Forgotten Kingdoms is a MUD set in the Dungeons and Dragons fictional universe of Forgotten Realms. It is a roleplay enforced mud with a very well done game engine that yields a harmonious mix of roleplay and hack 'n slash.
The roleplay on Forgotten Kingdoms is pretty fine with many good players capable of developing their characters with consistency regarding the lore, yet without being banal. New players are actively involved in plots and events, and cliques or groups of 'cool kids' monopolizing events are luckily non-existent in this game. So one can feel part of the world right from the first steps they move in it. Player groups, the most important of which are the various faiths and churches, are quite open and heartily welcome new members and the community is friendly and devoid of any toxicity.
The class system is centered around four basic classes: warrior, cleric, wizard and rogue. All new characters will belong to one of these four classes. Then, after creation, they will be able to choose a further specialization and they will join one of the advanced guilds through quests which are in part automated and in part related to roleplay. Warriors can choose to become either fighters, rangers of paladins respectively. Clerics can become priests or druids, by joining one of the many churches of the game, which can be managed by other player characters of the same religion. To join a church a character will be given a personal quest to complete, after which they will become initiate of that faith, and if they are clerics, they will unlock additional skills and spells. Also characters of other classes can join these churches if they want. Then there are wizards who can decide to become generalist mages, able to cast spells of all magical schools, or specialist, who have an advantage with the spells of a specific sphere, but are barred from those of opposed schools. And at last we have rogues who can become thieves or, after submitting logs with a performance of an original work, they can become bards.
The best classes to try the game are the warrior or the cleric. The warrior, in particular if one decides then to become a fighter, allows to travel the world without much worry about the enemies one can encounter. Clerics on the other hand allow to experience the game more fully, both from the roleplay aspect, being required to choose a patron deity to develop their potential, and from the mechanical one, since they have access to the fine spellcasting system of the game. Wizards, on the other hand, are a difficult class, especially for beginners, and they will struggle at first levels. Again rogues, at last, are the most difficult classes to play and they are heavily reliant on groups to make full use of their abilities. Because of the high difficulty rogues are blocked for new players, and will become accessible to them later.
The spellcasting system is a virtuous reproduction of the D&d one. Spells need to be memorized, so that planning one's memorization list has a very big tactical impact on the battlefield. Not only that, but even deciding when or not to use a spell can truly make the difference between victory and defeat, or better, life and death. In addition to that spells may require components that one needs to gather either by buying them in shops or by collecting them in the wild, from monsters or by finding them. So one may find themselves crawling into smelly sewers tunnels in search for beetle chitine or going after birds to pluck feathers from them. Spells, and more in general skills and feats for all classes are distributed widely in all the world, so that to unlock all of them one will need to explore extensively or interact with other characters to discover their location.
This is also a great opportunity for exploring and savoring the depth and great care put in creating the many areas and quests in the game world. This will be particularly interesting for the old Forgotten Realms fans but everybody can easily appreciate the quality of the fine building in the game, feeling like walking through a novel of R.A. Salvatore or Ed Greenwood. It is amazing to find oneself walking down the many streets of Waterdeep, stopping in one of its countless inns to drink a mug of ale before going to adventure in a nearby dungeon, or go in Tantras and find the legendary wyvern stew.
Even finer is the Underdark setting that lies below the surface world. The legendary city of Menzoberranzan, home of the dark elves, and Blingdenstone, the capital of the reclusive deep gnomes, are some of the finest areas in the game, which will seem a dream come true for every Underdark fan.
New areas are also steadily and continually added to the game, making the world always bigger and bigger, and ever more detailed, to the point that even old players, who have played from more than ten years, will easily find something new to discover.
The staff is present in the game and quite active, polite and very ready to help, with player applications being addressed sometimes in the matter of hours, depending on how complex they are.
There is an IC tell system, that, thanks to some amulets, allows characters to meet and talk easily without needing to use OOC means such as instant messaging. This shifts many discussions and matters into the IC sphere, yielding endless possibilities for roleplay.
The PK system is based on consent, so that PK becomes an avenue for roleplay and not the source of endless peeving. However, while PK requires consent, this does not mean that PvP is absent from the game. On the contrary it is an important element, especially considering the various faiths and races hostile to each others, but it involves a much wider series of aspects, quite much more many-sided than simply jumping at each other's throat.
Another very intelligent system is the kismet. Kismet is a kind of currency accumulated on one's account. One point is obtained for each hour of play, but it can also be obtained from rewards from the staff or other players for good roleplay. These points can be spent to create characters of special or uncommon races, as well as, to some extent, classes or alignments.
Also the death system is pretty interesting, giving depth and the right weight to the event of death, without finishing the story of a character by dying permanently. Before level 10 if a character dies they respawn, without items, where they had started, so not differently from many other games. After level 10, however, if a character dies they stay dead and they are sent to an afterlife room. From there however they can still call for help from their friends or even from their gods, to be resurrected or for their remains to be recovered and then raised by a mob or PC priest.
For what concerns newbie assistance, new users can also access a very effective system of helpers through the 'ask' channel, who will help gladly new players with anything they need. The userbase at the moment in which this review is written ranged from 6-7 users in low hours to around 30 online users at peak times, with helpers almost always online.
The layout is pretty well done, with a very clever use of colours, and with the possibility to turn on the enhanced vt100 interface which shows a map, mobs in the rooms, and status affects at all times.
Every rose has its thorn, however, and while this game gets right really an amazing number of features there are a few poor design choices which must necessarily be mentioned.
The first of the is a mechanic taken from tabletop D&d that makes so that more powerful races, such as the drow or the tiefling, are balanced with the standard races, such as humans, dwarves, etc, by being at a lower level with a similar amount of experience. This however was widely known to be a broken system in tabletop already. This basically relegates these level-adjusted races to roleplay choices, except that the higher amount of experience needed to level up, makes them very difficult to enjoy also for players who are precisely interested in their roleplay! Needless to say the damage this mechanic does to the game is immense.
Then there is the lack of true alternatives to Waterdeep Market Square where to meet other characters. This is particularly bad because several races, such as orcs, goblins, drow, etc. are obviously not allowed into Waterdeep, and anyway that city is still unwelcoming toward evil characters. To be fair there are some social hubs where evil characters and dark races can meet with other characters, but these are not visited as often, and, more importantly, not easily accessible or advertised to newbies who could enjoy them.
Eventually there is the crafting system, which is actually very well-developed in this game. Unofortunately the crafting is somewhat incomplete due to the lack of enchantment mechanics. The problem however is that whatever a character can obtain with these skills will be inferior to the first magical item a newbie obtains from one of the many random quest rewards.
To conclude it can be safely stated that Forgotten Kingdoms is a pearl in the current mud panorama which can offer fun to players with different playstyles and expectations. It is definitely a game that anyone interested in roleplay muds should try at least once.
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