TMC Reviews: Royal Training: DreamScape

(Review Date: December 14, 1998)
TMC Reviewer: Lynne Hall
Mud Theme

Royal Training Dreamscape is set in a fictitious English town, Sirodel, circa 1600. The basis of the theme is that you die in your sleep only to awaken in the dreamscape Sirodel, which as a dark reflection of this town understandably has a somewhat malevolent feel. RTD is a role playing mud where all action derives from the part played by the characters.

In Sirodel, there are three classes of people, the nobles, the citizens and the slaves. The concept of owning and gaining slaves is quite interesting and there are a number of players who have chosen to be slaves and are owned by other players. The use of different classes results in quite a strong focus on appropriate title use, and players do attempt to address each other in view of their social standing in the community.

There is considerable attention paid to appropriate appearance and the majority of players are dressed in 16th century garb. Unlike some muds, there is a certain degree of realism in player's appearances with a whole bundle of unattractive, dirty, maimed folk rather than the usual focus on beauty seen in many fantasy / mediaeval muds.

A good starting point for this mud is on its web site where all of the information provided in the news files is provided. You do need to read this before you get going. It's available at http://banshee.dyn.ml.org/~thanatos/

Mud Atmosphere

The players were relatively friendly, particularly aiding with character generation. They were keen to answer questions and to talk about the mud. The immortals (Thanatos and Ursa) were well thought of and everyone I spoke to had a good word for them.

RTD has existed for a while, but around a month ago it moved, and this seems to have had a detrimental effect, and there were a number of comments about a declining player base. It has also changed significantly in recent months, which apparently has not been well received by a number of players, who have voted with their connections and left.

The atmosphere of the mud is one which is aimed at role play and all of the action which occurs is stimulated by the players, either with one another or the feature players. These feature players tend to provide the start point for some of the role play and have clearly identifiable interests and needs, thus allowing the other characters to easily interact with them in a role playing context. I found this a little contrived, but due to the small player base felt that is was somewhat essential. There is a BBS within the mud and this contains a number of rumours that also contribute significantly to the current story lines that are occurring within RTD.

Mud World

RTD is small, there are relatively few places even within the town, and most of the action seems to occur in a limited number of locations, such as the tavern and the Slavers Guild (House Draconis). If you like exploration this is definitely not the place for you, as there is very little to explore and within a short time you've been everywhere you could possibly go.

Although there are few locations, I was impressed by the descriptions, these are both well thought out and written. They give a good atmosphere to the mud. There were a number of descriptions only partially written or which needed to be added, and RTD is clearly in a process of development. Sirodel is a dark and miserable place and it appears to be permanent winter. The weather is seriously depressing, it is either foggy or raining or cold or snowing or whatever, the sun does not seem to shine very often. Admittedly English weather is not the greatest, but the occasional day of sunshine does occur and Sirodel could certainly do with one.

There are a range of commands in RTD that I hadn't seen anywhere else, and although the news files for the background, culture and society are fairly complete, the help system is not. Nor are all the commands intuitive and I found it necessary to ask for help from other players (which was readily and kindly given) often to enable me to interact with the environment. These commands do add to the interaction and have been well thought out, just they are a little difficult to discover.

Additional Comments

In order to be able to play you need to get an acceptance of your character, which is achieved by emailing the immortals. Once this is done you need to create the character and then seek approval. The chargen process is quite long and quite detailed and either you need to have studied the web pages or the news files before you can actually create a character. Notably, players here seem to spend a long time on chargen and I was told of someone who had spent almost a month defining a character?

The player base is tiny and although I logged on at a range of different times, the most I ever saw on-line was 11, and the most that have ever been logged on is 19. Players also sit for considerable amounts of time doing nothing, the who list identifies people sitting still for many minutes. I'm afraid to say that I found it a really boring place, very little seemed to happen or even be happening, although that could be due to a number of factors such as the player base being so small. I personally found that it lacked action and that there was remarkably little to do except indulge in somewhat spurious role play.

Summary

RTD provides an environment that focuses heavily on role play, and the tri-class system, with nobles, citizens and slaves does offer potential. Notably, the slaves are not used and abused as can be seen in other slave owning muds, and if the player base grows then some interesting situations could be envisaged. There is clear commitment from the immortals to continue developing RTD and if this continues with the current high standard of descriptions, then RTD will be an atmospheric place to play. The current small player base and the limited world does mean that at present RTD is not the most exciting place to spend time, however, there is undoubtedly potential for the future.