MugScan Hat

In previous issues we have looked at a few games that you can play down a telephone line with a modem and computer. Regular readers will know that in these games you can meet and interact with them. Most Multi-User games have a Middle Earth setting, but in this issue we look at Empryion, which is different from all the rest of the things so far covered in many other ways.


by Pippin


Empyrion starts within the underwater city 'Centralis'. Many years before the game starts, the people of this underwater city to cope with a population surge above ground. Players live within 'Hages' controlled by high-level Hage-Administrators. Hage-Administrators are designated to build the Hages and have at their disposal large sums of money for this purpose. Hage administrators can be 'bumped off' just like any other official in power-bids.

The city has now lost contact with the outside world due to a catastrophic war with an alien force. Although the invaders wiped out the surface dwellers, the underwater city has remained thus far overlooked. Players can leave the city (in a way that they must discover for themselves) and once outside will find the planet in the grips of a superior alien presence. The city itself is a self-contained unit, simulating it's own weather and regenerating it's foods and essentials.

Empyrion provides users with a range of transport devices to move around the large environment. Vehicles in Empyrion come in several shapes and sizes. Smaller ones, like jet bikes or small single-person cars mean that the people see you drive in and out riding the jet bike. The larger ones are public services that can be used by many citizens simultaneously, allowing you to chat whilst travelling from one part of the city to another.

It is the only non-score based MUG currently on-line. Players progress by buying training in skills that help them survive (ie. Guncombat, Medic, Streetwise and Bribery). They are able once outside the city to ply the space ways and trade with far-off worlds. Although it should be noted that leaving the city is a crime.

Cash can be gained by trade. Objects may be gained by solving puzzles and you can spend your cash in various ways, buying equipment, vehicle, habitation, etc. If you want something special built for you then you apply to your Hage Administrator, who will look it over and possibly create it. If you get a house then construction in the game would appear natural. You will see NPC workmen moving around the site, etc. Construction will not happen until the person who commisioned it comes back into the game. Then he can watch the workmen building his house. Crime within the Centralis is a serious matter, dealt with by not only Hage officials but also by the Sandmen, which is a law enforcement body. They can impose heavy fines brain wash (removal of skill) or even terminate wayward players.

The Eternals are a race of energy beings that dwelt on the sea-bed of this world long before man built the cities. Essentially they are the gamemasters. Eternals can move through space at will and can shape themselves into any form they choose. Within the city they play a low profile, observing mortals and encouraging their development preferring to mould citizens over a period of time rather than force any sudden change. The mortals who have met Etemals tend to treat them as gods and worship and prayer to Eternals is common within the city.

In Empyrion, practically everything is editable on-line by the gamemasters. There isn't much at all in the host that makes it game-specific. This means it is very flexible on-line, and system messages, objects, rooms, etc. can all be altered at the drop of a hat (oh, and puzzles).

Objects can be manipulated to a high degree. Deep nesting of objects inside other objects. Objects being able to have other things ON them as well as IN them. Desks can have objects left on them or hidden in draws, for example.
'Examine desk.'
'The desk is made by craftsmen out old genuine wood (very rare in Centralis), and is ornately carved. An antique dating from, say, 1991. A book and a pen are sitting on the desk.'
'Examine drawer.'
'There is one large drawer in the desk. It is shut.'
'Open drawer.'
'It is locked shut.'

In Empyrion it is possible to reserve some objects for particular players. If you buy something then leave it in a safe place, it will be around for you when you next play.

Being a science-fiction system doesn't over restrict the storyline. In this game you can use magic via 'force-control' (as in Star Wars) Players are in Empyrion as a trial of their abilities they are able to prove themselves. Magic is limited by psi level. If you expend it you have to take time to 'reccharge ' .

Empyrion is a fascinating new game that should have Sci-Fi buffs sitting on the edge of their chairs. It follows many of the principles that I described in the last issue of Confidential when I was talking about Multi-User player extensible games. In the few months that it has been on-line it has attracted a large following and there are now many people living in Centralis. If you enjoy Sci-Fi, plug your modem in and set it to 1200/75 baud 8 bit 1 stop bit no parity. This game is free to play all you need worry about is your phone bill.

Empyrion is in the Iowa system, which can be found on 0883 744044 and 0883 744164.

Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: cnfaug90.htm