ON THE PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF MUSHES

(Last update : Monday, 21 September 1998)

CAVEAT : This is by no means a finished work. But once I had passed the 100K mark, I thought I might as well put it online and invite feedback concerning what ought to be added, deleted, changed, or reorganized. (Note: we have recently passed the 700K mark, but it's still a rough draft). Please send any constructive criticism HERE.



Statement of Purpose : To help Wizards/Gods/Whatever avoid some of the errors that have caused many players to give up on a particular mush, having been disappointed for a variety of reasons with the local setup. Most Wizards will doubtless already have firm opinions on many of the points referred to here, but if you see something you never gave much thought to before, you might want to read my comments and consider formulating an Official Position before your players start asking for one. Of course, like everything in this document, this Statement of Purpose is a rough draft and may be modified at any time.

FOUND ON THIS PAGE

NEW ADDITIONS

GLOSSARY

CREDITS

COPYRIGHT STUFF

BIBLIOGRAPHY


SECTION INDEX (Each Section is a separate page)
ON THEME ON CHARACTERS ON CONSENT
ON ADMINISTRATION ON CODING IDEAS ON GEOGRAPHY
ON COMMUNICATIONS ON ROLEPLAY ON MAGIC
ON IC ORGANIZATIONS ON TINYPLOTS MAIN PAGE

Send feedback on these pages HERE.


NEW ADDITIONS



NOTE : Whenever this Web Document is updated, the joyous tidings are announced in six places:

The Godlike Edge mailing list, the Mush-Staff mailing list, the rec.games.mud.misc newsgroup, the rec.games.mud.admin newsgroup, the rec.games.mud.tiny newsgroup, and right here on this page.



THIS UPDATE:

NEW SECTION: ON TINYPLOTS


NEW AND REVISED CHAPTERS:

CHARACTER: ON THE ABILITIES OF GUESTS (new)

MAGIC: ON THE USE OF MAGIC OBJECTS (preexisting chapter has been expanded)

MAGIC: ON PRESCIENCE (new)

ROLEPLAY: ON CANNED SPEECHES (corrected one or two errors in the preexisting chapter)

TINYPLOT : SAMPLE TINYPLOT SEEDS (previously available on one of my webpages, but not as part of this document).

TINYPLOT : ON SOURCES OF TINYPLOT IDEAS (new)

MAIN PAGE: BIBLIOGRAPHY (updated and finally organized)


SUNDRY CHANGES:

POPUPS: I hope that I have managed to get my GeoGuide properly installed and activated on every single page in this document, so that those very annoying GeoCities Popups will stop spamming your screen. If I missed a few, I'll catch them and kill them as quickly as I can, I promise! Unfortunately, it is much easier to cause an update of a previously "safe" page to start producing Popups again than the other way around, or so it seems to me. Also, there doesn't seem to be any way to kill off the "Watermark" which GeoCities has recently added (the transparent letters saying "GeoCities" in the lower right corner of your screen). Please do your level best to ignore them - I certainly try.

E-MAIL ADDY: Every page has a Section Index which includes a link to my e-mail addy. The old address, afn40452@afn.org, has been changed to Laurent71@usa.net in the wake of some massive server problems with afn.org which finally resulted in my account there (and 2600 other people's acounts) being restored from a taped copy made in August of 1997, with the result that I have permanently lost any archived e-mails from the past 12 months which I had not bothered to copy to floppy disk or hard drive before the server problems started a couple of months ago. I have reason to hope that usa.net will be more reliable, and my new address for discussion of mushing matters is now over there. The afn40452@afn.org account still exists for the time being, but I ask any interested parties to stop using it as quickly as possible.


PREVIOUS UPDATE:

ADMIN: ON THE MATTER OF TOADING (new)

ROLEPLAY: ON THE TYPES OF POWERPOSING (new)

ROLEPLAY: ON CANNED SPEECHES (new)

THEME: ON THE PERILS OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT (new)


GLOSSARY



For the less experienced, I have attempted to define all of the unusual mushing terms that may appear in the main text, as well as several standard Internet acronyms which we mushers use just like everybody else, and a few bits of slang which may not be generally used, but I know that I use them :)

ADDY : Address. In mushing parlance, usually refers to the address needed to connect to a mush via a telnet link, including the port number. Example: tyme.opnet.org 6161.

AFAIK : As Far As I Know

AFK : Away From Keyboard

AKA : Also Known As

ALT : Alternate Character. The term is only used if you have at least two of them on a single mush.

APP: Noun - application. Verb - apply (as in "turn in an application."). In mushing, applications are often necessary for such things as requesting a character with special powers, requesting a new IC Group be set up, requesting a big, complicated TinyPlot be approved, and so forth.

ATM : At The Moment (ATM also means Automatic Teller Machine in RL, but it's very rare for that meaning to be intended when two mushers are chatting online).

BB : Bulletin Board. In mushing parlance, only used to refer to BBs accessible on a particular mush.

BBL : Be Back Later

BBS : Be Back Soon. Synonymous with the more commonly used BRB (see entry).

BF : Boyfriend.

BRB : Be Right Back.

BUILD: The verb "to build" in mushing parlance means creating a new room or object, and coding in its description and making it sensitive to any special commands that may be appropriate.

CANNED (as in Canned Speech) : Adjective referring to a block of text that has already been typed out and recorded somewhere - for example, an object has been coded to recite the speech when triggered by a brief command. A good way to keep your audience from getting restless if you're going to be putting on a show for them.

CHAR : A common abbreviation of the word Character, meaning a Player Character (see entry).

DB : Database.

DBREF : Database Reference Number. The dbref of any person, object, or room on a mush is the unique serial number which the database uses to keep track of the subject.

DESC (noun): Description. Refers to the text file attached to a person, room, or object on a mush, which is visible on a Player's screen whenever he is in the right place to see the subject, and types "Look Whatever" and thus Icly studies the appearance of Whatever.

DESC (verb): To write a description and place it on something (room, character, object) so other people can Look at it.

DRPG : Diceless Roleplaying Game. A RPG where you never roll dice.

FAQ : Frequently Asked Questions. Usually a file in the form of a list of very common questions relating to the matter at hand (the local rules and theme of a mush, for instance), each question followed by one or more paragraphs providing a comprehensive answer so that you won't have to bug the compilers of the FAQ with a question they've already heard a hundred times.

FC : Feature Character (see entry).

FEATURE CHARACTER (commonly called a Feature): 1) When the Mush is set in a world originally created for another medium (books, TV series, films, whatever), any character appearing on the Mush who previously appeared in the other medium would be a Feature Character. Please note that such characters are generally not available to just anyone, but tend to require an application process where the Wizards examine your App and decide if you have what it takes to play somebody who most of the other RPers are going to recognize for OOC reasons.

2) Sometimes a character specifically created for the Mush may be considered essential to its continued well-being, so that if the original player has to leave, the job is offered up for grabs. "Who wants to play our beloved King now?" At this point the character has effectively become a permanent feature, or Feature, of the mush, and you can probably expect to find him still active for the next several years, no matter how many players use and then abandon the role. As with the first category, such heavyweights usually require a careful application process before you get to play them.

FYI: For Your Information

GF : Girlfriend.

IC : In Character

IIRC : If I Recall Correctly.

IMHO : In My Humble Opinion.

IMO : In My Opinion.

LOG (noun) : A file containing a record of everything that you said and did, saw and heard, while active on a mush. Usually your software will save it as straight ASCII text, which can be easily edited with any word processor in existence (AFAIK).

LOG (verb) : Using your software to make a log (see the definition above) of a session on a MUSH.

LOG ON : To connect to a mush and sign on as a particular character.

LOG OFF : To end the session online with a particular character.

LOL : Laugh Out Loud

MAV : An embarrassing error in regards to directing a speech or pose to the wrong place, such as saying out loud in an IC room something you meant to direct to an OOC channel. Supposedly, way back in the dawn of mushing, one character who FREQUENTLY made did this sort of thing was actually named Mav, and his name became synonymous with such blunders.

MOO : Mud, Object-Oriented

MUCK : Multi-User Construction Kit

MUD: Multi-User Dungeon. Traditionally the hack'n'slash places where lots of monsters roam the streets waiting for you to fight them to the death, with the understanding that every time you kill one you get points, and enough points earns you a promotion to the next level which makes you tougher, etc. Mud code comes in several different brands (DikuMUD, DragonMUD, Circlemud, etc.) However, the word is sometimes used as a generic term for all Multi-User Roleplaying setups as a single group. See entries on MOO, MUCK, MURPE, MUSH, MUX.

MUD LIST : A webpage (or set of webpages linked together on a single site) listing a large number of MUDs.

MURPE : Multi-User Roleplaying Experience

MUSE : Multi-User Simulated Environment

MUSH (noun): Multi-User Shared Hallucination. The code comes in two basic varieties - Pennmush and Tinymush, and never the twain shall meet. A Mush is generally heavily oriented toward RP and not doing nasty things to people without their consent.

MUSH (verb) : To play on a mush.

MUX : Multi-User Experience. Muxes use TinyMux code, which is a new and improved descendant of Tinymush code. Any coded object that worked in Tinymush ought to work in TinyMux as well.

OOC : Out Of Character. Refers to anything that you know, that your character wouldn't know; or anything you say that your character didn't say IC.

OTOH : On The Other Hand.

PC : Player Character (see entry). Or occasionally Personal Computer. Or sometimes Politically Correct. You have to use context to guess which is intended.

PLAYER : The flesh-and-blood human being sitting at a computer somewhere typing commands to control his online character.

PLAYER CHARACTER : The online character being manipulated by the typed commands of a Player somewhere.

PK or PKILL : Player-Killing. Refers to the permissibility of one player killing another on a particular M** without needing the victim's OOC consent first. MUDs frequently permit this, although the dead man is generally raised from the dead immediately and indefinitely; MUSHes tend to forbid it.

POV : Point of View.

POWERGAMER : A player who does his best to ride roughshod over everybody else. This is the sort of thing that really needs to be demonstrated with a vivid example, so observe this sample of combat RP between a regular RPer and a Powergamer. Tom leads off with the first pose, then Jerry reacts.

Tom loses his temper and takes a swing at Jerry's jaw.

Jerry easily dodges the punch while drawing a dagger and shoving it between Tom's ribs, puncturing his heart as the blade is buried to the hilt in Tom's chest.

In this example Jerry is the Powergamer and very obnoxious about it. NOTE: Occasionally you may RP a fight with someone who has already agreed OOCly to lose, but even then it's common courtesy to pose your blows as mere attempts to strike him and let him decide which ones connect and how much damage they do.

POWERPOSE: An attempt by one Player to "force" something to happen to another Player's Character, such as posing a successful attack. See POWERGAMER.

RETCON : Retroactive Continuity, which is to say, "Rewriting History."

RL : Real Life.

ROTFL : Roll On The Floor Laughing

RP : Roleplay. Used as both noun and verb.

RPer : A Roleplayer.

RPG : Roleplaying Game. Traditionally used for discussing the ones played in RL, sitting around a table, such as Dungeons& Dragons. Online roleplay games are often collectively referred to as MUDs, MU**, or M**.

SPAM : Overly lengthy and/or meaningless text placed on your screen by someone else.

ST : Refers to anything connected with the Star Trek theme.

STAFF: People who help the Wizards in doing the work that keeps a mush running (building, answering questions, writing rules files and newsfiles, etc.) but who generally do not have the sweeping powers of a true Wizard.

SW : Refers to anything connected with the Star Wars theme.

TINYPLOT : Despite the "Tiny" part, this commonly refers to any Plot which two or more people intend to play from start to finish. A TinyPlot could theoretically take a couple of RL years to complete and involve dozens of characters, although this is easier said than done. In practice it's likelier to be something that could be summed up in a sentence or two, such as "Assassin tries to murder Lord, Assassin fails, Assassin is hunted down, captured, and placed on trial." That sort of thing. See Puddleglum's "The Joy of TinyPlotting" for the classic discussion of the subject.

TINYSEX : A sexual encounter between characters on a M***.

TP : TinyPlot.

TPC : TinyPlot Coordinator. Frequently believed to be a purely apocryphal creature, although sightings have been reported on a few mushes, here and there . . .

TS: TinySex (see entry).

TWINK : A lousy player. There are several different ways to be a twink, but some of the more infamous ones are : 1) To say things IC that you only know OOC, or to do IC things based on OOC knowledge. 2) To be utterly contemptuous of the local theme and/or rules. 3) To act ICly in a fashion wildly inconsistent with what your character is supposed to be like.

URL : Uniform Resource Locator. The Internet "address" for finding anything that's been put on the Worldwide Web.

VIP : Very Important Person.

VP : Viewpoint. See the entry for the synonymous term POV (which is more commonly used). "VP" can also mean "Vice President," as in Al Gore in Washington D.C., but this usage rarely occurs on a mush.

WIZARD : A common term for one of the Powers That Be on a mush; the kind of person who can write global code, build rooms, approve special applications, @toad troublemakers or inactive characters, share some of these powers with other characters as appropriate, etc. Other words used for this meaning on various M** are God and Immortal.

WOD (or WoD) : Refers to anything connected with the World of Darkness theme (a set of RPGs from White Wolf Games).

WOT (or WoT) : Refers to anything connected with the Wheel of Time theme (an epic fantasy series written by Robert Jordan).

YMMV : Your Mileage May Vary.




CREDITS



I would just like to thank all the fine people who, one way or another, helped me gain the experience and stories of "the old days" that helped me formulate these opinions on mushing. There are too many of them to list, and in many cases I never knew their real names and they may have abandoned the IC names they were using at the time, but I hope they will know who they were when I mention who I was at the time.

On Cuendillar MUX I used such names as Bertran, Laeri, and Flennar.

On Castle D'Image I was known as Jerem and Laurent, way back in the days when I was a total newbie. Months later I briefly tried to establish an analog of my character "Bertran," but sadly had to drop out of mushing not long after that.

On Regent of Dune MUX I was Khattab and Laurent.

On RivaMUSH I was Khanazar, Leothric, and Bertran.

On SuperHero MUX I was once known as Brother Blood. Also Electro, briefly.

On the tempsite for Tales of Ta'Veren I was Laurent and Bertran.

All these mushes had, and hopefully still have, a good many regular participants who were respectful of the local theme as they understood it, who were never deliberately twinks or powergamers, respected the consent rules and other elements of proper mushing etiquette, did their best to provide mutually enjoyable RP with those they interacted with, and were generally patient and helpful in answering my frequent questions about their opinions and/or experiences regarding many points of mushing in general and their own characters in particular. Bless them!

Some of them were newbies to the whole thing, some were veterans with years of online RP under their belts; some were Staff or Wizards, some didn't even want to be; some became online friends of mine and some I only conversed with once or twice in any depth, but appreciated the discussions.

There were other places I never learned to love, but I won't bother naming them. They may have improved by now, anyway, in which case it wouldn't be fair to prejudice you against them.




COPYRIGHT STUFF



Several times I have received e-mails requesting permission to add a link to this Web Document on the sender's own webpages. I am always surprised by such requests - pleased, but surprised - because my longstanding theory on these matters has always been that obviously anyone who creates a webpage and then takes some trouble to publicize its URL (such as mentioning it on e-mail lists, or newsgroups, or submitting it to search engines, and I have done all three) presumably WANTS as many people as possible to find that URL, examine the Web Page, and hopefully enjoy and admire what they find there. Even if they only find it because they followed a link from somebody else's website to get there. This is certainly true in my own case.

To make it explicit: anyone wanting to add a link to ON THE PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF MUSHES is perfectly free to do so on their own webpages, without needing my prior consent in each case (although of course I always appreciate being notified that you have seen fit to advertise my stuff on your own website - but it isn't mandatory that you tell me). I recommend you make the link to this "main page" of the document, http://www.geocities.c om/Area51/Corridor/1815/carefeed.html, but if for some reason you prefer to link directly to one of the Section Pages, that's fine too.

In addition, if you want to print out some or all of this Web Document so that you can read it over at your leisure while away from a computer, that's fine too, as long as you don't do anything with your printouts that flagrantly violates my copyright, such as making fifty photocopies and then trying to sell them to your friends for cold cash.

However, anyone wanting to actually copy large blocks of text (such as a full screen's worth) onto their own websites where anybody with a browser might run across them would be well-advised to get my permission first. Everything in this document was written by me, EXCEPT for such Chapters as are specifically credited to some other person and are only used with their kind permission, which means that I automatically own the copyright to every last byte of my work (and any other contributors naturally retain the copyright to THEIR work, even though I am permitted to reproduce it here). While brief quotations to illustrate a point (up to a paragraph or two at a time, let's say) are generally considered to fall under "fair use," any unauthorized duplication of truly substantial blocks of text is no more than plagiarism. For a more in-depth discussion of these matters, I refer you to the following articles:

A Brief Intro To Copyright

Ten Myths About Copyright Explained



NOTE: One mirror site of this document already exists - the creator having FIRST solicited and obtained my permission - at http://www.visi.com/~gyles19/ho mer /carefeed.html


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Links to these hypertext documents are found in the various chapters of ON THE PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF MUSHES. For your convenience, a complete list of these useful sites is now provided here. They are sorted by Section (in alphabetical order) and then separated according to which Chapter of that Section contains which links. The Bibliography is ALMOST up-to-date, but I'm probably still missing one or two items in it.





ADMIN: ON THE PURPOSE OF A MUSH includes a link to

Pip's Lectures on Wizard Ethics

http://www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Inter net_Services /Email_Providers/Free_Email/



CODING: CUSTOMIZING YOUR CODE refers the reader to several interesting sites for more information, including:

http://www.pennmush.org/~talek/mus hinfo.html

ftp://ftp.idyllmtn.c om/pub/mud/mushcode/Kynn/Config/default.conf

http://www.dreslough.com/dee/M USH/decomp.html

http://www.best.com/~merlin/mc.bb.html

For more detailed explanations of what each of those links has to offer, refer to the Chapter itself.



CODING: ON REINVENTING THE WHEEL refers the reader to several interesting sites for useful code and/or comments on what do with it, including:

Kynn's MUSHcode Index at http://www.idyllmtn.com/~kynn/mushcode /

M&E; MUSHcode Archive at http://gargoyle.uhall.du.edu/mushcode/

Living Fiction's Globals at http://www.dreslough.com/dee/M USH/globals.html

Mux-in-a-Minute at http://www.amtgard.com/~marvin/#MIAM

Myrddin's MUSH Code Repository at http://www.best.com/~merlin/mushcode. html

MUSH Manual at http://www.godlike.com/mushman/

Javelin's Guide for PennMUSH Gods at http://www.godlike.com/mushman/

WWW Version of the MUSH Help Files at http://www.netmud.com/~glenn/help/he lp.html

Searchable Help Files at http://gargoyle.uhall.du.edu/mush/search .html

FTP Help Files at ftp://fly.ccs.yorku.ca/pub/tav-announce /help.txt



COMMUNICATIONS: ON THE NATURE OF ADVERTISING has links to:

Larry's List of Lists at http://ww.reocities.com/Ar ea51/Corridor/1815/listlist.html is a collection of sites where you might want to submit to your M** (some only take certain codebases, theme types, etc, so be careful).

http://www.webring.org is the right place to go if you want to join an existing webring to get your mush's website more publicity, or even investigate starting your own ring.



GEOGRAPHY: ON THEMATIC TRAVEL TIMES has a link to http://www.reocities.com/ Area51/Corridor/1815/Riva.html where I have posted a transcript of an old debate on a certain MUSH concerning how many IC Areas we really needed (I was the one arguing that we could close down half of them and be a better place by doing it).

GEOGRAPHY: ON THE PROPER SIZE OF THE IC GEOGRAPHY has a link to the same spot mentioned in the preceding paragraph :)



ROLEPLAY: ON KNOWING THE HOUSE RULES has links to two other pages of my own, which are not part of this document: Book-Themed SF/Fantasy M** at http://www.geocit ies.com/Area51/Corridor