Anecdotes, Set 2 Hat

Hoist by his own petard

        On one of the early MUDs, you had to drop treasure in a swamp to score points for it. Swamps, though, have marsh gas around, so if you went in with a naked flame, you blew yourself up. This was in a game where the principal source of light was blazing torches.
        One guy took to standing around just outside the swamp running a macro which repeatedly did GIVE TORCH TO PLAYER. Whenever someone appeared at his location, he'd give them a torch, but they'd probably already typed in the final direction by then and they consequently got kaboomed. The "stick man", as he came to be known, then collected the victim's treasure and swamped it himself.
        I claim credit for sorting out the stick man. I arrived at his location and was duly given the torch. I promptly gave him it back, and pushed him south into the swamp. Bye bye stick man.
        I won a player of the month award for that single act of public service.

Definition: CLIFFY

        One of the things about newbies is that they just can't help asking questions. It's impolite to ignore them, but some of these guys just can't take a hint when you tell them you're otherwise engaged, and they keep going on and on and on...
        I remember one MUD I played, years ago, where there was a tall cliff overlooking a beach. It was clear you could get to the beach, but if you jumped off the cliff you died. If you had an open umbrella, you didn't die, but the newbies never knew this.
        One day, a particularly enthusiastic newbie asked me what to do with some object or other - I think it was a candlestick. I told him that if he jumped off the cliff with it, he'd survive. Needless to say, if he'd given it a moment's thought he would have realised I was lying, but of course he just went ahead and did it (or, rather, died it).
        Since then, the process of telling an annoying newbie to perform some potentially fatal act to stop them bothering you has been referred to on the MUD in question as a "cliffy".

Definition: STONEFACE

        I'd known the player ARRRGH for maybe 3 years in the game, and met him face to face once or twice, too. Big, hairy, with mad, crazy eyes - his real-life self matched his game persona perfectly.
        One day, half a dozen of us had agreed to meet in a bar, and it was my job to pick up ARRRGH from the office where he worked. Nonchalantly, I strolled past the security guards, wandered across the huge atrium, and approached the desk. The receptionist fixed me with her steely, non-shall-pass eyes, and said, "Yes?"
        "Hi, I'd like to speak to..." It was at this point I realised that I didn't know ARRRGH's real name.
        The receptionist's hand reached for a phone. "Yes?"
        All I could utter was a strangled "...Arrrgh!"
        The receptionist's hand paused. "Yes?"
        "Well he's - he's big, hairy, and has mad, crazy eyes..."
        My fellow MUDders, watching through the plate glass windows, were having hysterics. When I finally emerged with ARRRGH (whose identity the receptionist had managed to divine, the way receptionist's can), they promptly named the process of asking for someone in real life by their MUD name, "to stoneface", after the frozen look of horror carved onto my visage.
        Oh well, at least he didn't play under a name like XPHGRNTK.

East-West Dyslexia

        I've only seen maybe a dozen cases of this in all my years of MUDding. A guy plays the game right through, scores all the points, knows how to get from A to B in the shortest number of moves, has maybe got to be a wiz or administrator. Ask him to draw a map, though, and it's a mirror image of the real thing.
        These people never know of their condition until they see a proper map. They think of west as "to the right", so if they want to go to something they know is "to the right" they type a W. Only they go to the left. But then, they didn't actually WANT to go to the right anyway, because the thing they thought was "to the right" was actually in the west, ie. to the left. The double reverse saves them from making any mistakes.
        I once came across two MUDders drawing a map on a white board, and they BOTH had east-west dyslexia. I made an effort to explain, but was laughed out - it was an hour before I had them convinced. If the same situation ever happens again, I'll claim north-south dyslexia and leave the poor saps to it.


        This story goes WAY, way back, to the days of teletypes. For those of you born after 1970, these were basically automated typewriters that went CHUNTER-CHUNTER-CHUNTER, printed only in upper case, and poured paper out of the back at the massive speed of 110 baud, or roughly 11 characters per second.
        We were hacking in the university computing labs one evening, when in strode a bear of a man. "I'm here to play MUD," he growled, and sat down at a teletype. Being computer science undergraduates, we were all on 9600 baud VDUs, but this guy was an arts major, and could only log in on teletypes. By the look of him, it was a triumph of evolution that he could tell the difference between the two devices, but one doesn't like to mention such things when one's life is at risk...
        It took awhile, but gradually we got the guy involved. He moved around, communicated a little, and even solved a few puzzles - all painfully slowly and in capital letters. Then came the moment we had dreaded: "I wanna KILL!" he roared above the noise of the machine.
        The next persona he met, he attacked. He didn't care that he was hopelessly outclassed, that he didn't have a weapon, that he was already pretty shaken up from having had a portcullis fall on him. The blood lust had hit, and he was going to KILL KILL KILL!
        The fight lasted about 20 seconds on the 9600 baud VDU, and he was annihilated. On the TTY, however, the output had just got onto the second line. Insane laughter of growing intensity was heard issuing from the wild man. How violently would he react when he found out he'd lost?
        Quietly, we logged off and sneaked out.
        We never did find out exactly what happened, but next morning when we returned to the lab there was a technician there replacing the teletype's shattered chassis and another relaying torn cables beneath the false floor.
        Oh well, at least he killed something.


        One of the more populated MUDs I play has this room that lots of people pass through on their way elsewhere. Few people bother to stay there, but one day I noticed it was occupied by some guy name Chanter who was repeating the phrase "6...6...6..." over and over again.
        Well, there are plenty of nutcases around these days, so I ignored him and carried on to my destination. Maybe 20 minutes later I chanced to pass through again, and Chanter was still there; this time he was saying "8...8...8...".
        "Each to his own," I thought, and I continued about my business.
        Half an hour later, I decided I really ought to stop playing and get on with a project I was supposed to have finished the day before, but on my way out I stumbled across Chanter again. "11...11...11..." he was saying.
        "Hey, Chanter, what are you counting?" I asked.
        "12...12...12..." he continued.


        I was playing in an LPMUD, when this guy appeared out of nowhere and started slagging it off. "You can't possibly build here, it's not object-oriented" was his battle cry, and he drove everyone nuts. "Come and play my MOO," he extolled us, and gave us the address.
        Jeez, but I hate evangelists. I particularly hate evangelists for object-oriented programming, since they seem to think that merely stating a concept in a counter-intuitive way means it must be the Right Thing To Do. Naturally, I appeared at the MOO later that day, in the guise of a MOO newbie.
        As luck would have it, I was immediately approached by another player whose arrogant demeanour I recognised as none other than that of the pest who'd been so obnoxious in the LPMUD earlier. Gleefully, I put my plan into action.
        "I don't like the tone of the room descriptions here," I announced. The other guy tried to find out why, but I continued. "I don't want anyone to use movement commands." This confused him some more, so I kept at it: "I must protest at the way you let people from Pennsylvania play here, it's a disgrace."
        After a few more of these one-sided remarks, the guy finally cracked. "Why are you making all these crazy complaints?" he asked, exasperated.
        "This is an object-oriented MUD, isn't it?"
        "Well I'm objecting."
        OK, it didn't stop him from bothering us again, but it made me feel better!

Only a Newbie... #1

        Many experienced players will start a game and act like they were a newbie. It's a skilled art, and requires a lot of self-restraint, but some people get to be very good at it. Sometimes, though, newbies come out with such amazing things that you just KNOW they can only be genuine.
        "Is this the first MUD you've tried?"
        "Sure! I didn't even know what an MUD was until I saw the Usenet groups!"
        "Uh? You mean 'a MUD' don't you?"
        "Isn't it pronounced emm-you-dee then?"

Only a Newbie... #2

        "So, you're new here?"
        "Well, I started last week, and I have played a lot since then."
        "What's the highest level you've got to?"
        "I haven't found any steps yet."

Only a Newbie... #3

        "So what do most people spend their time doing in these games, then?"
        "Scoring points, I guess"
        "What, you mean insulting one another?"

Only a Newbie... #4

        "Why won't it let me use the name 'trunk'?"
        "Well, a trunk is an object in the game. If you could call yourself 'trunk', people wouldn't be able to refer to the tree trunk as a 'trunk' any more."
        "But I didn't want to be a tree trunk, I wanted to be an elephant's nose!"

Closely Knit

        This story concerns a bunch of people on a commercial MUD, and it happened over the course of two years. My apologies, but I have to change the names to stop myself being killed...
        The wedding was recently announced of A and B. This was a source of great satisfaction to me, since it neatly tied up a string of relationships that started with A and his live-in girlfriend, C. While playing MUD, C got romantically attached to D, so she left A and moved to where D lived. D was married to E at the time, having previously been married to F. He decided to ditch E, and let C move in with him. His now ex-ex-wife, F, was at the time sharing a home with G, whom she had met in the MUD. E, reasoning that if she could do it once, she could do it again, flirted her way into G's affections and displaced F.
        F got really upset about all this, and one night poured her heart out to H while in the MUD. H, she thought, was female, but he was actually male, and fell head over heels for F. When he came clean, F felt ever so relieved, as she had by then begun experiencing unsolicited feelings for him that were both confusing and disturbing her. They decided to set up home together.
        This didn't go down well with H's wife, I, who had met H in the MUD. Luckily, she herself was one of three players plying for the attentions of J. J had been spinning some yarn about having terminal cancer, which seemed to make him irresistible to those women foolish enough to believe it. I redoubled her efforts, J's chemotherapy rapidly engineered a miraculous cure, and they became an item. J's other groupies, K and L, both females, found solace in one another's company and decided that they would like to expand their sexual horizons together. K was living with M at the time, and she threw him out as it was her apartment. M, desperate for somewhere to live, was offered a roof over his head by a MUDding couple who were friends of K's, and who lived in the same city. M was not a MUDder, but the couple (N was the husband, B the wife) introduced him to the game that had cost him his partner. He promptly found another, O, but she was very shy, and had been introduced to the MUD by her psychiatrist, P. M reasoned that the way to get to O was through P, so N offered to help by worming his way into P's affections. Unfortunately, he wormed too much, they fell in love, and he left B and the kids behind. N managed to win over O, so B sold them the house and moved across 5 times zones with her children in tow to marry A, with whom she found she had a remarkable amount in common.
        Thus ends an everyday story of MUD relationships, which shows that interactive games can bring happiness to everyone.
        Especially to divorce lawyers.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
21st June :\webdes~1\ anec2.htm