TMC Reviews: Lensmoor

(Review Date: June 27, 1999)
TMC Reviewer: Lynne Hall
Mud Theme

Lensmoor is a mediaeval fantasy MUD, with the usual cohort of goblins, demons and other beasties. The storyline isn't fabulous, it's a hack & slash place, with a killing field mentality. The underlying ethos is to have a good time, with the proviso of "letting other people alone." Apart from basic netiquette, no one is "forced" to do anything. If you want to roleplay you can, if you want to chatter about your real-life you can, if you want to kill with a vengeance and do nothing else, well that's up to you.

Of most note to those of you out there who get irritated with immortals "listening in," the privacy policy is strictly enforced here. The immortals do get involved, they are helpful and talk to players over the various channels and will actually come and assist you, but you will know when they are there. Lensmoor's immortals exhibit a high respect for player rights that other places would do well to emulate.

Mud Atmosphere

Lensmoor is supposed to be newbie friendly. However, it doesn't have systems in place that will result in players helping other players, there are no "newbie helpers" and most requests for help are dealt with on public channels rather than with a player.

It isn't difficult to get going if you don't mind broadcasting your ignorance, finding things out on a trial and error basis or experimenting based on what you understand from the helpfiles. Death has limited impact at least at lower levels and this encourages you to have a go at lots of things. Players might help, but its for no apparent reason at all, except they like helping.

The players I met were reasonably friendly, however, they are not the most talkative of people. It is rare to come upon high tier players sitting round and having a chat. The reason that you talk and interact with the other players seems to be primarily related to going off and killing things with them. If you want to roleplay, be prepared to wait, its encouraged not essential, that means you don't have to if you don't want to, and from what I saw most people don't, but the higher levels are changing...

The infinite variety of Lensmoor enables the player to be good at any range of activities, from killing, to running shops and making baskets. However, I wondered if this would result in a population where no one is particularly good at any thing.

Player killing and various other unlawful activities are possible, but again, you don't have to do this if you don't want to, although most of the higher tiers do have the PK flag.

Mud World

Lensmoor has an extensive geography, with an impressive variety of areas, mobiles and features. The areas are nicely pitched at character levels and if you are an experienced DIKU player it is possible to level very quickly. I did find the descriptions a little spammy, and if there were a lot of mobiles in an area the screen became very full.

A fairly complex, somewhat "realistic" approach is taken to day to day living, and there is a profusion of everything. Lots of shops and training locations mean that you spend a significant time looking for things and then a lot of time scribbling down where they are and what they're for. Although this encourages exploration and gives a greater sense of scope to Lensmoor, it makes life quite arduous.

There are an incredible amount of skills and spells. In fact there are so many that your chances of remembering even a small percentage of them are slight. And you can learn every single one of them. There is a concept of specialization, with the specialities replicating the standard MUD guilds and additional classes, such as crafters. The choice to specialize is up to the players themselves, and you can just be good at lots of things and not specialize in anything should you so choose.

The pets and familiars add an amusing touch and there is potential for "animal handling" which in addition to the normal skills of riding includes the fact that these beasts will do your bidding even at a distance. In many senses this is far better than the thieves or rangers scouting skills and offers immense potential for character development.

Additional Comments

I had an audience with the immortals and found them very friendly and helpful. This was initiated by Aldur, in response to my questions on the newbie channel. They care a lot about their Lensmoor, this I think is a really positive point, they're dedicated to extending and modifying it, often in response to player suggestions.

You can see the impact of having competent programmers on the immortal team, extensive functionality and no bugs. Unfortunately, Lensmoor reminded me somewhat of Mr. Gates' "Fatware" products. I don't mean the MUD was slow, more that you ended up using only a tiny amount of the possible functionalities and that in trying to find out what those possibilities were you ended up reading copious amounts and succumbing to frustration.

A good help system is in place, but long, complex and difficult and perhaps just a little boring to read. It certainly bored me. However, Lensmoor does have a set of good, well-designed web pages, which provide all the necessary information and a good alternative to reading pages of text in a MUD client.

The channels were bearable, apart from the awful congratulations channel. Yes, I know I've levelled thank you very much, I just don't need half a dozen people saying well done.

There were stacks of quests, I liked how these were put together. Quests are obtainable from certain mobiles who provide you with details of the quest and a time limit. The quests are simplistic, such as kill so many of such and such mobile or finding objects. They were fun and encouraged a lot of exploration and killing.

Lensmoor is a MUD that encourages roleplay, however, I saw very little of this, and the immortals told me that most roleplay occurs in private. If you like serious roleplay this is probably not the best place to be, at least not at the minute anyway. The best roleplay I saw in Lensmoor was between the immortals, I just love the way head imms look *amused*


Potential is the word that sums up Lensmoor for me. This the atmosphere you find in Lensmoor, it feels like something could happen, quite what isn't clear. Lensmoor offers enormous variety, coupled with a very healthy respect for players and a group of highly committed immortals. If you like hack and slash and exploration, you will like Lensmoor.

However, the ultimate question for Lensmoor, and one I am unable to answer, is will it become a Roleplay oriented MUD or will it remain Hack & Slash. Unlike most places, I would say that this decision will be player determined not the result of the enforcement of wizardly fiat. So, if you are into roleplaying, like shaping worlds and are tired of traditional DIKU MUDs, I recommend this place to you, the potential is there... it just needs realisation.

Comments from the Lensmoor Administration

I have a couple of comments about the review. I'm not really sure how to voice them. I don't know how long the typical Mud review is suposed to take, but I find it hard to believe that someone can state with certainty that 'most people don't roleplay' after only being on a mud for 13 hours. Those players who are plotting things are more likely to do so where they won't be overheard, not in public.

I feel that there were certain expectations of what roleplaying on a mud is, perhaps from other muds, and that the reviewer was not open to other interpretations of roleplaying. I was asked "how can you roleplay when you don't have roles?" - refering to the fact that it is a classless, skill-oriented mud.

I believe a good review addresses a mud for what it is. Criticizing a classless mud for the fact that it is classless is like complaining that the romantic-comedy you're reviewing doesn't have enough explosions and action scenes.

The other comment comes from the same train of thought.

> Unfortunately, Lensmoor reminded me somewhat of Mr. Gates' "Fatware"
> products. I don't mean the MUD was slow, more that you ended up using only
> a tiny amount of the possible functionalities and that in trying to find
> out what those possibilities were you ended up reading copious amounts
> and succumbing to frustration. 

As I told the reviewer, almost every option, setting, or choice was initiated as a player idea. Maybe only 5 people will have use for a certain option, but if they have a use for it, is there a reason not to provide it? (As long as it doesn't affect the rest of the mud.) If you don't need all the functionality, it is selfish to tell others that they don't need it also. I don't use all the functionality the real world provides me. I don't go skiing. Should I ask that skiing not exist because I'm not going to use it?

Providing 3 different output formats doesn't hurt the game, and it gives the players more control over how they can interact with it.

Choice has always been one of the guiding voices in the development of the game. The fact that players can both customize their play environment, and their characters, is a strength, not a flaw.

Unfortunately, the reviewer seemed to prefer a more directed environment, where you are told what you may or may not learn, how to roleplay, and what your environment settings should be set to.