RetroMUD is an old MUD spanning six worlds with many dungeons and thousands of rooms to explore. It is highly detailed and original and features many races as well as many classes and subclasses, and the attention to detail is perhaps its greatest asset.
Characters in RetroMUD join a guild which teaches them the skills and spells they will need to survive as adventurers. As they master their guild, they can go on to more specialized guilds to learn new tricks to make them more useful in and out of battle. The combat and advancement systems seem to be unique to this MUD, though some spells are clearly homages to games like Dungeons and Dragons or shows like 'Dragonball Z' and 'Inuyasha.'
Players advance their skills and spells 5% at a time, and the percentage most often determines how likely the skill or spell will fire successfully. Each advancement costs gold and experience, though at newbie levels the gold cost is waived up to a certain percentage. Unfortunately by the time a player has to start paying gold to train a skill or study a spell, the skill or spell is still at a level that is somewhat unreliable. Players save their experience points to advance not only their skills and spells, but also their character levels and guild levels which mercifully only require experience.
Recently RetroMUD allowed new characters to start with every spell and skill up to level ten at 100%, which saves a huge amount of time and expense, but the next ten levels are still very difficult and time consuming to advance through if you want to have skills and spells that are at least somewhat reliable, and this seems to be a big turn off for new players. Gold is very scarce at low levels, and often an hour and a half of farming will provide enough gold to advance only one or two skills or spells by 5%, assuming that you know the best places to farm and can farm them alone without dying. Unlike gold, experience is in abundance, and it is easy to accumulate a lot since you earn it from exploring rooms as well as killing monsters. The disparity between the rate of earning gold to experience is so great that you will eventually carry around a lot of unusable experience points and risk losing it by dying.
Though RetroMUD has always prided itself on being a party-oriented MUD, parties are rare and generally the people who put in long hours of farming to get into the upper echelon are the ones who make and attract parties. Newbie and lowbie parties are not uncommon, of course, but they do impede the already slow advancement since everything has to be split at the end and so the emphasis tends to be on solo farming. Once you do get to the point where gold is not an issue, you've probably spent at least a couple years in the game, but you can easily reincarnate into other guilds to try out other things since gold will not be an issue for you.
RetroMUD's best features are its unique guild and skill system and its sheer size spread out over six diverse planets, and it's worth checking out if only for that. The very slow advancement can turn off players who like to advance their characters quickly or steadily, and on an Internet with gaming alternatives that provide faster advancement and more opportunities for partying, RetroMUD really cannot afford to turn players away. If you don't mind the tedium of really slow advancement and just want to log on for a little while just to tinker around with a character, then RetroMUD may be for you.
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