TMC Reviews: Threshold RPG

(Review Date: January 22, 1999)
TMC Reviewer: Lynne Hall
Mud Theme

Threshold is a fantasy-based MUD with a strong emphasis on roleplaying. It has a well-defined and complex structure, with race, guilds, clans and religions all having importance within the socio-political system. Unlike some roleplaying MUDs, there is also plenty of action in the form of fighting, games, and quests, along with the inevitable enjoyable friction between players of different guilds, clans, etc.

However, a word of caution. Although I really enjoyed Threshold, my first impressions of it were extremely negative. I visited the website and thought yikes, this looks scarily authoritarian. Threshold has only one god, Aristotle, and my initial feelings were that he would be big into control and would rule the place with an iron fist. On starting to play, these feelings were reinforced as I ploughed through acres of helpfiles, where there is a strong ethos of what is and what is not permitted in Threshold.

This really put me off, and I ended up in a total panic about what I could and couldn't say / do, and I was wary of asking other players for help, as I was so worried about saying ooc things, or what channel I should be using. There is a newbie channel (heritage), but no one used it when I was around. I did wonder if the other newbies also felt embarrassed or worried about asking something you shouldn't and so, like me, kept silent. On a positive note, the helpfiles are complete, well written, relatively interesting and actually helpful! However, digesting all the information was difficult and I kept stopping and starting as I felt overwhelmed at times. But, you do need the information to actually start existing in Threshold.

My initial fears were unjustified and the theme is well supported by Aristotle. Basically, his position appears to be entirely related to roleplaying integrity and his (and the player's) conceptualisation of Threshold as a place / world not a game. And, after spending some time in Threshold and seeing how it worked, this is the real theme of the MUD: a true roleplaying environment with an impressive vision. This is a somewhat radical approach and does have to be emphasised to new players, but applause for Aristotle, that he makes the point that perhaps there are things you cannot say and questions you cannot ask in a virtual world.

Mud Atmosphere

At first it is frustrating, as this is one of those MUDs where you need to introduce yourself to others, so, although there may be 70 players on line, as a newbie your chances of knowing any of them are slight. However, they are interested in you and conversation initiation is relatively fast, particularly if the characters are of the same guild or race. There are a lot of high level players (obvious 'cos of the snazzy gear). Just listening to them, which they don't seem to mind, lets you get a fair idea of the strength of community in Threshold.

Roleplay is a fundamental aspect of Threshold and is of a high standard. Players stay in role and there are plenty of plots and storylines going down. People interact quickly (which can be unusual in roleplaying MUDs) and conversations are rapid. There is inevitably some player killing, but this is in role. Hack and slash it's not, its more of a fight and think place.

All the high level characters I met were relatively helpful. There is a way of getting your own personal helper, through going to the Tourist Office. This results in a player arriving to talk to you, but even with this I was a little nervous about what I could and couldn't ask and kept it in role, when really I would have liked to ask for a bit of practical advice about commands and so on!

This is a combat-based MUD with some focus on level. This seemed to give an atmosphere of a sense of purpose and players seemed well rounded. There are pre-guild levels, "heritage", and these are a solitary existence. However, this doesn't last too long and you start to be integrated.

Mud World

The world was well described, I didn't notice any typos or missing descriptions, everything had an air of completeness and all the wrinkles had been ironed out.

There are stacks of races, ranging from the standard Tolkienesque to some animal-morphed races. The racial cohesion is extended through the existence of racial languages and actions. There are the standard guilds and a couple of extras (such as necromancers). Each guild has its own set of additional abilities and skills and related help files, so the guild choice is really indicative of the role that you intend to play within Threshold.

The fighting is standard, but acceptable. Lots of different areas, some of which are graded, so that you can determine where you should fight. Some quests too, the low-level quest was nice and brief and not at all difficult, and quite informative about how you should be interacting with the world.

It is one of those places where you have to rest and eat and so on, however, it is sufficiently well integrated to stop it being irritating. It also encourages people to sit in the bars and restaurants, so that you can find them. It is a big place, and the exploration capacities are considerable, if you like scouting and mapping and so on, this would be a good MUD for you.

Additional Comments

As to who should play Threshold, well, to some degree it would suit almost anyone. However, due to the fact that early days on the MUD are spent pretty much alone, I would suggest you would need some basic knowledge about how to get going and have had some experience elsewhere. If you are an experienced MUDder this is a great place to be, I certainly really enjoyed it. I found that it had mixed up the best of many flavours of MUDs, from the serious roleplaying sort to those that focus almost exclusively on fighting to those that have lots of games. One of the most positive factors about Threshold is that it is mature and has a solid player base, with between 30-70 people on line all the time.

As there is considerable emphasis on roleplay, there is a command that causes a log to be automatically made and be given to the MUD Admin and they can determine if a roleplay bonus is necessary. I thought this was a really neat idea, after having spent much time madly roleplaying in other places, only to realise that no deity around and no bonuses going to emerge (not that one roleplays for bonuses, just sometimes the recognition is nice)

Like many other mature MUDs, players of Threshold are encouraged (but not forced) to contribute financially. Paying the registration fee offers players a number of additional skills, abilities and possibilities. Further information about this can be found at the Threshold website.

Finally, although I found the newbie stage difficult, I felt that this enforced reading of the helpfiles and the need of knowing people was a good approach. It does prevent high level characters being asked numerous silly questions, as can occur in other places, and it would be nice to be high level here.


I would just like to write "TRY IT!" but it deserves more than that. Threshold is a really splendid MUD. It has everything and more that this style of MUD should have. So, if you enjoy an adventure-style MUD, where combat and leveling are important (yet without the tedium of unrestricted player killing) and elegant roleplay is the norm, this could well be your place.

Review Feedback from Aristotle

Most importantly, I would like to thank you, the reviewer, for keeping an open mind about Threshold despite your fears that the many help files and single administrator would make for an unpleasant game. I was very happy to hear that your "initial fears were unjustified". I was thrilled to read that your final conclusion was that the rules and extensive help files helped to create "a true roleplaying environment with an impressive vision", and I certainly appreciate your "applause for Aristotle".

Regarding the heritage channel: it is usually very busy. New players are encouraged to make liberal use of the heritage channel to obtain assistance. The only thing they should be aware of is that most likely, other players will tend to answer questions by pointing new players to a help file. It is our philosophy that this is much better in the long run since the new player learns where to find the information as well as the answer to the question.

The STEA (Sable Tourism and Entertainment Authority) will be happy to read the praise they received in this review. I feel they do an excellent job, and I am very proud of them. Aside from planning special events and games in Threshold, they really try to make new players feel welcome and help them adjust to the game. I am happy to say that your good experience with them is very typical =)

I was very happy to read that you found the roleplaying to be of a very high standard, and that you noticed how the players of Threshold stay in character all the time. I am also glad you noticed how easy it was to "get involved" with the community. Threshold is complicated and yes there are a lot of rules and help files. But in the actual game, players are almost always really excited to have new people to play with, and as a result, they enjoy getting new people involved in their conversations and goings on. I am glad your experiences reflected this as well.

>Quoted from the review SUMMARY section:
>I would just like to write "TRY IT!" but it deserves more than that.
>Threshold is a really splendid MUD. It has everything and more that this
>style of MUD should have. So, if you enjoy an adventure-style MUD, where
>combat and leveling are important (yet without the tedium of unrestricted
>player killing) and elegant roleplay is the norm, this could well be your

Thank you once again for such fine praise. I hope other fans of roleplaying games visit and have a similarly enjoyable experience.

-Michael Hartman (