Online Text-Based Roleplaying

Call it a hunch, but I suspect we have a bunch of folks on this board that roleplay, and probably a bunch more that’re curious about it, and still another bunch that have very little to do some nights that might enjoy it as a hobby.

This discussion does not relate to Play-By-E-Mail games of any kind.

No, herein I am talking about MUDs, MUCKs, MUSHes, MOOs, and IRC, generally.

So, who does it? Who might like to? Who has questions?

A brief description : Role-playing is the fun pastime of taking on the characteristics, personality, etc. of another sort of person - much like acting - and then playing out that role. No, this doesn’t mean pretending to be a thirteen-year-old cheerleader named Cindy in an IRC chatroom.

Major genres of roleplaying include Science Fiction (Space Opera, Post-Apocalyptic, Star Trek); Fantasy; Modern Gothic Horror; Superheroes, and others.

In IRC/MUD/MUSH/MUCK community, you can find just about any kind of roleplaying you’re looking for. Feel like being a Jedi Knight, and X-Man, or Prince of Amber for a few hours? You can do that.

How does it work? Well, that depends. First, you have the division between ‘Freeform’ and “Non-Freeform” environments. A Freeform environment is, more or less, in-character chat. If two individuals come into conflict, they play out that conflict according to the loose guidelines provided for the environment. The Non-Freeform environments are structured just like real Table-Top roleplaying games. There is a character record, character statistics, random “dice” rolls, and there may even be strong correlation to an existing RPG.

Now, IRC can be either one of those. IRC environments are called ‘channels’ or less frequently ‘chatrooms’. Some IRC Roleplaying Channels are freeform, some aren’t.

MUDs aren’t Freeform. The Acronym stands for Multi-User Dungeon, and you will have character statistics, etc. It’s a lot like playing Dungeons and Dragons, or Everquest, or the like, but in a text environment. A MUD represents a fictional world.

MUSHes and MUCKs are, essentially, Freeform MUDs. (MUSH stands for Multi-User Shared Hallucination, according to rumor, and as for MUCK, your guess is as good as mine.) They also represent fictional worlds, but have a tendency to be less cohesive. Many MUSHes will have a “SciFi” section, and a “Fantasy” section, and a character is free to wander between them.

I’ve visited many of these environments over the years, and have quite a bit of experience with text-based online roleplaying, and would be happy to answer any questions folks might have.

You didn’t explain very clearly, I’m afraid.

First of all, are you inviting us to start up such a thing?

Secondly, how much time are we looking at?

Thirdly, if we are doing this “Freeform”, who sets up the rules?

Fourthly, for the “Non-Freeform”, where do the character stats, etc. come from? Do we roll them out? What rules are we using?

That’s all I can think of. Either the explanation is a bit fuzzy or my head is or both are. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m exhausted. But still interested.

I played in the Natural Selection MUD a few years ago and it was really fun…until I came across a few jerks. So I haven’t done any MUDding in awhile, but if some folks were going to get together in one, I’d likely be interested.

I shall endeavor to speak with more clarity, then.

1.) No.

And I think the rest of the questions are moot. :wink:

Think of this as an “Ask the Online Text-Based Roleplayer” thread.

But your post does bring forth one specific misconception I should address… well, beside the idea that I’m starting something.

The chief difference between most online roleplaying and table-top roleplaying is that in online roleplaying you don’t have a GM crafting plots and playing NPCs and running an organized “campaign”. There are a few exceptions, almost entirely of the non-freeform variety.

99% of the IRC channels are basically “Inns” or “Taverns” where players can gather. Players initiate their own story plots and ideas.

99% of the MUDs (et. al) are just persistent worlds. You log in, you play your character’s role alongside a bunch of others playing their own characters, and you log out when done. Story plots are, generally, player-originated.

Does that help?

I used to play Gemstone III. The epitomy of the MUD. That was way back in the day though. I enjoyed Gemstone much more than any current MMORPG out there.

Well, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Knowing the average online person, I think you need a GM to have some control over everything. Doesn’t it all descend into chaos?

Don’t you get jerks that can’t play along, whine about losing, etc.? My boyfriend plays Call of Duty online (I do sometimes but not as much). He’s *very * good. Well, people have been pissed at him and even voted him out of maps, complaining he’s cheating, etc., even though he’s not, cause he’s so good at it. Not all people, but there is a fair share.

Well, you do get a few of the so-called “average” online people, but less so than you would in a video game. Most “average” online people don’t stick with online text-based roleplaying, because it bores them.

The lack of a GM doesn’t mean there aren’t authority figures. IRC channels have Operators, and MUDs have Wizards. Operators can ban abusive players, enforce whatever channel rules there may be, and generally keep things from going completely out of hand. They don’t dictate the story, though.

In some environments, you see those. In others, not so much. Like I said, the ones that can’t behave tend to get banned quickly, or get bored. It’s not at all like a video game.

I spent a lot of time on a mud called “Dark Chronicles” a looong time ago, which was run by some of my friends. It was a blast–I kinda wish it was still running so I could hop on every once in a while. As I recall, I played a seraphim priest of some dark god–kind of a winged fallen angel type.

What you say is true, Gamera. So describe one of your adventures. How does it differ from tabletop? Having played plenty of text-based adventures, I do have some idea of how it goes (thankfully at least you don’t have to type the words exactly the way the computer asks you, but still).

Say you get in a fight. How is anything decided?

Well, this assumes your character goes on adventures. The focus in Freeform roleplaying (and some non-Freeform) is on the character interaction. A friend of mine used to play a simple farmer, in an IRC channel that represented an Inn were epic fantasy heroes gathered routinely. But he was just a simple farmer, and he rubbed shoulders with the larger-than-life folk, and had fun in his own way.

You can certainly have adventures, but what they would tend to entail is one of the players taking on a pseudo-GM role. Some character approaches yours in the inn, asking for help, rescuing their brother from an evil warlord. The instigating character’s player will have the “storyline” planned, determine the hazards of the journey, etc.

And in freeform environments, you tend to operate mostly by mutual consensus. Whatever all parties involved agrees happens, happens. This is the usual case - some freeform environments implement a coin-toss or dice mechanism in case the patrons prefer the random element.

I see. No more questions at the moment, although I may be back.

And I never got your e-mail. I e-mailed you earlier today.

I once staffed on a Champions-based MUSH called (oddly enough) ChampionsMUSH, which died due to some bad staff issues (I understand many MUSHes go south due to this.)
I then staffed and played on another Champions-based MUSH that specifically learned from the mistakes of its predecessor (I was actually used as a consultant. I’m so honored!). I eventually dropped off of staff, and I’m still mulling about making a new character, but the place is really going strong as far as I know. It’s not as ‘consent’ as most other places, and the staff do have a ‘If you don’t like what’s going on here, go elsewhere’ attitude, but in the end, that’s been helpful keeping a very consistant theme and over-all plot and story arcs.

Well in the group I played with a lot depended on how well you could write your way out of something.

Where I played has splintered off into many areas now (I used to free form in Lycos then ATT).

It really did devolve into chaos though. Lots of it because people had various standards (we had our own share of snobs, generally the better the word count the better you were considered to be. Just entering the tavern could take some people half a dozen posts at least, and a lot of them just kept their standard entrance in wordpad to be cut and pasted) and disagreements out of character. Most of them about ‘you can’t do this or that’ and people mad that someone else killed their character and they didn’t want to accept it or various things like that. Some people made a decent ‘living’ ressurecting old characters.

I often got the worst of it because my characters were generally underpowered and I was more willing to accept hits than other people who would pull things out of their asses.

I much prefer a moderated place, or like the places I hang out where most of us are in accord how to do things and are willing to let characters go. I don’t miss the taverns all that much.

OK, I’m curious, but ignorant. I’ve never played any sort of role-playing game, table-top or otherwise. Can you recommend someplace where an interested-but-clueless newbie will be tolerated with fairly good grace?

I’ve played Dragonrealms for years. Made by the same company that produces Gemstone 3 (now 4).

I’ve started to play City of Heroes instead now that I have a more powerful computer but I still play DR some.

As far as free muds I tried harshlands and a few others but they always seemed lacking compared to DR. DR is slowly dying and the company that produces all of the games is refocussing its efforts on a new mmorpg that is still in development, but there are still 700 people in DR at prime time and something like that or more in GS4.

I’ve been playing Gemstone 3 and 4 for some years now…I believe 7 or 8 years. I have two characters, both female, a dwarven warrior and a dark elf sorceress. The dwarf adventures with her husband, and the elf adventures alone. Both interact with other players. Some of the things that I enjoy about GS as opposed to face-to-face tabletop gaming:

All the calculations are handled by the computer. I don’t have to roll a die, remember what spell effects I’m under, and then perform more math. My action is resolved instantly. Gameplay doesn’t stop while the players or the GM look stuff up in a rulebook. Another thing is that I can log into the game whenever I feel like it, and I can play. Even at 2 in the morning. I’ll be able to level up or roleplay, as I wish. The company runs quests and events, which I can attend or not as I choose. Players can also run events (storytelling, entertainment, lectures on various aspects of the game world, lectures on the various professions, etc.) which are generally fairly interesting. I’ve made several friends in this game.

While I haven’t RPed on a MUSH in several years, it was pretty much my introduction to the Internet back in 1994 and I, unfortunately, ran -amuck- with it. wry laugh I mostly rped on Star Trek or Star Wars games; at one point, I had characters on so many games (and tried to play on several at a time!) that there were more than a few “embarassing” moments in which I “mis-worlded.” laughs Other MUSH denizens will know whereof I speak there, I think!

It became such a part of my life that it was an obsession to be honest; I “staffed” a couple of games as well (see my .sig? Was a staff character on a ST MUSH!). Now, several years removed from the obsession, it amazes me how “into” gaming folks get, some to the point where the RP environment nearly becomes their reality. And yeah, I guess it was my reality for a while there too. And some staff members on games - well, you begin to think that you have actual POWER - except it’s just a game.

I had never rped before, except being involved in Drama club back in HS (and a bit part in the Jr.-Sr. class play!), and I honestly do miss the RP part. I’m not sure I’d be any good doing that in real life, though, because I have very bad stage fright! In that way, the online rp was great for me–there was no actual audience out there, well, none that I could actually see, that is! :wink: I don’t think I will go back to MUSHing, though. I also met quite a few good people through it - most I didn’t actually meet in person (although I did meet some - and -none- were anything like what I had pictured! LOL) but I still consider them good friends. If I had to do it all over again, I probably -would not- have gotten involved in MUSHing.

Thanks for giving me a chance to share - there are still many good memories associated with RP and MUSHing. :slight_smile:

I played in a Pern-based MUSH for a while, but idled out. Partly because of word count–not that they were demanding, but I am a very succinct person, and I had a hard time keeping up with the standard. Mostly it was because the area I was in didn’t get a lot of players at the times I was able to log on, special occasions excepting. (I wonder if my character is still there–bet she’s nearing 30).

Not a fun of IRC, but I’ve done some MUDs (Modus Operandi, Haelrahv, etc), though I mainly operate on AOL. Recently I’ve gotten into GreatestJournal/LiveJournal roleplay.

Hi MindWanderer! I’ve also been playing DR since the AOL days (if you need anything, etc, etc). I dream of a sci-fi-text-based RPG that has the depth of DR, but I doubt it will ever happen.

I’ve tried visually-based games, but I have a lot of trouble immersing into something I’m seeing, rather than reading.