We must be having fun wrong!

I’ve heard the phrase “we must have been having fun wrong” a ton of times over the last year or so, usually to describe a change made to an area or skill that disrupts the status quo.

I heard it when the experience formula changes were brought in preceding prestige characters being introduced. I heard it after gold farming was impacted by what I assume was changes to the economy code. I heard it loudly after Lord Seth’s Throne Room was changed.

Yet it’s really only in the last year where I’ve taken time to think about what that phrase means to me as an individual player. How do I have fun on Realms? I do enjoy having characters that I think reflect good abilities and that is useful in lots of places. Yet I know that other people can simply buy and sell the same gear that I’m going to run or quest for. To me grinding out gold is a low risk, low skill activity, but why would it bug me if someone puts their time in to doing it while I choose to go on a run? In a way, sometimes I’ve felt like it devalues the efforts I’ve made to learn runs and how to survive on them. That’s where I was having fun wrong and it took some thinking to recognize it.

Some recent players have more or less been trafficking for fully dressed characters and I had to stop myself and think about why that bugged me.

To many of you reading it’s obvious what the problem was. I was valuing the adventures I’d been having only as much as other people valued them. I bought into the text high score syndrome.

When I was away from the game for years it wasn’t the DR on my character that I remembered or the time I got a really good buy on auction. It was getting up at reboot and putting characters in the La Chute trans maze to go to Danbala with the Guild of Druids. Of popping our first Danbala skull unexpectedly after that change was made and brainstorming where else to look for pieces until we managed to get a Garland of Skulls. It was the thrill of being included in going against Orcus and Hastur as part of a team, not for the gear – the Spiral I have today is the only remnant of those runs I have, I never earned any of the Hastur equipment, but in the puzzle solving. The spitballing ideas around. Following the Black Monk and absolutely misinterpreting everything he had to say.

I also still possessed the skills that I had developed because I needed to work on them for playing Realms. No – not how to quaff fast, or learning to flee and reenter the room and attack. Learning to write triggers. Learning from there how to create databases and websites. Those were things I took away from the game. All I wanted to do was get rid of all the little bits of paper from my desk and lo and behold.

My success with getting big gear pieces or going on big runs has more to do with the people around me and the legacy of notes and experience that has been passed down by players long gone. When I think back though, I had more fun exploring Wendle’s Mansion than I had sitting through hours of S/O or Seth. I am exploring things and loving it. I don’t care if I get loot, really, I just want to be part of figuring out how the loot is got.

That fear of missing out I talked about before, it can come back easily if I let it. For now though it’s under control, especially if I just do things I consider to be fun. Being a reliable part of the team has been a big part of that.

To the golders, script levellers, traffic channellers, all the best in your goals. You’re having fun your way. God bless.

In his own words, listen up for words from Haus!

Haus got a hold of me on Facebook after seeing some of the 20th anniversary posts I made and decided to write up a post for the site. ¬†I’ve had it for a little while now, life gets busy and things get overlooked, I hope you enjoy it … here it is, Haus!

In the summer of 1994, I’d just finished my first year in grad school and a tiring 6-week research project. I was looking forward to going back to Alander’s Rivers of Mud (RoM) for some mindless hack-n-slash, but he had done a massive overhaul which included a complete player-file wipe, which I’m still bitter about. I went on Usenet to look for a new mud and saw Thoric’s post. The vampire class sounded fun, so I rolled a character. One thing I learned during my brief tenure as an immortal at RoM was that short names made life a lot easier, so I shortened my handle from “Hausdorff” to “Haus.” As far as I know there were two other mortal players at that time – Pandora and Akasha. They were both affiliated with Compulink. I went on a power-levelling jag for two or three days, and, was the first mortal to reach avatar. I had a few chats with Thoric, and he was interested in having another set of eyes on the code. Memory leaks were a big problem in the early days, so over the summer we spent a lot of time analyzing the core dumps when the mud crashed, repairing problems, and repeating.

Realms became much more popular that fall, but I was focusing mostly on my classwork. By Winter Break, there were probably twenty active immortals. The day-to-day administration was handled by a fellow that Thoric appointed who was, well, a dick of the first order. He was a hell of an area builder, but a complete failure as an administrator. For a long time, folks who wanted to contribute to growing and improving the game had to do it in spite of the tirades and follies of this dickish guy. Morale was all over the place, but, we mostly managed to make it work. In this period, we set up the test server, a lot of people were building areas, and we got more aggressive when it came to adding features.

More than a couple of high school kids wrote their first lines of computer code to do something cool in SMAUG, caught the programming bug, and went on to become software professionals. In these early days we did a lot of the things that made SMAUG SMAUG to me – programmable objects/mobs/rooms, expanded classes, unique spells/skills, expanded player and mob races, improvements to the area building system, and so forth.

So things went on, we made the game richer, the player-base continued to expand. My course work and research had me in a computer lab 12+ hours per day, so I was able to spend a lot more time with one eye on the mud. A group of highish-level immortals started discussing how the main thing holding back the game’s progress was random attacks from the aforementioned dick, and began to kick around alternatives. After a lot of debate and discussion amongst ourselves, we approached Thoric with the idea of a council of senior immortals replacing the dick in overseeing day-to-day operations. After a lot more debate and discussion, we formed the Council of Elders (CoE) and were suddenly running the joint. The CoE’s prime directive was to continually improve the game, but the challenging part was to make being an immortal/area builder/coder a rewarding way for a person to spend their time. A big key to this was an unwritten rule that senior immortals coached and protected juniors, and, in return, juniors acted respectfully to seniors. Another was working out how we could delegate interesting tasks that were originally in the purview of the CoE. The delegation was wildly successful, and we soon had councils doing things like recruiting new immortals, overseeing area building, proposing and managing new projects, handling promotions of lower-level immortals, smoothing the learning curve for newbies and so forth.

For me, this was the Golden Age. Immortals were doing interesting work and having a lot of fun. The CoE had an amazing blend of strengths and personae. The job demanded that we each make a lot of unilateral decisions, but also that we could recognize potentially controversial issues, and refer those to a full vote. Many governments could learn a lot from the mutual respect, calm debate, and compromise we had in the CoE. As the immortal community grew, it started pumping out talented and experienced administrators (and coders, and builders) who started bubbling to the top. Plenty found a spot somewhere in the middle that they liked and stayed there. Others wanted to work their way up the ladder to the “big league.” With the exception of “pure-coders,” those that made it to 55/56 were very experienced in general immortaling, very good at at least one of the trinity (admin/coding/building), and were trusted in any given situation to either (a) make a good decision, or (b) kick the problem up the ladder for consideration. Those that made it to 57 were serious contenders for a future position on the CoE. So, the 51s-55s were overseeing the mortals, the 55s-57s were overseeing the lower immortals, and the CoE was focusing on big-picture ideas and “Supreme Court” cases.

I spent most of my online time invisible except to the 56+s because (a) I could, (b) it kept me from getting in the way of the mid-level imms, and (c) it made the wall of multicolored spam that I had to read every tick a bit more managable. At some point, an engineer who has built a solid machine gets tired of watching it work, and gets the itch to go and build new machines. For a long time, I hung out, tweaking this and that, enjoying watching the high immortals and future CoE members do their jobs. Then, a “real-life” relationship exploded, necessitating that I move to another country, and so I did what any reasonable person would do: I went over to Darrek’s house, lost to him repeatedly at Nintendo Hockey, and drank many, many Molsons.

The combination of boredom and being irritated at RoD had ended a lot of people’s tenure there. By this time, it was crystal clear to me that I’d finally landed in that pile. I didn’t want to be the guy that leaves and comes back and leaves and comes back – that rarely ends well. So, between zigarauts of empty beers at Darrek’s computer I logged in, announced I was “outie,” and deleted my player file. The sudden departure caused some weirdness, but I was really glad to see some of my all-star proteges names replacing mine on the CoE roster.

I think what I like best about the whole experience is how folks took skills and experiences from Realms and transferred them into their real lives. Among my closest friends from RoD: this guy owns a computer services company, that guy’s a computer science professor, this gal’s a hot shot in the gaming industry, that gal’s a successful fantasy writer. A lot of us really spent more time on RoD than we probably should have, but it’s really nice to see that the time spent payed off for people in a lot of interesting ways.

Happy Birthday Guilds!

This is the testament of Lareawan Dawnbreaker who was witness to the events of the great Dragon Raid of New Darkhaven and the destruction of the guilds. Much of what follows was greatly aided by the records of Zistrosk, his assistance is always appreciated.

Some will mark the time as 1 year ago yesterday but those inside the Realms know the time moves very differently, indeed over 4,000 years have passed in the Realms of Despair since these events.

Let us journey back to that fateful night.

Duke Luther shouts ‘Guards! Guards! There are dragons on the battlements! Everyone marshal together to defend New Darkhaven!’

Dragonslayer was still a ghost of its former self, Arete was in the Mountain of Lost Souls, and I can’t comment for the other Orders but it fell to the Guilds to defend themselves.

As adventurers fought against white dragons in the streets the first guild fell.

Several dragons breathe fire into the home of the Vampire guild, leaving it in ruins.

Duke Luther shouts ‘The Guild of Vampires has fallen… Quickly, rally around and help defend the Guild of Nephandi!’

As the adventurers ran here and there killing white dragons and typing help map to find out where some of the guilds they had not paid any attention to were, the Nephandi guild fell.

The dragons lay waste to the home of the Nephandi, leaving rubble everywhere.

By this time many adventurers had killed at least one dragon and realized that how many they killed might matter later on as they noticed this kill blow message: You take out a quill and mark one kill on your arm. Fight as they might, the impassioned Duke Luther continued to shout for assistance.

Duke Luther shouts ‘Both the Guild of Vampires and Nephandi are destroyed. Quickly, lend aid to the Guild of Augurers, they appear to be massing there!’

Even as the assault on the Augurer guild continued, more dire sights were seen over the walls of the city.

The dragons begin to invade en masse, building up their power for further assault.

Duke Luther shouts ‘Guards! On the horizon is a large dragon… coming our way. Man the battlements, bar the entry ways. It must not make it through!’

The dragons soar high above, then dive bomb the hall of the Augurers guild, leaving nothing but destruction.

In the midst of it all, Duke Luther abandoned his post. Some claim his guards forced him out of his throne room but I brand him a coward and a traitor to the guilds since no guard would forget to protect the Duke’s family!

Duke Luther’s personal guards force him from his throne room, to a safe location as the dragon attack increases.

Gilaeformo quests ‘they left your wife in the castle dude… :P’

With his wife still in the castle, Luther’s failure became complete.

Lightning cuts across the sky as Kilgharrah dives down and begins to attack Castle Darkhawk.

Kilgharrah, the ferocious dragon of Arthurian legend is here to make you pay.
Kilgharrah is shrouded in flowing shadow and light.
Kilgharrah is surrounded by a mix of ice-shards and sparking flames.
A younger looking white dragon is angered by the destruction of his kind.
A small white dragon is shrouded in flowing shadow and light.

Many brave adventurer went to face the great leader of the dragons, Kilgharrah, but no matter the power directed that way our greatest heroes could not defeat this power. In the midst of the distraction, the Cleric guild met its most dire hour.

Kilgharrah dispatches yet another fleet of dragons, this time heading straight for the sanctuary of the Clerics.

The swarm of white dragons race through the Clerics guild with alarming speed, destroying almost everything.

As adventurers grew frustrated by the Duke’s absence and the mysterious absence of the dragon ore weapons forged to combat just such an assault some rebelled. Hurley quests 'Maybe we should kill the little guys and just say screw the Duke.' Bratac quests 'he did pick this fight' Despite the slaughter of many white dragons, Kilgharrah maintained his strength.

Kilgharrah dispatches a new group of dragons which head straight for the ancient forest of the Druids.

After a long fight, one in which Zistrosk fought valiantly as leading as only a true Guildmaster can, the Druid guild fell.

Heaving fire from above, the dragons lay waste to the forest in which guilded Druids make their home.

Kilgharrah sat in Darkhaven Square, defeating all who opposed him. Clearly the dragon was in his glory!

Kilgharrah eyes the surrounding town, a destructive gleam in his eye…

Kilgarrah roars in satisfaction as it eats another Darkhaven guard.

Dark blue lights cascade across the nights sky as Kilgharrah launches another assault!

This assault was relentless and it ended with Jensen fighting barbarians such as Arastos who were killing dragons … in such times is not the enemy of my enemy my friend? It’s no wonder that the Fathomer guild fell in such a disorganized defense.

Captain Kidd rattles his sabre at the fleet of dragons in a final valiant stand… but the ship of the Fathomers is reduced to ruins quickly.

After destroying the Fathomers, Kilgharrah continued his rampage with the Paladins. Many stood and fought with great valor but it was all in vain.

Despite the heroic efforts of the Paladins, the guild is laid to waste like the others. Though their defense will be remembered for all time.

As the raid continued many guards panicked. Some even locked the adventurers INSIDE Darkhaven, somehow still concerned with a rumoured Balrog uprising to the south. Many felt the pinch of being unable to restock from donation rooms yet the brave shopkeepers of Market Street kept their doors open, charging full price … profits on their minds instead of gratefully supplying adventurers in their time of need. Another injustice, albeit a minor one. With the injustice of the destruction of the Guild of Rangers who noticed the small ones? With nary a whimper the first home of Tharius and so many others disappeared from the Realms of Despair

The Rangers guild is now no more, as the dragons’ fierce assault makes quick work of it.

The raid reached a frenzied peak with the oldest guilds in Darkhaven falling almost together. Mages, warriors and thieves fell in quick succession … who knows but perhaps this is why they found kinship in the Guild of Origin. Kilgharrah trapped the thieves within their guild, but many used their secret exit to escape outside the walls and rally in the defense of Darkhaven.

The dragons head toward the guild of Mages…

Kilgharrah directs the dragons to the guild of Warriors…

The hallways of the guild of Mages burn to the ground as Kilgharrath’s dragons do his bidding.

Sonoria quests ‘Aid the sick, aid the wounded… The Guild of Thieves needs our help as the last remaining guild!’

The castle of the Warriors now lies demolished.

Though it withstood a long assault, with all 3 of its leaders present in the fight, at long last the venerable Guild of Thieves fell, though it took Kilgharrah and not his minions to accomplish the task.

With a massive fireball, Kilgharrah succeeds in bringing the warehouse of the Thieves down to rubble.

Having accomplished his revenge, Kilgharrah left Darkhaven to pick up the pieces.

The mighty dragon Kilgharrah glows in victory, eyeing Darkhaven one last time as he prepares to depart…

Many more felt great anger towards the Duke, perhaps these wounds will never heal.

Gilaeformo quests ‘why destroy the guilds and leave darkhaven? the duke is the one really to blame…’

In all the time since many have rallied and build and bonded. The Guilds of Nature, Origin and Spirit have grown into reliable organizations. Many of the Orders who failed to come to the aid of the Guilds have been aided by the guilds as their recruits gained power and experience within the Realms. Many of the guilds now accept players barely out of the Halls of Knowledge and continue to serve as the first organization many new players experience.

If you have time, please consider spending some time in a guild. Lead a run. Host a quest. When the Guilds of Darkhaven flourish, we all benefit.

Kali the Cleric! Hey, did you hear something? It sounded like a dropped hand grenade!

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Kali is the current Head of the Council of Elders. This _vampire_ vampire has been kind enough to contribute as our guest writer today. If he’s visible then there’s a certain nervousness that spreads across Realms. If he’s not inclined to destroy you today, your deity might be on the chopping block! ūüôā I have had longstanding respect for the quest lines surrounding the Shattering and while acknowledging the many contributors to those quests, my favorite remains the closing and reopening of the Tower of Despair which Kali was so involved with. Where did he get started? He’s been on the wizlist as long as I can recall … well here it is, in his own words!

During my first year in university a friend of mine introduced me to a now forgotten iteration of a sloth mud. I played this mud a lot. More than I wanted to, really. At this point in time access to the internet meant using the public computer lab, which put all of my time-wasting on display for the whole dorm. After a couple of months I finally quit that game cold turkey and swore off muds forever and ever and ever.

Then, during my third year, one of my roommates started talking about this mud he found where you could play as a vampire. I declined to play. No more muds for me! Then another roommate started playing. I still resisted. Then a third roommate joined in and told me about the player killing he was doing as a vampire. Finally, I gave in and decided to test out this mud. But as my act of defiance I decided that I wasn’t going to be trendy and follow everyone into being a vampire. I followed in the footsteps of my slothmud days and chose to play a mighty cleric.

Shockingly, that did not last long. When some of my friends lapped me to avatar on their second or third vampire, I decided that I might have made the wrong choice. I abandoned that level 32 cleric and started my first vampire. As an aside, I came back to that cleric many years later and finally took him to avatar. I still have him. But vampire became my main class, as they were for most players in those days.

I was actively almost exclusively in pkill for my first couple of years on the mud. My belief was: Why go kill a mob for one piece of equipment when I could just kill a player for a full set of equipment? Some players farmed mobs ‚Äď I just farmed those players instead. I had members, secretly or publicly, in every one of the clans, but my main loyalty was to Inconnu.

At that point in time if you owned a deadly character, you were not permitted to be an Immortal. There was too much concern that cheating would occur. Eventually, that rule was removed and I imm‚Äôed on an unknown alt along with about a dozen other deadlies. A few months later, they reinstituted the ‚Äėno immortals with deadlies‚Äô rule and I chose to demote rather than leave my clan. About ten months later, they decided to remove all of the existing clans and replace them with two clans: Retribution and Forsaken. Once my clan was deleted, I chose to retire from pkill and become an immortal (albeit a deadly one and the Head of the Pkill Conclave). That was in 1996 and I have been an Immortal ever since. In addition to Pkill Conclave, I co-headed the Visionary Consortium and then joined the Council of Elders in 1999.

Trivia note: Both times I was immortalized they moved me directly to 52. I have been many things in the game, but I have never been level 51.

In response to the question about inspiration, I did quite freely involve ideas from Vampire:The Masquerade in my early years on the mud, but the tradition of utilizing that world actually started with Caine/Dominus. I didn’t learn about V:TM until I started playing Realms and I wanted to learn more about the game as it was heavily part of the mythos of deadly clans. As a result, I bought a large number of the books and even played VTM for a few years as well. While the VTM source material was part of my inspiration as an immortal for a number of years, I’ve always drawn from a multiplicity of sources: literature, music, plays, current events, art and anything that happens to catch my fancy. Sometimes an idea can grow from something as simple as a name or an image. I don’t contribute as much creatively now as I did in the past, but growing the seeds of those ideas was always one of my favourite parts of being an immortal.

The chance to implement some of these ideas is one of the things that keeps me coming back to the game, along with the friendships I have made and the sense of responsibility I have towards the stewardship of the game. I hope that my contribution to Realms has overall been a positive one and I’m proud to be part of the Immortal teams, both present and past, that have helped to create this world. I would say that I am proud of the mortal contribution as well. Realms of Despair is a story jointly created by the presence of all involved and it has been a pleasure to be able to tell that story alongside so many wonderful players.

Well, that’s about all the niceness and sappiness I have in me for this decade. I’ll probably kill you all in the morning.

Beg, borrow or steal I’m scraping game.org to bring you words from Blodkai!

Yes … the title here is pretty literal. I discovered this post by Blodkai while doing a scrape of the Wayback Machine archive for game.org. Why do such a thing to begin with? Well, a few sites have gone offline recently and I’ve been really glad I had my own offline copy of them. I went sniffing around game.org mostly looking for old wizlists or other removed organization pages that might be helpful towards building a new Realms site that includes more depth than many I’ve seen.

I present this to you in its original form, unedited as it appeared on game.org. It is 14 years old so I think it qualifies as a Realms historical document in its own right ūüôā I thought it was fascinating and i hope you do too … Blodkai!

August 28, 2000

I collection of various questions that have filtered across to me in one way or another enough times that I may as well put them together in a single Q&A.

“How long have you been on Realms? Did you help found it? How did you come to Realms?”

I’ve been on Realms since near the beginning, but was not a founding immortal. I’ve always been a gaming fanatic, and I had run myself broke playing Major BBS door games like TeleArena and Crosswinds and MajorMUD on a 286 with an amber monitor and a 2400 baud modem, mooching access to the ‘net by sharing shell accounts that other BBS friends let me use.

One day I landed on some giant Major BBS system up in Kansas or someplace that was dedicated to the schools of the Big 12 Conference. I schmoozed (repeatedly) some free credits from the moderators there to play MajorMUD, and one day tried a link they had to Bat MUD. That was a whole new experience for me. I was amazed at all the people, the interaction, the different style of play and the new things available to me.

And all the lag.

When I figured out that it wasn’t the only game in town (literally) I ran around trying out other MUDs. Back then there weren’t nearly so many of these games around, and most “big” muds had 20 or 30 online at a most. I stumbled across Realms one day in its infancy and was amazed yet again at the new world, and the immortals. Ranma was my first immortal contact, and blew my mind by informing me that, yes, I was allowed to keep _all_ that stuff I got off the corpse of a janitor I killed. As I explored and died, Ranma assisted me a few more times (hey, the rules were far more lax back then, and there was virtually no one else around to help) in finding the precious pink ice rings that permitted me to carry loads of heavy stuff.

Not so long after that I lost my telnet access and got distracted by RL matters, and I abandoned the game for a few months. A short while later I, um, stumbled across an unsecured system in the engineering department of a local University that could be accessed via modem and which supported telnet. It was laggy, but it was enough. I jumped around from MUD to MUD again for a while, and finally ended up on Realms again, and the rest is history. A lot can happen and change in a half-decade plus, both online and IRL. Few things are as they were.

“You had some cool bands in your bio a while back. I thought you were old. How old are you?”

Sorry, I don’t give out detailed personal information. I also don’t know where anyone got this idea, though perhaps it’s because of my online age. I hate to shatter anyone’s image of me, but I’m a 20-something. Sorry.

“Your online age is unreal. If you’re not old and haven’t been around for 15 years to account for all that, you must not have a life.”

Blodkai is not only my immortal, but was my primary character that received most of my playing time. When I first imm’d I was indeed online a vast amount of time every day, especially when I began overhauling all of the mobiles, areas, programs and objects in the game. But in addition to that, Blodkai rarely quits out; link-dead immortals simply stay online. I can’t give a specific percentage, but I’d wager that at least half of that time is simply link-dead. I am not online 24 hours a day, or anywhere close, but by the same token I am online (or working offline) for a good amount of time every day.

“I heard you used to pkill and had a cheated Dragonhide Breastplate with 900 hitpoints and 50 damroll added, and then some guy killed you with a cheaply equipped warrior and you balzhured him for it and still hold a grudge against him and you hurt kittens.”

Okay, I admit this is a compilation of statements from the absolute extreme end of the rumor mill, and I people aren’t out there accusing me of this for the most part, but it has bothered me to no end so I’m addressing it here:

Yes, I used to pkill. Quite a bit. I don’t any more for a variety of reasons that I won’t really get in to here, but suffice to say I have too many things to do and not enough time to do them as it is.

No, I did not have a cheated plate, and the plate I did have had something like 300 or 400 hps on it, plus (if I remember correctly) a few dex and luck. No damroll, no affects. The plate represented the lion’s share of all
my old quest points. Prior to the current “glory” system, the quest system (quests and rewards) were much different. One quest point = one hp. I found that too tantalizing to pass up.

I spent a good deal of time accumulating quest points and renames in both public and private quests. (private or small quests were often run in those days, it wasn’t a matter of my immortal friends giving them to me – primarily because I had no immortal friends aside from Darksong, who was in no real position and of no inclination to be doing such things in the first place) I have always been a HP fanatic, and 90% of all of my quest points were spent on hitpoints, most of them going on that plate.

I had placed the plate on one of my pkillers primarily because I wanted to see if I could solo Divine Retribution straight up (i.e. using nothing but the inherent skills of that character’s class, and heal potions) using it and my pkill equipment. I used to spend a great deal of time killing Divine with peacefuls, but it involved using a single vampire or warrior or ranger (usually warrior or ranger) assisted by backpacks full of various offensive scrolls. With the pkiller I wanted to just try to flat-out whip the beast. I was otherwise not in the practice of placing rare items on my avatar pkillers, save for a few.

No, a cheaply equipped warrior did not kill me. A cheaply equipped warrior may have participated in the fight (started it, got the killing blow, who knows, I don’t recall), but I think the other five or so characters — including at least two of the buffest enemies in the game wearing plenty of “special” equipment — deserve as much credit. Heck, I used a cheaply equipped warrior (I had several around the 90 damroll, 1350 hp range) on a similar kill on a clan leader who was more powerful than the character on which I lost my qp’d plate – including helping to tank him, chasing him down and preventing him from fleeing with bashes – but “I” didn’t kill him. There were four or five others characters who helped out on that one as well.

And no, I did not balzhur the character for it. After the behavior or the MUD administrator prior to mine, and because I was deeply involved with pkill from the mortal side, it has always been important to me to separate my immortal activity from my mortal activity as much as possible. It would frankly be idiotic and arrogant for me to have balzhured someone for killing me. To be honest, I don’t even remember everyone involved in the kill today.

I was eventually involved in the balzhur or destruction of the characters of the player who eventually ended up with the plate, but that was some time later under completely different circumstances. Specifically, that player demanded that his army be deleted and he engaged in behavior designed to force us to do just that. I believe at a later date when he asked to return and get a few characters back I restored a few bare pfiles for him, but beyond that I could not tell you today who he is, if he still plays, or if he was involved in the kill or simply acquired the plate by some other means.

Oh, and I love dogs. Not so much cats.

“I heard you created a 25 damroll Oblivion for a pkiller friend a long time ago.”

The number of pkiller “friends” I had I could count on one hand, with people like Stoker and Felix making up the majority of them. Anyone with any knowledge of pkill should know that they aren’t exactly hurting for out of game, rare, or exceptionally powerful equipment. Makes a lot of sense for me to go against everything I’ve always stood for on this subject to give them an obviously modified item, doesn’t it?

I should say that there were many pkillers I was friendly with. Many, many of them, but not to the extent that I’d sit around thinking, “Hey, I’d really like to risk ruining my reputation by giving them something ridiculous and against the rules I helped set down.”

Now, there may indeed have been a time I reimbursed an oblivion to someone, or some strange, unusual circumstance that gave birth to something vaguely similar occuring. Beyond that, I’ll just mark it up to the rumor mill. I feel somewhat thankful that these two things account for most of the really bad rumors I’ve ever heard about myself.

“Are you Allax?”


“Do you know Allax?”

Not that I am aware of, unless he’s someone I do know going by another name. I’m afraid I have never heard of Allax, and never encountered a player who I know to have ever used that name. I wish I knew the story behind this, since it seems to get brought up quite a bit and I’m somehow linked to it.

“Do you play other MUDs?”


“Do you pkill on other MUDs?”


“Do you play mortals on Realms?”

Not nearly as much as I used to, but yes I still play.

“What else do you play?”

Counter-strike (quite a bit), Halflife Team Fortress (rarely these days), and Quake 3 (quite a bit). Beyond that I have a very busy job (as I said in the first section, a lot has changed in the relatively short period of time since I came to Realms), a girlfriend, and a laundry list of hobbies and outside interests.

“Do you work for Idirect, Tucows, Bluegenesis, etc.?”


“Do you live in Canada?”

Politely put, no.

“Are you bald? Why do people call you Baldkai?”

Not even close. My friends used to call me that because one of the few things I was vainly obsessive about was my hair and they knew it would bother me, especially after I cut off my literal mane of hair a few years ago.

“Is that you in your bio on the main Realms page?” [ed: Blodkai’s bio is reposted below]


“Your bio says you were a massive multiplayer. It’s very hypocritical to have been a massive multiplayer when you were a mortal, but now that you’re an immortal you try to hurt multiplayers.”

My bio says no such thing, and I’ve amended it with a paragraph that should make that absolutely clear. I’d suggest you read it here. I had a large complement of characters, but I rarely played more than one at a time, and when I did it was perhaps two or three.

“Why are you so against multiplaying?”

I’m not against it in moderation at all, but when it’s overdone to the tune of using 16 or 24 or more characters to fight a single mobile it’s gone off the deep end. It’s massively unbalancing to the game, and it simply isn’t tolerable. Many old MUDs, including several that used to permit unlimited multiplay, have banned it altogether for the exact same reasons we’re trying to limit it. We are attempting to walk the line between allowing it yet maintaining some balance, and banning it outright ourselves.

“Why have you made so many mobiles so hard to kill?”

Note that I alone no longer make all changes to mobiles. We thankfully now have a staff of higher immortals who are truly capable of helping with these things, and in whom I have entrusted the authority to make certain changes. While it was once true that if something changed it was my doing, in recent times that is not necessarily the case.

Mobiles have been upped to try to keep extreme multiplayers from ruining the game by spam-killing them. Many mobiles are designed to deal specifically with multiplayers and not be so harsh with smaller groups. As we begin to clamp down on multiplay and implement code to lessen its effects, mobile power may begin to decline as well.

Another problem is simply our size. On most MUDs it’s rare to be able to put together a group of eight or nine or ten players to go try to defeat something, but on Realms where we have 400 and 500 players on at once during peak periods it’s not at all uncommon. As time goes by, players get more advanced, skills and spells become more powerful, etc., mobiles have to be adjusted to keep up.

In consideration of all the above, look at Seth. The premiere monster in the Realms with the most sought after equipment, yet even the latest generation of Seth equipment existed came to be common. With a character base before the clamp-down of well over 20,000 (larger now, but still) there nevertheless existed _several_ thousands pieces of this equipment. If that doesn’t necessitate a change, nothing does.

Right now things are about as difficult as they have ever been, but I would anticipate that in the future this rise in difficulty across the board will abate. Some mobiles will continue to grow in power, and yes some are next to impossible, but that’s simply part of the game.

“Has anyone from Realms ever met you?”

Exactly two people who have ever played Realms have ever met me. I speak to or have spoken to several immortals (Thoric, Circe, Moonbeam, etc.) on the phone, but only two people have I ever actually met.

There are many more, but I’m out of time for now. If you have a question, email it to me and I’ll try to get you a reply.

Blodkai’s game.org bio:
Blodkai appeared ages ago, only shortly after the inception of the Realms.  For some time he traveled the world, occasionally with friends but largely alone, learning the realities of the Realms, its nuances and even its tricks.  Over time he came to command a sizable complement of characters long before it was common to do so. (and it was rare that more than one was used at a time)

A chance encounter with a strange character in the Tree of Life in the days when the world was much smaller was to be the changing point in the path of Blodkai’s life.¬† Though he did not recognize this stranger,¬† the stranger had noted Blodkai’s presence over time and revealed to him what was at the time a little-known and fascinating feat.¬† This single act was an epiphany for Blodkai, and soon he began expanding upon his new-found understanding.¬† In time there was no corner or secret of the world unknown to him, and the extent and value of his material accumulations grew to exceptional proportions.

Though his contact with the stranger had been sporadic during this time, the day came when Blodkai chose to accept an offer made to him upon their first encounter.  This was his entry into the world of the deadly, in the lawless, brutal and chaotic time of the original clans:  he accepted the invitation of McBeth, and became Darkblade.

Eventually Blodkai would be a member of a handful of additional clans through the many deadly ages:  an Inconnu, an original Malkavian, a founding deadly Maidenstone and a Nosferatu.  But after the passing of the original clans and Darkblade, the majority of his deadly activity was carried out as an unclanned, fighting for no colors but with loose affiliations.  There came a time when his deadly characters of all levels outnumbered his remaining peaceful characters.

At some point as a mortal he was approached by Circe, a high goddess who oversaw the creation and expansion of the lands of the Realms, and through her favor became an immortal.  Within a few weeks he was a Demi god, and within a matter of months had ascended to Greater God, a time during which he made sweeping changes to the treasures, lands and creatures of the Realm.  This was also an age of repeated upheaval in the immortal community as the very gods fought and conspired against each other, and despite his attempts to avoid entanglement in these affairs he was ultimately drawn in.  Joining with a number of other high immortals including Narn, Haus, Gorog and Damian, and with the aid of Thoric, he helped re-form the Council of Elders Рwhich came to assume complete control of the Realms in its entirety and usher in a new age of growth and stability, eschewing the rampant chaos and infighting of the past.

Today, Blodkai heads the Council of Elders and is the primary administrator of the Realms.  He still dabbles directly in building and coding as time permits, and always maintains a hand in each facet of development.

Hey! Do you remember when deities were immortals?

With the post from Kinux we’ve ascended into the upper echelons of the wizlist. These lofty heights hold some of the Realms’ oldest immortals, members of the Council of Elders whose vision helps to shape the game we enjoy together. Over time even member of the CoE retire and their contributions become blurred into the fabric of Realms until it becomes a day to day part of our lives. Today’s contributor falls squarely into this description. He was one of the people who helped to create the deity system that still exists today, deities whose names were in fact the names of Immortals. These are the deities who were retired in the Shattering and whose replacements can be called Deities 2.0. He’s also someone who came out of the woodwork following the Realms of Despair Facebook page and enjoyed these recollections enough to take the time to write one for our enjoyment. With thanks I present Witherin!

Most of my memories from back in my time on RoD have been reduced to a warm, fuzzy blur. So when Tharius talked to me about making a contribution, I held off. I wanted to ponder it a bit. Do some actual research to recall some items. But I think I’m ready now.

Sad to say, I haven‚Äôt been involved in RoD for quite some time now. I think I left sometime around ‚Äė96/‚Äô97 or so. Give or take. I‚Äôd married another RoD member and she had left RoD under a cloud that left me stuck between a rock and a hard place. I would have liked to have continued with RoD, but… Well… Marriage.. The choice was really a non-choice from the moment it was presented. Lol! Years later, the marriage fell apart and life was a long, hard struggle after that. When I finally did get
back into gaming, World of Warcraft caught my interest. And that was that.

Ok.. Enough about the ‚Äúafter‚ÄĚ. Let‚Äôs dive into the beginning. I got my start with RoD back around ‚Äė93/‚Äô94. A couple of my co-workers played and were old high school friends of Thoric. So I thought I‚Äôd give it a try. My first character was named Witherin. Several more were created afterwards. Arcana, Celasquida, Hronak and others I can‚Äôt remember. But Witherin was always my main. Sad to say. I can‚Äôt even remember the race/class he was. But I had a blast leveling him up. From the outset, I allowed
him to have a somewhat dark and mysterious persona. It tied into my social awkwardness (growing up with a hearing loss tends to lend itself to wallflower status in large social groupings), and let me take the social aspect of the game on my own terms. I got to Avatar level at a good clip. Not record setting by any means. But I was happy with the pace. I was a bit lost for a while once I hit Avatar. Not being as skilled with the social aspects, it took me a while to find my footing. In the meantime, I would spend time with my other toons and explore aspects and areas that I hadn’t touched on as Witherin.

It felt to me like it didn’t take long at all before I was sponsored to be Imm and got the promo. But that could very well be the blurriness of time having its influence. It took me a while to get a feel for being an Imm. Most of the time I was just monitoring/approving toon names; acting as intermediary with disputes between toons; playing bad cop when I had to (seems that dark and mysterious persona lent itself well to this); and peeking at the code underlying things to start to get a feel for it all.

Of the major things I was involved with.. In relative order, based on shoddy recollection, I‚Äôd say the helping to write the Newbie guide; helping with the formation of the Newbie Council; creation of Thul‚ÄôAbhara; and the creation of the deity system. I had a hand in all of those things to one degree or another, and likely other things as well. Thul I was very proud of. I‚Äôm glad to see it‚Äôs still there after all this time. The deities… That whole thing was a great idea that turned into a pain in the butt to get working right. First public shot at it, the player items were not well balanced at all. Some were just too
over powered. Some were more along the lines of cosmetic items, rather than actually useful. So a lot of tweaking was done. I’m glad to see the deities are still there and have become such an integral part of the game.

Along the way, promotions happened. Always nice to get the recognition and being able to do more for the game is great. But you do begin to feel that disconnect.. The separation from the players. I did my best to counteract that.. Playing on my alts.. Keeping a couple of them anonymous as much as I could.

Near the end of my time on RoD I was lucky enough to get bumped to the CoE. I never really felt like I belonged with them. Not from any cold shoulders on their part. All were approachable to one degree or another. I just… Well I always felt like the little brother tagging along with the older kids. Brought in because they needed one more and I was just.. There.. To be fair that was mostly my own insecurities.

In any case. I think I held my own. And if I didn’t actually do anything spectacular beyond adding in my own two cents to our private discussions, I think I can feel good about my short time amongst that lofty crew.

All in all I had a great time on RoD. And I keep telling myself I should revisit it (I actually did a couple of times for short stints. But it never felt the same without having the name Witherin (a restricted name, of course)). Had a few romances. Made many friends (some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to reconnect with). And walked away with a ton of warm and somewhat fuzzy memories.

A Barbarian or Thief? Introducing Kinuii, Kinuiii, Kinuiv … oh whoever!

I knew Kinux back in the day, albeit peripherally. My time in Guild of Thieves predates him by at least 2 Guildmasters as I was active in the era of Fademan and Dumaka as Thavius (clever huh?) which was slightly before Elisabet took over. Yet today I still think about his time as Guildmaster on a regular basis, normally when checking to see how Abelard is holding up. Good old Abe has passed through a few hands; I inherited him from Silet. Abe is not the oldest pfile on the game, obviously, but if he keeps going the way he is, he will be the first to find out if there is a bug with ages getting very high. At present he’s 63,079 years old … played 126,124 hours … that is almost 14.5 years continuously online!! I mention this because Kinux created Abelard before becoming an immortal on Realms of Despair so this gives you some feeling for just how long this particular “K” imm has been around.

Kinux was one of the first to reply to my request for stories and has been an avid supporter of this and other projects of mine and I want to take a moment to publicly thank him. So here’s what the geezer had to say!!! ūüôā

I came upon Realms at university in 1994. I had been a co-sysop of a BBS (yes¬†that is dating me) that ran a circle mud in the early 90’s and when it shut¬†down I heard about RoD through word of mouth and tried it out. I lasted about 6¬†months then got busy with other things. I’d return from time to time but¬†wasn’t very dedicated at that point.

In 1998 I decided to get back into things and started a new character named¬†Kinu. Kinu had 9 strength. Kinu did not get very far in life. Some ask where¬†the name ‘Kinux’ came from… was it version of ‘Canucks’, or possibly a¬†deritive of ‘Linux’? The truth is that it is Kinu(x). As in the 10th variant¬†of Kinu.

Kinux got involved with the Guild of Thieves at level 15, and quickly rose¬†up the levels. I ended up joining GoC, GoM, GoW, GoD, and GoV, and liked the¬†Guild system so I never felt the need to enter an Order. To this day, I’ve¬†never had an ordered alt either. While I was a Deity of a clan, my mortal¬†deadlies also never joined any clans either.

In 2000, Elisabet, the GoT Leader of the time, was Immortalized. I was¬†nominated and ran in an election and became the GoT #2. Losing Elisabet wasn’t¬†easy on the guild and within a couple months I was raised to Guild Leader¬†after the other leaders stepped down. Kinux was GoT leader from early 2000 to¬†the end of 2001. It was a great time for Guilds. I had weekly meetings where 20 members would show up and discuss various things, do a quest, run a mob,¬†pkill each other in the arena. Many who knew me then knew I ran Abelard, the¬†GoT Bot and current record holder for age online. It’s been great seeing him¬†continue on even after the Guild has transitioned from GoT to GoO. In addition¬†to my duties in GoT I was also co-leader of IGQC and was active with TS.

In mid-2001 I was sponsored to be an Immortal by Selina. I was turned down at¬†that time. Later that year I made the trip to Ontario for the 7th annual RoD¬†reunion. Still have the cup that says so. It was a great chance for me to meet¬†a lot of players and Imms and was probably the thing that made it possible for¬†Selina’s second nomination of me to be successful in November, 2001. When I was¬†put into the position as an Immortal with TS, who were charged with recruiting¬†new Immortals, it was nice to be able to tell them, honestly, that if at first¬†you don’t succeed it can still happen.

I came into Immortality at a great time. While I had absolutely no building or¬†coding experience to speak of, I was eager and jumped right in. For those that¬†recall, the ‘big port’ was on its way and I was able to dive into it,¬†providing a number of rebuilt and new areas. The village of Edo was actually¬†my first full area, though it came in later with the big port. My first area¬†to the game was the rewrite I did with Selina of Wyvern’s Tower. Knowing the¬†port was a while off, Selina and I were keen to get one of our areas in, but¬†because the code base between Smaug 1.8 and 2.0 was so different we had to¬†copy every mob, obj and room manually into the game for it to be able to come¬†over.

Selina and I were good friends in the game and made a great writing partnership. In addition to the many rewrites and original areas, there was also a number of areas we just jumped into at author request to help out. When she decided to leave the game, we lost a great Imm and area builder and I was never able to recreate the competitive push we had to finish new things and show them off to one another.

My favourite [quests to be involved with] were the Deity Death quests I did with Cersei to kill off¬†all the old Deities before the Shattering. I’ve been asked what my favourite area (that I built) is and while I’ll always¬†like them all, two stand out: Edo, as my first and The Mountain of Lost Souls¬†as the one I enjoyed writing the most. Some ask are there still puzzles in my¬†areas to be found and solved? Yep. Am I still adjusting current areas with new¬†quests and equipment? Yep.

Inclusion within the ranks of the CoE was no less stunning than my original¬†inclusion into the ranks of Immortality. We’ve done a number of things as a¬†council to make the process of working with ideas work better, not least of¬†which is having weekly meetings and including our higher level Immortals to¬†help provide further thoughts on the direction of the game.

The game has developed and continues to develop thanks to the ideas of Imms¬†and players alike. We have some exciting changes in the works and while change¬†doesn’t come fast and furious, it comes. I think that’s the part of the game¬†that keeps us going, 20 years later. We don’t allow any one person to direct¬†the way the game will be played. It’s a team effort.

Many of us have given a good chunk of our life to this game. While I’m sadly not as prolific as I once was at building, I still log daily and each day I¬†still learn something new. That I can say that 20 years later is a testament¬†to not only the longevity, but to the many layers that this game has. At the¬†end of the day, it’s the players who play, leave for a time, then come back¬†that keeps this game going. We have a game that is built on the power of the¬†mind’s eye. While text based games may be passe to some, I still find they are¬†more satisfying given the level of creativity that they allow compared to any¬†other graphic based world, past or present.

Ultimately, I believe I’ve gotten more out of this game than I’ve put in. I’ve¬†met fantastic people, learned to build and code and been given an opportunity to help with the direction of the game itself. It’s for others to decide¬†whether they’ve liked my areas and the choices that I’ve made along the way,¬†but I hope they recognize that it was always done with the best interest of the¬†game in mind.

20 years in the making and not done yet, the adventures of Loril!

Source: http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/cd_armor.JPG
Not Stoneheft and Grunthos

As promised, here is the continuation of Loril’s tale. ¬†When you ask someone to recap their adventures and they choose to do it in character you know that they have dedicated a great deal of effort to the work. ¬†I am grateful to Loril for taking the time to share her adventures from the Academy through to becoming an immortal here. ¬†Self conscious that the piece is far to long she has done her best to be brief but I will suggest that when you get to the end of it you will realize how much more she could have added in (indeed, we could have a weekly serial “The Adventures of a Blue Potion Junkie” and still take ages to relate the whole tale!) ¬†So from mountains of AOL CDs, weeks in preauth, a month in the academy … to her in game meeting with Stoneheft and Grunthos and many others, I present the continuation of Loril, in her own words!



As a newborn babe’s cries tugs at a mother’s heart, so did the cries for help throughout the lands tug at the heart of Loril. Born to Grace Gemstone (the one they called Queen), Loril knew self-reliance both by necessity and by blood.¬†From Darkhaven to the far reaches of the land, she ran tirelessly. This one is blind in the Holy Grove, that one cursed among the gravestones. Healer on inumerable quests to defeat evil, nurturer to countless young adventurers to whom the world was a harsh place full of mocking and lacking in compassion. Running, always running. At times, her eyes streaming from lack of sleep and adequate nourishment, her muscles screaming for relief, her mind near hazed with the concentration required for countless healing and aiding spells.

In these days, she was heard to joke about her growing addiction to blue potions. Always broke, she found herself on occasion involved in a run of dubious aim. Her alignment dipping to evil, her heart ached. But these runs were lucrative – a very successful means to earn the gold required to continue her work aiding and sustaining. There was no time to rest or sleep for mana! Blue potions were the means. Dark warriors tempted her with huge crates brimming with blue potions for her services. And she accepted. Heart heavy, it seemed the only way.. But Grace, with the wisdom and vision of Stonegrip and Goldenrod noted all. She summoned her older son Stoneheft to her. Their consultation was brief. Stoneheft would set aside his own life’s work for a time, taking Loril under his tutilage to guide her growth and help her find her own way.

Grace sent a summons to Loril inviting her to meet in the square at Darkhaven. Loril, as was her way, was running then to the Art Gallery in town where someone, unprepared for adventure had wandered too far. The word came back, ‘Loril, yes – deliver the scroll but return here soon, girl.’ Loril, still caught up in the headlong rush to be in all places, aiding all people barely recognized the tone in that message but, as the square was on her path to the next call anyway, paused there for a time.¬†As always, Darkhaven Square was teeming with people preparing for adventure, preparing for battle, stopping for a drink or pausing to pass a moment with a friend. And, as always, there was a constant stream of all manner of people hoping for something from Grace. Some were content with a smile or a blessing. Others lingered, hoping for some personal time. Still others begged a greater boon. Named well, her grace fairly filled the square and seemed to on occasion fill all there with peace and quiet would fall for a moment as all present felt restored and would faintly smile then carry on. ‘Daughter.’ Grace’s gaze fell on Loril. ‘Your brother has returned from his travels and will be happy to escort you for a time’. Loril, who’s thoughts had already wandered as she listened to various cries for help, absently looked at Stoneheft who was obviously discomfited by the bustle and, very likely the prospect of ‘escorting’ his little sister. ‘Rather scrawny’, she thought, looking more closely at this brother whom she barely knew. He looked down at her and smiled warmly and she felt in his regard the love and wisdom of one much older than his years.

And so began Loril’s age of learning.

Adrift, lonely when seldom alone, she had spent countless years driven by that within which compelled her to heal. Yet much of the knowledge of this world had remained hidden from her. Her skills had served her well and she had honed them until she was quite proud yet an emptiness had prevailed within.¬†Stoneheft took her that first day to the waterfall near the ancient kingdom of Juargan. There they sat as he listened to her tales. After a time she fell silent as the constant drumming of the water drowned out the cries that previously had occupied her universe. A peace, strange but welcome, stole over her and for the first time in memory she felt truly relaxed.¬†Loril slept then. And she dreamed. There was a great warrior – a man of stone, it seemed. Favoured-One of the gods. Or one god. It was unclear. She dreamed of a great rending and a long age of despair. But then another warrior. This one female. This warrior’s pain and courage drew the attention and favour of the gods. She dreamed then of a new age of great beginnings. Her mother was there then, sad, but great in her love of her people.

Awakening, Loril slowly became aware of her brother speaking. She rolled over to look up at him and saw again, that secret smile of wisdom and depth. The tale he was telling continued that of her dream and the two, telling and dreaming, became one and she knew that he was speaking of their family and heritage. He spoke of their Aunt Sunrise and Uncle Alazar, a cousin Calazar. He spoke too of Asterix whom she knew and had a certain fondness for… Fireforge.. others. He told tales of their times in the dwarven forest when the Gemstone family was great, vast, and renouned. Gemstone family picnics were famous for riotous fun, vast consumption of food and ale, and games. (And Loril inwardly grieved at the times she had missed during the long years of running.)¬†Many days did they linger there as Loril first healed then began again to grow anew. And Stoneheft continued his teaching. Patiently, he helped her understand the ways of the world as he too had been far in these lands but he, unlike her, had not been running. His life’s work was to learn these lands in detail. Specifically he mapped the places he found, but more, he studied and learned the byways and peoples in the places he entered. Sometimes months would he spend in a town until he knew it as he knew himself.

As time passed and Loril knew peace, Stoneheft took her out into these lands to show her what he had found and in so doing, they discovered other lands together. Their combined skills resulted in many packs of parchment – maps, drawings, notes. Time passed and at times their adventures separated them physically but never mentally as they were now bound in a way few siblings ever enjoy.

One sunny day after a particularly exhausting time helping a Little One (as Loril had come to call the young adventurers she would meet at the Academy – a home she could never completely leave) re-equip, Loril made her way to a dock where she and Stoneheft would often sit and watch the dolphins out at sea. There she found Stoneheft and a younger Dwarf exchanging insults. Shocked, she hung back a bit to take in the sight and pull her mace to hand.. in case. Much would she loathe the thought of drawing the blood of one of her people but she would stand for no one who crossed her beloved brother.¬†It dawned on her after a short time that these were the jesting insults of a pair of friends. The puns and plays on words would build until both Dwarves would fall about one-another in paroxyms of giggles that were contagious. Loril found herself completely completely entertained and sat quietly at the end of the dock, hugging and burying her face in her knees to stifle the laughter welling in her at the antics of these two silly … boys. Yes, boys! A side of Stoneheft she’d only ever glimpsed before now was revealed in its full and ridiculous glory! Frolicking about like a child one third his age, Loril was thrilled to see him so enjoying the moment.

Later that night, Loril made a fire and the trio sat around it, staring at the stars. Few words were spoken for some hours. They shared out some ale, the males worn out from their earlier antics, Loril sizing up this Grunthos .. this person with the ability to bring out the child in the brother she idolized. It was apparent that he too worshipped Stoneheft. She found herself warming to this strange warrior. Just as she was thinking the other two had nodded off and perhaps it was time for her to turn in as well, Grunthos started speaking very lowly. It was poetry, after a fashion. Some readers might recognise the words spoken that night as Vogon poetry and, as like as not, those same readers would agree that they’d sooner face Balzhur on a bad day than ever again hear such.

As countless thousands of years of equally countless lovers can attest: sometimes there is no accounting for true love. And the stirrings of love were felt in Loril’s heart that eve’. She sat enthralled as Grunthos’ voice reached such a pitch that the dolphins themselves cried out to the heavens for relief. The dogs of New Thalos that night were heard to yelp and whimper as they gnawed at their own hind legs seeking relief from the sound they were too dumb to understand and too sensitive to ignore.¬†Stoneheft, long asleep by this time, likely heard nothing over the sound of his own snoring. He was oblivious to the future building on that dock, that would grow on that dock, and that would eventually be consummated on that very dock.

The following months passed quickly. More organised in her life’s work now, Loril found she required first one, then another employee – she simply couldn’t carry all the items a Healer requires to perform her tasks effectively. One of these, an orphan Loril had found wandering dazed and bloody in the streets of Thalos, was named only Lyra. Loril and Lyra became fast friends, sisters in the way of female friends throughout the world. Of sweet disposition, really, Lyra was a also a steadfast warrior who tolerated little nonsense and went about her tasks as Loril’s bearer and defender with a steadiness and determination that at times concerned her friend and employer. Loril would try to encourage Lyra to go out, have adventures of her own, meet some people. But Lyra, grateful to her friend for saving her life would smile and quietly refuse.

Loril, Grunthos, and Stoneheft wandered the world. Loril’s work as a Healer continued as did her passion for her Little Ones. She professed that she was living on Cloud Nine as her love for Grunthos grew and grew. He patiently escorted her on many a doomed or ill-fated rescue effort and just as patiently layed down his life along side her time and again when, as still was her wont, she dragged him headlong into disaster in an effort to heal and assist. Try as he would to convince her that others needed to learn to get themselves out of the trouble they’d found on their own (or better still, not get into it in the first place), she would just as patiently explain to him, ‘it’s what I do…’. He watched as some took cruel advantage of her naive ways, never leaving her to her folly, his sword ever ready to fell the nasties in their path so that those she felt she was aiding could prevail.

And at night, on that dock, they would go over the day’s experiences and discuss other ways she could continue her work yet not allow the thoughtless to benefit unfairly. Loril adopted her concept of Tough Love for the Little Ones and others during those quiet talks.

It was during this time that a mischief-loving vampire named Xenedra took notice of our Healer and asked her if she had interest in the Newbie Council. At first, Loril could see no reason to join an organisation to do what she had always done anyway. As she discussed it with the two men she adored, she grew to realize the fit was a natural. Belonging to the Newbie Council would bring focus to her work for the Little Ones (to whom she had sometime previously decided to devote herself). There would be other members from whom she could learn more and perhaps, with the knowledge she had gained with Stoneheft and Grunthos, she could contribute in her own way to their esteemed ranks.¬†The Council did that for her and more. The Council headquarters became her home. The soft grass under the Council’s tree became her bed when Stoneheft and Grunthos were off on their own adventures.

Naturally enough (it might be mentioned here), Stoneheft and Lyra got to know one-another. She, like Grunthos was somehow able to bring out that silliness in Stoneheft which few others ever saw in that serious student of the world. But as well, Loril witnessed a softer Stoneheft in Lyra’s company. Never having been the object of anything approaching tenderness in her life, his attentions were at first rebuffed as strange and alien. Eventually though, Stoneheft’s courtly adoration struck a chord. He found a way past her shield of shyness and well, that’s another story for another time. They call each other DearOne. Let us leave them in their bliss.

In time, Grunthos and Loril realised that they belonged together (well, rather, one day Grunty said, in that way of his, that he wanted her to be his … ahh well, others get the bended knee and a single perfect rose… You didn’t really think Grunty was that type, did you?) In those days, it was traditional for an immortal to perform the ceremony. Loril couldn’t bring herself to impose upon an immortal’s time and many friends and family had to badger her into asking. She approached Brittany, the then Newbie Council head, and the date was set.

Loril sat that morning in the Western Lounge with her mother Grace and fretted. She had a ring for Grunty but it just didn’t seem adequate. All her attempts to buy one in auction had ended in someone outbidding her. Newbie Council members seldom retain any wealth. She couldn’t fight for one herself and she had so devoted her time to her ‘guys’ that she hadn’t found anyone else to aid her in her quest. A longtime friend, Alexander Trueheart, died thrice that day to get the best ring he could alone – a Draupnir. Loril cried until she laughed and laughed until she cried at the thought of that dear warrior’s sacrifice … his only concern being that he wouldn’t be in time.

More than 100 people were counted on the dock that early evening. Loril was more nervous than on any rescue mission or run. Her hands and knees shaking, her voice at first tremulous soon gave out altogether! Only through immortal intervention was she able to continue and then, catastrophe and evil of evils! (A slanderous note exchanged hands that night but no more will be spoken of that in this missive. Love WILL conquer all and time has proven that with these two) The catastrophe was of world-shattering effect. Some claim the imbalance in the Realms that night – perhaps the weight of that many people (and their gifts, pets, and assorted inventories) so concentrated in one location – caused the world to end as it does at times. Yes, the gods always return the world shortly to some semblance of what it had been but those who are careless (and those too in love to reason) will often lose what they have recently gained. That was the fate of Loril and Grunthos that evening. The world re-built and they were both without their wedding rings.

… but the world continues to turn. Life is a circle, Loril will be the first to remind us. Loril and Grunthos Edelstone were wed and were one and so, were still on their Cloud Nine. Treachery and catastrophe both were forgotten. On they continued, this day helping Stoneheft finish mapping the sewers or Shadowport, that day showing a Little One how to look after himself.

The world was growing and her work took up more and more of her time. Grunthos was impatient for them to settle down. Stoneheft took Grunty’s side and wondered aloud how committed she really was to her family. This was too much for her. The Newbie Council was too busy for her to take much time off. She was torn and soon realized a clean break was the only way to save her marriage and her relationship with her brother. Loril retired from the Newbie Council with heavy heart one fateful night when the guys weren’t around. She carried with her for many years the well-wishes from so many that night and hopes they all know what those words meant that night when her life’s work, it seemed, had come to a full stop.

The circle continued as Loril and Grunthos learned she was with child. Oh glorious and fear-inducing days of preparation! He was born in the hills near Moria and was named Jeltz after a prominant member of Grunty’s home city of Azgoth. Jeltz (who chose a Cleric’s robes like his uncle) never knew his brother Dramar. He was a silly, bouncy and fun-loving youth who brought much pride to his parents. In his teens, Jeltz became insane and, it is believed, took his own life for he was suddenly never seen again.

It was not long before, once again, Loril gave birth to Dramar. This strapping lad chose the life of a Healer and his mother’s breast swelled with pride. She showered him with all manner of gifts and trinkets. Grunty chided her for spoiling the boy and not letting him strengthen and grow on his own. Perhaps he was correct. Perhaps it was just fate. Perhaps, perhaps. But Dramar too lost control of his mind. He was heard yelling long into the small hours that he wanted to die. Then, one day, he too disappeared.

Loril grieves to this day for her two sons. She fears ever having another child and despairs that after this long she may no longer be able … but time passes, and the world moves on, and the circle continues. Stoneheft had neared his ultimate goal of mapping the entire world and was casting about for a new occupation when one day, a Newbie Council member for whom he had great respect approached him about membership. Stoneheft was inducted and shortly thereafter, Jonqualyn and his brilliant wife Mariyah approached Loril as well. She was back home and this time with her beloved brother.

One day, it seemed no time at all later, she was called to the highest opportunity to help these lands. Lascivias, Serina, and Sarah called to her and asked her if she was ready. The circle was complete. It was time. And there, suddenly visible beneath her sandals was the Cloud she had always known was there. It whisked her high above Qetag’s Reach from where she continues to try to find ways to help her beloved Newbies – her Little Ones¬†… and the circle continues.

AOL CD’s? Back in my day they were on 3.5″ floppy disks!

When I asked Loril to share a few words with us I knew that whatever she sent would be fantastic … and she never disappoints. ¬†I strolled down memory lane with Loril’s words and despite her concern that it was far too long I couldn’t stop reading. ¬†I’ve split Loril’s submission into 2 parts: the person Loril and the character Loril. ¬†I hope you will find both as fascinating as I did. ¬†For the record, I have no trouble believing Loril spent two weeks in pre-auth, somehow I still think of her as some strange chimera of wide eyed newbie and (nearly) all-knowing goddess. ¬†Without further ado, in her own words, Loril!


Source: http://23rdworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/aol_cds.jpg
… and that was just Monday …

When I got my first home computer, I simply couldn’t wait to get onto this Internet that the network geeks at the data center where I worked were all abuzz about. In those days, everyone was inundated with 30-day free disks from AOL and CompuServe, among others. Being a very frugal person, I figured out pretty quickly how much these places would soak you for money if you let them … and so I didn’t let them. I used them for the free connection so I could research for an ISP that I figured offered the most for the least. Nucleus (nucleus.com) offered exactly what I needed – a BBS so I could talk to people about this brave new world, a connection to an entire world of knowledge (which is everything to me), and a few gaming pastimes (my true love!).


Now, skooch in close, kids and listen carefully … it was ALL TEXT. All of it. Text menus, chat rooms, games, ALL TEXT. Well, and ASCII pictures which were often lame, and more often brilliant. I spent crazy amounts of time, pre-Google (!) just looking around the world at what people were building and talking about. And that’s another topic altogether. We’re here to celebrate 20 years of the Realms of Despair. Hosted by Nucleus was a game called Mutants and I spent a lot of time dying ūüôā on that game but there were always players there and we’d chat. I was intrigued by one of the offerings – RoD, offering “Endless Medieval Enjoyment” – which was right up my game play alley. But everyone told me, ‘bah, you don’t want to play that – it’s always so laggy’. Well, hell. I was lagged enough at the time (though really, 1200 BAUD was pret-ty spiffy in those days ;)) and I didn’t need more lag. Yet, every time I logged in (remember the connection sound on those modems?), I looked at that tagline again. I finally couldn’t resist any longer. Lag be damned, I NEEDED Endless Medieval Enjoyment!

And it has been endless for me. I spent a full two weeks – real time! – in pre-auth. I read every help file I could to make the best possible character that would fully represent my alter self. I finally made it into the game and probably spent a good three months in the Academy! Yes. ūüėõ I did. After a time, a bud from Nucleus, name of Garlok, remade a character he’d allowed to delete and showed me a few things. I lost track of him, sadly, because his infectious use of the cackle social was a delight. Garlok, if you’re out there, hey man, get in touch.

One more thing before I proceed to tell you my MUD story in a biography (and probably lose you before the end of it!), I want to answer the question about why I stuck to text all these years. I’m a gamer from way back. Atari, Nintendo (original and Super), Intellivision, and PlayStation. Not to mention what I still believe were the best PC games ever invented. Perhaps, in fact, it was “Quest for Glory: So You Want to be a Hero” (originally named “Hero’s Quest) and numerous other Sierra games that spoiled me forever for graphical games. Thank you, Ken and Roberta Williams and Al Lowe for, in my opinion, “completing” graphical games. In my mind, they are done (though I’d buy another in a heartbeat). They had actual stories, beauty in pictures and in music. I can’t, and couldn’t, imagine that ever being done better. I’ve always been a reader.

It’s the book versus the movie thing: nothing (with the exception of Peter Jackon’s Lord of the Rings) can ever live up to the pictures I have in my own mind. Or perhaps in yours! Look at this reunion memory I shared with Massively in 2011.

Fact is, Realms of Despair has, for just shy of 20 years, been my favourite book that never ends. ūüôā


(Loril’s in character reflection appears separately in an upcoming blog post)


Picnics and Renfairs and Pubs! Oh my! Stoneheft remembers …

One of the real characters of Realms is Stoneheft. ¬†He’ll lurk about for a while and then hit you with something that either makes you really think or makes you spit milk out your nose. ¬†I recall with muddled¬†clarity some of the events described here … For those that never attended one of those long ago reunions, we essentially took over a chunk of the Ontario Renaissance Festival for a good part of the day, usually followed by small group activities and finally landing at the Fox and Fiddle. ¬†When the Ontario Renaissance Festival folded up shop and closed its gates¬†the event moved to different public parks and campgrounds.

This series was inspired in part by my disappointment at there not being an organized Realms of Despair Reunion this year due to lack of committed attendees but I hear that the Texas Get-Together may happen. ¬†Huzzah if it does! ūüôā ¬†Maybe some of Stoneheft’s recollections might inspire you to answer “YES!” the next time someone asks if you want to come out to a reunion:


“So many years have gone by with so many varying types of reunions. My¬†memories are inaccurate and likely filed out of order, but there sure¬†are a lot of memories. Back in the pre-history days, there were the¬†idirect picnics, or were those io.org? I don’t remember which was first¬†but I remember deciding to go to one because Grace Gemstone was going. Loril and I were curious about meeting the player behind the mother of¬†our favorite characters, so the “Going to these things” had begun.

The venues got better as the gatherings became “Realms of Despair Reunions”¬†rather than ISP picnics. We had fun every year at the Renaissance Festivals,¬†met Edmond, Dria, Kali, and so many others. We played with the swords at the¬†shops, won many pints of beer at the games that were awfully easy, completed¬†the RL quests that Dria put together and got to know the players behind the characters we knew. Absolute tonnes of fun were had, and then we’d head off¬†to that loud bar in Oakville and settle down over a few drinks. We met Destre¬†at one of these old RenFests, in good weather Destre, her husband, Loril and¬†I get together to try out a new or known pub.

After a fairly pleasant day, at a RenFest, way out in Milton, the evening was getting unpleasantly rainy and everyone was getting on with getting home. Making our way out to the muddy field that passed for a parking lot, we merged with the crowd passing through the gate and found Hubris trying to arrange a ride home. It turns out he lives about 25 blocks away from us, so we crammed him into the back seat of the little Volkswagen Cabriolet with Dyrk and headed back to the City. Fortune smiled on us, Hubris likes both beer and the Pub between his place and ours. We hit the patio with him at least once a summer for burgers and beers.

Hoerkin found us. Loril and I were enjoying a RenFest when a big guy with his¬†nametag torn came up and announced “Hey, I’m Hoerkin!”. He was correct, I can¬†appreciate when someone knows who they are, so we added Hoerkin to our little¬†group, then Ceirana, and continued along completing Dria’s RenFest RL quest.¬†We must have had fun. I remember Hoerkin’s nametag was eventually ripped down¬†to just “Ho” and wouldn’t stay stuck to his sweatty shirt. Sweatty Ho became¬†a very good friend. He does, of course, like beer.

The reunions changed when Milton’s RenFest closed. There was the year at the¬†Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, and the community camping at Bingeman’s. In¬†the first year, we tented it and had a great time but decided on splurging for¬†a cabin in the following years. Many hours gathered many great memories out¬†on the porch of that cabin. Grishnakh could keep a conversation going, he knew¬†things and had such interesting opinions and ideas about stuff in game and RL.

Alex, oh where do I start. Alex can keep a conversation going all weekend and¬†never drop below fascinating. So long as nobody is eavesdropping we probably¬†won’t even get silenced or banned.¬†Time moves on. The venue changes to Orr’s Lake where Thoric and Jane who does¬†not mud host the gang personally. Loril and I are no longer able to put in a¬†whole weekend, but Bulgroth went and had a good time. Loril and I visit for an¬†afternoon and find Jane’s theatre group putting on a “theatrical swordfighting”¬†demonstration. How awesome was that?

Reunions… Good Memories.

Thanks to all of you, mentioned here or not, the reunions are a great extension of our MUD.

Thanks for 20 years.”