Fox Tails, Goblins, and Bandor’s Flagon

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.

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.

4 thoughts on “Fox Tails, Goblins, and Bandor’s Flagon

  1. pockie

    I played for quite a few years on Duris, which is based on the same diku code as Toril except that it included PvP in the form of racewars (goodie vs evil races). I am fairly sure that the key functionality of a lot of the code remains the same in both games, but I never really played TorilMUD that much so I can’t say for sure.

    My wife and I discovered in Duris that upon respawn of any mob with rare loot, the game seems to check for any instantiated copy of the aforementioned loot currently in the game. E.g. for your silver fox example, when the silver fox respawns it checks to see if anyone currently logged into the game is carrying the silver fox tail. If not, then the item spawns.

    What happened was that we would farm many, many copies of supposedly rare loot such as the Ancient Heart of Pine in Woodseer forest by killing the ancient red pine, getting the heart, and quickly using a macro to run back to the inn and pass it to a bank character and log off, before the ancient red pine respawned.

    I think at one point we had something like 45 of them. Which begs the question of why we kept doing it, but hey we were (are?) hoarders… and with full loot PVP you never knew when you might need another set of equipment.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @pockie – Yes, Duris came from a code split of old SojournMUD, the TorilMUD ancestor, back in 96 or 97, when some of the staff wanted to do PvP while others wanted to stick with the original PvE vision.

    What you describe sounds like they went for a change in loot. Interesting. Of course, as you have pointed out, it is subject to its own abuse. (I would hoard gear as well, though more for “never know when you’ll make a new alt!” reasons.)

    TorilMUD still has the same “once per boot” loot settings for most items. (There is a flag for it with mobs. Most are set to spawn with gear only on reboot.)


  3. pockie

    Oh Duris officially was (and probably is) “once per boot”. The vast majority of the playerbase knew nothing about what I just said, they assumed that gear was only loaded on the mobs when the MUD booted up.

    If you have the time I’d be interested to see if the same mechanic works in Toril, although of course there are only limited items this would work on. It has to be rare enough that you could count on there not being any other player logged in who has that item, but still valuable enough for you to even want.

    We also used to do this with the staff of the magi in Charing, which was a “once per boot” staff on some elven apprentices. We would collect something like 30 of them and before a reboot, sell it to a vendor for a ton of plat. Selling to a vendor would keep the staffs in the vendor’s inventory and prevent a respawn that boot.


  4. Xyd

    Ahh, yes, the crash/reboot. I remember that anticipation when zMUD would sorta just sit there, my first reaction being “meh, lag” which quickly escalated to “dammit, this lag will surely result in a CR” and then would morph into “oh, yes, a crash”. When I made it to that third state I would physically change positions and often times run to grab a drink because I knew what inevitably would follow.

    As a cleric, though, part of me despised the reboot. I knew where tons of the Good Stuff would load but as a cleric (until later levels) I would be unable to solo anything worth a damn. I remember my first attempt at solo’ing Bandor which nearly resulted in a silly CR, but that flagon had an almost unescapable draw.

    I remember when I finally got Holy Word and could solo the guy in the tree southeast of Anna’s. Chacodyn, was it? He had a potion of invisibility or some such.

    It still bothers me after all these years that most of Faerie Forest (and the glades) was half done. I’d loved to have seen the full quest line from Celriya, Anna’s Cottage and that area past the su-monsters with the ethereal wraith. (Or was the wraith finishable…?? Was it part of the greenstone ring…? Hmm.)

    Great memories.


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