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TMC Reviews: SlothMUD


SlothMUD QuickFacts

TMC Listing: SlothMUD
Server Type: [Dikumud] Heavily Modified
Site: slothmud.org 6101 [209.139.208.65]
Homepage: http://www.slothmud.org/

TMC Reviewer: Ingrid Vertow
Mud Theme

SlothMUD is set in an original world, in medieval ages, with all the typical features of a fantasy MUD: alot of gleaming steel and flashy magic, and alot of species such as dragons, goblins, elves, dwarves. Original features include a unique, detailed, well laid-out world with its own history; interesting skills and spells; a good sense of humor. The player system doesn't include any races at all, and though it's possible to play the role of whoever you like, it doesn't give you any special abilities. I found the self-description option definitely short on space (about maybe 250 symbols) to let you create a decent portrait of your character. Other aspects of character creation process are very brief, which to me is an advantage. You only choose your name, class order, hometown, and are ready to wander. There are no restrictions imposed on names, though I doubt a character with an offensive name would last for long ;). The level cost is fixed, and you do not get to choose skills at the beginning. You choose classes instead, and each class has its own skills and spells, strengths and weaknesses. There are eight classes to choose from: mage, cleric, warrior, thief, necromancer, druid, bard, monk, you have to choose four of them. The latter 4 classes have been added only recently and are being tweaked still.

Of those I played, thief and mage are the classes of offense, and warrior and cleric of defense. You do not get to see your stats (Str, Int, Wis, Con and Dex) until level 8. They must be rolled using special tokens that various mobs load. The first two classes affect your stats rolling. I must say it is considerably harder to get good stats if you play a mixture of classes (like thief/mage or mage/warrior) than if you play complementary classes (like mage/cleric or warrior/thief).

There is a help file for each command, and the command list is quite comprehensive. Those commands not available to you are in a different color. Most are intuitively comprehensible, and there are some very curious ones I haven't seen before, such as 'hunt' (lets you track both PCs and NPCs slowly if they are not far away; I found it very useful for the newbie that I was). Quite big is the list of socials, and to my surprise the original Diku social-command stock has been not only expanded but also extensively rewritten.

Mud Atmosphere

Frankly, the atmosphere of this MUD was what hooked me up in the first place. Within five minutes of having logged on, I was poked at, licked, patted, and offered help. (I refused, for I usually try to get by alone at first, to see how well a MUD is done.)

The traditional MUD school is well-done, though it only provides basic information for absolute newbies; I personally could have used some guide on the more intricate commands. Public channels are not available until you have reached level 3, and then you have to know they exist in order to turn them on ('gossip', 'auction', and 'quest'). It was not until level 10 that I discovered such useful commands as 'showexits' and 'echo'; I think they really should be toggled on by default or included in the MUD school.

Roleplay is not at all imposed upon the players and often (heck, all the time) you hear complete OOCness being discussed on gossip. I didn't find it much to my liking, but that's me. Swearing over public channels is not tolerated in general and may earn you a noshout (makes you unable to gossip) if a vigilant Immortal hears you.

You die quite often (ok... I did), but if you ask on gossip fairly, someone helps with corpse retrieval more often than not. Due to the world's enormity, it may happen that no one is near, which was the only case I didn't get help. Ironical is the fact that it is harder to level and progress on the continent created for newbies (Valkyre) than it is on the usual continent (Thordfalan & others).

After the actual death, you lie for a few minutes unable to do anything, but someone can raise you from the dead.

Clans do exist on SlothMUD. I do not know how to join one of them; I suspect asking a clan member for an appointment with the elder should be enough. Clans are something that is still a complete mystery to me, and I couldn't get sufficient information on them.

Mud World

The world itself is very large, well-written, and has an air of novelty I haven't seen for a long time. Each room description is unique (at last, no identical generic rooms); there are, however, mobs with identical descriptions. If you are running quickly through well-known rooms, the flow of text can get spammy, but the optional 'brief' mode helps. The color palette is nicely developed (though customizable, should the need occur) and helps distinguish important information from simply entertaining.

There are quite alot of areas. During my stay on this MUD, three new ones opened (each with a quest), so the world is growing fairly fast. There are six major continents and two islands. It requires roughly half an hour of real time to travel 'round the world by means of transportation ranging from simple boats to dragons. At higher levels it is possible to apply magic for instant relocation. By the way, you can fish while sailing on a boat or waiting for one (be sure to buy a pole first).

The descriptions actually describe what you see without telling you how to behave, are decently sized and almost without mistakes. If you notice a mistake and submit it through 'typos' command, it gets fixed fairly quick. A small number of areas are based on this or that book, such as the Unseen University which comes from Discworld series, or Kendermore from Dragonlance, or the Dragonmount from the Wheel of Time. I found the eclectic mix rather enjoyable. I wonder, if they were an RP-enforced MUD, how well a kender would do at Saidar ;).

The aspect of role-playing is very poor (I'd say almost completely missing). There are no experience points given for RP sessions. Do not take this as a disadvantage, though. There is a certain charm in going about the world hunting equipment, killing monsters, exploring areas as a being not restricted by environment that playing a role imposes.

Some areas really amount to masterpieces. I discovered that simply wandering around and reading descriptions can be very pleasant, not an activity I found enjoyable previously on many other MUDs. Oddly, the hometowns' descriptions are rather poor in comparison with some distant and faraway areas, though logically it should have been the other way around.

Additional Comments

Unfortunately, the MUD has a tendency toward crashing alot (three crashes in a row can get really annoying), though more often than not it stays stable. Usually it comes back online in a few minutes after a crash. The website as such deserves a *clap-clap-clap*. It is fully player-supported. Though I found it a little awkward to navigate, it contains player-supported maps to all areas, some of which are close to perfection, and are really, really the best MUD maps I've ever seen (check out the maps for Bal Harbor, Settlestone, Aisholm, Volcano, Tabaxi Wilds, Iceglen, M.A.G.I.C. to see what I am talking about). It is true that the maps kill the adrenaline of exploration, but since using or not using a map is up to you, it is nice to have a choice. Other than the maps, there are a great many additional useful pieces of information. They even have a theme song of their own.

Summary

One of SlothMUD's biggest advantages is the descriptions of rooms, mobs, and objects. They are decently written (some very well so), and there are enough of them to form a large world. They claim having been online for more than 10 years. It can be true. The world is well-balanced in terms of spells/skills, equipment, and economics, and offers a fair challenge. SlothMUD is newbie-friendly and player-killing is limited to the extreme, but nevertheless playing provides enough adrenaline to leave the heart pumping rapidly. In a week's time of playing I achieved not much, there are hundreds of possibilities still left unexplored.

There are 50 to 60 players online daily and half as much nightly. There aren't all that many Immortals, maybe about 10 that are regularly visible. I talked to a few and they were helpful as a rule (some of them, though, paid no attention to me and they weren't AFK - why be visible then?).

In short: I doubt SlothMUD would be home for anyone interested in thorough roleplay or an easy game, but it is the place for someone longing for a MUD to relax, chat, exercise brain, and simply have fun.

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