I searched long and hard for the mud of my dreams. I tried hundreds. This is by far the best one I have ever played, including pay to play muds. I don't play online games any more, but I'm writing a review to help steer people to the right mud, don't waste your time elsewhere.
Why? In a word or two: Realism and complexity. (ok it's a fantasy mud, but the code/engine/gameplay is what's realistic). To start with, you don't just get xp and level up. It's skill based, and titles are earned through questing.
There are lots of guilds/orders, which teach different skills/abilities/spells/psionics (and there's a lot of skills/spells in this game). Some can be combined, and you can have up to 5 guilds total - read multiclassing/customizable character. For example to learn spells you can join the summoners, enchanters, necromancers, augurs and elementalists - each with it's own casting skill. Beware, - some cannot combine and will not take you because you are, or were, in a hated enemy guild/order. Best to learn about them before making your actual long term character. Ninjas aren't widely liked.
Plenty of cool races and a bunch more available after gaining title of noble. A couple of them can fly, a couple have extra arms (read: extra weapons/attacks) one doesn't bleed. They're way more than different stat profiles, so choose carefully.
The world is fleshed out too. One down to earth example is you can mine for ore (in the mines), refine and forge with it, the higher your skill and better the metal type the higher the quality of the weapon/armor/object. You can disguise yourself, build a house, ride mounts, you can even search for herbs.
There are dozens and dozens of herbs; different ones grow in different spots, some rare. Different recipes for potions or you can try them by themselves in a pipe. You'll need to analyze them to avoid being poisoned, paralyzed or drugged.
Combat is complex, you can aim for different limbs. A good tactic is to break or sever an enemy's hands so they can't attack or if you want to get fancy, you can encumber their hands/arms with arrows or darts. Of course head and torso being disabled kills, and injured or broken/severed legs make it almost impossible (very very slow) to get away.
There's all the regular combat, you can disarm, bash, trip, blind (throw certain items at their head) throw vials of acid to destroy armor, poison crossbow bolts and arrows or any weapon. Then there's all the magic and psi powers. My battlemage would have up to ten spells active during a real serious fight.
The pvp is unrivaled in any mud. There is also an arena for deathless pvp.
The world has lots of unique weapons and items, plenty of original areas to explore. It's challenging, but balanced.
I logged 60 days (1440 hours!) on one character, and 20 days on another. Yeah, ok that's including roleplaying and chatting, but you get the idea.
My biggest piece of advice is: Aliases. Do you really want to type out 'draw longsword from sheath' when every second counts? No. You type 'dls' and the alias system does the rest. Some commands have a time delay, but others can be chained together so you only have to hit enter once for multiple commands if you separate them with a semicolon ; (a must for fast pvp).
And think outside the box. This mud has a lot of things interacting with each other, if you are imaginative you can be powerful. My character was never the strongest or the best caster, but I tricks up my sleeve and I'd use 'em all.
The only complaints I have are that a few of the quests are really hard unless you talk to older players, and sometimes there are only a couple of other players. I think that's because they don't market enough, but the gameplay is rad enough to make up for it.
In a nutshell, this is to muds what Zelda:Link to the Past was to console rpgs or what Vice City was to PC adventure games: It's the game you were looking for, you just didn't know how bad the other ones were.
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