I came to Armageddon about three years ago after tiring of the banality a RP-enforced mud that is elsewhere in the Top Ten listing. I was in the middle of shopping around for a new RP-enforced mud and was trying out a few here and there but they weren't quite doing it for me. Not quite sure why I picked Armageddon in the end. The name didn't sound that great to me but after reading the blurb I thought I'd give it a try. It sounded harsh and tough and that was what I was looking for.
The first thing you'll do is create and account and write up a character. This character has to be approved by the Imms in order to preserve the integrity of the gameworld. Its relatively painless though once you've read the tips on creating a character and I've never had to wait too long for approval despite the fact that I'm not a US-peak time player (I think about 15 hours is the max and 20 minutes is the min for me with it generally being around 4 or 5 hours).
Once you've been approved you're ready to start. My first impressions were mixed - I came from a mud with lots of colours and Armageddon doesn't have any... or two if you want to be pedantic ;) There is slight ANSI support but if you want colours you'll need to use your client's triggers. Personally, I grew used to black and white and I like the kind of starkness it gives the game which matches its mood but it didn't do it for me in the beginning.
I stuck it out though despite feeling a little underwhelmed initially. I hung around one of the local taverns to get a feel for the place and the first major thing that struck me was the RPing going on around. My last Mud was a place where everybody used the stock emotes; where smiles were beamed, people bounced happily, everybody laughed "heh, heh, heh"... you get the idea. Not so on Armageddon. I'd found a place where people RPed realistic emotions and actions. I quickly discovered that the Armageddon's code is written to greatly help with RPing. The coded emote system, while a little tricky to get the hang of at first, is the best I've seen yet and allows you to flexibly reference all the people and objects around you. This really helps people to express themselves and brings the gameworld alive. I was glad too to find that people weren't excessive about the whole thing either - you won't be waiting 2 minutes for 4 or 5 line emotes and I find the game moves along at a nice pace.
Of course emoting doesn't equal RPing. Armageddon has some excellent RPers I believe. When I was looking for a new Mud I was looking for realism, complexity and shades of grey. I was tired of the evil to the core, good to the bone type of characters and wanted to play in a world inhabited by realistic characters where you can never be quite sure what is motivating their actions. I've played with some really great RPers in my time on Arm that fit the bill of what I was hoping to find. All kinds of roles are open on Arm too. Want to play a mercenary? No problem - join the T'Zai Byn. Want to work as an aide in a Noble House? Ask around and you'll find something. Want to be a shady character out to make yourself some coin selling information and black market gear? Its there for you if you have the smarts. Hunters, nomads, all kinds of crafters (the crafting system is great), merchants, political schemers, drunks, bards, soldiers, smugglers, physicians... pretty much anything you want is there.
At this point I'll throw in a word or two about the Imms. It'll sound like I'm sucking up to them but they are excellent in my opinion, especially considering that all their efforts are 100% voluntary. I've seen some idiotic ones on other Muds but Armageddon's are professional and generally quick to respond to questions in my experience. They run ongoing plots some of which have been rumbling on for a long time now and facilitate player-driven plotlines.
Some other things to be aware of when making up your mind about joining or not is that Armageddon utilises permadeath. Once your character dies thats it, time to make a new one. This suits me perfectly as I think it makes you consider the consequences of your actions. New characters often die quickly on Arm as the learning curve is steep. Armageddon didn't quite click with me in the beginning - I didn't think about the consequences of my actions enough and I paid the price with a few characters. Once you start thinking what you would do if you were really in a particular situation your life expectancy should jump up dramatically, though there's no accounting for bad luck. Also, its a low-fantasy. low-tech world. Metal is extremely rare and valuable so weapons and armour are made from bone, obsidian, chitin, etc. Magick is quite rare and hated by almost everybody. If you're looking for a high-fantasy setting then Armageddon is not likely to appeal to you.
Another thing to note is that not all races and classes are open to new players. Magick is hated and feared amongst the general populace and other races have abilities which require some experience to be able to play correctly. In that sense Armageddon is not about all the classes being balanced - some classes can be horribly powerful. To get access to these options when creating a character you have to prove that you can be trusted not to abuse them. The Imms grant karma to those players who they think can be trusted with certain roles. As you continue to prove your trust your karma level will rise. If you have a great idea for playing a high-karma role you are able to submit a special application but you should be warned that this application can take a long time (read weeks) to process as they're a low priority for the Imms and its something I've never used. I found that once I treated the gameworld correctly and I put some effort into playing my role that the initial levels of karma was given quite easily. I may as well add here that the magick system on Armageddon is excellent, especially once you look past the pure coded side of it and delve into its meaning, symbolism, etc.
Hmm, this has gotten long after all. To wrap it all up then. In my opinion Armageddon is an excellent Mud to come to if you want to make and play with compelling characters. I've played a variety of characters: scummy alley trash that rose up in the organised crimeworld, elementalist mage, noble, hunter / crafter and an explorer and enjoyed each for the different perspectives they give you on the gameworld. I've gone through a few scenes that had my hands shaking as they were being played out. I've had my head in a whirl trying to gather together the various strands of what plots were going on around the place in time to understand what was happening to use it.. or sell it. I've used and outsmarted people and been used and outsmarted by others, killed and been murdered, been loyal and betrayed, been powerful and totally insignificant. The learning curve is steep and it can take some getting into in the beginning but its worth it if you want to lose yourself in a detailed and deep world. Armageddon might only have two colours on screen but the game is pure shades of grey.