Saturday, March 30, 2019

MUD1: More Beneath the Surface

I could quite easily stop playing MUD1 now, and move on to the next game in the queue, but every time I play it I find something new.  It's a large game, with an interesting world to explore, and even though there are no concrete goals to it, I'm finding that I never have a shortage of self-imposed tasks to complete.  So, alas for the blog and forward momentum, I'm still plowing ahead with this game and enjoying it more than I had expected to.

The first of these self-imposed goals that I set myself was to properly investigate the items in the Sorcerer's Room: a crystal, an amulet, a mirror, an oracle, a black cat, a potion and a stethoscope.  I already knew that sniffing the vapours given off by the crystal resulted in a change of gender.  Unfortunately, the oracle, the amulet and the mirror are all currently beyond me; I can't use any of them until I reach a higher level.  A clue in a book told me to "do as my curiosity directs me", which I interpreted as meaning that I should kill the cat.  It gave me a satisfying message telling me that I had "graunched" the cat's head in, but no other benefits were forthcoming.  As for the stethoscope, I still have no idea.

The only positive progress I made was with the potion.  The same book with the clue about curiosity also directed me to mix the potion with some medicine found in a bathroom upstairs.  This I did, drinking the concoction, and I got a pretty decent bonus to my score.  I'm able to do this once a day or so (whenever the game resets to its default).

Mixing the medicine with the potion.

While I was tinkering around in the Sorcerer's Room, four zombies and a skeleton appeared out of nowhere.  They didn't attack me, but they also wouldn't let me leave.  I was able to defeat the zombies - it seems you only ever have to fight one on one - but the skeleton killed me.  Fighting skeletons with a 2nd level character has proven to be deadly, but I've been able to defeat them upon reaching 3rd level.  I'm not certain where they came from, but it's possible they were summoned as a result of my failure to activate the room's magic items.  If that's the case, I could always keep this in mind as a way to grind for points.

Also in the house is a locked kitchen that I had yet to explore.  Inside I found some dirty groats, which I was pleased to find increased in value when I washed them.  (You can VALUE any item in the game, and it will tell you how many points it's worth.)  In a side pantry I also found a kipper and a half-eaten bagel, and eating both of these increased my score as well.  There was also a pancake, but it was stuck to a pan and I couldn't take it.  Dropping the groats in the swamp (which is the standard way to dispose of treasure in this game) got me some more points, so I've found a sure-fire way of quickly increasing my score at the start of every session.  Drinking the potion, eating the food in the pantry and "swamping" the groats are generally the first things I do when I play.

There's a garden with some potatoes just outside the house, and off to the south is a deaf, dumb and blind beggar.  Kicking the beggar gets you points if you're first level, but giving him the potatoes is more valuable: the potatoes turn to into gold and can be dropped in the swamp.  This is another thing I usually do early, as long as I can find the beggar.  Near the potato garden is a flower bed with some herbs.  I didn't know what to with them, but a mysterious voice told me I should smoke them.  I was already off chasing another lead by the time this mystery person spoke, but I'll have to go back and check this out.

Punching down.  Way down.

South-east of the house is a dark cave that I finally got around to exploring.  It has a bunch of interesting features: a sacrificial altar, a "sleeping beauty", and an idol with a ruby for an eye.  Kissing sleeping beauty wakes her up, and earns some points.  The altar is a mystery, but I'm thinking of capturing an animal and doing a sacrifice.  I was stumped by the ruby eye, until another mysterious voice hinted that I should WORSHIP the idol.  This loosened the ruby, which I was able to swamp for more points.  There's more to do here: a gate leads further in, but is impassable without a second player, and there's also a cave guarded by a sleeping ogre that crushed me when I tried to pass by.

The bulk of my playing time was spent exploring the areas around the bottom of the waterfall.  In the house I had found a scroll with the following clue:

From beneath the crystal curtain,
Salt to west and hard to cross,
Go south to the death so certain,
Though follow me and have no loss...
South again, the danger stronger,
Once more, or you feel the spray,
Travel on that way no longer,
Southeast, else you slip away.

I figured that this referred to the waterfall and the slippery rocks, and I used the clue to make my way through to a sheltered inlet where I found a coracle.  It looks like I'll be able to use this to get across to the wrecked ship I can see in the ocean, but I haven't tried yet, as I was really set on fully exploring the goblin caves behind the waterfall.

The first thing I discovered was a use for the conch that's lying just behind the waterfall.  Blowing into it causes a slight reverberation.  At the top of the stairs behind the waterfall there's a Reverberating Room.  Blowing the conch opens a hole in the wall to a Fossil Room, but the only things I found in there were a skeleton (which I was now able to kill being 3rd level) and a finger bone.

From there I descended to the goblin caves, but before delving right in I explored a few side passages.  One led to an underground river, where I found a platinum sphere.  Another led to a cannon.  Now that I write it out I can see that the sphere can probably be fired from the cannon, so that's something else to try.

On my previous trip to the goblin caves I had found their treasure room, which contained a bracelet, a gold plate and a silver flute.  The only way out was through a locked door though, and I had no key, so I'd had to quit rather than making my escape with the treasure.  This time, I wanted to explore the caves fully, so I rampaged around killing goblins with impunity.  While I was there I met a friendly adventurer, who gave some helpful hints, including one that typing OUT is usually a good way to get back to familiar territory.  I didn't try it, because I wanted to keep exploring, but I'll keep it in mind.

Slaughtering goblins.

I found my way through to another staircase, which led to a Guard Room.  The room was unoccupied, but I did find an axe, a rolled up carpet, and a die.  I tried unrolling the carpet, but all this did was decrease its value.  Rolling the die caused its value to vary: the higher the number rolled, the more it was worth.

The stairs continued deeper, but at that point I was whisked away, magically summoned to the mausoleum by another player called Lux the Legend, who tried to kill me.  I quickly fled, dropping all of my stuff, and was able to escape.  I also lost a few hundred points, but it was better than dying; the Legend rank is higher than I had reached, and I wasn't going to win.  At that point I quit, further along than I had been but not as far as I'd hoped to be.

I wouldn't say that I'm an experienced player of MUD1, but I feel like I'm starting to grasp what it's about, and what playing it at its height might have been like.  I imagine it as something of a mad scramble to beat other players to the various things that can increase your score, and a fairly chaotic game experience.  Being almost murdered by a fellow player was frustrating, but also exciting.  The unpredictability of online multiplayer gaming has its downsides, but it can create a gaming experience that single player games just can't.


While I was getting screen shots for this post, I tried smoking the herb and lost about 700 points, dropping me back to first level.  My enthusiasm for this game has somewhat lessened.

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