By Andre, sister to Kirm

As I regained consciousness from my deep sleep, 1 found myself sitting on a knoll with a little black orchid growing right by my feet. I plucked it from the ground and glanced around at the bewildering array of available exits. A little girl such as I was bound to get lost. How did I get here, and what was I going to do now?

Before I could even gather my voice to shout for HELP, several voices shouted "Hi!, Welcome to Avalon Andre", and other warm gestures. Amongst them, a friendly god offered to show me around... how could I refuse? "Yes please" I shouted in my tiny little voice - and before I could blink, there he was by my side. As I watched in awe, I was guided around some of the land. At such a tender age, how could I hope to comprehend such a huge place? I couldn't, and of course didn't - such true knowledge would only be rewarded with time spent exploring the land.

After following my friendly god for a while, I was guided to a learning academy where I was left to learn some skills from a funny old man called Maeglin. It took a while to become competent at any of the skills taught by the academy, but fortunately I found some conversation in a couple of characters namely Fangthane and Khan. If I remember rightly, they even helped me brush my skills up a little.

Khan it seemed, had an ulterior motive in his friendship - he was the guild-master of the Knights, and was looking for new recruits. Now, this brings me to a sticky point... I had always thought that Andre was a typical girls name. Khan was to correct me. "So why are you a girl if your name is Andre?" I don't think our relationship was ever the same after that question. Quite frankly I was upset that he had never taken the time to even look at me, but I rather fancied being the first female Knight - and so I became Andre, the Knight of Grace. I always thought that title was a bit pompous, but I didn't choose it and so I can be excused! As a Knight, I was honoured with a key that would allow me access into the secret Knights' guild hide-outs. I felt very important indeed!

Knights are, apparently, supposed to fight. Now, I don't like fighting. It's just not me. Nobody mentioned fighting when I joined the Knights guild!! Vortex was another chap who was nice to me when he found out that not all Andre's are male. Strange. Anyway, he was kind enough to give me a lovely long-sword to wave about. Of course I thanked him, and explained that although I would treasure the gift, I would not be able to use it in combat.

Knights are good. Vortex (whatever guild he belonged to) was most definitely evil. In fact, I don't know why he gave a good Knight a longsword in the first place! Anyway, he had done so - and now he wanted It back! I wasn't playing... in my book a gift is a gift, and if a Knight can't live by her own standards, then just what can she do? Unfortunately, Vortex didn't appreciate my standards, and so he attacked me - a poor defenceless little Knight... HEARTLESS!!

Anyway, times move on. Vortex and I eventually made up, and the long-sword has since fallen into disrepair (due to lack of use I think), but I never did give It back! I have made many new friends and foes. Khan was voted down from Knights masterdom by Lady Arback - another female Knight! Much has changed in the world of Avalon, as it will always.

Thinking back, I can perhaps part some of the confusion in thinking that I was a male, by my temporary baldness! Lady Arback, when feeling particularly mischievous, offered me some Wyg herb and suggested that I apply it. Ok Ok, I was very innocent in those days! It was my own fault for being so trusting, and the ailment has recently been cured by an Animist friend of mine. Anyway, enough of me...

Your life in Avalon will begin at the Newborn level. You will become a citizen of either Mycenae or Thebes. As a new player, you will be provided with 5 hours of FREE credit. During this time, you should train in either the Academy of Mycenae, or the Institute of Thebes, as well as exploring the general layout of your home city. After graduating, and careful consideration, you will be able to join your chosen guild.

There are a total of twelve guilds available, Mage; Warrior; Thief; Sorcerer; Animist; Ranger; Smith; Seer; Alchemist; Bard; Knight or Lore-master. Each guild boasts a differing selection of skills, and new players should consult the guild-master of their prospective guild before making any final decisions regarding membership. New guild members will receive the basic skills specific to the guild, which can them be improved upon with lessons from others.

The depth of Avalon should become apparent when you first enter the game, however, after graduation and joining your chosen guild you should notice this to a far greater extent.

This system varies from the average in several ways. Concentration has been given to the depth and variation aspects. Avalon boasts many concepts that are rarely seen, for example you can buy a house; you can take many items you are carrying out of the game with you; you can run shops; you can learn many skills - turning the emphasis from "another character" into "your character". Through features such as these, Avalon promotes a sense of belonging to the world, and existing within it - rather than the usual "just visiting" attitude. The system is under constant weekly development, and so should provide ever changing challenges.

Now that I have pointed out the strengths of Avalon, I should point out the areas where I feel it could perhaps be improved. Initially, the parser is not very clever. It can sometimes be frustrating for new players to have to figure out the syntax and command words of the action they wish to take, or indeed the name of the object to which they wish to refer (for example who can tell me how to put my gold coin in my back-pack??). Secondly, although I am aware that Avalon has made a policy decision to use long flowing descriptions for locations, I feel that the standard 1000-1500 characters is a touch too long. Personally, I like to see a bit of prose, but that prose should only double the size of the text... if text is longer than that then nobody reads it - also, consideration should be paid to users with 40 column SCROLLING screens (2 screens full). My reaction, was to use the BRIEF command immediately after seeing the first location description. If I need to see more, I can LOOK. Perhaps this is seen as the acceptable solution?

In summary, Avalon is a hugely detailed world that is geared up for the role-playing enthusiast. The parser isn't great, but once you get used to the system, you have to ask whether this fact is just a triviality. I certainly enjoy Avalon immensely.

Avalon Europe have recently taken over the running of Avalon. They comprise of six Avalon players who are committed to keeping Avalon prices low... and with prices from 50p per hour to £1.33 per hour, I think they are succeeding!

Tel: 071-928-0808 / V21, 22, 22bis, 23 and 0742-671671 V21, 22, 22bis, 23. (Sheffield).

Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: rhoct92.htm