TriadCity is an acclaimed virtual world made of words. It's blind-friendly, has more women players than men, and is cited by The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism as a new form of literature.

Where many games focus on "kill the monster" style adventuring, TriadCity explores themes which have been central to Western culture: good and evil, personal versus collective identities, violence and nonviolence, matter and spirit, freedom and slavery.

TriadCity differs from much of the MUD tradition by being set in an urban environment. It's a city where all of historical time is simultaneously present: you'll find astronauts, hoplites, cowboys and Friar Tuck together on the same mag-lev subway. And, it's big: currently pushing 18,000 rooms, of 100,000 projected.

Unique to any "game" we're aware of, TriadCity imposes various forms of subjectivity on players, presenting highly individualized views of the world to characters depending on their attributes, skills, and histories. This means that two players entering the same room simultaneously may see it differently. These differences can be subtle or radical, depending on the intentions of world authors. We know of no other virtual world where this level of individualization is possible.

Also unusually, TriadCity offers multiple paths to character growth in addition to standard hack-and-slash. Violence is possible in TriadCity but not privileged; in many circumstances it's the worst possible choice. In TriadCity death is permanent: characters who die don't respawn. This means the choice to use violence needs to be carefully considered - rather more like real life than traditional games inspired by, say, DnD. In TriadCity characters gain experience by using their skills; by contributing to the game world; or simply by exploring. This offers a far richer player experience than typical for the MUD genre.

Although huge, the game world is highly detailed. Room descriptions and contents vary by time of day, creating very different feels by day or night. NPC behaviors are highly individualized: nearly all NPCs have homes to go to, jobs to perform, and hobbies to engage in, the goal being to fill the city with constant movement and variation. NPC AI is based on concepts from robotics and is far more advanced than AI we're familiar with from earlier games. There are multiple thousands of NPCs and more than one hundred thousand Items in the game world at any moment.

An example of "advanced NPC AI": certain angry NPC critters have the ability to coordinate with each other strategically to defeat player attacks on their strongholds. For instance, they might allow a player group deep into their territory, then attack to close the invaders' escape route; and while the invaders are isolated from help, deliberately target players with the weakest constitutions, or the weakest armor, or some skill or attribute necessary to the survival of the group - perhaps the "pack tank" carrying the group's water or ammunition. Or they might pursue a different strategy altogether. The point is that they're able to intelligently analyze the situation and respond adaptively. There are AI robots based on the personalities of Oscar Wilde and Douglas Adams' depressed soul Marvin. Human NPCs can be assigned personality matrixes based on the work of Carl Jung. Even the pigeons will look at you crossways if you try to steal their crumbs.

Similar AI innovations can be applied to player characters as well. Character subjectivity was mentioned above. Characters can also become ill; can experience hallucinations, blackouts and fugue states; can find themselves conversing with people others can't see and who may or may not "really" be there; can be drugged; can fall down drunk; can froth with epilepsy. There may or may not be treatments available. Depends.

The code is all-original, written by senior technology professionals with decades of experience. It's robust, bug-free and extremely stable. Play is via browser-based clients which encrypt network traffic and work happily through company firewalls; players can choose between a plugin-free HTML5 client or a "classic" signed Java applet with identical functionality.

Commands are free English, typically but not necessarily in the imperative mood, e.g., "show me what's inside the second box" is just as good as "look into the second box", or even "what's in the second box?" The parser also speaks canonical DikuMUD, so you can "look in" if you like. You can create arbitrary command aliases which are saved between logins: you might prefer "gcc" to "get the coins from the corpse".

Player-stealing is not allowed. Player-killing is allowed only in an Arena entered by choice. Much effort is made to keep the game newbie-friendly: there's an introductory tutorial for new players, and all the veterans are extremely friendly and helpful. The web site includes a rich guide for players, written in part by players themselves. There's an online Help robot who successfully answers about 80% of the questions asked. Extensive online Fora contain gold mines of player lore.

Player houses are completely customizable; new player houses are build-able from ground up. Equipment and other Items are customizable.

Although the world is ginormous, no automated mapping system is provided. This is deliberate. Instead, interested players can acquire the Cartographer Role, and receive experience and game bucks in return for the maps they contribute.

Unusually for an Internet RPG, TriadCity has as many women players as men, an accomplishment the authors are extremely proud of.

There's a feast-and-famiine cycle to TriadCity: sometimes you'll find a couple of dozen players on regularly, other times only one or two, or even none. Please change that by coming and staying and bringing your friends. The developers promise to begin formally marketing "real soon now".

TriadCity is free to play. There's a concept of "premium" items which can be purchased via Zynga-like Reward Points; but these points themselves are given away, for instance as thanks for recruiting new players. Impatient players are welcome to buy them but this isn't really emphasized. Premium items include player house customizations, safes, grow lights and other "add ons" interesting primarily to higher-level players.

So what's it all about? Largely it's a satire, focusing as satires do on greed, laziness, stupidity, shallowness, believing what you're told, conforming to social norms, and generally not thinking enough. The developers say it's intended for "smart grownups". Up to you to decide whether it works, or not.


The TriadCity home page: TriadCity on Wikipedia: TriadCity on Facebook: TriadCity on Twitter: The TriadCity authors' blog: The TriadCity developers' blog:

Mud Theme: socially relative concepts of good and evil in a large-scale urban environment

Client Recommendation: TriadCity uses a proprietary HTML5 Web browser client; no plug-ins required; works with all browsers.

TriadCity Mud Reviews

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Review posted by Mark Phillips
Posted on Mon Sep 10 07:56:31 2012 / 0 comments
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I'm one of the developers of TriadCity, so take my bias into account.

TriadCity was founded to answer the question, 'What if you take the text-based MUD/RPG genre seriously as literature?' We wanted to figure out what narrative techniques and styles of characterization would make sense in a medium which is by definition social, but at the same time is compressed into a computer screen. We've kept some of the defining genre traditions: you can still go around killing monsters. But, we've re-shaped those familiar pieces and subsumed them within a very different kind of fictional experience than has been typical of earlier MUDs.

The world is different. Instead of deriving from the traditional sources of DnD and Tolkien, we've based TriadCity on the 'universal city' idea of Modernist literature, especially Eliot's 'The Waste Land'. In TriadCity all cities of western culture and all historical epochs are present simultaneously, along with fantastic and surreal elements, blended together inside a framework which is essentially satirical. The fun of this is that we can ambitiously set out to take snotty pokes at absolutely everything, and have a reasonably coherent structure for doing that.

Player interactions are different. For example, we can impose various forms of subjectivity on character experience. Your character and mine may walk into a room together, and perceive that space differently, either subtly or radically depending on the intent of the author who created it. We don't know of that ever being done anywhere else.

Violence exists but is not privileged as a path to character growth. Death is permanent. There are unique roles such as Malopath, a kind of psychic vampire. Characters can advance by contributing to the game world, but that's not mandatory and nobody forces you. There's a lot of sophisticated AI going on, although it's intended to further our fictional purposes and is for the most part not shoved up your nose. The game world presents a high degree of cultural allusiveness, but doesn't demand a PhD.

We started TriadCity in 1999. Since then we've watched the mega-success of 3-D graphical MMOGs, especially World of Warcraft and Second Life. Although we very much admire a lot of the user-generated content in SL, we find the cartoonishness of the graphical experience off-putting. For us, our own ability to form excellent pictures in imagination is so much more powerful and fulfilling. We don't think this makes TriadCity retro. We think it makes it better. We frequently attract refugees from these cartoon worlds. They're very welcome.

There are a lot of down sides. The project is a commercial failure, thus we have only a very small volunteer group adding content and programming. There's nearly always work going on, but, compared with Blizzard's ability to throw a gazillion developers into adding new continents to WoW, forget about it. There are 17,000+ rooms in TriadCity today, but the world is just beginning to be fleshed out enough to sortof start to see how it all fits together. There's so much context missing that a lot of the features existing today really kinda make no sense. They will. But, maybe not this week.

It can be a rough ride for newbies. Really depends who's on with you. If nobody's there, which is often the case, good luck to ya. We're adding an optional opening tutorial which we hope will help with the rudiments of game mechanics and character maintenance. If you're familiar with the MUD tradition this'll be easier. If you're coming from an Interactive Fiction background, you may fail to get the parser working.

The good news is there's a vibrant long-term core of wonderful players who understand this world and love being part of it. Become familiar with them and they'll make your experience great. A lot of the writing is excellent. The place pops with inventiveness and great ideas. More than half the players are women. We're taught in university courses and are cited in The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism as their culminating example of postmodernist literature. Shoot an email to and we'll answer your questions.

Thanks! Meet you in the City some day soon.

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Review posted by Michael Rathbun
Posted on Mon Feb 21 19:59:33 2005 / 0 comments
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Triadcity is an original, totally free MUD in which players have more to do than find and smash monsters - Roleplaying, non-violent interaction (such as journalism, Cartography, and more) and of course, vicious combat are all here in abundance.

This MUD is intended as a form of literature, not merely a game. As such, the entire world is very 'smart', with hundreds of literary references and many fascinating locations. Unlike most MUDs, this one is set almost entirely in an urban environment, and is not limited to medieval-era technology(although medieval weapons and the like are very common).

If you like to think and you like to read, then give Triadcity a try. It may be just the change of pace you've been looking for. Still in Beta, but progressing steadily, so get in on the ground floor. I've enjoyed my experience so far and still play to this day!

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TriadCity Stats
Raw Data Average Data
# Days Listed6116
Last Connection StatusN/A
# Days With Status6115
Total Telnet Attempts00.000
Total Website Attempts10200.167
Telnet Attempts This Month00.000
Website Attempts This Month39412.710