This article describes Aetolia, one of the best multiplayer text-based games on the internet. It also gives a few details about MUDs and why you should check them out.
What is a MUD?
In the gaming world, MUD stand for Multi-user dungeon and is a text-based, multiplayer game, usually with roleplaying elements. Text-based means that all game objects have a description which can be read by the player and any interactions with objects or other characters are done by typing specific commands.
The first MUDs appeared in the 1970's, in university centers, played and designed by college students. The inspiration for most of these games was the classical Dungeons & Dragons series, and even today most of the MUDs are set in a classical fantasy environment.
A particular category of MUDs is a MUSH (multi-user shared habitat), which strongly centers around roleplaying and social interaction (but mostly in-character), with little to no combat elements.
What is Aetolia?
Aetolia is one of the four MUDs currently produced by Iron Realms Entertainment, one of the most important producers of online text-based games. The setting is in a world dominated by darkness, with vampires and undead roaming the land. You can choose to join them or try to oppose them, as a brave paladin or luminary. Or become one of the forest-dwellers, protecting the natural world from the taint of the foul necromancers.
Classes and skills
There are 16 classes you can choose, ranging from the classical paladins, monks, mages or druids to cabalists, bloodborn vampires or teradrims. The only way you can gain your class is by joining one of the guilds
Each class comes with 3 specific main skills, each of them being composed of a range of abilities. When joining a guild, you are inducted as a novice and have limited access to the class skills (you can only use two of them, and even those to a limited level). Before gaining access to the third one, you have to pass an interview and complete a series of tasks, specific for each guild. This is to make sure you have a good understanding of the world, game commands and learn how to interact with the other players before becoming a full member of your guild. Still, you will not be fully classed until you reach rank 3 in your guild, and if you leave the guild before that, you will lose these skills.
Apart from the 3 guild skills, you have access to a range of general skills, giving you various useful abilities (for example, weaponry if you want to effectively use any weapons) and a few miniskills, mostly granting you defences against specific types of attacks(magic, poison, etc.).
Improving your skills - lessons and credits
There are 10 levels for your skills, and gaining skill levels can only be done by using lessons. Lessons can be aquired by leveling in the game, winning different contests, or by buying credits with real money. While Aetolia is free to play, it is still a commercial game.
Specifics of Aetolia
What many find appealing to Aetolia is the combat system, which is a trademark of Iron Realms games. It is based around a complex system of balances, each ability or healing method using a particular type of balance.
Unlike in usual hack and slash games, here you will need to first incapacitate your opponent, killing him directly will rarely work. There are many afflictions you can give your opponent by using various abilities, which have the goal of preventing him from attacking, curing any damage he takes, or running away. In turn, it is very important to know how to cure, which can be done by using various plants, salves and elixirs. This are also limited by specific balances, so you can't cure many of them at the same time, but you must make a choice what is more important to do at a specific moment of your fight.
Because the speed of combat is too great to keep up with it, most of the players use various aliases and triggers. To do this, it is important to have a good client. When you start, you can use the Nexus client Aetolia has, but later you will probably want a client with more options, like zMud, Mushclient or MudMaster2000. Some of them are free or shareware, others you must buy to use.
Health, mana, endurance and willpower bars for Nexus
Roleplay, social interaction and player community
Roleplay is required in Aetolia, although not enforced. The players are generally very helpful with newcomers, so it is easy to get used to the atmosphere of the game even if you've never played a MUD before.
There are also a number of community sites, where you can find resources and information about the game.
A final word on MUDs
Before trying to play a MUD, you must understand that you will not find the pretty interface and graphics of a usual games like MMORPGs. But, if you have the patience to learn the specifics and to get used to it, you will probably find it much more entertaining than any graphical experience. You can literally interact with any object in the game and you are permanently in contact with the other players and the administrators of the game. The game is evolving permanently, new areas and skills are added, and players have an important role in suggesting new things to add to the game.
Aetolia home pageIron Realms portalWikipedia about MUDs
MushClient starting tutorial