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Welcome to the world of MUDding!
Table of Contents

General Information

1.1. What is a MUD?
A MUD (Multiple User Dimension, Multiple User Dungeon, or Multiple User Dialogue) is a computer program which users can log into and explore. Each user takes control of a computerized persona/avatar/incarnation/character.You can walk around, chat with other characters, explore dangerous monster-infested areas, solve puzzles, and even create your very own rooms, descriptions and items.You can also get lost or confused if you jump right in, so be sure to read this document before starting.

For a nice anecdote about the origin of the name, I quote Richard Bartle, co-author of the first MUD:

[...] I am WELL aware what "MUD" stands for, and maybe once every 2 months have to tell someone. The "D" does stand for "Dungeon", but not because the original MUD (which I co-wrote) had a dungeon in it; rather it was because there was a hacked-up version of Zork doing the rounds at the time, which bore the name "Dungeon". We thought that this program would act as the archetype for single-player adventure games, so we called our game "Multi-User Dungeon" in an effort to convey some feeling of what the program did. As it happened, the genre was promptly called "Adventure games" after the Colossal Caves game "Adventure", so we were wrong in that respect. By then, though, we had our acronym.

Going by this definition, multi-user Quake certainly qualified as a full-fleged MUD, as you can wander around and affect your environment, and can communicate with other players.In the interests of sanity, however, this FAQ will only cover the more traditional primarily text-based MUDs.

1.2. What different kinds of MUDs are there?

You'll notice the disclaimer on this FAQ mentions TinyMUD.That's one common type of MUD, but there are many different types of MUDs out there.The Tiny- and Teeny- family of MUDs are usually more social in orientation; the players on those MUDs tend to gather, chat, meet friends, make jokes, and discuss all kinds of things.

The LP- family of MUDs, including Diku and AberMUD, are usually based on roleplaying adventure games; the players on those MUDs tend to run around in groups or alone killing monsters, solving puzzles, and gaining experience in the quest to become a wizard.

There are still other types of MUDs, such as MOOs, UnterMUDs, and so forth.Each type has its own unique style, and players are rarely forced to stick to one type of playing - there's no rule that says an LPMUD _must_ be a combat-oriented MUD, or that a TinyMUSH _must not_ be a combat-oriented MUD.We suggest that you experiment around with several different types of MUDs to see what you find is the most interesting.If there's one thing MUDdom has, it's variety.

You may wish to check out the LPMud FAQ, posted to the newsgroup periodically by George Reese.

1.3. Where are MUDs located?

There are many services available which provide up-to-date lists of currently-running muds. A list of some of these sites is available at

  • - provides a frequently updated list of text-based muds (1400+ at the moment) as well as site and mud player/staff reviews, several search engines including a categorical search (to search on 'Pern-based' muds, for example), active discussions boards, mud resources, and a players' directory.
  • - large (3000+ muds at the moment) list of text based muds, updated automatically every week.The site includes lists of web pages which refer to each mud, and extensive text based search capabilities.

MUDs are run on many fine computers across the world.To play, all you have to do is telnet to the MUD's Internet Protocol Port, and you're in business.Some MUDs have a policy called registration to cut down on abuse of privileges; you might have to send mail to the administrator of the MUD in order to obtain a character.It's important to note that MUDs are not a right, and your access is granted out of trust. People usually have to pay to use processing time on the large, expensive computers which MUDs often run on, and you're being given a special deal.Which brings us to another point: MUDs can't really be run on anything less than a largish workstation (currently), so they're usually on academic or corporate workhorse machines.

1.4. I paid money for my account! MUDding is a right, isn't it?

Don't believe that for a second.When you paid money to your school's computer department for an account, you entered into a contract with that department.Most schools have a well written Computer Policy document, that will detail exactly what you have rights to.Most schools classify MUD as a game, and games as non-essentials.Therefore, if your school decides to shut off all games, or disallow you to telnet out to play muds, you're stuck.Don't try to get around it; they'll find you.Instead, try to talk to the Powers That Be, and see why they did what they did.They may have very good reasons for it (such as limited resource that really need to be dedicated to schoolwork).

1.5. How do I connect to a MUD?

There are several ways to hook yourself up to a MUD's Internet port.First, you can use telnet once you find out the MUD's network address and port number.If, for instance, we knew that ChupsMUD was at the network address at port 4201, we could type:

(on most systems, including UNIX)
telnet 4201
(or, on some VMS systems)

and we'd be ready for action.If we get back an error saying something like host unknown, we'd want to do the same thing, only using the machine's IP address, like this: telnet 4201.

Your second option is to scout out the many fine client programs which exist for the sole purpose of providing a friendly and useful front end to MUDs. (See client, below.)

Some things that can go wrong:

If you're using straight telnet on a VMS system, you might have to make sure that your terminal has newlines turned on. If it doesn't, the mud's output will get spewed across the screen in a most ugly fashion.

If you're using Win95's telnet, make sure that local echo is turned on in the options menu.Otherwise you won't be able to see what you type.

If you see just a login: prompt when you connect to the mud, then you're probably not connecting properly.You have succeeded in connecting to the mud's machine, but not to mud itself -- make sure you specify both the mud's hostname and port number.

1.6. What is a client program?

Telnet is a rather ugly way to connect to most muds, since it doesn't do any fancy text wrapping, and if someone says something while you're typing out a line, it will make a mess out of your line, making it hard to see what you're typing and hard to keep track of what's going on in the mud.A client program is simply another program you use instead of telnet to connect to a mud.Clients also provide useful things such as macros and the ability to gag or highlight certain mud output.Clients are available for anonymous ftp from several sites.See the Frequently Asked Questions posting #2 for more information about clients.

1.7. Now that I'm connected, what do I do?

Once you connect, find out what the deal is with respect to you getting a character.Some MUDs allow you to create your own, and others require you to send off for one via email.If you have to send off for one, send one e-mail request and cool your heels.MUDding will be around forever, no need to rush it.But let's say you've now gotten a character, and you're connected up, and things are starting to get interesting.At this point, you should do what is probably least intuitive: type help, read the instructions and directions, and understand them.Then, type news, read the information, and understand it.Then (yes, we know, we know... it'll be fun, soon!) practice using the commands given to you until you think you've got a good enough grip to be able to start in on exploring, questing, socializing, or whatever else tunes your engine.

1.8. Why not just dive in?

Some people are easily annoyed when other people clearly have no idea what they are doing, even if they were recently in that position themselves. It'll be much easier for you to cope without some fella saying things you don't understand to you and possibly killing you. However, many MUD players are helpful, and asking them, "excuse me, are you busy? I'm a brand new player, and I have a question," will often work just fine.

1.9. What password should I use for my MUD character?

You should pick a password just as you do for any computer account.Use a word, or better yet, a phrase or anagram, that isn't obvious.Don't, for instance, use the same name as your character, or your own first name, or your girl/boyfriend's name.And never never use the same password as the one on your computer account.Most MUDs prevent people from getting the passwords from within the mud, and most encrypt the password when it's store in the database files.However, there is nothing preventing the MUD's owner from modifying the code to dump the passwords to a file, along with other information such as the host you connected from.Using this information, an evil MUD admin could probably figure out your login name and get into your account easily.It's also not a good idea to use the same password on different MUDs, since if your password gets out on one MUD, all your MUD characters have been compromised.This is especially important for MUD Wizards and Gods.Use the auto-login feature of your client, if it has one, and protect the file containing the login information against reading by others.

This story comes from Alec Muffett, author of Crack and maintainer of the FAQ. The best story I have is of a student friend of mine (call him Bob) who spent his industrial year at a major computer manufacturing company.In his holidays, Bob would come back to college and play AberMUD on my system.

Part of Bob's job at the company involved systems management, and the company was very hot on security, so all the passwords were random strings of letters, with no sensible order.It was imperative that the passwords were secure (this involved writing the random passwords down and locking them in big, heavy duty safes).

One day, on a whim, I fed the MUD persona file passwords into Crack as a dictionary (the passwords were stored plaintext) and then ran Crack on our systems password file.A few student accounts came up, but nothing special.I told the students concerned to change their passwords - that was the end of it.

Being the lazy guy I am, I forgot to remove the passwords from the Crack dictionary, and when I posted the next version to USENET, the words went too.It went to the comp.sources.misc moderator, came back over USENET, and eventually wound up at Bob's company.Round trip: ~10,000 miles.

Being a cool kinda student sysadmin dude, Bob ran the new version of Crack when it arrived.When it immediately churned out the root password on his machine, he damn near fainted...

The moral of this story is: never use the same password in two different places, and especially on untrusted systems (like MUDs).

1.10. What's the easiest way to annoy a veteran MUD user?

Demand something.Whine.Follow them around.Page or tell them over and over after they've asked you to stop.In combat MUDs, steal from corpses of things they just killed.

1.11. What's the easiest way to be a mean veteran MUD user?

Don't give help to the new players.Kill them, ignore them, shout "get a description" at them.These are the best ways to kill off MUDding in general, actually.

1.12. What should I _not_ do in terms of player interaction?

You shouldn't do anything that you wouldn't do in real life, even if the world is a fantasy world.The important thing to remember is that it's the fantasy world of possibly hundreds of people, and not just yours in particular.There's a human being on the other side of each and every wire!Always remember that you may meet these other people some day, and they may break your nose.People who treat others badly gradually build up bad reputations and eventually receive the NO FUN Stamp of Disapproval.The jury is still out on whether MUDding is "just a game" or "an extension of real life with gamelike qualities," but either way, treat it with care.

1.13. Is MUDding a game, or an extension of real life with gamelike qualities?

It's up to you.Some jaded cynics like to laugh at idealists who think it's partially for real, but we personally think they're not playing it right.Certainly the hack-'n-slash stuff is only a game, but the social aspects may well be less so.