"Welcome to Armageddon."
Enter Zalanthas, a once thriving world destroyed by ancient magicks and transformed into a barren desert, where survival depends on sharp wits, power, and more than a little luck. This is an immersive role-playing game where realism is paramount. You don't get any second chances at life. You obey the city laws or you will be punished.. if you are caught. You brave traveling the dunes, only to be chased down by tribes whose land you trespassed, and hunted by wild beasts. For those few who attain high status and fortune, life is no simpler.. You must constantly watch your back for would-be assassins, or spies among your most trusted servants.
What immediately impressed me about this game is that there is such attention to detail that the reality of the world itself is striking. Each room is vividly described, from the rolling desert dunes, to the most extravagant noble's dwelling, from the majestic and serene temples of the elementalists to the most pathetic, squalid tenements of the poor. You will see the sun rise and set, and the weather changes from day to day (and it affects you.. just try traveling on a moonless night, or in the middle of a brutal sandstorm). The code itself is of such broad scope that almost anything is possible. If you possess the right skills, you can create objects from items you buy, or forage from the vast wilderness. You can craft musical instruments, a large assortment of weapons, armor, jewelry, furniture, even wagons, the list goes on.. You can tame wild beasts, cook the food you hunt and skin for yourself (or perhaps just buy from the grocer's), make bandages to patch your wounds, brew beverages or mix deadly poisons. For an idea of the complexity of the game, all one has to do is take a look at the General Discussion Board linked to on the main site, you will find people in lengthy discussion over fine details, ones that are, or soon could be, realistically implemented in the game.
There is such diversity that each character you create will result in an entirely different experience. No one has yet discovered all the mysteries of the world. There are at least 20 different houses and clans that can be joined, not to mention those few who decide to go-it-alone as solo hunters and travelers. Each house and clan has a unique culture, each with it's own stories from the elders of the group and different opportunities for you to make your mark (and even earn a little money along the way).
You could become a craftsman, and work for one of the merchant houses, selling fine silks or desert gear, specialized weapons and armours, jewelry, prepared foods, or even spice (the equivalent to drugs on Zalanthas). You could also work as a guard for for one of the noble houses.. be prepared to become involved in whatever devious plots they might be up to in order to increase their presence in the city. You could become an elementalist, wielding magick to destroy your foes in a burst of flames, walk the air invisible, or heal the wounded. You could become a rebel working to restore the independence of a conquered state (an event which occurred due to a player-driven war). You could be a thief, dipping your hands into the pockets of the people on the bustling streets, or perhaps a burglar, whose highest goal is to break into the one of the templars' estates and steal their most prized gems. You could wander the sands alone, learning the secrets of survival in the desert.. and perhaps stumble upon something mysterious, long forgotten by the rest of the populace preferring to stay safe within the city walls. You could join an isolated elven clan, where the drive to preserve the secrecy of the tribe is stronger than even your own self-worth, and where being a cunning thief is the highest honour one can attain.
The extensive emoting code allowed me to create complex characters with distinct personalities, and makes uncoded, emoted activities seem just as realistic, if not more, than coded interactions with the other players. Each of my characters have had lives of their own so vivid, that it takes little effort to role-play their lives - they seem so real that their actions become natural. Although fear might rule life on Zalanthas, the whole spectrum of emotion is covered - Zalanthans are not immune to celebration, they cherish their bards and painters, they wonder at the view from the tops of the cliffs, they fall in love. Anything you want to be.
It feels like every action has a consequence in Armageddon. The templarate and nobility strike fear in the hearts of the commoners, crossing their path without due respect could result in you being thrown in jail, or worse.. in the gladiator arena where the bell tolls for the entire city to hear so they might come and watch your death. The citizens are wary of magick in any form, partly because of its role in the destruction of the old civilization and partly because of the sheer power that its wielders possess. Not all elementalists are evil, but they are all feared, and even executed in some parts of the world if they display their abilities too openly. Save a man's life, and you might win the respect of an entire house.. murder a man, and you'd just as likely find a bounty on your head. Make the right friends, and you will flourish, but watch out.. the drive for self-preservation is strong, and even your closest allies could turn against you if it serves their purposes.
Much unlike the loyalty you may experience from characters in the game, is the loyalty of the Armageddon playerbase. As advertised, this game is over a decade old, and quite a few players have been playing the game for almost as many years. Occasionally people stop, usually after a particularly devastating loss of a character, but I routinely see them coming back.. posting on the discussion board that "I played Arm several years ago, and have decided to start playing it again." My first foray into the world of Zalanthas was 5 years ago, and while I found it tough to learn all the commands at first, I have been well rewarded. There are no signs of boredom yet! Because of the many well-rooted players in this game, you will find the quality of role-play outstanding. New players learn fast the standard of role-play that is expected, due to the fine examples set by experienced players.
This is the most entertaining game I've ever played! My need for adventure is satisfied by Armageddon, it has fulfilled everything I could have ever wanted from a MUD, and more! Each time I log off I'm left reeling from the experience. I highly recommend it to MU* players of all ages, whether you are a veteran role-player or someone who is trying out a MUD for the first time - I believe you will find what you have been looking for.