Avendar is well-written, fleshed out world. It has a creation story which leads to religions of all angles. It's war torn history infuses the atmosphere with conflict and struggle between the different causes. Some causes have been taken up by Houses, which are led by mortals, and are sponsored by a patron god.
The Houses all have a purpose and unique style of operation. There are the Guardians of Law, the band of notorious criminal Raiders, the dark and secretive Coven of the Shunned, the purehearted Champions, the honorable Legionnaires, and the Knights of Enaerai whom constantly attempt to keep the Houses in balance. The Houses struggle for the Stones of Power, which grant them abilities. I have a soft spot for the brash and tempermental Raiders, whom often bicker and fight amongst themselves due to varying beliefs and ultimately greed. True to their theme, their abilities consist of dastardly escapes with kicks to the groin and quick lift off reptilian-avian mounts, leaving a wake of bandits pillaging and setting fire to a city.
There are many races of original design (except for the obvious human): the wolfish Kankoran who by tradition are affiliated with tribe-packs, the reptilian (saurian) Srryns who originate from the swamps and have a reputation for savage nastiness, the hulking Alatharya whose capacity for magic was taken away from them during the Sundering for their hubris, the sophisticated Aelins who fly with avian grace, the Shuddeni whose hatred runs ancient and deep as their subterranean cities, the list goes on (11 races total). The Chaja, a race long enslaved by the Shuddeni, and once only seen as a mob, just recently became available to players with good accounts.
Avendar's greatest draw to me is it's clean game mechanics. There are so many classes, each with their unique style of play. They can be split up into Warrior, Rogue, Scholar (mage), Templar (mage-warrior), Naturalist (Ranger and Druid), and then the uncategorized Bard whose array of sweeping songs can be surprisingly effective and mindwarping Psionicist. Each category contains 4-6 classes. The showy gladitor is a warrior with many options, from gouging out eyes, to entangling a foe within a net, to the crowd pleasing decapitation. The barbarian is different, a berserker whom relies upon brutal offense, hewing through his enemies with abandon. I dig the Scholars, initially weak, but gradually they will grow into powerful archmages. You select a major and minor within an element: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit, Void. You can mix them up for more combinations, or go pure (Greater), which I recommend.
Some of the areas are immersive as they get, complete with quests, and mobs that react in interesting ways. To this day, I fear the kankoran hunter that prowls a certain set of woods. I will never forget the last glimpse of movement in the brush, being knocked out, dragged into a cage, then waking up to the sight of the predator sharpening his knife, preparing to skin me into a new piece of clothing. The Clockmaker's Mansion is a prime example of area that can really absorb you for a good few hours, a place where you can carry out multiple missions, and solve them in different ways. Whether it be through wile or brute force, the reward is gaining experience without the doldrums of repetitive hacking and slashing.
Mechanically, the game is solid; its nuances are continually being fine-tuned through updates. The player-killing takes quick wits and skill, plenty of strategy and tactics. The battles for me are definitely the most fun aspect of the game, but a lot of players are here for the roleplaying. As with PK, the skill of RP varies from player to player, but the entire playerbase sticks to the scheme of things, since RP is enforced. The phenomenal RP that I've seen really shines through, and I am finding that this has been occurring more and more frequently.
So, if you're looking for a MUD with a sound PK system and consistent RP, making up for a world predisposed to action and a strong atmosphere, then check out Avendar. I recommend starting up an account. Play well under an account and you will gradually unlock extra features. This MUD has kept me entertained since 1998. I have watched it slowly evolve into a rich game of increasing depth and complexity.
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