Beginners' Companion Thumbnail


You are about to enter The Land of MUD, the Multi-User Dungeon.

This Beginners' Companion contains the basic information you will need to know to play MUD, and it should ideally be read before you commence (unlike the MUD De-Mystifier, which will help you through your first few sessions but needn't be read just yet if you are keen to start as soon as possible).

What is MUD?

Essentially, MUD is an adventure game for several players. Hence, if you enjoy adventure games, certain elements of MUD will be familiar to you. However, because of the extra dimension of its being multi-user, it will rarely adhere to the conventions you may be used to. In particular, MUD is a role-playing game, and this may affect your relationships with certain of the most deadly creatures you will encounter - the other players. As well as friendly advances from people who talk to you as if you've known them all your life, also be prepared for a strained, even hostile response to something even as innocuous as unsolicited communication. As in real life, some people are extroverts, yet some are shy of newcomers and take time to adjust to them. Part of the attraction of MUD is that you can never quite predict what's going to happen next, nor how other players will react to what you do.

MUD's scenario is called The Land, and is a timeless, fantasy realm of open pastures, vast forests, tormented seas, and deep, subterranean passages. Part of the purpose of this Beginners' Companion, is to help you understand the peculiarities of The Land, and the nature of its inhabitants, so better to survive its often hazardous ways.

The overall "objective" of the game is to become a wizard or witch - a wiz. You will probably find wizzes are the least hostile of characters, since they have suffered most of the problems and inconveniences the game has to offer, and are likely to be sympathetic to the difficulties met by a newcomer. However, they will not look too kindly on continuous "whining", and some of their replies to your questions may be very cryptic. Specific requests from a novice for information or assistance may well be answered, though, and so long as you pay attention to what is said and thank the wiz concerned afterwards, the wiz's respect for you will increase and you may soon find that you have made a most useful friend.

Your Persona

The character you play in the game is called your persona. You have three such personae on your account, and you can play them as differently as you please. All that is frowned upon is using one persona to collect treasure for another persona to score for, a process known as looby-looing for reasons too arcane to describe here!

Each persona has several attributes, as follows. The first two are chosen by you when you first start off a new persona:

  • name
  • sex
  • strength
  • dexterity
  • stamina
  • magic
  • points

Initially, your strength, dexterity and stamina will total 150. On average, female personae start with a strength 10 less and a dexterity and stamina 5 more than do male personae, but otherwise there is no difference between the sexes. Your points are 0 to start with, but go up as you collect treasure, as explained later. When your points total passes certain threshholds, you go up a level, and your strength, dexterity and stamina are incremented by 10 points until they reach 100. Although strength and dexterity are normally otherwise static, your stamina drops as you accumulate injuries, and you need to sleep or quit for a while to recover it.

Magic also starts off at 0, and remains there until you perform a certain dangerous act, that of touching an object called the touchstone. This has a fair chance of wiping out your persona, but the risk reduces as your level increases. It is guaranteed to kill novices! If you touch it and survive, your magic will be set to the same as your maximum stamina, and you can then cast spells (about which more later).

Getting Started

Once in the game, you have two immediate options:

  • stand and watch
  • participate

Everyone will stand and watch at some time early in their career, since things can be happening so quickly that it's all the inexperienced player can do to keep up with events, let alone do anything themselves! However, sooner or later you'll have to get to grips with what MUD is really all about, participation.

Listed here are some of the basic commands you'll need in order to take your first steps in The Land. Around 50% of the commands actually issued by players are directions, and as with most commands they can be shortened. The main directions (with minimum abbreviation in upper case) are

  • North
  • NorthEast
  • East
  • SouthEast
  • South
  • SouthWest
  • West
  • NorthWest
  • IN
  • Out
  • Up
  • Down
  • SWAMP (or ZW)
In the following table of other useful commands, things written in angly brackets mean "an object of this type", eg. <creature> means "any player or monster". Communication and fighting are dealt with later.
  • command
    what the example does

  • DRop <object>
    dr all
    Drop everything that you're holding.

  • FOLLOW <creature>
    follow nancy
    Until your next movement command, you go where Nancy goes.

  • Get <object>
    g t
    Pick up all the treasure in this room.

  • GIve <object> TO <creature>
    gi straw to alf
    Transfer the straw from you to Alf.

  • Help
    Give a (hopefully) useful help message.

  • Inventory
    List all that you are carrying.

  • Look
    Describe your room in full, plus its contents.

  • Look <container>
    l box
    Describe what objects can be seen inside the box.

  • Look <creature>
    l mouse
    Describe the mouse in detail, giving some indication of how injured it is.

  • PUT <object> INto <container>
    put stick in box
    Insert the stick in the box.

  • QUIT
    Leave the game.

  • REMove <object> From <container>
    rem tin f box
    Takes out any tin there is in the box.

  • SCore
    Gives a run-down on your persona. For less detail, use QuickScore.

    Gradually recover lost stamina.

  • STeal <object> From <creature>
    st ruby f tom
    Transfer possession of the ruby from Tom to you.

  • WHO
    List all (visible) players currently in the game. For a shorter version, use QuickWho.


One of the great pleasures of an interactive game like MUD is the ability to chat to other players at will. This is essential to your long-term survival or success in MUD. Some monsters, impossible to fight alone, can be tackled easily in groups of two or three. Some treasures inaccessible to a player acting independently can be found and gained through co-operation. Communication is therefore an indispensible aid in your quest to become a wizard or witch, as well as being fun in its own right!

There are three primary ways to communicate:

  • shouting
  • speaking
  • telepathy

A shout is a text message which is seen by everyone in The Land simultaneously (well, except for characters who have been deafened!). However, players not in the same room as you will not normally be able to tell who did the shouting, they'll just hear you as a male or female voice in the distance. To shout, the command is SHout <message>, where <message> is what you want to shout.


Speaking is used to conduct longer conversations with people in the same room. Your message is sent to everyone in the same location as you, but not to anyone else. People are told that it's you who has said the message (unless you are invisible, of course, then they'd just know "someone" said it). The command is just " followed by <message>.


Telepathy is a means of communicating with an individual directly over any distance. No-one else receives the message, and the recipient is told your identity. Telepathy is the most civilised way to communicate, but can have its drawbacks - people who appear to be impolite by ignoring you may in fact be deafened (which blocks telepathy), or simply in the middle of a fight where their minds are on other things! The command is the name of the player, followed by <message>



Your persona can be killed in a number of ways in MUD, but fighting is almost unique in that if you die in combat then your persona is obliterated. Whether you started the fight or not is completely irrelevant. With other forms of death, you can normally come back immediately (albeit with fewer points than you had before!).

When a fight starts in MUD, it continues until either party is dead or has fled, or both parties withdraw. Every few seconds, an exchange of blows takes place. The higher your dexterity, the greater your chance of hitting your opponent. The higher your strength, the more damage you will do when you hit. The higher your stamina, the more damage you can take. When your stamina drops to 0 or less, you die. If you flee from a fight you will lose points, but obviously not as many as if you had died! More points are gained for killing an opponent than for having one flee from you, too. In both cases, however, everything they were carrying will be left behind on the ground. For mutual withdrawals, the fight stops with honour equally satisfied on both sides.

A weapon increases the damage you deliver, but some weapons require that you have a certain strength before you can wield them. Useful weapons include:

  • lit sticks
  • daggers
  • the staff
  • axes
  • picks
  • swords

Your strength and dexterity are modified depending on how many objects you are carrying, how much they weigh, whether you can see your opponent or not, and how injured you are. Thus, if someone attacks you, the first thing to do is to USE a weapon, but almost as important is to drop anything big and heavy that you don't need for the fight!

  • command
    what the example does

  • Kill <creature>
    k banshee
    Initiate a fight with the banshee.

  • USE <weapon>
    use staff
    Use the staff as a weapon in this fight.

  • Kill <creature> WIth <weapon>
    k banshee wi staff
    Previous two combined.

  • Flee
    Leave the fight and move in a random direction.

  • Flee <direction>
    f o
    Leave the fight and move in the out direction.

  • SuperFlee
    Leave the fight and quit immediately.

  • HIT <creature>
    hit rat
    Hurt the rat without starting a fight.

  • HIT <creature> WIth <weapon>
    hit rat wi stick
    As above, use the stick.

  • WithDraw
    Accept/offer a mutual withdrawal, with no resulting points loss if your opponent also withdraws.


The creatures which wander around in The Land of MUD are called mobiles, largely for historical reasons. They come in many shapes and sizes, and all are endowed with some degree of intelligence; they have the potential to do anything a player can, and more besides! So do not be surprised to find them picking up weapons that are better than the ones they presently have, or dropping heavy objects when attacked, or even casting spells at you.

Not all mobiles are vicious killing machines. Many will hardly notice you if you don't bother them, and of those mobiles that do attack, some are so puny as to be fairly easy to dispose of, even for novices. Many of the stronger mobiles consider it beneath their dignity to attack low-level players, but as you accumulate points they may turn their attention to you. Likewise, if you annoy them, for example by hitting them or stealing things from them, they may get angry enough to want to teach you a lesson...

MUD has a large number of mobiles, a selection of ones not too hard to find being:

  • Rats
    individually not hard to kill, but there are lots of them...
  • Zombies
    they block your movement, but aren't too hard to destroy.
  • Skeletons
    like zombies, but faster moving and much tougher.
  • Goblins
    very easy EXCEPT for number 10, who is quite awkward!
  • Dwarfs
    range from very easy to very hard; gauge from their descriptions.
  • Snakes
    quite difficult, mainly because they flee a lot!
  • Sharks
    cold, calculating killers, be careful!
  • Thief
    very hard, and he steals things too.
  • Magpie
    not so dangerous, but it flees a lot (and also steals things).
  • Man
    normally placid, but not the pushover he looks...
  • Parrot
    puts up a fight, infuriating conversationalist.
  • Raven
    minds its own business, occasionally speaks.
  • Mouse
    a doddle!
  • Ox
    it doesn't do much damage, but takes ages to beat.
  • Dragonfly
    anyone can kill this, but some STILL use longswords "just in case"...
  • Butterfly
    they don't come easier than the butterfly..!
  • Ram
    moderately difficult, hates players.
  • Goat
    will attack virtually anything that moves! Formidable fighter, but beatable.
  • Hedgehog
    simple to kill, better just to hit it.
  • Wolf
    always attacks, usually wins, a nasty piece of work.
  • Wraith
    mean, fast-moving, but not inclined to attack.
  • Vampire
    VERY dangerous! Casts spells, regenerates, is very strong. Avoid it!
  • Dragon
    absolutely deadly! Even fleeing from it usually kills you!


Put simply, the overall objective of MUD is to become a wizard or witch (a wiz). Clearly, there is more to it than that - otherwise the wizzes would stop playing once they made it to the top - but it gives the game an underlying framework to direct most folks' play.

To become a wiz, you need to accumulate points. You start off at 0, as a novice. As you obtain more points, you will go up through different levels, the highest of which is wizard/witch.

There are three basic ways to obtain points:

  • treasure
  • fighting
  • deeds

Treasure is the most popular way of collecting points, since it is easiest... When you find something valuable, take it to the swamp and drop it. You will be given some points for it, but it is out of play until the game resets (well, sometimes magic can replace it). Swamping treasure is how most players increase their score.

Fighting is a way to go up levels quickly, since the rewards can be very high (some players are worth around 40,000 points dead!). However, it is also a risk - you may yourself be killed! You'll certainly make enemies if you go around attacking players, but few people object to the slaying of mobiles.

Other ways of obtaining points depend on your doing something, for example entering the fountain of wisdom (if you can find it). Sometimes, you will notice your score has increased because of what other players have done - when the number of mobiles alive drops to 100, for example, everyone in The Land receives a bonus, even if they've only been in two minutes! Wizards and witches can give out points for deeds they consider worthwhile, or because they feel sorry for you; however, they can take points away, too, so don't be too fawning to them...

You can lose points all three ways, as well. Some treasure is worth negative points to non-novices; if you flee in a fight, or are killed, you'll lose points dependent on your level; some actions which cause your (temporary) death can reduce your points total, eg. walking into the swamp carrying a burning fire brand.


MUD has a standard hierarchy of levels, and you can immediately tell what level a player is because, except for novices, a player's level is included as part of their name, eg. Nero the Hero. There are two streams of levels dependent on whether you are a magic-user or not (ie. whether you have touched the touchstone successfully or not). There are also two classes of persona, protected and normal.

A protected persona cannot attack or be attacked by another player. This makes it ideal for exploring and socialising. However, there is a penalty in that protected personae cannot reach wizard/witch level (unless MUD has been specifically set up to allow it, which is rarely the case). Instead, when they obtain 102,400 points, they lose their protected status and two thirds of their points (because it's much easier to score points as a protected persona). To become a protected persona, issue the command VOW in the Tearoom. To cease being one, UNVOW from the Tearoom (NB: you will still lose two thirds of your points!).

The tables which follow list all the levels in the game, and the points required to achieve those levels.

Points Male/Female fighter
Points Male/Female magic-user
Points Male/Female protected fighter
Points Male/Female protected magic-user


Magic in The Land permeates everything, and even though it will be a while before you can use it, it's something you will need to understand early on in your MUD career. It comes in two principal manifestations:

  • spells
  • artefacts

Spells often accomplish what artefacts can do, but cost a lot of magic to use. For either, your chances of success depend on both your level and that of your victim. The most potent artefacts only work for very high-level players.

Some spells you should know of (but there are others!) are:

  • WISH
    ask a question of the wizzes.
  • GLOW
    victim (usually yourself) glows in the dark.
    changes the victim's sex.
    victim cannot see.
    victim cannot move.
    victim cannot hear.
  • DUMB
    victim cannot speak.
    victim (usually yourself) goes invisible.
    victim falls asleep.
    copy everything on the victim's screen to yours.
    teleport victim to your location.
    give the location of an object.
  • FOD
    Finger Of Death: kills victim instantly.

Some magical artefacts (you'll have to discover their effects yourself!):

  • the baton
  • the bow
  • the flute
  • the mirror
  • the oracle
  • the amulet
  • the horn
  • the potions
  • the barometer
  • the stethoscope
  • the cape

Wizards and Witches

So far, we have mentioned wizards and witches (wizzes) quite a lot. We have advised you as how to approach them, hinted at some of their abilities, and told you that to become a wiz is your goal. What we have not said is what wizzes are, and what happens to you when you become one.

In brief, wizzes have virtually limitless power. They can pick up treasures from wherever they like, whenever they like; teleport to any location, including some that mere mortals can never visit; destroy anything they like with casual ease. They can also create their own rooms, objects, and even mobiles, imbuing them with life to roam The Land at their behest.

A staggering list of spells and special wiz commands lie at their fingertips, enabling them to make things appear to happen that haven't, or not to have happened that have; they can add or remove points from players, confiscate their treasures, move them about, even change their name and title! They can become the mobiles that stalk the land, playing as the dragon, say, instead of as their wiz. It is hardly surprising that one frequently hears it said that becoming a wiz is when the fun in MUD REALLY starts!

This Beginners' Companion is not the place to go into detail. Once you become a wiz, the arch-wizzes will contact you and tell you what you need to know, and exactly what you can do with your new-found might. Remember, however, that with these hard-won powers comes great responsibility, and that wizzes are not only masters of The Land, but also its most trusted servants. Although the road is tough, by the time you have reached this exalted status, you will certainly have earned your reward!

Good luck!

Control Characters

The MUD system uses a standardised input format for all its programs. This means you can use certain control characters wherever you are on the system, and be understood. The codes are based on the ones used by the old VAX version of MUD, with some extensions. Note that if you are using client software, it may not support all of these features.

  • ^A
    toggles between overwrite and insert mode for editing the current line (the default is insert mode).
  • ^B
    sends the cursor backwards one character without deletion.
  • ^D
    brings up for editing an earlier line that begins with the same characters as the present one (if no match, it keeps the present one).
  • ^E
    sends the cursor to the end of the current line.
  • ^F
    sends the cursor forwards one character without deletion.
  • ^G
    bong the gong.
  • ^H
    delete the character to the left of the cursor.
  • ^I
    pads out to the next tab stop (every 8 characters) with spaces.
  • ^J
    deletes the word to the left of the cursor.
  • ^K
    toggles between re-echoing input lines broken by output and not doing so.
  • ^L
    repeats the previous command; like ^P^M.
  • ^M
    new line, transmits the present one.
  • ^N
    opposite of ^P, for when you ^P too often...
  • ^O
    sends the cursor to the beginning of the current line.
  • ^P
    brings up the previous line for editing. Repeated ^Ps bring up even earlier lines.
  • ^R
    redisplay current line.
  • ^T
    displays time and date.
  • ^U
    deletes the whole line.
  • ^V
    displays the previous commands buffered for recovery by ^D, ^P and ^L.
  • ^W
    sends the cursor left a word without deletion.
  • ^X
    deletes from the cursor to the beginning of the line.
  • DEL
    delete the character to the right of (ie. above) the cursor.
^\, ^^, ^_ or ^] will give a brief summary of the above.

ESC can be followed by certain characters to change ANSI/VT52 settings. These will last only for the remainder of the current program/utility; for a permanent change, use eg. /A or /V at the Option prompt.

  • ESC ^A
    sets ANSI while using the current utility.
  • ESC ^H
    gives a brief summary of these ESC features.
  • ESC ^O
    sets both ANSI and VT52 off while using the current utility.
  • ESC ^V
    sets VT52 while using the current utility.
  • ESC ?
    reports the current ANSI and/or VT52 settings.

Copyright © Multi-User Entertainment Ltd. (
30th September 1998: fullbc.htm