MUD – Multi User Dungeon

“Multi-User Dungeon, you’re so much fu-uh-uh-un!  Multi-User Domain, so much more than just a game!  I hate lag!  Killer flag!  I hate lag!  Killer flag!”  -the Brodies 1997

Ah, fond memories persist surrounding the nerdy past time of “mudding” (playing MUDs).  MUDs also known as Multi-User Dungeons or Domains are fantasy worlds where you create a unique character which you play online with other players.  The catch is that it’s been around a lot longer than MMORPGs and is solely text based. 

I spent many hours on a crappy Packard-Bell 386 in my parent’s garage plugging away on a yellow nicotine stained keyboard attempting to level my Half-Elf Ranger Drekmoor.  My high school friends would come into the garage and shake their heads at me saying things like “why are you playing that?”  “Isn’t that boring?  It looks boring.”  “When was the last time you went outside?” Yes, the precursor to WoW was the MUD. 

MUDs are set up like old school computer based text adventures.  In MUDs you are online with your friends playing a character that can level up and grow in power through acquisition of spells, magical items, and greater abilities. 

Revisiting my nerdhood

The MUD I frequented most was named TorilMUD and was a spin off of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting from Dungeons and Dragons. If you visit my blog often you know that I am a huge “Realms” fan. (Thank you Mr. Greenwood.) While doing research I decided to check and see if TorilMUD still existed. Sure enough, there it was. I tried to sign up to play via telnet but the moderator kept denying my character based on my name. Apparently Nandlewath Swoodlepuss isn’t a suitable halfling name. I went through them all- Grandlewortha Faddlethorp, Svirfnerblin Saddlewandle, and Dweedletoes Rucksack. They denied them all, even Dweedletoes… alas, I quit. I guess my imagination has grown out of control in my old age.

Why MUDs are better than MMORPG

In MUDs you read everything unlike a MMORPG where the developers have already decided exactly what the world looks like. By reading you are imagining the world around you and it actually becomes so much more real than those cartoonish MMORPGs like WoW.

Instead of just giving you a step by step of how MUDs work, let’s actually log into one!  Maybe this is a bad idea, I might get addicted again…

For this experiment we will use an old favorite!  TorilMUD (based on the Forgotten Realms)

How to play a MUD:

  1. Download and install a FREE program from download.com called PuTTY.
  2. Go to the URL of the MUD to do some research and obtain a telnet address and port.  For this example we will be visiting the TorilMUD at torilmud.org
  3. Just below the circular image on the right side of the screen is a telnet address.  Write down or remember this address.  In this case it’s “torilmud.org port 9999Telnet is a network protocol used on the Internet or local area networks to provide a bidirectional interactive text-oriented communications facility using a virtual terminal connection. User data is interspersed in-band with Telnet control information in an 8-bit byte oriented data connection over the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).  Telnet was developed in 1969 beginning with RFC 15, extended in RFC 854, and standardized as Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Internet Standard STD 8, one of the first Internet standards.  Historically, Telnet provided access to a command-line interface (usually, of an operating system) on a remote host. Most network equipment and operating systems with a TCP/IP stack support a Telnet service for remote configuration (including systems based on Windows NT). Because of security issues with Telnet, its use for this purpose has waned in favor of SSH.
  4. Open your PuTTY program and enter the Telnet address “torilmud.org port 9999” and press enter.
  5. You’re online playing a MUD!  Congratulations!  Just follow the prompts and register for a new account and create your character.  Try it out and see why a lot of people still prefer MUDs after all these years to those heavy graphic quest driven MMORPGs.

That’s all there is to it.  It’s a lot easier to sign up and play and it’s free.  I have a lot of crazy stories about MUDs including one about a friend in high school.  Ah, hell I’ll share it with you.  He’ll probably read this and kill me, but that’s life… and death!  A good friend of mine started getting deep into a MUD, so much that he met a girl he liked and their characters were wed in game.  He dropped out of high school and sat at the computer all day and night, barely getting any sleep.  He smelled horrible and his clothes were rarely changed.  He never showered and his skin turned into a sickly yellow color which morphed into a layer of rotting dead skin cells that you could scrape off to see the clean skin underneath.  The only reason he could live like this was that his parents would bring him food and drink so that he did not perish.  Eventually the woman he married in game moved to this state and he married her in real life only to get a divorce about a year later.  Ah, MUDs… they are quite addictive but well worth it.  Just remember to live your real life first and try a MUD when you have a little extra time left in your day.  They are still fun, even in this day and age of fancy computer graphics and over the top theatrical trailers.

I would LOVE to hear your MUD stories from back in the day, even if they are brief and nerdy as all get out.  This is NERD TREK BTW!

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.