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BAT Mud

Reviews Section
Moral Decay by LonehawkPilot

I had just finished my review of a previous MUD to poke about and opted to go to bed. The next day I saw my review was pushed down and about to fall off from the latest player reviews. Very well, I thought to myself, let me see if any of these other reviews are just that or mere advertisements. Let us see, Moral Decay, It seems you have been in a little flurry of attempting to get attention lately.
(Reviews on: 3/19/04, 3/25/04, 3/26/04 and 3/27/04)
Like an Evil Genie I shall grant your Wish. You will get what you wish but will you wish what you get?

Here lies the rare true review so few MUDs receive, keep two things in mind however
1. This is a true review. Not just spouting out all the good things, nothing is perfect and I've taken it upon myself to nit-pick to dig up negative things. If I found nothing bad, I'd look harder or Not write anything.
2. I have a warped sense of humor.


They say there is a MUD for anyone. At least in theory, I do not know who They are or if they actually said that. I do believe that I shall call this MUD the perfect place for Alcoholic Necrophiliacs. All right, perhaps I make a jest. Or perhaps not. Here the players do perform unspeakable acts with corpses. As a true act of self sacrifice I shall force myself to speak of these acts so I may review Moral Decay.

I proceeded to creating a character to give Moral Decay the review attention it sought. During the process you'll be asked for a surname (last name), nothing new but still uncommon enough to warrant mention. The statistic selection process was also different then typical. The five basic scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int and Wis) are used with the addition of the often thrown out Charisma stat. In Moral Decay Charisma affects the chance of an aggressive monster attacking you. Higher charisma characters, in theory, would be able to pass by agro mobs without any problem. In the process of creation you are also asked for two weapons to be proficient in.

With the desire to play a rakish, charming, rogue I made these choices.
Charisma, Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, Intelligence and Wisdom. I figured I could skimp on the wisdom as a sly rogue and live with a decrease in intelligence. I also chose swords and knives as my choices weapons of course.

Before I finished the character creation process the game hit me with one I've never seen before.
'If you were referred to Moral Decay by an existing player, who was it?'
Player referrals? I guess they must really be ready and eager for new players here.

You start the game in Sanctuary, a safe place where no fighting can occur. Just up from it I found:
A Book (Official FAQ of Moral Decay)
along with another bulletin board (Sanctuary had one too). I began reading the book, here is an excerpt from page 1 General Questions.
'so that the fight resumes when you bumb into it again.'
I suppose I can forgive a typo, even on the very first page of a guide to the game. Even when the game is in an active drive to recruit new players.

Onward through boot camp (newbie school) I plodded and started to learn the game. I found the approach to be refreshing compared to what is typical. Rather then simply reading signs you talk to the mobs about subjects. Not sit there and listen to a mob rattle on or simply use keywords. You control the flow and order by using 'talk about (subject)'. While nothing wondrous it was in the least different.

Eventually I reached the place where I'd have my first fight in Moral Decay. Following the instructions I summon a very wimpy monster into the room and begin to attack him. The screen quickly fills up with misses, both mine and his. Saying one Mississippi aloud would probably put at least Six attacks from each of you up. There is a way to fix this that I discovered later (fightbrief).

During the fight, something very odd occurred.
Wimpy misses your left leg.
You slash Wimpy's right leg.
   Wimpy's right leg is destroyed.
You miss Wimpy's left leg.
Wimpy misses your left leg.
Wimpy misses your head.
You slash Wimpy's body very hard.
   Wimpy's body is destroyed.
That's a bug!
MudOS driver tells you: You have no heart beat!
Wimpy misses your body.
Wimpy misses your head.

When I 'lost my heart beat' I was unable to do much of anything but communicate and move. The wimpy little monster kept attacking me but I was unable to even defend myself. I left and tried to use the shout channel to ask someone about it. Then I found out that you can't shout from inside the boot camp. After leaving I tried it again and one player told me about CPR.

To this day I have no idea why that bug occurred as I did nothing but sit there and fight. The CPR command is a bug report and requires a description of the problem. With CPR, when a bug occurs the game prevents you from doing anything until you accept being forced to describe it. Not a bad idea I guess, an automatic implementation to prevent potential abuse. Being so new, I quickly tried to describe it and was able to fight again. But the bug just kept happening, over and over and over. It would not go away. Then the ultimate anticlimax happened, the wimpy monster fled the room. The rest of boot camp is a no-fighting zone and since the game knew I had summoned a previous one I was unable to summon another to fight.

Later, another player showed me a few things and told me about the game. He told me that there is a Reboot every Six hours. This is also on top of the No Eq Save latent to the game. In fact the game even warns you as a Reboot nears.

'Armageddon shouts: Game REBOOT in 5 minutes.'
'Please sell your equipment as you will not be compensated for unsold items.'

I guess I can get used to a game where you don't become dependant upon equipment. In the least I could manage long enough to give it a fair review.

The player showed me around and reminded me of a few things such as Corpse Processing. In this game no player simply leaves the corpse of a slain foe to rot. Possibly, rather then Necrophilia, it could optimistically be called environmentally conscious adventure.

In the game you will see people walking about with Corpse Wagons strapped their them. Ah yes, people pull around wagons to carry piles of corpses until they can be brought to the corpse processor. There, they turn corpses into food and give you silver coins in exchange. A player could also learn Anatomy and cut limbs or organs from a corpse rather then lugging the entire thing around. Turning corpses into food may not be a new idea, as rangers do so in many MUDs, however here everyone does it in one way or another. Mostly they turn it into food, they will never see, at the processor and merely be happy for the coins.

Moral Decay does have a thriving player run economy. Corpse Processors turn corpses into food, Brewers turn food into Alcohol and Pub owners sell the Alcohol to heal you. In the game food and drink are not required to live, rather they heal you. So now you can see a mental image of many happy, heavily armed, drunken people playing with corpses, to haunt you for a time. In addition there are also smelters to smelt objects and the respective weapon and armor smiths to make items.

I quickly started to dread walking into or through the player owned shops. I must thank Happy Roaches (The Corpse Processor) of Vesla (The city you always start in) for being one of the few shops to not feature a large garish ASCII art for a room description. Unlike the adjacent Brimstone, with its 26 line tall devil holding a severed head (Yes I counted), and many other shops.

The player showing me around brought me to a place he called the Newbie Sewers. Here some little critters such as lizards, beetles and snakes can be killed without too much danger. He watched over me and then it happened.
That's a bug!
MudOS driver tells you: You have no heart beat!
Over and Over, I was unable to kill a single thing. It hurt, I almost felt pain IRL. The words seared in my eyes and brought about turmoil. I just wanted to kill something so I could process a corpse. I wanted money and nothing I fought would die. The helper said it was really weird that I couldn't kill anything and despite his attempts to get me to try other types of creatures it persisted until we had to part ways.
However I must be fair, after the second day the problem never happened again. I guess after near twenty times in less then two hours, and not counting any consecutive ones from later logging in that day, the problem was fixed (I'm just guessing).

The combat system does seem intriguing. Rather then a simple number of Hit Points, individual portions of your body have their own values. Health (or h) will show you the percent of your total Hp and Diagnose (or dn) will show you the status of your body. When you set wimpy it is based not on your total health but that of body locations. I set my wimpy to flee when any body part reaches 40% or fewer Hit Points.
When a body part is destroyed it is gone completely. I had the "pleasure" of losing one of my legs and continuing to play, with only 83% health being my new max, without it. I was bent to play without relying upon others so I sucked it up and proceeded on. You will however be surprised at just how agile things can be without their limbs.

This lizard has webbed toes with which it swims through the waters of the Veslan sewers and incredible speed with which it hunts its prey.  It feeds on the many flies that come to lay their eggs in this long winding cesspool.
He is severely injured.
He has no left front leg.
He has no right front leg.
He has no left rear leg.
He has no right rear leg.
Amphibious lizard is using:
Nothing

For the heck of it I fled. Indeed it was amazing at how quickly he chased after me when I had just severed all of his legs.

When a body part gets damaged enough you will stop using weapons or armor that are upon that location.

Dual wielding seems to be the common tradition. I started to dual wield a torch with my sword after I found out the only other option I had (as an Adventurer class) in fighting was to throw something. I experimented with throwing my torch at enemies but couldn't see much of an improvement. So I went to dual wielding and just waited for fights to end or me to flee. Thankfully with 'fightbrief' all the misses are not displayed. On the flip side there is a price for this, in addition to the misses the glancing blows are also not shown. It is entirely possible that a foe is dealing out lots of minor scratches to you and you do not know this until you check your status or receive significant damage to a limb.

The Adventurer class (which you start as) is lacking in any skills or abilities to make use of. Unless you wish to throw weapons (which anyone can do) you'll likely dual wield with your free hand. Before you can join any class you must be at least level 5. A five level requirement may not sound like much unless you take into consideration that there are only Twenty levels in Moral Decay. Then, after you are level 5, there is no guarantee that you can join a class. The classes also have stats requirements before you can join.
At this point in time, now that I was finally killing things and gaining money, I was starting to put consideration into the class system of the game. I went back to the Boot Camp to get directions to the Adventurer's Guild. I followed the directions that were given to me and arrived at a place where I was told that the Adventurer's Guild was moved into one of the rooms within the Sanctuary.

When I did reach the guild I proceeded to read the board within. Here are a few quotes from within:
'Board for Those Who Have No Class: 44 notes (Last updated: Mar  1)'
'10. Melanosol   Dec  3  2002:Level 6...'
'I'm stuck! I can only play properly when I have friends on, to give me money.'
'My stats aren't high enough to class'
'I stopped playing all together, until a friend of mine dragged me back on, bought me equipment, and sent me off packing. I like games. I like hard games. I don't like impossible games.'
Part of the problem stems from the fact you will only receive free newbie equipment until level 6. Even after level 5 there is no guarantee that you can join a class. Pending on deaths, the choices you made in your initial stats, or which ones to spend your experience on raising, you may not be qualified to be the class you want to be for awhile.
When you add in No Eq Save, together with regular six hour reboots and compound it with losing all your money in a death, it could be impossible to level at level 6 as an Adventurer.


Summary

The portion of the combat system with body part damage and health was interesting and different then normal. Combat itself, as an Adventurer, is bland and exceptionally boring. With fightbrief on, at times, you may wonder if you really are fighting as more then 10 seconds can go by without any hits by either side.

The game is listed as Roleplaying Accepted. Since most of us know this translates into a roll of the eyes and heavy sigh while muttering "if you must", don't come here expecting any.

The help system I'd say is adequate but could use some improvement. A few redundant files could be added, for some topics like save or quit. Indeed these are things mentioned elsewhere but making them easy to find in multiple ways is more newbie friendly.

If you are looking only for a place to play where the atmosphere is laid back, and do not mind losing all your items on a regular basis and the potential to rely on people or else be stuck, this may be possible for you to find joy in.

With the great flurry of "reviews" and attempts to get new players to come and play Moral Decay, I would of expected them to actually appear ready for new players especially considering it has been open since March of 1992. Finding typos, and being hindered with Bugs as a Newbie following the instructions in the school, is not a great way to entice people to play.

You have indeed gained the attention you sought and received a true review from LonehawkPilot. Now I think I will sob for a bit and consider giving up MUDing.