Harshlands is a FREE role-play intensive, skills-based MUD set on the island of Harn (Columbia Games). Standard 'hack and slash' play is seriously dissuaded, with levels, classes and experience points non-existent. Players can choose to pursue careers, including herbalist, journeyman craftsmen, soldier, criminal, clergy, law enforcer and many more.

Players proving to be skilled and dedicated are offered choices that include shop ownership, master level craftsmanship, nobility and many advanced professions. For those unfamiliar with Harn, it is a world based on a composite of 9th-12th century Britain. The world has over 16,000 original rooms in smoothly integrated universally consistent zones, ten deities, five human ethnic and cultural groups, and three non-human races available for players of proven ability.

While the thrust and focus of the game is serious role-play, the world remains a deadly and harsh environment, where life is risky and death is permanent. Recently upgraded code includes account system, wound-based combat system with wound treatment/infection code, upgraded NPC AI, crafts, and numerous small refinements to promote RP.

Mud Theme: Medieval (Harn)

Harshlands Mud Reviews

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Review posted by Nancy
Posted on Wed Apr 30 07:52:29 2014 / 0 comments
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Harshlands offers the richest world in any MUD I've played. The level of detail is amazing, both due to the Harn material (though Harn background is NOT required) and through the imms’ encyclopedic knowledge. I'd be shocked if there is any other MUD that comes close. The religious system, the legal system, the various factions... and even down to tiny surprises out in the distant wilderness and the depths of the cities.

The player base is small but dedicated--and very good. The fact that this is a role- play enforced is also good. Harshlands is in many ways the perfect MUD for someone 'graduating' into role-play-enforced mudding from a more hack-and- slash game.

But there are downsides. As a 'good for *new* hardcore RPers' mud, it tends not to trust players very much. The imms are extremely conservative about letting players change the world in any substantial way. Want to compete with the guilds? Want to challenge the thieves? Want to start your own sect? Want to be a threat to the established order? It’s not gonna happen here.

The last players who made a real, lasting impact on the world are, as far as I know, now the head imms, and nobody else has been allowed to outshine them. (I don't think this is intentional, and they are extremely hardworking and dedicated. But I do wonder if it's not a bit of subconscious resistance to change ...)

Also, there's a heavy preference for--or advantage for--veteran players and veteran PCs. The imms explicitly prefer PCs who adhere rigidly to Harn canon rules (a noble Laranian, a hedonistic Halean, a selfless Peonian), and who spend RL years starting as a nobody and checking off all the boxes until they become a minor somebody. (The mid-level and above somebodies are reserved for NPCs.)

This can be very rewarding. But if you’re a more advanced RPer, who wants to generate a character who is more like a real person, with a plausible background, instead of a blank ‘character sheet,’ you’re out of luck.

And the only way to get skills (other than extremely minor RPP) is by practice. Harshlands rewards power-gaming—even though they only call it that when it’s ‘overdone.’ Unlike some games (the Inquisition games come to mind), which reward RP, Harshlands rewards repetitive skill use. Then they have to police for overuse …

So it’s a perfect place for someone new to RPIs, or if you’re the sort of player who wants to create a young, helpless PC and play her for years. There’s a lot of depth in that approach, and Harshlands is tremendously good with it. There’s nobody better. But if you’re a player who wants to affect the world, or play a PC who has a rich background and multilayered skills out of the gate, you’ll be a little frustrated.

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Review posted by The Legit Waffle
Posted on Sun Apr 22 14:39:05 2012 / 0 comments
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For anyone who wants a detailed back story, Harshlands has it, just about any question you want to ask can be answered. Just about every aspect of the game has a story, from how monsters exist to why most people consider Jarin to be criminals.

Diffrent from most other muds it has a delightful twist to just about everything. Based on a table-top game this mud holds true to its tenents. If one was to google 'harn' you would have a good understanding of the world this mud is set in. Just add 50-80 years of player involvement.

This game, however is not for anyone seeking quick rewards. You create and control a lifetime, and many players hold PC's that have existed for RL years. And that is its beauty. Its like a fully fleshed fantasy book you have control over.

It has a lot going for it. But sadly it is in a rut however a few new, fresh player can solve that issue. It needs you. And anyone seeking out a RPI mud should really consider giving this mud a go.

Staff are friendly and helpful. I've not had any drama with them and most seem keen to help you find a place within the game.

Most players are friendly enough. I've encountered some down right rude ones and a few others are just annoying with their obsession to make you conform to their idea of the game world. My advice is to ignore them and soldier on, besides most of them exist outside the main area of play.

Consider them elitists who turn there nose up at newbies. Every mud has them its just because the playerbase is so small they end up being in your face more often. But with an increse in player numbers they can be put down. I've put up with being ignored by these small few and found a comfortable and enjoyable home. I've no doubt if you gave the mud a go, you would too. As i said they are a minority and most players will seek to RP with you.

I strongly advice anyone considering a PC to put in the time and research a role. Use the GDB to speak to players if you need too.

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Review posted by Harshcontender
Posted on Tue Jul 12 20:23:32 2011 / 0 comments
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Harshlands is set in a midevil time set. Its based on the world of HARN from Columbia games inc. and Robert Crosby.

I have been involved in the MUD scene for years now. From Building to Admin, to player. The most enjoyment I get is from being a player, certainly on Harshlands. Harshlands embodies the player. The Admins here do such a great job at starting plots and handing them over to the player.

The world is immense, ranging from forests to mountains to sprawling cities. The crafting system is, without a doubt one of the better I have seen.

Real Life seems to take me away from Harshlands, but I always find my way back, never straying to another MUD. Come join us, and remember Keep It Harsh!

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Review posted by Alexander Wooflesnout
Posted on Thu May 28 11:31:26 2015 / 2 comments
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Oh, Harshlands. I believe this is the only MUD I've ever played where a cleric can go to battle in full plate mail armor, retain the ability to cast his spells/'rituals' while wearing the plate mail & sneak (literally, sneak) through the forest. You can also, if you play your cards right 1) be a sergeant in the Crimson Leopards (protectors of the lands around the city of Tashal) 2) be a Sergeant in the Iron Lions (a mercenary run caravanning company) 3) be a priest of your religion 4) be a full time farmer and 5) use your Crimson Leopard 'patrol' time to hunt for and skin animals which you then give to your PC wife to create her leather goods with. You can do all of that friends, while being a Guilded Master Bard!

That brings me to the part where you can also be a Guilded Master and never craft anything at all once making it to that point. You will not get punished by the Mangai (the ruling party of the Guilds).

The game has potential. The world that this MUD is based on his rich with details and would be really lovely and fun to play, where executed properly, but the amount of favoritism and lack of ethics on the part of the Immortal staff makes it slightly less desirable.

Pros: The basic world is nice. The concept is very neat. The crafting system is fun when you're bored and want to 'create' things. The Immortal/Admin staff rarely gets involved in any sort of lengthy or detailed RP scenarios, and routinely let them fade off in the middle. It's RPI.

Cons: It's an RPI where hardly anyone really Roleplays. Or, at least, I don't consider a bunch of 'says' as roleplay. A great many of the immortal staff are not able to speak in proper English, (which would not be a problem if the majority of the players were not English speakers). You can literally tell which Immortal is helping you by the number of 'your/you're' 'there/their' errors there are.

Also, the amount of mud...snuggling? is excessive. If you're not willing to pair off and do the horizontal mudsnuggling with someone, you're often alone in a tavern for a long time waiting for what is considered, there, RP. Granted, the lack of decent RP might be due to the high restrictive emote system, which is another con.

There's also only about three areas to play in - two of which have a very, very, very limited playerbase. Even the 'active' area, Tashal, only has around 10 people on at any given time.

The game is perma-death, so if you dare to explore outside of the city and are not prepared (or able) to fight, you could easily lose your character. There's no leniency for newbies, either.

Something I consider a huge con is the hypocrisy prevalent in the administration. There is a strict no-OOC policy and the staff gets very antsy if they discover you've done things in any way OOCly. That, I think, is fair - considering. However, they will quite happily punish players ICly for things that the player has supposedly done OOCly, including refusing to award RPP to sets of players who actually do Roleplay, participate in the world, and try very hard to enrich the game.

Obviously, this all should be taken with a grain of salt. My opinion of the quality of RP is obviously just that, an opinion, and you should check it out to determine whether you like the type and style and amount yourself. The world could be wonderful. The cons, for me, make it not worth the hassle of playing.

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Comment posted on Tue Aug 28 21:30:46 2012 by Lazarus:

Wow... using a MUD review as a hatchet job on a particular PC is out of line. Directing comments at the lack of realism for combined roles would be more appropriate that using a specific example which appears to be out of spite.

Yes, HL has it's issues but don't make it personal.

Comment posted on Wed May 27 13:10:40 2015 by Cypher:

A very accurate description of the MUD's content and quality.

Review posted by Lou Menand
Posted on Fri Oct 24 21:02:47 2008 / 0 comments
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I like hardcore MUDs, with permanent death (there's nothing that adds to the excitement and immersion like the possibility of losing a character forever!) and enforced roleplay. I don't want to play a cardboard cutout in a game, trying to get to the next level or solve the next quest. I want to play a character as 'real' as possible, surrounded by other 'real' characters, all of whom have their own idiosyncratic goals, and abilities, and personalities.

So I've played most roleplay enforced MUDs. I played Harshlands for years. Stopped playing for a time, when real-life caught up with me. Then returned. Here's the good *and* bad about Harshlands.

First the good: A very, *very* complete world. Harshlands is based on the published 'Harn' material-- although altered more than a little, the Harn stuff really grounds everything in Harshlands. This means that the geography, economy, religion, various cultures and crafts and 'monsters' and magic and, well, *everything* is really well-informed and intelligent.

There are no big gaping holes in the world itself. You don't wonder how a huge city survives in the permafrost wastes or why the uber-powerful mages don't just take over or anything. All of that makes sense. And the world comes with intelligible legends, and political scheming, and all sorts of built-in conflict.

The world of Harshlands is 'low magic'. A few priestly spells, mostly modest. Some rare psionics. A bit of other, ever rarer, stuff ... and that's all. You can play a mercenary, a bard, a priestess of any of 8 faiths, a woodcrafter or swordsmith or gemsmith or physician or farmer or armorsmith or lexigrapher or any number of other things (the craft stuff is *very* extensive), a beggar or courtesan or member of the guard or of a criminal gang, a dark assassin or a noble knight. Or a dark knight or noble assassin!

Or just an ordinary person, working her way in a guild buying a house, falling in love ...

The level of roleplay is extremely good--though of course there are always a few people who are still, erm, engaged in their learning curve! Great characters abound, to help and hinder ...

The staff is superb. The head staffer as the moment is just terrific, and all the other staff is very strong. That's actually what motivated me to finally write a review. Everything's just fallen into place with the staff at Harshlands, and that makes all the difference! They're responsive and welcoming (as are the vast majority of players), and always trying to make the game experience, and the game itself, better.

All in all, a terrific game *if* you're looking for a more 'realistic' MUDding experience. The average age of players is (if I remember a poll right) late 20s or early 30s. So this isn't a bunch of kids just hacking at monsters. In fact, if you try that, you won't last long!

Although there *are* a few playable nonhuman races, they're rare. In some ways, this is a more of a 'reenactment' game--well, with heavy doses of drama and swordplay and evil scheming--than a 'high fantasy' game where your 14th Level Wizard shoots fireballs at the Ochre Dragon.

But there's no lack of heart-pounding conflict, either. It's just more personal and realistic and terrifying!

The bad: The magic system is extremely basic. Personally I think this is a *feature*, but if you love magic ... you won't be thrilled.

The combat system is quite basic, too. Other roleplay intensive MUDs give players more control over combat, with a greater variety of commands and options. Harshlands offers a few ... but only a very few.

There's a huge, completely custom-built world ... but sometimes I think it's *too* big, as it can dilute the playerbase. Still, that hasn't been a problem of late, as the number of players is growing steadily.

And finally, on the 'bad' side: there's a learning curve. Inevitably, for such a complex and realistic world. But that can be tough. I almost quit playing during my first character, because everything seemed so baffling. But if you ask on the forum, and email the players' helpers, you'll probably do far better than I did!

If this sounds like your kind of game, I hope to see you there!

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Harshlands Stats
Raw Data Average Data
# Days Listed7974
Last Connection StatusConnected
# Days With Status128
Total Telnet Attempts7830.098
Total Website Attempts21700.272
Telnet Attempts This Month34211.032
Website Attempts This Month79425.613