A MUSH (Multi User Shared Hallucination) is a text-based roleplaying game where you create a character to interact with the text-based world you’ve entered. There are plenty of different MUSHes, accessed by your telnet or a MUSH client (easily downloaded – just search ‘MUSH client’). The range of games is incredible – from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to medieval fantasy, worlds based on books (such as Pern or Middle Earth), even BDSM MUSHes.
To play, you can either be a ‘guest’ or create a name and password. After that, it’s up to you to read the ‘newbie files’ for the MUSH. Each MUSHes coding is a bit different, so you need to learn the correct commands to create a description for your character, the sex and personal background for them. In these world’s, you create, define, and portray a character through a text interface. In many ways, it is like a piece of interactive fiction, each player/character adding to stories and socializeing IC (in-character). How much fun you have will be entirely up to you and you’re creativity.
While it may seem boring to some, it is actually very stimulating for people who enjoy reading, writing, and interacting with others whose interests are similar. It also gives users a chance to roleplay, or act, in a manner they might not normally and to be a part of a grand storytelling. You can be whatever you want to be in these worlds. If you want to be a knight and slay dragons, you can, so long as you are in a MUSH where that is acceptable. Reading the rules and news files of any MUSH should be done shortly after creating your character. Afterwards, explore the different areas (rooms) and interact with a barmaid.
How a MUSH is created is too difficult for me to explain or understand, but they are usually created by code-minded fans of a particular genre, book, tv show, game or an original idea or theme. However, in the MUSH world, you can build yourself a dwelling or create objects yourself. Yes, believe it or not, simple codes like ‘@create dog’ are available to users. You can even make that dog into a puppet, an object who can listen and tell you what is heard in another room or area. If you put code onto that object, it can follow your commands. This is called softcode. It’s relatively simple and there are guides all over the Internet to take you through the process of putting softcode onto an object or room easily, such as Amberyl’s infamous site. I recommend getting a strong cup of coffee before delving into the world of coding.
Think of a MUSH as a chat-room, only you’ve got detailed descriptions of the room you are standing in and the person you talking to. Part of the enjoyment of roleplaying in a text-based way is that it forces you to use your imagination instead of having a 3-D image handed to you. It’s the same as why some people prefer a book to a movie – they would to create their own world in their head and envision it in their own way.
Playing on a MUSH is roleplaying in it’s purest form. What you say and how you say it means more to other users than hacking and slashing at computer graphic dinosaurs. While graphic games are great, so is the opportunity to use your mind and weave imaginative stories. Some of the best friends I have are online in these worlds…and I only know them by who they present to me in their character. When someone’s “alter ego” says something hilarious or banters back and forth with me, it’s really the player, just in the form of someone else. This is similar to the saying that all of a writer’s character’s are an extension of himself.
A roleplaying game like a MUSH focuses on interaction, conversation and dynamic storylines. Combat can be a part of it, and often is at times, but it is not the element that draws people to these games. If combat is what you are really seeking, then I suggest playing an online role playing game that has a graphic interface, such as Everquest. However, if the idea of a text-based game where you can create the world yourself and develope depths of your character and establish bonds with others is your idea of fun, you should investigate the many different types of MUSHes out there. The only limit on what you can do is your imagination.