Tag Archives: Forgotten Realms

What if EverQuest had been based on Forgotten Realms?

This is something of a tangential thought from Monday’s post… it is actually where my thinking started, but I wrote one of the other thoughts first… related to EverQuest.

EverQuest, the classic

We know how things worked out, how EverQuest relied on its own IP, borrowing heavily from how TorilMUD did things, and was successful beyond all expectations, and remains to this day one of the key revenue streams in the Daybreak stable of games.  (DC Universe Online has more players and greater revenue, but EverQuest catches up when we start talking about net profit because DCUO has to split with the console platforms and pay royalties for the IP.)

The thing is, EverQuest could have borrowed more from TorilMUD.

TorilMUD, at the time EverQuest was being developed, was based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition, best remembered today for introducing the concept of “To hit armor class 0” or THAC0, and set in Forgotten Realms IP,  featuring monsters, locations, and tales from the campaign setting.

From the city of Waterdeep (which I wrote about) you could go south and visit Baldur’s Gate and Calimport, or north to the spine of the world and the home of the dwarves, east to Zhentil Keep, Thay, and the Sea of Fallen Stars, or out onto the Trackless Sea to the Moonshaes, or even as far as Evermeet, home of the elves, about which I wrote a series of posts.

And while EverQuest borrowed many of the ideas from TorilMUD, I do sometimes wonder what would have happened it the team that eventually became Sony Online Entertainment had gone all the way and created a Forgotten Realms MMORPG.

There were obvious roadblocks, not the least of which was a company called BioWare having licensed the IP for their successful Baldur’s Gate title.  But it is not entirely inconceivable (and I do know what that word means) that the wily John Smedley might have somehow somehow negotiated a deal with the then new owners of the franchise, Wizards of the Coast, to be able to create a persistent online multiplayer game with the same IP by finding enough hairs to split to distinguish it from the other deals licensing it.

And, had that come to pass, what would the game look like?

Some of it likely wouldn’t change all that much.  Freeport was already modeled on the version of Waterdeep in TorilMUD.  The individual home towns of the different races were already a thing.  Faydwer would likely have become Evermeet, home to just elves and the half-elven.  Kaladim would have to become Mithril Hall and move somewhere north, adjacent to the barbarian space of snowy terrain likely.  The halflings were probably fine where they were, while the dark elves become the drow and likely need a better location.

I’m not sure what you do with the Erudites.  Do you make them illithid and get a psionic class in the bargain?  And do you then need to create the Underdark as a setting?

Or maybe you don’t do as much at launch with an eye to expansions.  Maybe rather than going to the moon you go to the Underdark and have a new race there.

Clearly it isn’t a one to one substitution.  The game would have been built differently with the setting in mind.  But it feels like it could have been done.

Then one wonders at the outcome.  Does having the Dungeons & Dragon franchise and Diku MUD style open world 3D MMORPG mean it becomes an even bigger success?

And, if so, is the additional success worth it?  I mean, looking at Dungeons & Dragons Online, the bar is pretty low for who could get a license from Wizards of the Coast.  (Also, Neverwinter.)  But the fees for the license are not insubstantial and success often leads to greed.  Also, they might require some sort of adherence to the D&D mechanics, a level of editorial control of items and content and whatnot.

And they might not be happy with the graphical fidelity more than 20 years down the line.  Does everything get a Freeport style revamp?  Or does EverQuest II become the revamp and the original goes away?

Would we have a huge world with 20+ expansions today?

Things could have gone very differently.  But there were no doubt many choices along the way that could have diverted both Norrath games from the trajectory they eventually followed.

Just things I think about when I am in the shower.

20 Years of TorilMUD

Lord Piergeiron is looking for brave adventurers to fight off the trolls!
If you can help, form a group and head south.

-Town Crier, Waterdeep

I was shuffling through old posts, as I do every month to pull together the one and five years ago bits for the monthly review post, when I discovered that I wrote that post about playing TorilMUD for 15 years about five years ago… which means that I’ve hit the… wait… eighteen, nineteen… the twenty year mark since I first I first blundered into Leuthilspar and got hung up at the fence leading to Kobold Village.

It barely seems possible that I was playing TorilMUD so long ago.  And the town crier has been shouting the same thing every few minutes for just about the whole time.  Granted, there was a gap of a couple years in there when the game was down at various stages, but it always managed to return.


Still, I started playing TorilMUD a long while back.  Twenty years ago was the era when the Intel 486 was king and the new Pentium (not 586 as so many expected) was the new kid on the block.  Apple’s incredibly popular PowerBook laptops were just introducing a model (180c) with an 8-bit  active matrix color screen that was actually usable. (Don’t get me started on the 165c.)  At work I was just starting off on project that would end up with a five month long crunch cycle, during which NBA Jams would be our lifeline to sanity.  I was playing Civilization I am sure and was running a BBS, which in a way was the spiritual successor to this blog.

You grab Piergeiron Paladinstar, Servant of Tyr in a headlock, and give him a furious noogie.

I think I may have beaten the back story of myself and TorilMUD to death at this point.  I have written up posts about the history, the stories, and the influence of the game in the past.  Here are a few of my favorites:

There are more posts under the TorilMUD category, though that includes posts where it is referenced, but where memories of the game perhaps not the main topic of discussion.

More amazing still is that, not only is TorilMUD still there, but that it continues to be a work in progress.  Bug fixes, new zones, a web client, and a conversion to a system more akin to the current Dungeons & Dragons combat model continue on.  The whole thing reflected D&D 2.0 rules back when I started. The help file for THAC0 is still there.

THAC0 is an acronym for “To Hit Armor Class 0.” THAC0 is a number every player and monster has, and it is dependent on level and class. It is ranged between 0 and 20. THAC0 is the method that the MUD code uses to determine whether or not you have successfully “hit” an opponent while in battle. It is calculated for everyone fighting, for each and every combat round. For THAC0’s, the lower the number you have, the better success you will have at hitting.

For Example: let’s say your THAC0 is 10, meaning you have to roll between 10 and 20 on a 20-sided die in order to hit an enemy with an armor class of 0. If you are fighting a monster with an armor class of 1, then you need to roll between 11 and 20 to hit that mob. If the mob’s armor class is 8, you only need to roll between 2 and 20 in order to hit that monster. You can affect your THAC0 by using magical items that give a positive hitroll bonus. This bonus will enhance your THAC0 and therefore your ability to hit a monster.

The help entry for AC (Armor Class) further explains how this hit/miss system works. See also: AC

I don’t think it still applies, but it did at one time.  A bit of history in the help files.

And, most important of all, people still play TorilMUD.

It isn’t the 100+ people we used to have on at once back in the day.  But when I log in now and again to see what has changed, I always see between 15 and 30 people online.  Enough to form up a group generally and go raid a zone now and again.  As with any game based on progression via levels, almost everybody on these days is at or close to the level cap of 50.  Occasionally I see somebody in their 20s or 30s.  And sometimes it isn’t even an alt of a player that already has a few level 50s.

I poke my nose back in every so often.  I still see people I remember.  And time continues its relentless march forward.

Anyway, just to archive something away for a later date, after the cut you will find the credits output for TorilMUD.  The bulk of the credits is a list of zones in the game, their level range, and the creator.  That will give you a little insight into how vast the world is that has been created over more than 20 years.  I started playing 20 years back, but the work started before I ever showed up.

Sure, the “world stat” command will give you the summary:

Total number of zones in world: 348
Total number of rooms in world: 65985
Total number of different mobiles: 19975
Total number of living mobiles: 46001

Total number of different objects: 19000
Total number of existing objects: 98257

Those are some big numbers.  They have added something like 4,000 rooms and 29 zones since I last posted that output back in 2009.  But actually scrolling through the list is more impressive.

More information can be found at TorilMUD.com.

Continue reading

Backwards in Time to Forgotten Realms

As I mentioned at the end of the last month in review, the more pen and paper focused wing of our Saturday night group, Potshot, was looking into more small party adventure-centric options for our group.

And so he headed to GOG.com to grab Neverwinter Nights 2, a game first published in 2006.  It is the Obsidian Entertainment second version of the BioWare original.  For $20, you get the whole package including expansions all wrapped up, updated, and ready to download and install.

Neverwinter Nights 2

Neverwinter Nights 2

The download is 6GB, so that part was an over-nighter for me, but otherwise things went smoothly.

NWN2 is based on Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, which pretty much means nothing to me at this point.  I still think of 2nd Edition, with its THAC0 and such, as “the new stuff,” so anything after that is strange.  But it is also based in Forgotten Realms, which is the D&D setting nearest and dearest to my heart.

Potshot has grand designs for NWN2.  It comes with a tool set that lets you be the dungeon master and design adventures through which your friends can play.

But before you can run, you have to walk.   And before you can walk, crawling is often advisable.

And so this past weekend was spent trying to get the basics going.

I had downloaded the game and run through the tutorial, most of the information from which I promptly forgot once I left the game, when Potshot and I started to work on playing together in the same game.

Which is where there were some issues.  A meandering narrative after the cut.

Continue reading

Daggerdale – Atari has More Dungeons & Dragons Coming

Last August, Atari and Cryptic announced a new non-MMO, single-player/co-op multi-player was being produced.  It was titled, ever so originally, Neverwinter.

By the way, I would like to throw out a few other Forgotten Realms locations that could have games based around them, thus avoiding more repetition of Neverwinter. (Or Baldur’s Gate, for that matter.)

Waterdeep maybe?  Zhentil Keep?  Calimport even?  The elves of Evermeet perhaps?

All fine locations.

Anyway, I received a note today about another Dungeons & Dragons game, again not an MMO, but featuring single-player and co-op multi-player action.  This time Atari has teamed up with Bedlam Games to create Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale.

And the first thing going for it is that at least it isn’t named Neverwinter. (Or Baldur’s Gate.)

But otherwise it sounds… well… a lot like Neverwinter.

Solo or Co-op Play
It’s up to you! Whether you choose to do battle in the mines of Tethyamar or skirmish on the Tower of Rezlus, you can fight solo, join with up to three friends online, or battle alongside a partner locally.

Explore Daggerdale’s main questlines to reveal its intriguing backstory, mysterious characters, and the richness of its world. Extended depth and experience reward exploration and side-quests.

Immersive Combat
Battle a wide range of enemies by engaging in intuitive pick-up-and-play melee, tactical ranged combat, or powerful spell casting.

Develop Your Character
Select a class, build your ultimate hero, collect loot, and earn experience! Select powers and feats to enhance and customize your hero as you level up.

Stunning Levels and Deep Exploration
A wide variety of perilous quests encourage you to explore Daggerdale’s richly detailed environments.

Multiple Game Modes
Unlock new areas and challenges in Campaign mode, or hone your skills and discover powerful new items in Freeplay mode.

Authentic D&D Experience
The detailed world of the iconic Dungeons & Dragons franchise has been painstakingly recreated for a rich, complex, and thrilling game experience.

It also includes the usual claim to be true to the spirit of the 4th Edition rule set, though it lacks some of the heavy-hitter name that Cryptic mentions prominently; R. A. Salvatore. (He wrote the story on which the game is based.)

Oh, it does have one more thing going for it that Cryptic’s Neverwinter does not.  Daggerdale is supposed to be out before Summer.  Cryptic is still living up to its name and still saying just “2011” on the Neverwinter site.

Anyway, it is clear that Atari is big on Dungeons & Dragons of late.

Daggerdale is slated for Windows, XBox 360, and PlayStation 3, though my experience so far in cross platform is that PC players get the short end of the stick.  And Daggerdale’s latest video doesn’t exactly have me wetting my pants in anticipation.

Not that it looks bad, but there wasn’t anything that really stood out either.

How about you?  Have you heard anything good about Daggerdale?

Or have you heard anything new about Neverwinter?

Cryptic Calls My Forgotten Realms Bluff

If you didn’t like the IP idea in my last post, why not just go with Forgotten Realms?

Is Forgotten Realms good for everybody?

(Quiet you Dragonlance weenies!)

As noted over at Massively, Cryptic announced their next project, Neverwinter.


This is what Cryptic has to say about the game so far:

About Neverwinter

100 years have passed since the Spellplague consumed the world of Faerûn. Neverwinter, a once majestic city of magic and adventure upon the mighty Sea of Swords, is still being rebuilt from near total ruination. Even as new wonders of stone and iron rivaling ancient works are being raised by the hands of man, dwarf and elf, dark powers beyond reckoning vie for control of the land…

This is a world that promises death for the meek, glory for the bold and danger for all. This is the world of Neverwinter.

Neverwinter Nights Reborn

Continue the critically acclaimed adventure! The #1 best-selling Neverwinter Nights series of PC RPGs returns with an epic Dungeons & Dragons storyline, next-generation graphics, a persistent world, and accessible content creation tools.

Immersive, Imaginative

Enter a world ravaged by the Spellplague. Wrest victory from the claws of darkness and battle the greatest of civilization’s enemies in and around Neverwinter, a storied and ancient city upon Faerûn’s Sea of Swords.

Challenging, Complex, Classic

Epic gameplay and action rooted firmly in the best traditions of the RPG genre await those heroes courageous enough to brave the Spellplague and all that it has ravaged.

Build a Fantasy

Easy-to-grasp adventure creation tools empower users. Bring compelling quests to life and build challenging levels! Share creations with the entire world in-game. Become a part of the existing Dungeons & Dragons universe… Then build a new one.

Play Together or Die Alone

Encounter dangerous foes and perilous environments. Work with others, strategically, to overcome nightmares, demons, monsters, and beasts of legend.

World Without End

Neverwinter features co-operative multiplayer in an ever-evolving, persistent world where Dungeons & Dragons adventurers quest alongside thousands of other warriors, rogues, wizards and faithful avengers.

New D&D, Beloved D&D

Neverwinter is a true Dungeons & Dragons experience based on the acclaimed 4th Edition rules — a first of its kind!

A Legend Arises

Unprecedented character customization as only Cryptic can deliver. Imagine a hero, make a hero, become a hero.

Neverwinter is based on the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule set and set around the Forgotten Realms location of  Neverwinter.

This is pretty much what I have been asking for.

I was just commenting on a post the other day regarding DDO and how Eberron doesn’t thrill me, but Forgotten Realms… now there is an IP!

We’ll see how the D&D 4th edition rule set gets translated… that is always a leap of faith… but it couldn’t end up that bad, right?

And now, here we are.

Certainly, there are aspects to this concept that interest me.

  • Forgotten Realms

My favorite D&D campaign setting ever!

He’s the man for Forgotten Realms fiction… but doesn’t he work with Curt Schilling?  How do you explain that one to the head man?

  • Cryptic Studios

If nothing else, I want to see the fantasy RPG version of their character creator.  That should practically be a stand alone game in and of itself.  And if they’ve learned other lessons, so much the better.

  • Content Creation Tools

Yes, there is the 90% crap rule, but if they can figure out how to promote the good stuff so we can find it, this could be worthwhile.

  • Did I say Forgotten Realms already?

Oh yeah, still excited about that!

  • Not an MMORPG


Jack saysI wouldn’t say MMORPG at all — Neverwinter is a cooperative RPG.”

So where will Neverwinter stand then in the grand scheme of things?  And how does “not an MMORPG” fit in with their statement under “World Without End” I quoted above?

Is this just positioning, a “Neverwinter is not WoW” message?

Will it be “not an MMO” the way Guild Wars and Dungeons & Dragons Online are “not” MMOs, lacking as they do the shared, persistent world?

Will it be a step closer to the Dragon Age segment of the fantasy gaming world?

Or will it fall closer to Diablo III and Torchlight II?

And how will we be paying for this game, whatever it ends up being?

I will certainly want to keep an eye on this new game.  We’ll see if my calls for a real Forgotten Realms MMO were a bluff or not.  And, if nothing else, I always like to see how the game that ships lines up with the first press release.

Meanwhile, the last time I was in Neverwinter, it looked like this:

Neverwinter Map – TorilMUD

Not exactly impressive, but that was the way things were back in the day when I played TorilMUD regularly, and I enjoyed it immensely at the time.

15 Years of TorilMUD

This past Monday was the 30th birthday of the original MUD, rightly noted and celebrated on a number of sites.

MUD 1 represents one of the roots of the game genre we refer to with the adjective “Massive” these days, an online user experience shared by many people at once.

This fall represents another anniversary for me.  I don’t recall the exact date, but it was in the autumn of 1993 when my friend and, at the time, co-worker Scott came over to my cube and told me there was an online game I just had to play.  It was a MUD called Sojourn.

And as surely as MUD1 was on the path to the MMOs of today, Sojourn MUD put me on the path to playing those very MMOs.

It wasn’t that MUDs were something new and different to me at that time.  I had played Gemstone on GEnie and a few other MUDs along the way, but none of them really captured my attention.

So what was so special about Sojourn MUD?

A friend of mine, Scott, was already playing.  I think history bears out that as the number one reasons for playing a given game; somebody you know is already playing it.

It was free.  We worked for a company that made modems at the time, so I even had access to terminal emulation software at no cost.  Unlike the early days when I was playing games on GEnie at an hourly rate, I was now working for a living, paying rent, insurance, taxes, and all that other fun stuff that finds a way to dun your savings every month.

It was populated.  One thing about a lot of MUDs is that they are often deserted.  Only a few make it into triple digits of users at any time in their life.  Sojourn had lots of players.  There were even problems at one point when they were limited to 127 simultaneous connections.  Queues to log in?  Been in that boat off and on for 15 years now I guess.

It was colorful.  Unlike a lot of other MUDs, Sojourn got on the ANSI color boat pretty early.  Very few items in the game were just plain white text unless that was the natural color of the item.  And because I had a fully functional terminal emulator, I could see all that color as it was meant to be seen, which was actually not that common back then.  A lot of emulators only had partial support for color.

It was Forgotten Realms.  In addition to real life, real job, and all that the days of my being able to devote time to live role playing games was diminishing both because of my own time constraints as well as the constraints on the people with whom I played.  The last campaign set we played with any regularity was Forgotten Realms, a setting that was developing both in depth and popularity.  And, suddenly, here before me, was Toril right here in text whenever I wanted, with people to play with and I did not even have to roll any dice.

And so off I went into this world of text.  A world alive in my mind.  To this day I can picture in my mind a whole host of locations despite never having actually seen them.  The descriptions and the things that happened there made a picture in my mind all its own.

Some things, of course, I had seen drawings of before I played Sojourn, like the City of Brass.  And, of course, every creature in the Monster Manual already had a drawing, sometimes a bit silly, associated with it in my head.

I was fortunate to also arrive in the game just after a pwipe, (I cannot believe that Wikipedia does not have an entry on pwipe!) which meant I was new and leveling up at the same time everybody else was starting afresh.  Veterans and noobs alike were leveling up together.  In the months that followed I made friends, some of whom I still chat with, or even game with, to this day.  I met Gaff somewhere near the Tinker camp, probably killing Bandor for experience. (What was the experience cirle we would run? Bandor, Kobold Taskmasters, and a couple other mobs, over and over again?)

I also ended up playing with people who went on to create EverQuest, Brad McQuaid being probably the most well known among them.  So, years later, when EverQuest launched, Norrath was a place both fresh and new as well as a place of familiarity and known concepts.  Those concepts included last names at level 20, stiff experience curves, required grouping, and a severe death penalty that included the possibility losing all your equipment should you not be able to recover your corpse.

Time passed.  Sojourn persisted at times, went away at others.  It changed names.  Sometimes it was Sojourn, sometimes Toril.  Then there was a point around 2000 where it seemed like it was going to be gone for good.

Then, a couple of years later, I got an email from Scott saying, “It’s back!”

And, sure enough, there it was again, up and running as TorilMUD.  We got on right at the end of a beta and were able to start fresh at a new pwipe and relive the joy of everybody leveling up together.

And everybody was about right, as people and names from as far as 15 years back (and probably further) showed back up to play.  It was glorious.  My druid, Zouve Telcontar, lived again to move groups around the lands via moonwells. (Who’s in Baldur’s Gate? I need a well target.)

Of course, time moved along.  We all hit level 50, did the MUD version of raiding (a 16 person group tackling a high level zone with bosses), made alts, had a good time, and then grew restless.

A new set of MMOs came out that drew people away.  Some of us went to EverQuest II, more went to WoW, and a few are even lurking in EVE Online, but the memories remain.  The guild names you see me write about here are often reflections of the Toril guild I was in, Shades of Twilight.

Still, the game persists.  It is up and active and there are people there every time I log in for a peek.  I don’t play, having sold or given away almost every single item I had in the game so as to make a clean break from the game… at least until the next pwipe. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

And, for all that EverQuest borrowed from Sojourn/Toril MUD, it is also interesting to look at how much of the life of EverQuest was foreshadowed by it as well.

Sojourn was founded and run by people who had very set ideas on how the game should be played and they actively tried to get people to do things “the right way.”  For example, being able to solo was was frowned upon.  Experience, equipment, and abilities were altered or nerfed to discourage it.  But as time went along, as the gods in the game came and went and as the population fell, that changed.  In the current version there is a much friendlier attitude.  They even had a “multiplay” weekend at one point, where you could log on two characters at once to play.  That was absolute heresy at one point in the game, a character deletion offense.  And while that was a single event, it shows that views soften, especially when you need 16 people to do a zone and there might be as few as 25 people on at a given time.

The economy in the game mirrored what happened in EverQuest.  Platinum coins can’t buy you decent equipment because… well… you cannot spend that platinum on anything better.  People who have played the game since pwipe have piles of platinum stored away in the bank.  The economy is admittedly not that bad in EverQuest, but it is a matter of degrees in the MUDflation effect.

Finally, there is longevity.  People still play TorilMUD regularly.  Daily.  I see the some of the same names every time I log on. (I’m looking at you, Lilithelle… but Corth, you don’t count, you’re always AFK.)  The content has been updated and expanded regularly, there is still a team working on the code, and there is still a supportive audience, so people still play the game.  Some people still play it as their main game after 15 years.

EverQuest is coming up on the 10 year mark next year, and the same holds true for it.  And, as TorilMUD goes, so seems to go EverQuest.  Populations may diminish, but we will still see the game live and viable for years to come it seems, unless we hit a point where 3D graphics become dated more quickly than text.

And, so, after all that text, the real message here is, “Oh, wow! Has it really been 15 years?”

It has, and TorilMUD still lives on.  Go Team!

To celebrate this milestone I am going to go into the archives and fish out some choice items I have stored away from my time in the game to post.  I am not only a packrat in game, but in real life as well, so I have email from 15 years ago in a folder in Eudora.

Some of them will be generally amusing.  Some of them will be obscure.  If nothing else, Gaff and I will enjoy them!

[Addemdum: If you want to see what else I have written about TorilMUD, you can click on the tag… or you can just click on this link.]