After playing Materia Magica for about five years now I have come to the conclusion that this mud is , and will always be my home for online roleplaying.
At first it would seem the game is challenging and that your work does not pay off, but if you simply ask for advice as you go it's very easy to pick up on, and in no time you will have an above average character.
A lot of people get turned off to games because they're first character isn't too great. Because of this a player will become frustrated and not paly as much and may even quit. My answer to this is work your way through the game slowly. There is plenty to do for every level range.
Clans are another great assest for beginers, because it allows for advanced players to share knowledge even more freely then they would with a stranger, not to mention help you out in other aspects (Equipment, Leveling, Questing).
There are always guides and Immortals on to help just in case you can't seem to find any helpful players at the time (I being a guide myself).
As for the world of Materia Magica, it is the most extensive I have ever seen. There are areas ranging from mountains to castles to temples to dungeons.
All that aside the skill and magic system in the game are top notch, making spellcasting a very important part of the game. Some of the classes have some very exotic spellcasting techniques as well, making for interesting combat. Psionics casting their mental spells silently, adding stealth to magical power, druids using a invocation/evocation system rather then your stander 'Cast <spell> Mob' of most systems.
Questing is indepth, with a story behind each mission rather then go to point a, kill mob b, recover object c of most other games. Questing allows for truely magnificent advancement of your character in many aspects, as you gain experience gold practice points for skills and quest points to purchase unique and powerful items that can be gotten no other way.
The combat system is down right beautiful, with descriptive messages for every aspect. Not only are there different body parts to affect that you can choose through the built in targeting system, but there are also tons of other factors that matter in combat including active defenses, armor class, spells, and simply timing.
The game may seem a bit much for a begining mudder, or ever a player who has played a basic rom mud. But once you get into the game it becomes a lot more fun. And there are no shortage of people to help.