11.5 MUDs
Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet

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     Multiple-User Dimensions or Dungeons (MUDs) take IRC into the
realm of fantasy.  MUDs are live, role-playing games in which you
enter assume a new identity and enter an alternate reality through
your keyboard.  As you explore this other world, through a series of
simple commands (such as "look," "go" and "take"), you'll run across
other users, who may engage you in a friendly discussion, enlist your
aid in some quest or try to kill you for no apparent reason.
     Each MUD has its own personality and creator (or God) who was
willing to put in the long hours required to establish the particular
MUD's rules, laws of nature and information databases.  Some MUDs
stress the social aspects of online communications -- users frequently
gather online to chat and join together to build new structures or
even entire realms.  Others are closer to "Dungeons and Dragons" and
are filled with sorcerers, dragons and evil people out to keep you
from completing your quest -- through murder if necessary.
     Many MUDs (there are also related games known as MUCKs and MUSEs)
require you to apply in advance, through e-mail, for a character name
and password.  One that lets you look around first, though, is
HoloMuck at McGill University in Montreal.  The premise of this game
is that you arrive in the middle of Tanstaafl, a city on the planet
Holo.  You have to find a place to live (else you get thrown into the
homeless shelter) and then you can begin exploring.  Magic is allowed
on this world, but only outside the city limits.  Get bored with the
city and you can roam the rest of the world or even take a trip into
orbit (of course, all this takes money; you can either wait for your
weekly salary or take a trip to the city casino).  Once you become
familiar with the city and get your own character, you can even begin
erecting your own building (or subway line, or almost anything else).
     To connect, telnet to
 
                collatz.mcrcim.mcgill.edu 5757
 
     When you connect, type
 
                connect guest guest
 
     and hit enter.  This connects you to the "guest" account, which
has a password of "guest."       
You'll see this:
 
The Homeless Shelter(#22Rna)                                                  
You wake up in the town's Homeless Shelter, where vagrants are put for        
protective holding.  Please don't sleep in public places-- there are plenty of
open apartments available.  Type 'apartments' to see how to get to an         
apartment building with open vacancies.                                       
There is a small sign on the wall here, with helpful information.  Type 'look 
sign' to read it.                                                             
The door is standing open for your return to respectable society.  Simply walk
'out' to the center.                                                          
     Of course, you want to join respectable society, but first you
want to see what that sign says.  So you type
 
                look sign
 
and hit enter, which brings up a list of some basic commands.  Then
you type
 
                out
 
followed by enter, which brings up this:
 
You slip out the door, and head southeast...                                  
Tanstaafl Center                                                              
This is the center of the beautiful town of Tanstaafl.  High Street runs north
and south into residential areas, while Main Street runs east and west into   
business districts.                                                           
SW: is Tanstaafl Towers.  Please claim an apartment... no sleeping in public! 
SE: the Public Library offers both information and entertainment.             
NW: is the Homeless Shelter, formerly the Town Jail.                          
NE: is Town Hall, site of several important services, including: Public       
Message Board, Bureau of Land Management (with maps and regulations), and     
other governmental/ bureaucratic help.                                        
Down: Below a sign marked with both red and blue large letter 'U's, a         
staircase leads into an underground subway passage.                           
(Feel free to 'look' in any direction for more information.)                  
[Obvious exits: launch, d, nw, se, w, e, n, s, ne, sw]                        
Contents:                                                                     
Instructions for newcomers                                                    
Directional signpost                                                          
Founders' statue                                                              
 
     To see "Instructions for newcomers", type
 
                look Instructions for newcomers
 
and hit enter.  You could do the same for "Directional signpost" and
"Founders' statue."  Then type
 
                SW
 
and enter to get to Tanstaafl Towers, the city housing complex, where
you have to claim an apartment (you may have to look around; many will
already) be occupied.  And now it's off to explore Holo!  One command
you'll want to keep in mind is "take." Periodically, you'll come
across items that, when you take them will confer certain abilities or
powers on you.  If you type
 
                help
 
and enter, you'll get a list of files you can read to learn more about
the MUD's commands.
     The "say" command lets you talk to other players publicly. For
example,
 
                say Hey, I'm here!
 
would be broadcast to everybody else in the room with you.  If you
want to talk to just one particular person, use "whisper" instead of
"say."

        whisper agora=Hey, I'm here!                                          
 
would be heard only by agora.  Another way to communicate with
somebody regardless of where on the world they are is through your
pager.  If you suddenly see yours go off while visiting, chances are
it's a wizard checking to see if you need any help.  To read his
message, type
 
                page
 
To send him a message, type
 
                page name=message
 
where name is the wizard's name (it'll be in the original message).
      Other MUDs and MUCKs may have different commands, but generally
use the same basic idea of letting you navigate through relatively
simple English commands.  
     When you connect to a MUD, choose your password as carefully as
you would one for your host system; alas, there are MUD crackers who
enjoy trying to break into other people's MUD accounts.  And never,
never use the same password as the one you use on your host system!
     MUDs can prove highly addicting.  "The jury is still out on
whether MUDding is 'just a game'  or 'an extension of real life with
gamelike qualities'," says Jennifer Smith, an active MUD player who
wrote an FAQ on the subject.
     She adds one caution: "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."