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Subject: [rec.games.mud]: FAQ #1/4: MUDs and MUDding
This article was archived around: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 00:25:13 -0000
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Basic Information about MUDs and MUDding
This is part 1 in a 4 part series of FAQs.
Disclaimer: This document may be seen to be biased towards
TinyMUDs. This is because the original author of this document
mainly plays those types of servers, not because she thinks they
are inherently better or worse than other types of servers.
However, this document is meant to be generalized and useful for
all MUDdom, and so corrections and contributions are always
welcome. The new maintainers will be gradually modifying the FAQ to
be geared towards all of the various server types.
Welcome to the world of MUDding!
Table of Contents
* FAQ #1: Basic Information about MUDs and MUDding
+ General Information
o 1.1. What is a MUD?
o 1.2. What different kinds of MUDs are there?
o 1.3. Where are MUDs located?
o 1.4. I paid money for my account! MUDding is a right,
o 1.5. How do I connect to a MUD?
o 1.6. What is a client program?
o 1.7. Now that I'm connected, what do I do?
o 1.8. Why not just dive in?
o 1.9. What password should I use for my MUD character?
o 1.10. What's the easiest way to annoy a veteran MUD
o 1.11. What's the easiest way to be a mean veteran MUD
o 1.12. What should I _not_ do in terms of player
o 1.13. Is MUDding a game, or an extension of real life
with gamelike qualities?
o 1.14. What common commands are used on MUDs?
o 1.15. I know what's going on now! What's next?
o 1.16. Who should I ask for help?
o 1.17. What if I'm completely confused and am casting
about for a rope in a vast, churning wilderness of chaos
and utter incomprehension?
o 1.18. What USENET newgroups are devoted to MUDs?
o 1.19. Are there any MUD URLs?
o 1.20. How do I start my own MUD?
o 1.21. What was the first MUD?
o 1.22. What is a bot?
o 1.23. What's a clueless newbie?
o 1.24. What is a cyborg?
o 1.25. What's a dino?
o 1.26. What is a flame?
o 1.27. What is a furry?
o 1.28. What is OOC/IC?
o 1.29. What is a log?
o 1.30. What is Maving?
o 1.31. What is net lag?
o 1.32. What's player killing?
o 1.33. What is spam?
o 1.34. What is TinySex?
o 1.35. What is a 'Wizard' or 'God'?
* FAQ #2: MUD Clients and Servers
+ Client Information
o 2.1. What is a client?
o 2.2. Where do I get clients?
o 2.3. What operating systems do clients run on?
o 2.4. Is there anything wrong with running a client?
o 2.5. What different clients are available? [Client List]
+ Glossary of Client terms
+ Server Information
o 2.6. What is a server?
o 2.7. Where do I get servers?
o 2.8. What operating systems to servers run on?
o 2.9. Is there anything wrong with running a server?
o 2.10. What different servers are available? [Server
+ General Information
o 2.11. What do I do if my client/server won't compile?
o 2.12. Should I read the documentation of whatever client
or server I select?
o 2.13. What is FTP, and how do I use it?
* FAQ #3: Basic Information on RWHO and mudwho
+ 3.1. What is RWHO?
+ 3.2. How Does It All Work?
+ 3.3. Where Can I Get This Stuff?
+ 3.4. Where Are Some RWHO Servers?
* FAQ #4: Servers at a glance
+ 4.1. What is a mud server
+ 4.2. What does this section cover?
+ 4.3. What is [server type]
o 4.3.1. Envy
o 4.3.2. Merc
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 at
* 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
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
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 could type:
(on most systems, including UNIX)
telnet pickle.cs.umsst.edu 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 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
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
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
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 alt.security FAQ.
email@example.com: 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
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
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
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.
1.14. What common commands are used on MUDs?
Most MUDS have a core of commands which players use to move around and
interact with each other. For instance, there are commands for
interacting with other players, like say (or sometimes "), and other
commands like look, go, etc. In TinyMUD, there are commands like home
(which always places you in your home -- remember that), : (pose --
try it), etc., which allow you to do stuff inside the database.
Commands prefixed by a @ (generally) allow you to change the database!
Commands like @describe, @create, @name, @dig and @link allow you to
expand the universe, change it, or even, perhaps, @destroy it, under
certain conditions. In LPMUDs, none of those apply; in order to edit
the universe, you have to attain Wizardhood or be the God of the MUD.
Whatever the case, these building commands are beyond the scope of
this little sheet -- find the documentation for whatever MUD you're
playing with and consume it avidly. Most MUDs have documentation
on-line, although better documentation can be gotten via ftp from
other sites. Ask around, or try looking on ftp.tcp.com.
1.15. I know what's going on now! What's next?
Now is the time when you should be most careful. Within reason, don't
be afraid to ask questions of other players.
1.16. Who should I ask for help?
Wizards (see the glossary section) are usually helpful; if you know a
wizard to be a wizard, then you can usually ask them a question or
two. Make sure they're not busy first. Also, players who have been
logged on for a long time (which you can check using the WHO command)
are often helpful, as they are usually the veterans who've seen it all
before. In combat MUDs, asking relatively high level characters is
usually the way to find things out.
1.17. What if I'm completely confused and am casting about for a rope
in a vast, churning wilderness of chaos and utter incomprehension?
Ask a friend to help you. Don't post anything in any newsgroup. Just
take it slow, one step at a time, smoothing over the things you don't
understand by reading manuals (i.e. man telnet), asking local help, or
trying to find people who use MUDs who are at your site.
1.18. What USENET newgroups are devoted to MUDs?
There are several USENET newsgroups associated with MUDs. The first
(and least used) is alt.mud. When it got popular, the newsgroup
rec.games.mud was then created, and when it got too noisy and chaotic,
a few new groups were split off of the main one (rec.games.mud is no
longer a real newsgroup - all of its volume went to
rec.games.mud.misc). The current newsgroups are:
Postings pertaining to the administrative side of MUDs.
moderated group, where announcements of MUDs opening, closing,
moving, partying, etc are posted.
Postings pertaining to DikuMUDs.
Postings pertaining to LPMUDs.
Postings pertaining to the Tiny* family of MUDs.
If you feel you must post something to USENET, please do it in the
group where it best belongs - no posts about TinyMUSH in the Diku
group, no questions about an LPMUD in the Tiny group, etc.
1.19. Are there any MUD URLs?
With the explosive growth of the WWW there are now many resources
available to mudders, a few places to start are listed below.
Lydia Leong's MUD Resource Collection (http://www.godlike.com/muds/)
An excellent all-purpose mudding resource
Aragorn server (http://aragorn.uio.no/)
Another good mud resource site geared towards LPmuds
Imaginary Realities (http://imaginaryrealities.imaginary.com/)
The magazine of your mind. - Imaginary Realities is a magazine
dedicated to muds and all things muddy. It clears the water with
articles about all aspects of muds, from the players point of view and
from the creators point of view.
If you know of any that you'd like to see included here, let me know.
1.20. How do I start my own MUD?
First, you need to pick a server. You'll have to figure out how to
compile it, get it running, and you'll need to know how to keep it
running, which usually involves some programming skills, generally in
C, and a good deal of time. Of course, you also need to be well versed
in the ways and commands of that particular MUD server, and you'll
probably need help running the place from a few of your friends.
Don't forget that you'll have to have a machine to run it on, and the
resources with which to run it. Most MUDs use anywhere from 5 to 90
megs of disk space, and memory usage can be anything from 1 to 35
megs. A good rule of thumb is to first ask around for specifics on
that server; average muds need around 25 megs of disk space for
everything, and about 10 megs of memory, although the exact numbers
NOTE:If you don't explicitly own the machine you're thinking about
right now, you had better get the permission of the machine owner
before you bring up a MUD on his computer. MUDs are not extremely
processing- consumptive, but they do use up some computing power.
You wouldn't want people plugging in their appliances into the
outlets of your home without your permission or knowledge, would
Glossary of MUD Terms
1.21. What was the first MUD?
MUD1, written by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, back in 1979-80, is
generally accepted as the first MUD. Sceptre was developed
independently about the same time as MUD1, and so has influenced some
mud servers since then.
TinyMUD Original, the first of the Tiny- family of muds, was written
in August 1989.
A good starting place for a chronology of MUDs is Lauren Burka's
LegendMUD also has a detailed 'History of Online Worlds' available at
1.22. What is a bot?
A bot is a computer program which logs into a MUD and pretends to be a
human being. Some of them, like Julia, are pretty clever -- legend has
it that Julia's fooled people into believing that she's human. Others
have less functionality. The most common bot program is the
1.23. What's a clueless newbie?
A newbie is someone who has only recently begun to participate in some
kind of activity. When we're born, we're all life newbies until we get
experience under our belts (or diapers, whatever). You're a clueless
newbie until you've got the hang of MUDding, basically.
1.24. What is a cyborg?
A cyborg is defined as 'part man, part machine.' In the MUD world,
this means that your client is doing some of the work for you. For
instance, you can set up many clients to automatically greet anyone
entering the room. You can also set up clients to respond to certain
phrases (or triggers). Of course, this can have disastrous
consequences. If Player_A sets his client up to say hi every time
Player_B says hi, and Player_B does likewise, their clients will
frantically scream hi at each other over and over until they manage to
escape. Needless to say, runaway automation is very heavily frowned
upon by anyone who sees it. If you program your client to do anything
special, first make sure that it cannot go berserk and overload the
1.25. What's a dino?
A dino is someone that has been around for a very long time (cf.
dinosaur). These people tend to reminisce nostalgically about dead or
nonexistent MUDs which were especially fun or interesting.
1.26. What is a flame?
Flaming is when someone shouts at another person in a vain attempt to
convince them that whatever that other person said or believes in is
unconditionally wrong or stupid. Avoid getting into flame wars, and if
flamed, laugh it off or ask someone else what you did wrong.
1.27. What is a furry?
A furry is an anthropomorphic intelligent animal. If you've ever seen
Zoo-bilee Zoo on The Learning Channel, you know what I mean. Furries
are not unique to MUDdom - they originated in comics, and can usually
be found at comic or animation conventions and the like. Generally,
any MUD character which has fur and is cute is deemed a furry. Most
furries hang out on FurryMUCK, naturally.
1.28. What is OOC/IC?
On many role-playing MUDs, you may see these terms quite often. The
stand for Out-Of-Character and In-Character, respectively. They're
used by players to note when they're really roleplaying, or not.
1.29. What is a log?
Certain client programs allow logs to be kept of the screen. A time-
worn and somewhat unfriendly trick is to entice someone into having
TinySex with you, log the proceedings, and post them to
rec.games.mud.* and have a good laugh at the other person's expense.
Logs are useful for recording interesting or useful information or
conversations, as well.
1.30. What is Maving?
Mav is an old TinyMUDder who sometimes accidentally left a colon on
the front of a whisper, thus directing private messages to the whole
room. The meaning of the verb has changed to include making any
say/whisper/page/pose typing confusion.
1.31. What is net lag?
The Internet (the network which connects your computer to mine) is
made up of thousands of interconnected networks. Between your computer
and the computer which houses the MUD, there may be up to 30 gateways
and links connecting them over serial lines, high-speed modems, leased
lines, satellite uplinks, etc. If one of these gateways or lines
crashes, is suddenly overloaded, or gets routing confused, you may
notice a long time of lag time between your imput and the MUD's
reception of that input. Computers which are nearer to the computer
running the MUD are less susceptible to netlag. Another source of lag
is if the computer which hosts the MUD is overloaded. When netlag
happens, it is best to just patiently wait for it to pass.
1.32. What's player killing?
The answer to this question varies widely. On most combat-oriented
MUDs, such as LPMUD and Diku, player killing is taken quite seriously.
On others, it's encouraged. On most TinyMUDs, as there is little to no
combat system, player killing is sometimes employed as a means of
showing irritation at another player, or merely to show emphasis of
something said (usually, it means "and I really mean it!"). It's best
to find out the rules of the MUD you're on, and play by them.
Obviously, this really means character killing, not player killing -
there haven't been any cases of homicidal maniacs killing MUDDers for
using up all the terminals, yet.
1.33. What is spam?
Spamming, derived from a famous Monty Python sketch, is the flooding
of appropriate media with information (such as repeated very long say
commands). Unintentional spamming, such as what happens when you walk
away from your computer screen for a few minutes, then return to find
several screenfuls of text waiting to scroll by, is just a source of
irritation. Intentional spamming, such as when you repeat very long
say commands many times, or quote /usr/dict/words at someone, is
usually frowned on, and can get you in trouble with the MUD
1.34. What is TinySex?
TinySex is the act of performing MUD actions to imitate having sex
with another character, usually consentually, sometimes with one hand
on the keyboard, sometimes with two. Basically, it's speed-writing
interactive erotica. Realize that the other party is not obligated to
be anything like he/she says, and in fact may be playing a joke on you
(see log, above).
1.35. What is a 'Wizard' or 'God'?
Gods are the administrators who own the database. In most MUDs,
Wizards are barely distinguishable from Gods - they're just barely one
step down from the God of the MUD. An LPMUD Wizard is a player who has
won the game, and is now able to create new sections of the game.
Wizards are very powerful, but they don't have the right to do
whatever they want to you; they must still follow their own set of
rules, or face the wrath of the Gods. Gods can do whatever they want
to whomever they want whenever they want - it's their MUD. If you
don't like how a God acts or lets his Wizards act toward the players,
your best recourse is to simply stop playing that MUD, and play
There are frequently different "levels" of Wizards or adminstrative
types; each MUD is different, so be sure to check to see how the local
A more appropriate name for wizards would probably be Janitor, since
they tend to have to put up with responsibilities and difficulties
(for free) that nobody else would be expected to handle. Remember,
they're human beings on the other side of the wire. Respect them for
This posting has been generated as a public service, but is still
copyrighted 1996-1999 by Jennifer Smith. Modifications made after
August, 1999 are copyrighted 1999 by Andrew Cowan. If you have any
suggestions, questions, additions, comments or criticisms
concerning this posting, contact Andrew Cowan
(firstname.lastname@example.org). Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
postings contain information dealing with clients, servers, RWHO,
and FTP sites. While these items aren't necessary, they are quite
useful. I'd also like to thank cthonics (email@example.com) for his
help in writing these FAQs, ashne and Satoria for their help, and
everyone else for helpful comments and suggestions. Thanks again to
Alec Muffett (firstname.lastname@example.org) of alt.security.
The most recent versions of these FAQs are archived at
http://www.mudconnect.com/mudfaq/ and on rtfm.mit.edu in the
Andrew Cowan / email@example.com