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Old 12-05-2013, 08:24 AM   #1
Leniri
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Unwritten Legends!

Hi everyone. I'm a player over at Unwritten Legends and given that I've spent a year running around over there, I thought I'd pop over and make some noise about it.

UL is an RP-mandatory mud with a solid base of strong, active roleplayers. The game has been kicking around for over a decade and has an amazing staff and a fantastic cast of characters (some of them have been around since the very beginning) that have enabled me to do a ton of amazing things I never really thought possible in an online roleplay environment.

The game is currently under a new round of heavy development. Classes have been overhauled and reined in to provide a much more balanced game than in years past, and recent monthly developments have seen the beginnings of the expansion and overhaul of the game's crafting systems. While crafting is currently in its very early stages, players can spend fame accumulated gained automatically every day and as a reward for participating in RP to modify the look and function of existing items as well as to create new and interesting things from scratch. The game's staff is very good at keeping on top of this, with even the most complex requests processed in a timely fashion.

There is a player application, which is a little bit of a bummer, but it only asks for your name and email address and exists primarily to keep griefers at bay. As I've never seen one in the game, it must be doing its job. Character creation all happens once you're actually logged into the game, so you'll have ample opportunity to chat OOC with other players and ask questions while you decide exactly what sort of character you want to play.

So come! Join us!
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:39 PM   #2
Otviss
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Re: Unwritten Legends!

I've visited the site many times to see what it's about but i havent signed up yet. Just did, thanks for this post.
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Old 12-07-2013, 04:09 AM   #3
dark acacia
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Re: Unwritten Legends!

I played in UL for a while. It does seem like there's a bit more information on the website than there was when I joined up, which is a plus.

The combat and skill/spell system was okay, but combat got old after a while and was not totally essential. It was certainly different from the trains/practices MUDs, but it seemed like most of the time I was out grinding by myself. Aliasing combat and spell commands is a must.

After a few weeks, role play seemed like it came right out of the song "Do You Want to Date My Avatar." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urNyg1ftMIU
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Old 05-18-2014, 06:40 AM   #4
Thayet
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Re: Unwritten Legends!

Hi, I am an active player of UL and I'm here to tell you about the game. I'm going to do my best to be thorough and impartial though, and list as much information about the game having played it for some time now. Obviously I like the game because I'm still playing it. That doesn't mean I think the game is perfect, though I do think that if you're looking for an immersive roleplay-enforced high fantasy setting with limited mechanical support, UL might be what you're looking for and you should give it a shot.

This is sort of a review of all my experiences in the time I've played the game, both the good and bad. I'm hoping to give prospective players a glimpse into what the game has been like for someone who came in cold and has been trying to push their way into things.

I'll start with the good, and move into the neutral and the bad. I'm apparently running into a character limit here, so I'll have to split this into two posts. Oh well.

Firstly, there are absolutely amazing options for item customization. There is a very wide selection of accurate period clothing ranging from the 1500s to early/mid 1800s, particularly for western European cultures. It's very obvious whoever wrote the clothing shops did their homework and it's very easy to build yourself a complete wardrobe of any particular style you like. If you're into playing dressup, UL's options are incredible even now I am routinely impressed by the level of detail and variety of selection available. I seriously can't sell this aspect hard enough.

The world is fairly massive and most of the writing is above average to excellent. There are picture maps made by one of the players available of almost every area in the game that show the room-by-room layouts as well as list shops and things of interest. There are a number of things you can interact with, places you can poke around in, and little neat things you can find. A verb called pathfind will also let you get directions to the closest room whose name matches your argument, so it's very hard to get outright lost while exploring.

There are hundreds of verbs and adverbs plus an open freeform emote/act verb if those don't suit your needs. There is a pose verb that lets you set up a line everyone sees when looking in a room, so people can know the second they walk in if you're laid out in a bloody pool or doing a handstand or whatever. The mechanical support present for interacting with various objects is fantastic and extremely extensive. Even if a verb doesn't exist there's very little you can't do with emote/act within reason, and people are fairly good about playing along.

UL is RP mandatory and they absolutely mean it. I've never seen anyone be OOC on purpose in this game. There is a global OOC chat channel which gets some use, but as far as actual in-game stuff goes everyone is universally pretty tight about it.

There is extensive background lore and history for the game's setting and most of the game's areas and races. Because the game is nearly two decades old, there are occasionally some contradictions, retcons, or stuff that doesn't make sense, but this gets addressed and fixed as it's brought up. Due to the game's longevity, there's also vast amounts of actual played game history to uncover, and a handful of PCs that were around at the game's start are still playing.

The experience and leveling system is the best of any game I've played and is extremely conducive to encouraging roleplay. When you gain experience it's stored in a buffer and is absorbed over a set period of time. The buffer will allow you to accumulate hours or even days' worth of experience during which you can go sit around roleplay with people, and all the while you're steadily moving toward your next level instead of falling behind like you would in a lot of games.

There is decent class variety and most of the obvious fantasy tropes (bard, fighter, wizard, etc) are available. Professions are not guilds (they're chosen OOCly in chargen), and your chosen profession can have as much or as little to do with what your character actually does as you want, within reason. All Empaths are empathic and a little psychic by definition, but not every Empath is healer, for example.

UL has a system called fame which lets you use accumulated currency of the same name to buy various things such as change the descriptions of items, your character's own physical description, add verbs to items, and a variety of mechanical changes and benefits (stat respecs and the like). Staff vets almost everything, and they're extremely flexible in how they'll let you modify an item or other description. Getting a completely custom description, wardrobe, armor, and weapons is not actually very hard and there are very few limits on what you can actually modify. I adore this system and the options it opens up as far as tweaking your character to be exactly what you want them to be.

The interactions/creative teams are pretty great about supporting player-run events provided you give them enough notice. Within reason you can get items to use as props, write your own food or drink (and even be rewarded with fame for doing so), and request interactions or responses from staff-run entities. This can and frequently does blow up in unexpected ways, which I consider a good thing.

Event staff does appear to reach out to new players to specifically involve them in things on occasion. This is nice to see, and a pleasant change of pace from other games, where it seemed like only established players ever got any kind of involvement in staff-run events and roleplay.

Most players and staff are extremely accommodating when it comes to accepting however you're choosing to present your character. If you want to make a grizzled war veteran, you can do that and people generally won't try to challenge you or be strangely aggressive about it which is something I've seen in other games. It's still a skill-based game, so you're not going to come out of chargen with the ability to kill all the dudez, but if you have the ability to really sell a character it's very nice to see how willing some players are to encourage whatever you're doing and roll with it. There's a certain level of suspension involved in certain kinds of scenes, so if you do something like (for example) get into a barfight with someone who is level one million, most people are cool enough to not simply wipe the floor with you but act out a scene where you both take a few hits. To that end, there are a lot of tools available to adjust your characters' effective skill so even newbies can land a hit on you if a scene calls for it. This is really very nice to have!

Due to a recent influx of visually impaired players, the developers have recently implemented a number of quality of life changes for visually impaired users and have been very responsive to requests for changes to both the game and the website to make it more accessible. This is great, both for visually impaired users, and because it shows the devs actually care about the kind of thing, which I think is nice.

The dev team, and the lead dev Auchtor in particular, is fairly incredible. UL is overall pretty underdeveloped, but what exists is excellent. They are responsive to player requests and seem to take genuine pleasure in what they do.

There are a number of players that make UL an absolute joy to play in. These people are supportive, helpful, mature, and welcoming even if their characters aren't. I've been playing MU*s for over ten years and some of the best roleplay and scenes I've ever been involved in and some of the most complex and interesting characters I've had the opportunity to interact with have been in UL.

Mechanics instability is a thing. UL is heavily in development and at any given moment everything you know will suddenly be wrong. Fortunately, when this happens, the changes are fairly well documented and free restats and the like are handed out to everyone. These are usually very positive changes long-term but can be a little frustrating short-term while readjusting.

Skill contests involve an offensive number versus a defensive number. A "to-hit" is derived from these numbers, with an equal offense and defense having a to-hit of 69 (so things favor the defender). Then a 1d100 is rolled and if the result is equal to or greater than the to-hit, the offense succeeds. The rolls for most skill checks are transparent and let you see the numbers involved for almost every contest, which takes a lot of the mystery out of whatever task you're doing. Combat in particular is extremely simple and only grows slightly more complex as you continue to level and mobs get harder and have larger or more dangerous.

Despite being fully customizable in chargen, stats for a given class are going to be pretty much set and there isn't really a lot of room for variety. Certain builds are flat-out objectively mechanically superior and there are not, currently, a whole lot of mechanical incentives to attempt to think outside of the box. On the bright side, that does simplify chargen once you figure out what all the stats actually do, and there are some ongoing efforts to allow for more variety in builds.

PvP/PK exists but is pretty rare and isn't super supported by mechanics or staff. If you're into conflictual RP there are plenty of people who will indulge you, but there are far fewer willing to take a fall. This isn't exactly unique, because very few people play text elves in order to be anything other than the hero. That said, there are a couple of players who seem to relish being on the losing side for the sake of other players, or at least seem to tolerate it pretty well.

I'm running into the character limit here, so I'll continue in another post if I can.

Last edited by Thayet : 05-18-2014 at 08:09 AM. Reason: typoz
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Old 05-18-2014, 06:53 AM   #5
Thayet
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Re: Unwritten Legends!

Continuing...

With one or two exceptions, UL's races are fairly stock fantasy, and its cultures are not purely original creations but are direct analogues of various real-life cultures. This simplifies creating a more in-depth picture of a character's culture and homeland because you can just look up what that culture was like in real life and incorporate elements of it as you see fit, and obviously what you can find in a history book is going to be way more detailed (and often more interesting) than what even the most prolific fantasy writer will come up with. However, it's also pretty lazy, and a little racist in places when you realize that non-white/western cultures have been flattened, whitewashed, or heavily stereotyped; the "gypsy" trope is alive and well and the various cultural groups of Africa has been merged into one big homogenized mass, for example.

The main area of the game is Britain, specifically York circa 1700s. There is also an accessible Japan/Nagasaki analogue (and several races native to it) written by people who were clearly huge fans of anime; two of the races can actually have pink or blue hair. These are currently the only accessible places in the game, though your character can be from anywhere in the game world. They just can't actually go there.

The main game area's religions/gods are honestly pretty flat, and since they figure into a lot of the large plots that happen this can be frustrating. Fortunately, this is made up for by a number of PCs who have done pretty great things with the scant options available.

Almost every single PC in the game is a magic user owing to the fact that most of the classes use magic and event/roleplaying options for non-magic users can often feel extremely lacking, as most staff-run events are distinctly supernatural/magic oriented. The magic system in general is...okay. I wouldn't say there's really anything special about it but it's not bad or anything.

IC romantic relationships are a thing with a few married couples existing, and cybersex happens as well, but is limited to happening in locked rooms per policy. I call this neutral because while I'm not personally into that, some people are, so do whatever tickles your pickle as long as no one else has to see it. If you're after that you will absolutely find people willing to indulge you. If you're not, there's plenty that goes on besides textsex. If you're okay with relationships but not cybering, there are people who are fine with that too.

For downsides...the single biggest problem is that the population is pretty anemic. The application thing probably contributes to this, but part of it is that there's just not a whole lot to do past a certain point, especially if there isn't an event going on. I'd say it varies on average from 10-25 people during peak evening hours, and people are frequently kind of off doing their own thing. It rarely reaches 30 players, but things do peak more when there are events actively taking place.

There is nearly no development at the moment for classes past level ~20. There used to be, but the classes were all gutted, everyone's levels reset, and everything is now in the process of undergoing complete restructuring and recoding. There have been classes with few to none of their key abilities finished for years now, though all classes are at a minimum playable. That said, the classes that ARE developed are fairly well done, but that development still stops at a very low level.

Non-combat options for advancement technically exist but are frankly kind of bad. The best option, fishing, requires you to be good at combat anyway because it's possible to pull up a mob that will automatically flex to your level and assume you have combat skills to match, which will murder you quickly if you don't. The other options -- foraging, metallurgy, alchemy, locksmithing -- grant vanishingly little experience and aren't really viable methods of advancement. Since you need to level to access your abilities, that leaves combat.

Crafting skills exist but there are almost no actual crafting systems implemented yet and what exists is extremely bare-bones, nor are they slated for development any time soon because classes come first. This contributes to there being very little to do.

The end result of the previous three things means what you will spend most of your non-scene/RP time doing is combat. And since combat is very simple, that can get very boring. You can continue leveling past the point where you continue getting new goodies for it, but there's nothing really waiting for you at the end of the rainbow except more rainbow. Which is great if you like rainbows.

The application is horrible and despite protests is not going anywhere. Old players and staff alike insist it acts as quality control; I and others believe this is ridiculous. I'll say don't let it discourage you, but I'm aware the entire concept of filling out an application so you can pretend to be a text elf is a little offensive. C'est la vie.

Staff are all volunteers and they're not immune to all the staff problems that plague every other MUD on the planet. People will vanish, projects get forgotten, people have bad days, people play favorites. This isn't really a unique thing to UL in the slightest, but neither is UL magically above any of this either. There have been one or two big dramas in the history of the MUD and the most recent one was responsible for driving away a good quarter of the active players at the time. Neither side will admit fault to this day, and as a new player it frankly feels like a frustrating specter hanging over the game that continues to color quite a lot of staff and player decisions, policies, and interactions.

Events (often called IA for "interaction") appear to frequently just grind to a halt after some fairly steady pacing and wind-up, sometimes for weeks or months at a time. That said, when there is stuff going on it's usually pretty good, but there is a trend of events having a very strong start and buildup then really petering off, either dying completely or puttering into an unsatisfying, railroad-y ending after a long pause. I suspect this is because there is actually a dearth of IA GMs, with the result that the bulk of the events heavy lifting ends up being handled by one or two people who, understandably, get burned out or busy or just plain run into situations they don't know how to respond to. That said, the most recently concluded event took an entirely different approach and seems to have been wildly successful, so perhaps that's a herald of things to come.

Like most established games, UL has an old guard, and it can be challenging to break into things if you don't have an "in" or you don't get lucky. Fortunately, if you're willing to play along and be buddies with their characters you can probably assimilate with one of the established groups, and there are a handful of PCs who seem to go out of their way to draw new players into stuff going on, but if you resist the cliques you're kind of on your own. If you actually manage to get on their bad side, your recourses become slim to nonexistent even if their characters harm or kill yours, nevermind IA involvement; because the justice system is largely PC-run with little staff oversight, those with significant staff-appointed positions have a considerable edge in conflicts, and this is by design.

Related, it is very hard to play a criminal of any kind if you aren't "in." The small population contributes a lot to this...plus there just isn't a lot of support for it if you aren't willing to go through one or two specific people. If you want to play a shady underworld type your work will be cut out for you. Basically, expect to fail. If you're okay with that, go for it.

Factions exist as they do in every game, and these factions frequently divide people OOCly as well as ICly; this means backbiting and gossip and plotting in IMs and other OOC venues. It can be very difficult to tell ahead of time which players are like this. My advice would be to not give your OOC contact information to anyone to be honest, and just immerse yourself in the game as-is. If you absolutely need to make OOC arrangements for something (a pre-planned event for example), use the forums or OOC whispers in-game.

Finally...you'll notice if you check their forums that among the stickied posts are ones concerning sexual scenario and sexual assault roleplay and the policies governing it. This is because UL has a history of problems with players involved in these things. In the relatively short time I have played this has come up several times that I'm personally aware of and I say players because there is more than one. I'm aware this is by far the most damning thing on this list, though that isn't to say it's something that comes up with great frequency.


All this said, I wouldn't still be playing UL if I didn't feel like the good outweighed the bad. I do believe the game is worth a shot and that the bulk of the active community is amazing to middling talent. I've really enjoyed the game, it's a good game with a lot of good people in it and I'd really love to see more people come and make it even better. I'm posting this so people can really make an informed choice about whether the game and the community are going to be a fit for them, because I feel like the best way of attracting long-term players is with honesty over glowing solicitations followed by unpleasant surprises. Everyone says their MUD is the best, after all... UL ain't perfect, but it's got some neat stuff going for it.

I reiterate that UL has given me some of the best roleplayed scenes and most interesting character interactions I've ever had in over ten years of MU*ing. That's what I'm looking for in a MU*, and that's what I've found here. Sooo...maybe come give it a shot.

Last edited by Thayet : 05-18-2014 at 08:57 AM. Reason: typoz
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Old 05-28-2014, 01:53 PM   #6
dark acacia
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Re: Unwritten Legends!

I agree with much of those huge posts.

When I played, not having an "in" translated into me sitting in the town square a heck of a lot because I was bored out of my skull with solo combat. I soon discovered that I had become such a fixture there that everyone started congregating one room away so I wouldn't interfere by talking or emoting.

Also, my character's companion (the only source of consistent RP for my character) randomly dumped my character for the alt of someone who started out of the gate with an "in."
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