June '99 Mud of the Month

“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.”

These often quoted words represent the theme of the fantasy based book series The Wheel of Time, written by Robert Jordan and published by Tor Books. This fantasy adventure is also the theme for The Wheel of Time MUD (aka WoT). WoT MUD has been running since the Summer of 1993. Throughout that and the following year WoT was on and offline for various periods of time, while we moved sites several times and tried to improve the code from its original form. Eventually we ironed out all those issues and have been running happily ever since! We’re now finally at our permanent home on our own server, and have unlimited resources ๐Ÿ™‚

Our main goal in creating WoT was to design an original environment. This includes everything from custom code and features to the overall look and feel of the virtual world, not to mention its theme. Remember, back in 1993 there were no well known WoT based MUDs, at least none we were aware of (apologies to any others that have been around that long, if any??). Anyway, had there been another MUD titled “The Wheel of Time MUD” we would certainly not have chosen that name! ๐Ÿ™‚

Since the beginning we’ve done mostly everything from scratch. We built the OLC (On-Line Creation) system ourselves such that immortals can build and modify the world on the fly via MUD commands, and we built our world from the ground up, using no prefabricated objects, mobiles, or zones. We even custom coded the handling for such common actions as backstab or bash. Our philosophy has been to try to add features that are sparsely seen in the MUD world even today. We’ve always strived to create some sort of unique implementation of everything we do, even if it is a concept that may be found elsewhere. Here are some of the things we’re proud of:

Custom virtual world: This includes zones/mobiles/etc. There is no stock Midgaard, odif, or any other prefabricated work. Everything has been built completely from scratch. It took a lot of time and effort by the building staff to bring us to where we are today. In addition we are always in the process of expanding and accepting new builders.

Overall quality: We made every effort to put our online appearance through rigourous review. We created a building handbook and put it on the web for all new builders to review and follow. While there are certainly many other very informative resources out there, these are the simple details we have tried to implement in our MUD. Most players agree that by us following these guidelines it makes for a better atmosphere.

Philosophies: Whether you want to hack-and-slash, level race, RP or just plain PK – this is the place for you. If a MUD is entirely dedicated to only one of the above we think it’s just not as interesting an environment as it could be. We understand some people don’t like to be PKd, while others have no interest in RP. We try to provide a world where you can do one, the other, or both as you choose! Sometimes it’s difficult for new players to avoid being PK’d on our MUD. Also sometimes a bit of RP may be desirable to achieve some goal which would help your character. However we don’t force or prevent anyone from playing as they wish.

Concerned staff: As with any MUD where the immortals have RL responsibilities we may not always immediately handle/fix any specific concern brought up by a mortal, but we do almost always reply to people who bring up issues of merit on our balance board| and let them know where we stand. We’ve implemented many ideas based solely on posts by the mortals who play our game, and we’ve implemented many fixes based solely on their testing. After all we left our last MUD -because- we felt the immortals never replied to what we deemed to be very valid complaints by a huge percentage of the player base. Worse yet, if they did reply their posts usually showed a lack of concern. If we make a significant change to any particular skill or set of skills we almost always give a practice reset to whomever is affected – if not the general public.

Features of interest for the forces of The Light: Warders and Aes-Sedai may bond, and gain increased abilities due to their special relationship. Bonding is only permitted by the Tower for those who have proven themselves worthy, and who (of course) are members of the Aes-Sedai and Warder clans.

Unique channeling system based on the five basic elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit as in the books. Ter’angreal and s’angreal are both present. One must learn to control the underlying elements to be able to successfully control complex weaves such as Fireball or Hammer of Air or Whirlpool.

Players can learn how to mix herbs and other items found in various parts of the world to create potions of sorts, that have a range of effects. Certain elixirs may have various refreshing effects, giving the people unable to touch the True Source certain benefits normally only associated with channelers.

Features of interest for the forces of the Shadow: Player trollocs.Trollocs are really a PK race, though limited RP does exist. Their sole reason for existing is to find and eliminate the enemies of the Shadow.

Elimination is one thing.. hunger is another. PC trollocs can dismember their victims for nourishment, leaving behind only a messy corpse (if that) for the Light to claim and bury.

Rats, ravens, and other creatures of the Shadow report the positions of the enemy so that player shadowspawn may plan their attacks.

Player myrddraal, who have been granted the gift of serving the Great Lord of the Dark in an increased capacity. These individuals have proven themselves worthy by advancing through the the Dhai’mon or Ko’bal or other trolloc ranks. They are converted from their beastly trolloc form to be smarter and sleeker servants of the Shadow, and they are given special abilities to carry out their tasks. Not only are player myrddraal granted the ability to instill fear in their victims (among other things), but they can even sneak on their “shadow stallion” horses. A valuable gift…

Features of interest to both:

Weapons and other skills grouped into broad classes. Improvement of a weapon skill such as “long blades” will offer a smaller improvement of other similar weapon classes such as “medium blades”. Channelers learning how to fully “heal” another person will at the same time gain knowledge of how to “cure serious wounds”, or perhaps even “remove poison”.

Custom track system. Tracks indicate time passed, decay, and weather effects. Those who are skilled at examining these tracks will benefit from additional information than those who are less skilled will see.

Low rent cost for those renting longer than 5 straight days.

Much, much more – which you can find out by playing…

Come visit us on the web at http://www.wotmud.org or log on at telnet wotmud.org 2222!

1. Describe the backgrounds of the WoT administration. What muds did you play before starting WoT, what led you to start your own mud?

WoT MUD has four implementors: Flash, Mournblade, Ingtar, and Zun.

Flash and Mournblade: In 1993 The Wheel of Time MUD’s two initial founders, Mournblade and Flash, were both undergraduate students at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Flash (Bill) was a computer science major, Mournblade (Erik) was a political science major. We actually met on the JHU tennis team where we were doubles partners. Erik introduced me to MUDding sometime in my third year. I found it fascinating, as it was a competitive expansion of the original Adventure and Zork/Infocom games I and sooooo very many others had played many years ago. The excitement of playing games like these was one of the major reasons I became a CS major.

Erik had played a few different MUDs but eventually came to play one more than any other. That location became my first (and only) MUD home as well. This MUD is still open and is called MUME. MUME had a great theme, great world, and great features. We both probably did far too much MUDding and far too little studying once we became very involved. After quite some time with that as our home we decided to move on and create our own work of art.

Although we liked the theme of our old MUD home, we definitely wanted to find an “original” theme if at all possible. While considering our options, an immortal of the MUD we currently played pointed me to The Wheel of Time books which I instantly found very appealing. I referred Mournblade to the books. Since he liked them as well we immediately began work on a new MUD of our own!.

Ingtar: Interestingly enough the name of that immortal who pointed us to the series was “Ingtar”, a name I didn’t attach any significance to until I actually read the books myself! Ingtar at one point planned to do major work on the MUD and had even begun working on it, but for various reasons his time became less and less available due to school, real job, etc. He is still an Implementor, although the title is pretty much honorary at this point. ๐Ÿ™‚

Zun: Zun was also a player we knew from that same MUD who, during our dark (homeless/hostless) times allowed us to run on his server “foop”. As it turned out he was also an extremely qualified programmer with an interest in both bug fixing and improving our MUD. He’s been with us almost from the beginning and has been an invaluable member of the team. The MUD would definitely be a completely different and less mature place than it is now without his participation.

Kilvarnan and Mandarb (Pseudo-Imps): Although we’ve had quite a number of builders, immortals, and players in our time, few (if any) have put in the sheer number of hours, quality of work, or exhibited the dedication of these two individuals. With us from soon after our opening, they came up through the ranks and impressed the heck out of us. We have given them the highest possible compliment by appointing them to where they are now. They have full authority to speak for the “management of the game” and we have such great trust in what they say and how they say it that we fully support them speaking in our place. For avid MUDders, you all know what level of trust the owners of the game must have to feel comfortable doing that ๐Ÿ™‚

Definitely deserving honorable mention are Nassau, Sayuja, Doyn, Elajh, Baledon, and the long, long, long lost Chris and Fade.

2. The WoT website is beautifully done, not only pleasant to look at but with excellent navigability and tons of info available. How has your website helped new players with WoT? Have you noticed a speedier learning curve because of the info available on your website?

Our web content was written by multiple people, but overall the current website (and definitely much of the content) must be credited to one individual, an immortal named Nassau. Gifted with the determination to learn and write HTML, he set out on the task of completely revamping our old pages into the form you see today. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments and positive feedback on both the presentation and amount of useful information that can be found on the site. Knowledgeable players definitely enjoy reading the pages, but the biggest beneficiary has surely been the newbies to our MUD, and moreover, the newbies to MUDding in general.

People who have never had a taste of MUDding or any good old fashioned Infocom text adventure can really obtain a good understanding of what goes on in these virutal worlds. We know this because the pages generate a LOT of emails from people who clearly have never done anything on the Internet except type URLs into web browsers, or play Doom with their friends. They’ve never heard of IRC let alone MUDs! The only Internet world they’re familiar with is AOL chat rooms!

Another benefit of the website is that when new players ask a FAQ type or newbie question, the player base as a whole knows to refer the person to the web pages, and they don’t have to explain it time after time. The new player can help themselves and learn a lot about how the game works before they even create a character.

3. Describe the roleplaying atmosphere of WoT. Is roleplaying required of your players? How was the mud designed to aid in roleplaying?

Like Hack-And-Slash and PK, RP is available but is not required of anyone. There are certain advantages of RP, such as a trolloc player showing enough skills to the powers of the Shadow that he is rewarded by being remade into a powerful myrddraal, or someone becoming a clan master and becoming entitled to special armor, weapons, etc.

The RP system is now dealt with through what we refer to as ‘autoquests’, as well as player and immortal guidance. Using a new technique developed by Zun, an implementor here, called MOBOL (MOB Operating Language), players can go up to their mob leaders (a MOB is designated for each clan) and ask them to ‘issue quest’. The mob will respond with a list of available quests, which we try to update frequently.

Best of all this new system allows instant rewards! When you turn in the items or solve the puzzles of your quests, the mob leader is programmed to reward you with quest points (qp) which can be used to purchase special clan equipment or raise your clan level. If you work hard enough, you may become a clan ‘master’, someone who has reached clan level 7 or above. Such players receive special bonuses such as their own ‘Master weapon’ or armor, and are allowed to lead clan mobiles on their adventures! The RP system is overseen by the god clan, Watchers, which currently consists of Mournblade, Doyn, Elajh, and myself. We are often available to control your mob leaders and interact with you one on one in a ‘live RP’ session should you have a special situation. This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as RP as concerned (as we also currently have 2 HUGE worldwide quests going on), but you’re going to have to log on and play to find out the rest, won’t you?

4. Does the mud stick closely to the world created by Robert Jordan? Where does the mud tend to stray?

We try very hard to stay as true to the books as possible, but we will definitely sacrifice book or real life “realism” for sake of playability. Sometimes it is not so clear where to draw the line, or how to implement something from the books in a computer game. In fact quite often it may not even be fair to do so. We constantly tweak some of the game equations and mechanics based on how our last is doing over a period of time, and on how both the Light and Dark sides of the MUD feel.

Not surprisingly, the MUD tends to stray in some areas. It’s quite difficult to be follow any book or movie to the letter without making some sacrifices. Mobile handled justice is not quite where it needs to be for instance. Both the mobile forces of the Light and Dark are not yet smart enough to act the way they need to. It is a bit too easy for the forces of the Dark to invade Caemlyn or the forces of the Light to walk through the blight. The only real driving force of which side will win is the PCs involved. As we strive to improve our MOBOL system (online interpreted command language for programming the mobs) hopefully this will be taken care of. We would also like to use this system to replace the hard C code used for the smarts of some of the other puzzles, quests, and super mobs throughout the game. When you have many online imms coding MOBOL, it will invariably be more creative than what a few implementors can do when they’re not busy coding more critical game functions… ๐Ÿ™‚

Sayuja: I began playing The Wheel of Time MUD almost two years ago as a novice to the world of mudding. I chose WoT because the fantasy series by Robert Jordan is my favorite in the genre. I was immediately drawn into the virtual world, made so much like the books I enjoy. After trying several other muds since, I appreciate even more the attention to detail that was put into the creation of WoT. While many muds are basically cut from the same cloth, WoT is completely unique and custom designed and coded. The cities, people and perils that the major characters in the books encounter all exist in WoT mud; from Bran al’Vere in Emonds field to Shadar Haran in Thakan’dar.

As a player, you can role play and explore, or partake in the never-ending battle of the Light vs. the Dark. Human and Trolloc encounters are frequent and make for some very exciting game play. And of course, as in the books, there are the political and agenda conflicts among the various clans – Whitecloaks, Aes Sedai, Borderguard and Dragonsworn to name just a few. Automated quests and role play also add to the enjoyment of playing while allowing players advance in level within their chosen clan. I began contributing to the Wheel of Time Mud as a builder almost a year ago, my first assignment was to create a stedding almost completely swallowed by the surrounding blight. I enjoy being a part of the behind-the-scene work that makes the game enjoyable. As an immortal, I continue to help expand the world and keep it new and exciting for the players. But, I still like to play on the mud, basically because it’s FUN ๐Ÿ™‚

Baledon: One of the things most of the players, and I myself, find most intriguing about WoTMUD is the wide character diversity allowed and encourged by the staff and the code. Although only 4 character classes (warrior, ranger, thief, channeler) seems quite limiting, the way practices are set up lets the player have 100 different characters and each one quite different. If you want, you can be a warrior trained in many art forms, a ranger learned in the way of the forests, able to sneak and camouflague yourself, a thief bred for murder with a powerful backstab. But if you are looking for diversity, the code lets you become a ranger who can use backstab as well as any thief, or a warrior more at home in the forests than in any battleground.

But one of the main things which allows such diversity is the balance between RP (roleplaying) and PK (playerkilling). Both are allowed here at WoTMUD, and are set up so both might benefit from each other. The PK aspect allows you to breed a warrior who can use 3 or 4 weapon classes and has all the classic warrior skills needed to be successful in PK. PK is completly volunarty, and you do not have to participate if you do not wish to (you can always just go away from where the fights are), but if you are itchin’ for some killing and destruction, it is readily available, and in fact, the entire Trolloc race is pure bred for PK!

But if you are more of the social type who doesn’t take pleasure in the death of others, no worry, the RP system is up and running and better than ever! Currently, WoTMUD has 27 human and trolloc clans open and ready for new members. RP, much like PK, is completly voluntary, and you are in no way obligated to participate. But we ask that if you do choose to RP, you must follow certain guidelines and act In Character (IC) as much as possible. And just like the practice system allows for unending diversity, so does the clan system. If you wish to RP, humans is the way to go, as they have the most clans and the most diversity. If you are the law abiding type, you can try to find a place in the Lion Wardens and defend the city of Caemlyn! Family killed by Trollocs? No problem! Get back at them by joining the Borderguard and defend Tarwin’s Gap from Shadowspawned invasions. If you are a bit on the darker side, there’s a place for you too. Like to steal and pilage? Be a bandit and join the Iron Fist, a clan for manly men who like to drink, gamble, carouse, and plunder. Are you a thief who thinks you got what it takes to be a master assassin? Join the exclusive and elusive Black Talon, a clan where the best and strongest thieves band together to strut thier stuff. You just find out you have the ability to channel and your family kicked you out? Join the White Tower and start on your journey to being a full fledged Aes Sedai! If you are a trolloc, we do have some clans available to you too. You can be a Ko’bal, Dha’vol, or Dhai’mon. Be warned though, trollocs are for experienced players and 95% focused on PK, so there is not a great deal of RP assosciated with them, but it adds an extra spice.

Farran/Elajh: I started playing Wheel of Time MUD a little more than a year and a half ago. I had never before played on a MUD or any other MU*. I found it by the direction of a post on rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan. It was mostly out of curiosity about what being part of the WoT world would be like. I guess the closest thing to a MUD I had ever experienced was playing Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The interface was vaguely familiar from those games, and with the use of helpfiles and advice from players I dove right in. I still play the first character I began then, though I have a number of others whom I have developed since.

I think the thing that I like most about WoT MUD is how it provides a world that is remarkably true to the books written by Robert Jordan. I am addicted to the books, and WoT MUD gives me a pretty good fix while I await the next installment in the series. The zones in WoT MUD are written with great attention to the world of Robert Jordan. The Randland we all know and love comes alive on WoT MUD.

Aside from the wonderful world that has been created on WoT MUD, it is also a great game. I have appreciated the hack and slash, the player killing, the exploring, the socializing, the role-playing. WoT MUD offers a little of something for everyone, and for me personally, it offers quite a lot. Additions are constantly being made in order to expand and improve the playing atmosphere. The management strives to make a place that will be enjoyed by all, and they succeed remarkably well. It is hard to satisfy everyone, but they do their best to make as many people as possible happy. Considering the increases in the player base recently, I’d say that a lot of folks agree with me.

Doyn: In the past, I have tested and checked many muds. However Wheel of Time MUD is the only mud that I have stuck with and play it almost exclusively now. I first came to the mud as a player in September 1998. Having been an avid fan of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time book series, I was immediately caught up by the fantasic world that so closely resembled that of the books. That is probably the main reason I have stuck with WOT MUD, for they do not attempt to cross-over into other book series or authors. I worked my way through the levels and the clanning system, learning the quirks and guidelines of the game and found that I could not compare it to other systems. From that point on I have gone through multiple characters and clans, seeing the mud from all sides.

Since the mud encourages all forms of players to compete, from the role player to the player killer, I felt that I could contribute my knowledge and skills to the staff that runs WOT MUD. At that point I was privledged to be appointed to the RP staff of the mud. I must say that RP has come a long way from where it once was. Vast improvements in the clanning system and clanning guidelines, now allow the player to choose their poison. This choice of clans is what makes the game fun. Character development can go a long way here, and that is what I hope to achieve in old and new characters. I try my best to make the mud fun for all who play, despite their playing style. I guess that is why I enjoy my position as a RP immortal, because be able to challenge the players is enjoyable as well as a challenge for me.

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