I have been an avid player on Abandoned Realms for about 5+ years which is a testament to the MUD's continual growth, addictive gameplay, achievements in balance, devotion to both RP and PK, and no-nonsense but accessible immortal staff.
First, growth: the mud is huge and continually growing. Large volumes of areas are all connected by a river system which gives you the option to take the highroad, although the other option of going the long way is still available. The areas may be numerous yet after a little practice and exploration, they all fall into place and navigation quickly becomes easy.
Second, gameplay: shared enjoyment of the MUD is central to Abandoned Realms. The immortals voluntarily devote a large amount of time to enforce rules that benefit everyone. The implementors keep the MUD absolutely free while also spending copious amounts of time to add classes, races, and cabals (clans).
Third, balance: good and evil are well balanced by which skills and spells they receive. Goods generally have powerful defensive (and some good offensive) skills while evils have equally powerful offensive skills. The forces of good versus evil are only imbalanced by the individual fighting skills of the players, where the balance of power should be decided. Neutrals are also numerous and help or hurt both aligns as expected. Skills and spells are continually analyzed and sometimes slightly adjusted to perpetuate balance in the game.
Fourth, RP/PK: some characters decide to roleplay more than they PK, and there are certain cabals that provide for a more RP friendly environment. All players are expected to learn at least how to defend themselves or run away, as PK is encouraged and is by no means frowned upon. However, PK is restricted in certain ways during lower levels to eliminate experienced players from taking advantage of newer players, and even while PKing, RP is greatly encouraged. I learned how to PK by dying to more experienced players when i started off, before the low level PK restrictions were enforced. I feel that the new rules foster a much more newbie-friendly environment. There are even certain 'reward' races such as the undead race, and the vampire class, and also the Assassin Cabal which are reserved for those who show the highest RP and PK abilities.
Fifth and lastly, the immortal/implementor staff: the IMPS and IMMS have seen many people come and go, and the ones who are remaining are the ones who genuinely care about the MUD and therefore do not tolerate cheating or undue partiality to certain people. The IMMs' attention is equally attainable by the new player who quickly learns how to PK or RP exceptionally just as much as a player who has been around for years.
If you are searching for a mud where medieval and mythical roleplaying combines with intense fights and even larger cabal wars, http://abandonedrealms.wolfpaw.net is the first step into the most addictive game i have ever played. Check out the forum to grasp the basics before connecting.
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