TMC Reviews: MUME - Multi Users In Middle Earth

(Review Date: May 30, 1999)

TMC Reviewer: Lynne Hall
Mud Theme

Multi Users in Middle Earth (MUME), as the name suggests, is based on the fantasy world created by Tolkien. The timing of MUME is pre-Lord of the Rings, thus the ring is "lost," Sauron is powerful and all the major personages of this era are present, as are the various Middle Earth races and locations. Having read the Lord of the Rings or the other Middle Earth books helps significantly, and provides essential background knowledge to the storyline. The environment is fairly rich and the action that occurs is consistent with your expectations of Middle Earth, with orcs attacking peaceful races, hobbits having jolly little lives in the Shire, and so on.

Mud Atmosphere

MUME is newbie friendly, with both the immortals (ainur) and a group of helpful players (istari) willing to offer support. The immortals provide a newbie kit, this is automated so if you manage to get on line when there are no immortals present (which seems to be a fairly unusual occurrence) you still get one. The immortals I met were friendly and willing to help and answer questions.

The istari are players who are willing to help newbies. If you are lucky enough to be able to find one, they do come and help you. However, if there are no istari available, other players are not particularly helpful and rarely speak to you or offer help. I did try to get by both with and without istari. When istari were there to help I quickly levelled, travelled a lot and enjoyed the experience. When no istari were there it was a much more tiresome and tedious process.

Level 5 is the level to aim for, and if an istari comes to help you they tend to stick around until you have reached this level, at which stage the view is that you're no longer a newbie and thus ready to go it alone. Groups are encouraged and one feature I did like was the fact that the division of travel points and experience was affected by your status in the group, for example the group leader was given more points.

This seemed to be a levelling focused MUD and roleplay seemed to be fairly limited. However, the extension of typical MUD commands to allow a more complex fighting experience does elevate it from typical hack & slash, with fighting and exploration not roleplay providing the basis of the atmosphere.

Mud World

The MUD is large, with many towns and areas. The descriptions of the towns and areas are well written and there are few errors. However, these descriptions are similar to those in any fantasy / mediaeval MUD and the fact that they represent places in Bree or the Grey Havens or wherever is incidental. I did find the descriptions cumbersome and occupying many lines of text, particularly if there were objects present. The brief mode helps a little, but the descriptions still tend to be spammy. For the newcomer, the initial area to be visited is determined by race, and it is possible to be any number of races including elves, humans, hobbits, orcs, trolls, etc. The hostile races are recommended only for the experienced player, with the implication that such races will indulge in player killing.

The various areas within the world are fairly far apart and a lot of travelling is involved in getting from place to place. There are horses and other riding animals that offer a way of moving more quickly and less tiringly between the various areas of the world. There are also a number of helpful mobiles such as rangers who offer to escort you from place to place and in simply following these, the way is quickly and safely negotiated. Although this is a good idea, it is quite boring watching your character wander around the countryside, even though at times you are encouraged to return to a certain place.

The characters are skill based, however, there are quite a complicated set of statistics / abilities that have to be practiced. Levelling involves not only experience but also Travel Points, that are attained by going to less visited places. This does encourage exploration, however, due to the large size of MUME it also means that you tend to spend significant amounts of time on your own.

Combat and magic use are based on a fairly complex set of commands. Interesting features include time delays, charming, the possibility to change the mood of fighting (on a 6 point scale), different combat actions dependant on party composition, etc. Many skills exist and these are not guild restricted, although your ability to learn and use such skills is related to the likelihood of your guild using such a skill. Some of the commands are quite novel, for example trophy lets you know what sorts of mobiles you have killed and how many times you have killed them. MUME encourages exploration and innovation in that the more you kill something the less experience you gain from it. This avoids the tendency to kill the same things over and over again as it becomes less beneficial to you over time.

Additional Comments

The MUD is newbie friendly, however, it is also interesting for the experienced player. This is due to a well constructed and coherent world, with a number of unusual and novel features that make combat a more complex activity than normal. However, I would strongly recommend that anyone contemplating spending time here had read as much Tolkien as possible prior to beginning a character.

The help system is detailed and has a number of different facets. There is a bulletin ball in the Hall of Mandos, which provides a set of helpful hints for the new player and are actually worth reading, although this gets a little boring after a while. The help system itself is detailed, and provides help on the commands and in the form of FAQs. Further there is in-character help available from the libraries and guild noticeboards in the various towns.

One thing I really disliked in this MUD was the high level of spam. Conversations, narrations, descriptions and so on were all spammy and the screen was often filled with information that was superfluous to requirements in my view.

Another negative point is the web pages. Although these are comprehensive, they have been automatically generated and each page has a myriad of links based on words. For example, wherever "about" appears you get a link to the "About MUME" page.

If you're based in Europe this is a good MUD to play, as there is a large player base playing during European day / evening time, so you're not up at 4 in the morning due to the fact that everyone else is from the States. The player base is large, during peak time there were over 50 players on and usually at least 2 or more immortals.


MUME is a well developed / designed MUD of the Tolkienesque genre, offering reasonable consistency with Tolkien's novels (although if you're a purist you will certainly find elements that are surprising or somewhat inconsistent). It is well established with a large player base, extensive command system and immortal presence. Although there is some roleplay, this is limited and tends to be tied in with fighting related action. The complex combat and magic use make fighting interesting and the breadth of the world offers many opportunities. MUME is newbie friendly, but also offers an interesting experience for the experienced player who enjoys exploration and combat. In guild / class terms I would strongly recommend MUME to rangers who enjoy fighting and in Tolkienesque I would recommend it to anyone who is particularly fond of Aragorn.