a few tries to get the right syntax though.
At the bottom of the room description is a line saying:
>There are <number> of obvious exits: west, east, north, south
These are the exits you can leave by, though there may also be hidden exits. To move type the name of the exit.
Note that north, south, east, west, northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest are abbreviated to n, s, e, w, ne, se, sw, nw respectively.
But its too dark to see! What do I do now? If it is night time, unless it is a clear night with a full moon, you will need some kind of light at night. You will begin the game with a torch, which you may "light torch". However, these do burn out, but new ones can be bought at the General Store. Later on, you may wish to buy a lantern and oil, which will last longer.
No one gets far in life without some basic objects such as clothing, a torch, a weapon etc. You will start off with a robe and a torch, and more equipment can be bought from the various shops and market stalls, earned by doing jobs, or found in the game.
There are many different ways of communicating in the game. A brief overview is given here.
The main ones are chat and newbie. These channels are broadcast to all players (unless they have it turned off). The chat channel is for general player chat and is often out of the game context. The newbie channel is for new players to ask questions about the mud and how to play. If you have any questions then please don't hesitate to ask on newbie channel by typing "newbie <my question>" eg newbie how do I pick up something.
There are two variations on this. The first is the "say" command where the text is printed to the screen of everyone in the same location as yourself. The other is "tell" where you tell someone in particular something eg tell talia hello, and this message only goes to the named person in your command.
These are a nice way to add dimension to communication, as they make it easy to express emotion. If someone says something funny, instead of saying "that's funny", you could type "laugh" and everyone in the room would see you laughing. This is called a "soul" and most of these can also be targeted to a particular person eg "laugh talia". There are a lot of these souls, type "look soul" for a complete list.
The emote command is like a soul, except that you make up your own wording ie "emote blinks and looks around in surprise.", would print to everyone in the location " <Yourname> blinks and looks around in surprise."
A final word
This probably all sounds really daunting and you are wondering whether it is for you. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't, but one thing we at Archipelago can ensure is a friendly, helpful atmosphere in which to sample a MUD. So why not give it a try, you may be surprised!
You may also find it useful to read the Introduction to the Archipelago.