FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Welcome to the world of MUDding!
Table of Contents
- FAQ #1: Basic Information about MUDs
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
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 rec.games.mud.lp
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
- http://www.mudconnect.com/ -
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'
- http://mudlist.eorbit.net/ -
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,
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
pickle.cs.umsst.edu at port 4201, we
- (on most systems, including UNIX)
- telnet pickle.cs.umsst.edu 4201
- (or, on some VMS systems)
- telnet pickle.cs.ummst.edu/port=4201
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 127.0.0.1 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
1.9. What password should I use for my MUD
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 alt.security FAQ.
firstname.lastname@example.org: 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
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
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
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.