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Fox Tails, Goblins, and Bandor’s Flagon March 13, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, MUDs, TorilMUD.
Tags: ,
4 comments

The MUD just crashed!

Hurry, you need to reconnect!

Come on young elf!  This is your opportunity to get a piece or two of badly needed equipment!

Run run run!

Forget Kobold Village.  There probably isn’t anything there you need.

You must run to the Faerie Forest with all haste!

That was the rhythm of life on MUDs in general and TorilMUD in particular.

Most of the NPCs in the game load up with equipment only after a crash or a reboot.  Once slain and looted their most valuable reason for existence, contributing to your wardrobe, is gone.  You can get experience from them sure, but you can do that when the MUD has been up for some horribly long time.  The entire economy of the game rested on a level of instability that would allow a crash at least once or twice a day.

That was the pattern into which I was indoctrinated all back when I rolled up my half-elf ranger in Leuthilspar more than 20 years ago now.  You had to get out of the inn and to the right mob as fast as possible, and the Faerie Forest had the most opportunities.

First you had to get to the dark path that lead to the zone, which meant searching for the hidden entrance.

< > A Large Clearing in the Forest Room size: Large (L:40 ft W:40 ft H:25 ft)
Exits: -W

< > You don’t find anything.

< > You find a secret exit south!

And then there were the wood rats.

< > A Dark, Hidden Path Room size: Mid-sized (L:75 ft W:5 ft H:500 ft)
Exits: -N -E

A scruffy wood rat is here slinking around in the gloom.
A scruffy wood rat is here slinking around in the gloom.
A scruffy wood rat is here slinking around in the gloom.

You had to get past the wood rats.  The tunnel rooms were flagged as narrow, so players could only go through one abreast and you couldn’t just spam past any mob as you would bump into them.  If you were quick and lucky, you could lay day (recline) and pass under the wood rats.  That was how you had to get past other players or reorder groups in rooms so flagged.  It does make you wonder how big those wood rats were, given that a full grown male half elf with a sword and motley collection of armor could pass beneath them.

And if you were not lucky, well, you had to take the time to kill the wood rats.  They were not tough.  I think they were level 1 creatures.  But you had to stop and take a few swings to slay them.  On the bright side, the next young elf trying to make it to the treasures of the Faerie Forest would be stuck behind you.  You couldn’t pass somebody, even when reclined, if they were in combat.  So you would be killing wood rats while they were bumping into you.

Eventually though you would win you way through and into the Faerie Forest.  Having spent time lost there, I made a map and soon knew my way around to all of the key locations.

No exit on this map

The Faerie Forest

What you needed dictated where you would head first.  Very early during my career, which came just after a pwipe, having a light source was of vital importance.  If you did not have one, you might want to go find the Silver Fox.

The Silver Fox’s tail, which you could loot from its corpse, was flagged as being lit, so you just had to have it in your inventory and any room you entered would also be lit.

A silver fox is here hunting in the forest, looking for a meal for her young.
Your blood freezes as you hear the rattling death cry of a silver fox.
You get a silver fox tail from corpse of a silver fox.
a silver fox tail (illuminating)

This was a huge advantage over torches, which had to be held in one hand (so you couldn’t then have a shield, a second weapon, or a two handed weapon) and which would burn out quite quickly. (Unlike those who started in Waterdeep, elves didn’t get magical torches that never burned out.)  I suppose this was a missed opportunity for role play, having to fumble with torches.  But since every priest class got the spell Continual Light at some point, torches were never going to be in great demand in any case.

CONTINUAL LIGHT
Spell
Area of effect: <object> | Room
Aggressive: No
Cumulative: No
Duration: Permanent unless dispelled
Class/Circle: Cleric/Druid/Shaman 6th, Paladin 8th
Type of spell: Enchantment

“Continual light” allows the spellcaster to enchant an item by giving it a light flag, making it a permanent light source. Not specifying an object causes the whole room to be permanently lit by a magical light. It is one way for spellcasters to create light in the darkness if they have no other lamps, etc. This spell can be countered (in rooms) with a “darkness” spell.

See also: DARKNESS

Once Continual Light became common, people stopped running to find the Silver Fox.  But for a short time it was a key item.  You could sell it to somebody who was desperate and who couldn’t get to the Silver Fox or the fire at the tinker camp that, when search, would yield another illuminating item.

a glowing stick of faerie wood (illuminating)

There actually used to be two sticks of faerie wood, one in each of the fires.  The second one, which was an orange ANSI color if I recall right, had stats, so if you held it you got some benefit along with light.  It was something like a few hit points, but it was better than nothing, especially if you didn’t have something to hold in your off hand anyway.

Meanwhile, while you were down by the Silver Fox, the next big thing was the scrawny goblin who held the bag of snatching along with a few other goodies.

You get a bag of snatching from corpse of a scrawny goblin.

The bag was useful because… well… it was a bag.  And it was bigger than the bag you were handed as part of your new player kit.  And it was also displayed in a cool, dark ANSI color which I cannot quiet replicate here.  It was cool enough that even after we all had bags and had hit level 20 and moved out into the world, we could still sell the bag to people in Waterdeep simply because it looked cool.  In the end, I think it was heavy and only as good as a backpack you could buy from a vendor in town, but style sells.

The goblin was also the gate keeper to the room with the pile of trash.  Searching through it would yield a series of dubious treasures.

You find an ancient stone tablet!
You find a bit of string!
You find a wand of thunderous rage!
You find a moldy loaf of bread!
You find a steel shortsword!
You find a very dead rat!
You find a bronze dirk!
You search exhaustively and conclude there is nothing to be found!

Each had its use, if you include “able to be sold to a vendor” as a use.  The wand of thunderous rage was a particular heartbreak.  I knew people who held on to several of them until they hit a difficult battle, only to find that they didn’t actually do anything.  Wands were always strange birds in TorilMUD, though there was a wand of magic missile that was amusing to use from time to time.

But they key item in the Faerie Forest was Bandor’s Flagon.

a huge, drinking flagon

This flask looks like it could hold more liquid than possible. It must be that Tinker magic; making the most of space not even existing.
When you look inside, you see: It’s more than half full of a golden liquid.

When eventually everything else in the zone became just so much vendor trash, Bandor’s Flagon remained something you could sell in Waterdeep.  It was, for a long time, the largest drink container in the game.  And even when it was eclipsed, the flagons that replaced it were not so easy to obtain and did look quite so cool.  You just had to remember to pour out the alcohol in the flagon, lest you get drunk on Bandor’s brew.

And while there was certainly more to find in the Faerie Forest, from Habetrot’s stonewood cudgel to Vokko’s iron armor, the race to get those was never quite as intense as it was for Bandor’s Flagon.  It remained the one easy to get item that actually held value in the game.

Wielding The Dead Rat January 8, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Ancient Gaming, entertainment, EverQuest, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , ,
12 comments

Way back in the TorilMUD days… and back before then I am sure… I began to subscribe to the “no empty slots” theory of equipment.

Basically, in your typical RPG/MUD/MMO, your character has a set number of equipment slots.  They vary from game to game, but generally correspond to the basics of an armor set.  And since anything equipped in one of those slots is likely to add something to your character… a little more armor, or maybe a stat bonus…. there is no reason to leave a slot empty.

In TorilMUD, and especially in equipment impoverished Leuthilspar, where elves and half-elves started, when you were starting out, you would wear anything.  For example, there was one good ring you could acquire as a young elf… the pearl ring… which actually boosted your armor by 4.   That wasn’t much on the 100 to -100 scale that was used back in the day (100 was a completely unarmored, inert character, while -100 was the best you could get, and they related to the % dice rolled for a hit) but it was something.

However, the pearl ring was coveted because of this, and it only showed up once per boot, so if you didn’t get to the mob carrying it (an elf in town, who would be assisted by guards if they were around, so you had to take care) you were out of luck.

So a lot of us wandered around with another item on in the ring slot, a piece of string.  It came from the Goblin’s trash pile in the Faerie Forest.

No exit on this map

The Goblin is down south

All the piece of string did was help your save versus paralysis.  But that was better than nothing, right?  Who knows when you might need that boost to your save! (Realistically, by the time you needed it, you had ditched the string for something else.  But you didn’t know that at the time, and had probably forgotten all about that string when you were standing, paralyzed by those vines south of Waterdeep, slowly waiting to die.)

Because that is the way it went… and the way it goes today.  First you get some piece of equipment to fill a slot, because something is better than nothing.  Then when you find another item for a given slot, it becomes a comparison; is this new thing better?  Early on those decisions are usually pretty easy.

Have shovel, want mallet!

Have shovel, want mallet!

Eventually you wind up at higher levels and having to compare the relative merits of one set of stats versus another.  In TorilMUD with the melee classes it was always the trade off of +hit versus +damage, or strength versus dexterity versus agility, or armor class versus stats.

In the early days, in TorilMUD or EverQuest or even early World of Warcraft, getting equipment was haphazard early on.  Since then the process has been bound to quests.  Following the quest chain keeps your armor at an appropriate level and likely even offers up armor that is specifically for your vocation.

But things have essentially remained the same.  You get your first piece of equipment for a given slot, then spend your career upgrading it.

What seems to have gone missing somewhere is the equipment with bad stats that off-set some great boost for your class.

From TorilMUD I recall the Polished Bone equipment that had good armor and a boost to strength, but penalized dexterity, which in turn could impact your hit roll.  Or the Dolomite armor set that had great armor, but which was very heavy.  If you were not maximum strength and playing a strong race (ogres, trolls, or barbarians), the weight of the set would not only eat up your movement points, but could impact your agility to the point that it would start reducing your armor class.

There was a green gemstone earring that was -4 strength, but which granted protection from fire.  If you were going to the Plane of Fire or the City of Brass, you often needed to take the strength hit to go to those places.

There were equipment items that covered other slots.  There were “whole head” helms that prevented you from wearing something in the face slot, and “whole body” armor pieces that took up the chest, leg, and arm slots and which favored one stat, usually armor class, over all others.

And then there was the dead rat.

Actually, I think it was actually called “a very dead rat.”

This was another item from the Goblin’s trash pile.  It was wieldable as a 1h blunt weapon, but had a very low damage roll and had an -10 to hit modifier.  So it was a really bad weapon, and heavy to boot a I recall, but a lot of tanks kept one stashed away in his bag for specific situations.

If you were facing a mob that was unbashable and had a damage shield up, that dead rat might save the day.  Generally, with a damage shield mob, you waited for the shield to go down and when the mob began casting the spell for the shield, you would knock it down with a bash and keep it down so the shield was not a problem.

But if you could not bash the mob, then there was trouble.  Every hit by a melee class on that shield causes damage to the attacker.  I have seen hasted rangers kill themselves in a couple of rounds attacking a shielded mob.  So you either had to have a magical solution that would protect melee classes from the shield, or you had to kill the mob with ranged attacks only.

However, you still needed a tank.  If the tank wielded that dead rat, and maybe shed a bit of hit enhancing gear, you might get by with the tank missing enough that your healer could keep up with the damage.

Not an ideal solution, but the dead rat gave the possibility of an alternative solution.

Do we still have that in MMORPGs today?  The item with a bad stat that is useful in certain specific situations?

I realize that with dungeons and raiding that players may favor a given stat or protection, but that is a trade off of one bonus against another.  I am looking more for taking a serious hit in order to meet a goal.

Is there a dead rat left to wield in games today?

drag pcorpse enter moonwell October 18, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Ancient Gaming, entertainment, MUDs, TorilMUD.
Tags: ,
3 comments

Probably the hardest thing about going back to visit TorilMUD is remembering the odd syntax that used to be second nature to me at one time.

The first two items on the list are:

  • Do not hit return to bring up the cursor in the typing buffer… it is already there waiting for me.  And it remembers my last command, so hitting return will just do that again.
  • Do not put a forward slash in front of every command.  This is the habit ingrained by a dozen years of 3D MMORPGs.  I need to type “say” and not “/say.”

Those two I picked up pretty quickly.  After that, it started to become a challenge.

The weekend kicked off with Gaff’s conjurer Nerral dying.

Yes, I got him killed by the Tako Demon, but that was later, after we sort of got ourselves back into the groove of the game.  That was preceded by some “getting back on the bicycle” antics.

It started with an IM from him tell me he had died in the Faerie Forest and asking if I could help him get his corpse.

I had to chuckle because Nerral is a level 50 conjurer and the Faerie Forest is… a bit tame.  Oh, there are things in the Faerie Forest that can kill any player going at them solo and unprepared, but I didn’t think he was going after Finn or his ilk, which pretty much left Lubberkins and Flower Fairies.

No exit on this map

Welcome to the Faerie Forest

I logged on with my druid and caught up with him at the Leuthilspar gate, which was closed and locked.  He was waiting for it to open.  I had to remind him that you can just say the magic word (“peace”) and it unlocks.

That was once we learned how to speak again (see above bit about forward slash) and not incessantly repeat the last thing we said/did (and the bit about not hitting return).  Once we got past that, he explained that he had summoned an elemental, the conjurer’s stock in trade, and it had turned aggro on him.  These things happen, one of the perils of the profession, and which is something a conjurer can usually deal.

Unless, of course, the conjurer doesn’t remember any of his combat spell, in which case an angry elemental is likely to beat him into the ground, which is exactly what happened.

So he wanted to know if I could run and get his corpse, in case the elemental was still lurking.

And then we stood there for a minute while I tried to remember how to form a group.  Finally I said, “consent me,” which he did, and then I could type in, “group Nerral” which formed the group.  Having him “follow” me would have also allowed me to form a group, but I also needed consent just in case I needed to move his corpse.

That accomplished, I left him there while I ran off to the Faerie Forest.  It was dark and he didn’t have a light source, so he was kind of stuck there.  Thanks to innate infravision, he could see the room exits, but he couldn’t see anything in the room.

I started looking around for his corpse, which he helpfully described as “near a lubberkin.”  That is like saying something is “near a parking meter” in your average downtown setting.  Still, there aren’t that many rooms in the Faerie Forest.  I just had to run through about two thirds of them before I found his corpse.

At his corpse, I immediately cast my spell “moonwell,” which opens a portal between two people on the prime material plane, so long as they are in rooms that all teleportation.  The devs love to limit your options by flagging rooms !teleport.  Leuthilspar, for example, has only one room within it where I can cast moonwell as I recall.

This is why I left him out on the road outside of Leuthilspar, so I could open a moonwell to him.  My expectation was that he could then hop through the moonwell and grab deal with his corpse.

Unfortunately, it was night time, he was in a room without a light, so he couldn’t see the moonwell and thus could not enter it.  I had to bring the corpse to him.  This meant a bit of thinking to come up with the right syntax.

A player corpse can be dragged to move it from room to room, and can be indicated by the player name or the generic name “pcorpse.”  The syntax for that, which I recalled pretty quickly, is “drag pcorpse west” to move the corpse out of the west exit.  But into a moonwell, that took a bit more digging in the unused spaces in my memory before I came up with the right set of commands.

They are the title of this post.  Drag pcorpse enter moonwell.

That finally remembered, I was able to open another moonwell to him and drag his corpse through.

After that, we decided to warm up in Kobold Village.  That seemed like a good place to warm up.  And we know how that turned out.

Still, that forced us to remember the rudiments of the game.

Now I have to remember what all the scripts, triggers, and short cuts I programmed into ZMud over the years actually do.

Lost in the Faerie Forest October 27, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Ancient Gaming, entertainment, MUDs, TorilMUD.
Tags: ,
6 comments

Leuthilspar Tales – Part IV

As an elf starting out in the early days of TorilMUD you were stuck on an island for 20 levels.  An island with a home town and three zones, Kobold Village, the Faerie Forest, and the Elemental Glades.

Kobold Village, once you got in, was the preferred place to grind levels experience the game as a young elf.  But a zone like Kobold Village begins to feel crowded when even a half a dozen people are active in it.

So, looking for adventure, you might opt for the second best zone for young elves on Evermeet, the Faerie Forest.

(Not to be confused with the Faerie Forest outside of Waterdeep in Crushk or the Faerie Forest that was later added to the Moonshaes.  Look for a Faerie Forest franchise near you!)

In the MUD learning experience, Faerie Forest had a few things to teach you once you had grown used to Kobold Village.

If you could find it.

The entrance was hidden.  You had to get to the right room, which was located in a loop of rooms off the forest road, and search for a secret door.

You find a secret exit south!

Ah, there it is.

Once you opened up the door (keyword “open secret”) and entered, you had to face a couple of aggressive monsters.

A scruffy wood rat is here slinking around in the gloom.

Okay, a wood rat isn’t exactly fearsome, unless you are really low level and/or naked because you are trying to get back to your corpse.  The thing with the wood rats, they were in a set of three single-file rooms, which meant you could not just spam past them. (Unless you figured out that you could “recline” and scoot under them.  I’d like to see that in real life.)  You would just bump into them, and then they would attack you.

Once past the rats, there was another door (keyword “open foliage”) through which was the Faerie Forest.

And once you went through that door, you were in trouble.

That was a one-way door you just walked through.  The way out of the Faerie Forest lay somewhere else.  You had to find your way out, which meant exploring the zone.

No exit on this map

Welcome to the Faerie Forest

Not that it was too dangerous.  Compared to Kobold Village there were only a few aggressive creatures.  There was another nest of wood rats and a anti-social goblin, neither of which were very fearsome.  Oh, and then there was Chacodyn up in his tree.

A malevolent chacodyn snaps into visibility.

OUCH! That really did HURT!

Now he was bad.  Stay out of the trees.

I well remember my first visit to the Faerie Forest.  I tailed in behind somebody else then went off exploring.

I explored for quite a while, then decided I really needed to get back to town.  So I explored some more.  I went back and forth through the zone.  I grew quite frustrated.

You see, I had not yet learned the secret to getting out of the Faerie Forest, a secret that can be summarized as:

nueuuedenensn

No, that is not the capital of Estonia.  Those are the directions to get from one landmark, the legendary Finn McCumhail, a verbose NPC on the path through the Faerie Forest (“Travel these realms with care!”), and the front door of Anna’s cottage, inside of which was the exit from the zone.

That translates as “North, up, east, up, up, etc.”

There is a trick in that path though.  You’ll notice that the last three directions you need to travel are north, south, then north again.  If you don’t do that little trick, you just end up back on the path you just came through.

I had narrowed down that area as the most likely way out, but could not get past that trick.

So I shouted.  I yelled for help.

Fortunately, back in those days it was uncommon to be alone in any of three Evermeet zones.  Eventually a ranger named Morianthis found me and led me to Anna’s house, telling me the path and its trick, so that I wouldn’t get stuck in the Faerie Forest again.

Morianthis became one of my friends in the game from that point forward.  And, in an ironic twist, it later came to pass that I was the mapper of zones and rarely lost if I could find a landmark, while Mori tended to get turned around once off the beaten path so that I got to come to his rescue a few times in later days.

But this time, Mori was the hero, delivering me to Anna’s house.

Before the Oak Tree Cottage

This is a pathway before the front of a large cottage which fills a clearing in the Faerie Forest.  The cottage is an interesting sight to behold.  Mammoth oak trees support the four corners of the cottage; the walls of the cottage seem to be grow right out of the oak trees. The branches of the four, towering oak trees, grow so close together they seem to form the roof of the cottage.  One cannot begin to fathom the time it must have took for this cottage to have been created. There is a small gravel pathway which extends around the cottage to the east and west.  The front door of the cottage is directly to the north.  To the south is the beginning of the clearing.

And quite a house it was.  The previously mentioned Chacodyn lives up one of those trees that forms the cottage.

AnnasHouse

Anna's House

Once at Anna’s house, you went inside, up stairs, and to the library:

Library of the Oak Tree Cottage
Exits: -S
A mysterious orb of shifting colors and light floats here.

Fortunately, the orb was labeled.

The orb is a giant globe of swirling colors and humming magical energy.
In tiny letters near the bottom of the orb it reads:
“For proper use, see library entry on returning home”

And once you figured out how to use the library (there is a sign in the room) you will find out how to use the orb.

Simply touch the orb in the library and you will be teleported out of the realm back into mortal lands.  Be warned though that once leaving the faerie realm, few find it easy to return again.

Well, as easy as getting past those wood rats again, anyway.

And once you touch the orb (assuming you are not wearing or carrying  something with the keyword “orb,” in which case you will have to take it off and put it in a container) you are teleported out to the start of the zone, on the other side of those wood rats, able to head back to Leuthilspar.

You now know the way out.  You need not feel lost in the Faerie Forest again young elf!

Next time, the bounty of the Faerie Forest.

Leuthilspar Tales – Part IVAs an elf starting out in the early days of TorilMUD you were stuck on an island for 20 levels.  An island with a home town and three zones, Kobold Village, the Faerie Forest, and the Elemental Glades.Kobold Village, once you got in, was the preferred place to grind levels experience the game as a young elf.  But a zone like Kobold Village begins to feel crowded when even a half a dozen people are active in it.So, looking for adventure, you might opt for the second best zone for young elves on Evermeet, the Faerie Forest.(Not to be confused with the Faerie Forest outside of Waterdeep in Crushk or the Faerie Forest that was later added to the Moonshaes.  Look for a Faerie Forest franchise near you!)

In the MUD learning experience, Faerie Forest had a few things to teach you once you had grown used to Kobold Village.

If you could find it.

The entrance was hidden.  You had to get to the right room, which was located in a loop of rooms off the forest road, and search for a secret door.

You find a secret exit south!

Ah, there it is.

Once you opened up the door (keyword “open secret”) and entered, you had to face a couple of aggressive monsters.

A scruffy wood rat is here slinking around in the gloom.

Okay, a wood rat isn’t exactly fearsome, unless you are really low level and/or naked because you are trying to get back to your corpse.  The thing with the wood rats, they were in a set of three single-file rooms, which meant you could not just spam past them. (Unless you figured out that you could “recline” and scoot under them.  I’d like to see that in real life.)  You would just bump into them, and then they would attack you.

Once past the rats, there was another door (keyword “open foliage”) through which was the Faerie Forest.

And once you went through that door, you were in trouble.

That was a one-way door you just walked through.  The way out of the Faerie Forest lay somewhere else.  You had to find your way out, which meant exploring the zone.

Not that it was too dangerous.  Compared to Kobold Village there were only a few aggressive creatures.  There was another nest of wood rats and a anti-social goblin, neither of which were very fearsome.  Oh, and then there was Chacodyn up in his tree.  Now he was bad.  Stay out of trees.

I well remember my first visit to the Faerie Forest.  I tailed in behind somebody else then went off exploring.

I explored for quite a while, then decided I really needed to get back to town.  So I explored some more.  I went back and forth through the zone.  I grew quite frustrated.

You see, I had not yet learned the secret to getting out of the Faerie Forest, a secret that can be summarized as:

nueuuedenensn

No, that is not the capital of Estonia.  Those are the directions to get from one landmark, Finn McCumhail a verbose NPC on the path through the Faerie Foresy (“Travel these realms with care!”), and the front door of Anna’s house, inside of which was the exit from the zone.

There is a trick in that path.  You’ll notice that the last three directions you need to travel are north, south, then north again.  If you don’t do that little trick, you just end up back on the path you just came through.

I had narrowed down that area as the most likely way out, but could not get past that trick.

So I shouted.  I yelled for help.

Fortunately, back in those days