Get Sponsored

Copyright © 1995 Robert M. Free - publishing rights reserved

This document may be freely copied and distributed, provided that: this copyright notice is included, the entire body of text is included, and the textual content of this document is unchanged.

For written permission to use portions of this document in other publications, send email to

MUD - Multi-User Dungeon/Domain/Domicile/Dimension/Dialogue

MUDs come in several flavors: MUSH, MUCK, LP, DIKU, MOO, etc. For more info on these various MUD variations, read the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) documents on the* newsgroups.

An excellent FAQ on MUDs is available at

MUTT's MUD List provides a list of links to frequently available mud sites.
Additional MUD information is available at these links.

Wiley publishes a book called Playing MUDs on the Internet, written by Shah and Romine.

General Description

A MUD can best be described as a plain-text internet server that provides a context-sensitive environment for multi-user conversations.

These users can be other people connected to the MUD, or they may be automated agents. In addition to participating in conversations, users can also seek/browse for objects and examine/read them.

The advantage of using a MUD over a chat protocol is that each MUD is contextually organized - typically using a room metaphor. Each user can browse from room to room, each room having a unique characteristic and containing different people/agents/objects within.

Most MUDs support navigation via commands such as "north", "south", "ne" (north-east), "up", "down", "enter room", etc. As the user enters a room, the MUD issues a text description of the room, a list of people/agents/objects in the room and a list of other places that you can go to from there.

Passing from room to room, the user "hears" all the conversations going on by the other people/agents in that room. Some people are whispering to each other - such conversations are not overheard by other people. The user also hears "shouts" from users in other parts of the MUD.

Users might find some rooms/objects locked or hidden; accessing them often requires either permission from the MUD adminstrators or acquired experience on the MUD.

A MUD Example

An good MUD example might be a one organized as a library. You would log onto the MUD and find yourself in the lobby or card-catalog room. You would receive a description of the room and it's contents.

You might recognize other users in the room and stop to chat with them. There might be a librarian (either a live one or an automated agent) that you could ask questions of. You might also find a series of cataog files that you could browse through.

After exploring the room a bit, you might decide to enter the news archives, which you notice is just east of you. Upon entering the archives, you receive a description of the room and a different list of users in the room. You might also notice a number of articles laying around, which you can pick up and read. You can take the article with you, drop it where you found it, or put it back on the shelves.

You notice some privacy booths lining one of the walls and enter one. You find that no other people/agents are in there, and you can no longer hear anyone else chatting - allowing you to read your article in peace. When you are done, you leave the booth and explore some more!

MUDs as Gateway to Information

As you can see in the above example, MUDs can be used as virtual reality (VR) gateways to information. While most MUDs are currently limited to textual interaction, much work is underway to provide 3D front-ends to MUDs. With VR devices, you will actually be able to walk throught the MUD and pick up objects.

However, even without the pizzaz of VR, MUDs provide an excellent interface for accessing digital information, whether it is news, reference material, email, product info, odering forms and general entertainment.


Most MUDs are organized within a theme. The above library example could have been simply a game or an gateway to an actual working library.

Many MUDs are based on a world metaphor - the MUD contains cities, villages, buildings, forests, oceans, caves, which you can navigate through. Some MUDs allow you to catch trains or planes to navigate from one town to another, which is generally faster that "walking" from one site to another.

Some MUDS allow users to modify/enhance the world by creating new spaces, objects or agents. Sometimes this requires programming knowledge - in other cases, this may be as simple as typing "build house", "enter house", "add room", etc.

A majority of MUDs are set up as games - with Dungeons&Dragons-based themes. They require the players to gain experience on the MUD by exploring and completing certain tasks. Many such MUDs encourage inter-player cooperation to accomplish tasks. As the players gain in experience, they typically gain new "powers" that assist them in completing further tasks.

Some of these game MUDs focus on battle themes, others are more peaceable. The battle MUDs generally involve aquiring weapon/armour objects, seeking monster agents (or other playes) and battling them. If you succeed in conquering them, you gain skills/experience points and their weapons/armour/money. If you are defeated, you loose all the object you are carrying, and usually a significant number of points. The typical goal of these games is to gain enough points to become "immortal" and undefeatable.


The point of many game MUDs is to achieve enough points to become a "wizard". On battle MUDs, wizards are immortal and cannot be killed by other players. Typically, wizards are also responsible for maintaining the MUD (codewise) and making sure players follow the MUD's rules. On many MUDs, only wizards can create new spaces and agents.

Each MUD is organized differently, but some of the larger MUDs follow the following immortal hierachy:

How Do You Access A MUD?

The first step is to find some MUDs to explore. Read the* FAQs to find listings of MUDs, or check out MUTT's MUD List. You will need the IP address and port number of the MUD you want to connect to, and an internet "client" program to connect to the MUD.

Telnet is the cheapest way to connect to a MUD; just set the correct port number and open the right address and you are ready to go!

However, Telnet is not the optimal way of connecting to a MUD, as multiple conversations will get garbled as they intermix with your typed responses. A better method is to use a MUD "client". These are tuned to work with MUDs and typically have separate windows for sending and receiving conversations. Many also support scripting and triggers, which allow you to automate responses to events occuring on the MUD - which is very useful for battle MUDs.

A popular MUD client on unix is TinyFugue, or "tf". Several MUD clients are now available for MS Windows. One such client is MUTT(tm). Others are available for the MAC; the* newsgroup FAQs list several clients.

Once you have connected to the MUD, it will typically ask you for a name and password. If this is a game MUD, your login name will be a character name. The character name should conform to the theme of the MUD. Most MUDs let you login as GUEST to get a feel of the place before you actually create a permanent character.

Many game muds will allow you to define character attributes within the theme of the MUD. Typical character attributes for a MUD might be: sex (male, female, neutral), species (human, elf, wolf...), description, etc. Different characteristics may be associated with differing skills and abilities on the MUD. Some MUDs allow users to have multiple characters, each with different abilities.

After you've created a character, you'll be able to log onto the MUD again in future, typically taking up where you left before. The first thing you will probably want to do on the MUD is to enable text capturing on your client (if available) and type "help". This will generally give you a list of common commands that you can use on the MUD. You might also look for a map of the MUD, to give you an idea of the layout.

Typical MUD Commands

Each MUD will have its own set of unique commands, but most have some common behaviors. Here are some common commands:

MUDs: Under the Hood

Basically, a MUD is relational data base with a multi-user interface. The database stores objects which may represent spaces, players, behaviors and any other object in the database.

Behaviors define what happens when you interact with an object. For instance, when you enter a room, its behavior is to generally give you a list of descriptions for all the other objects in the room.

Each object has a behavior that defines what happens when you look at, attack or attempt to take an object.

The engine that makes all this work is generally called a MUD Operating System. Each operating has its own language that allows wizards to enhance the MUD and add new objects and rooms. It is this OS and language that defines whether a MUD is an MUSH, LP, MOO, etc.

One attempt to unify all these various engines is MudOS. It provides most of the features common to all MUDs, and several MUD engines, such as LP, have been re-implemented on top of MudOS. LPC, the language used on LP MUDs, has been re-implemented on top of MudOS.

Beyond the MUD engine and its language, the character of a MUD is also defined by libraries of objects, rooms and behaviors known as MudLibs.

Only after selecting a platform, then a MUD engine/language and MudLib can you really begin to create a new, unique MUD world.

For more information on MUTT(tm), email