EOTL has only two rules: 1) Do whatever you want 2) Don't anger anyone bigger than you
The first gives players a tremendous amount of freedom to do whatever you would like. The second is a direct result of the first, frequently resulting in death for the smaller character.
There is an almost constant background noise due to the many public and private chat channels and the verbose nature of many of the players and staff. Much of it is not suitable for younger and/or more sensitive people.
The gaming itself is very complex. The game spans many dozens of large areas (cabals). These areas are grouped in a haphazard manner based upon theme (roughly). The cabals are divided into specific areas which have little or no continuity because each was coded by a different person. This adds a lot of flavor to the game, in my opinion.
There is likewise a large variety of gear to chose from. Once you have learned your way around (no easy task given the last paragraph), you have access (if you are big enough to survive) to an overwhelming variety of armor, weapons, special powers and generally goofy stuff that does nothing useful, but is fun and cool anyhow.
In general, most of the useful skills are gained through participation in one of the many guilds and sub-guilds. You can advance without joining a guild, however it will be much harder and not as much fun.
The main mode of advancement is thorugh combat. You gain experience (xp) primarily through killing the non-player denizens. They can and do provide a challenge for nearly every level of player and are the main source of more advanced gear. They can be quite easy to kill and employ only rudimentary comabt skills, or they can be huge and have a wide variety of the same skills available to players. On a side note to this: Many things are either harder or easier than they may at first seem. Be VERY careful in judging you opponents.
There are many ways to educate yourself about pretty much any aspect of the game. You can go out and experience things first hand(high death quotient until you learn a bit), you can ask about things on the public channels (or in person through 'say' and 'tell') but be wary! The general playerbase can be a prickly bunch. Some will try to help honestly, while others may take every opportunity to send you to your immediate death(many times by their own hand). The rule of trust which will keep you mostly safe is, if you don't know the person is trustworthy, DON'T TRUST THEM. It is the main form or entertainment for a small number of players to taunt, ridicule, berate, insult, and otherwise verbally assault you and thereby cause your demise in some manner. And if you want the very best method for self-education, look at EVERYTHING. Read signs, search rooms, examine descriptions of rooms and gear. The people that coded EOTL took a lot of time and went to some great effort(with no pay, I might add) to make this place fun, interesting, challenging and creative. You'll find little details, some useful some not, in every item you can interact with.
Which brings us to death. Death can happen pretty much any time, any place, and with little or no warning. You can die a lot, frequently. In most cases, especially when you are small, this is not a big deal because you don't lose much (gear on hand, xp on hand, and 5% of your size). You simply go get resurrected, grab that extra set of gear you've been storing(you DID save a set, right?) and go right back to playing, hopefully a wee bit wiser.
EOTL is not for beginners who are faint of heart, easily insulted, slow typers, slow thinkers or of limited personality. It's the super size of acting out. Roleplaying is not obvious, nor will it help you in the classic sense. Some encourage it, others will kill you because of it. It can be amazingly challenging and rewarding. You'll meet a wide variety of ego-maniacs. If you can hack it, you'll love it.
My closing statement about EOTL is this:
'EOTL is a drug, and real life is rehab'
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