TMC Reviews: Sojourn

(Review Date: February 7, 1999)
TMC Reviewer: Christina Francis
Mud Theme

Once upon a time there was Sojourn: one of the largest muds out there, both in world size and player base. Time went on and it eventually split into two muds, went through a couple of name changes, but in January 1999 it reopened under the name Sojourn once more. In only a month of uptime it already sees over a hundred players during off-peak hours. It is a Forgotten Realms mud, sporting completely original areas - and lots of them.

Mud Atmosphere

Role playing is central to this mud. Many characters I met merely snickered at my unskilled hero-wannabe's questions, but the active OOC (out of character) channel proved that there were at least some players with an open and friendly personality. Newbies are allowed to hear the channel but, unfortunately, cannot respond. Perhaps allowing this could detract from the 'directionless' feel many players have when starting out.

The help files are quite wordy, and there are *many* rules you must follow when playing here as the admin give no second chances. They are not all in one file, so take care to do a little searching. When you log in you will see the words "Feel free to ask any gods online if you feel confused..." People have little patience for questions answered in the help files, and even the help files have an impolite feel to them. "...It is none of your business and we really do not have to explain ourselves to you." (Help staff)

Mud World

The world is amazingly true to theme, holding no obvious fillers such as the Computer Motherboard or the Chessboard areas. It can be extremely daunting to the new player, and having a sheet of paper handy for mapping is essential. The hometowns are mapped very logically, with no obvious overlapping if you're using graphed paper. There are several hometowns to choose from, depending on your race, including the famous Waterdeep.

Depending on your choice of class and race, Sojourn can either be hard or extremely challenging to level. The newbie helps explain what a newbie is only, offering no direction for first-time players. As an elf it is sometimes difficult to even stay fed, since the few mobs a newbie can kill offer little in the way of money. Strangely, the evil races were slightly easier to play - in the case of the trolls, their innate regeneration made combat easier and the monetary rewards were higher. Paladins were amazing fighters, but they lost experience for killing the wrong things, and received as little as 1/10th for some others. Evil mobs within a newbie Paladin's capability were extremely hard to find, leaving little opportunity for that class.

Additional Comments

I was thoroughly impressed by the coding here. In Waterdeep especially there was a constant battery of unique echoes that really made me feel like I was in the world. Some classes were tailored, such as letting Paladins summon a mount and lay hands. I found myself wishing for abbreviations, but alas, we can't have it all.

On the down side, I got the impression that newbies were entirely cut off from the world. Some boards in the hometowns were totally unreadable, and the OOC channel was visible but not usable. Sojourn does start you out with a full set of equipment when you login, but I found nothing else either in the game or help files to ease the transition. Matched with Sojourn's many rules and intolerance for offenders, I reccommend new players to enter with a lot of patience to go with the mapping paper.

One other major downfall was the attitude of some of the immortal staff. The coder in particular had a very happy and polite feel, per his posts on a hometown board. Sadly, he was matched by a couple of admins I can only hope were merely new, and not yet past the arrogance that imming on a successful mud can invoke. I should note that they have every reason to be proud of their creation, but it would be a pity to have Sojourn fall to such things as it has before.

The final pitfall was character creation, where you wait outside the game while your application is being reviewed by the imms. It took 45 minutes to create one character after having about ten original names rejected (some of which I'd used before as I tested out different races and classes.) At that point I logged on an alternate character to see if there was a problem. I was told to wait, so I rested to read some boards for fifteen minutes. Fearing by then that the admin may have left or forgotten, I inquired and was again told to wait. As patience wore thin I asked a social imm if there was a problem.

His incredibly revealing answer was, 'Perhaps.'

It had been over an hour and, holding on to courtesy by the thread of curiosity, I asked if he could tell me what was wrong. I waited another ten minutes for an answer that never came, and finally left Sojourn, thoroughly disgusted with one of the better muds I've ever seen.

I should note that, as I tested other races and classes for balance, I went through character creation at least five times with only a few minutes to wait. The odds are still fair that you may experience nothing like the above.

Summary

I was more than impressed with the mud's detailed world, creative coding ideas, and attention to roleplay. The balance for some classes and races was quite off, but that should come in time. Some things could also be done to ease players into this game, to help with the directionless feel newbies often have when faced with such a daunting world.

Sojourn is definitely more of a role-playing mud than a levelling one, and finding someone compatible enough to talk with is only as difficult as it is in the real world - some will be rude, and some will not. Overall, remember to keep patience and courtesy at hand (or if you're evil, at least until you get your bearings) and read the rules - you may only get one strike in this often strict mud.

Despite all of the good things there are enough bumps that make Sojourn an above average mud, but not quite an excellent one - yet. I look forward to visiting again once the admin have had time to settle in.