Nauta's History of ArmageddonMUD

This is definitely a WORK IN PROGRESS. A while ago, I took a small interest in the history of ArmageddonMUD, multi-user dungeon (MUD) originally based on DIKU and announced in the Spring of 1992 by Dan Brumleve aka Acidion/Jhalavar, among others.1 It is still running, and has over 200 unique logins per week in 2018. In fact, one of the original programmers and administrators is still programming and administrating the game to this day, close to 30 years later! To date, there have been 173 staff members (not counting builders)[1] and more than 40,000 characters[2].

  1. Rahnevyn discord chat. 2018.
  2. Cabinet article.

Timeline

This timeline comes from posts on rec.games.mud and its subfora and posts on the general discussion board, unless otherwise noted. Unfortunately, for various reasons, usenet data is incomplete, but it is, at least, reliable. For more on these events, see below --- each year has a chapter.

Date (M/D/Y) B.G. (Before Ginka) (1992-1995)
4/2/92 "Armageddon DikuMUD... Play or Die."
4/19/92 Wagons (Mobile Rooms)
7/5/92 "Armageddon is now open for playtesting!"
8/26/92 OLC Rewrite
8/26/92 Kruth Cometh
9/6/92 Announced Server Change: @gauss.stat.uiuc.edu
~Fall 92 Nessalin hired???
2/6/93 1st attested reference to @iboga.stat.uiuc.edu
2/23/93 1st entry on Goehring's mudlist
3/21/93 Start of 1st rewrite of Guilds
3/23/93 Armageddon's Shitty MUD Language (ASML)
May 1, 1993 Jhalavar's projected opening date
6/6/93 Last entry on Goehring's as "not open to players"
8/23/93 1st entry on Goehring's as "open to players"
9/9/93 Announced Server Change @carie.mcs.mu.edu
11/5/93 Announced Server Change @studsys.mscs.mu.edu
2/27/94 1st rewrite of Guilds complete
6/18/94 1st attested reference to @thrash.isca.uiowa.edu
6/19/94 Call for Questmasters, Dan's Mud Programming Language (DMPL)
7/4/94 "Armageddon Returns!"
12/94 Jhalavar leaves?
11/8/95 GDB implemented?1
Date (M/D/Y) Early Ginka (1996-2005)
3/10/96 First archived posts on gdb
~4/96 Great Israeli Hack12
11/4/96 www.armageddon.org permanent1
11/96 New Server: @ginka.armagddon.org
2/19/97 Sanvean Hired1
Spring/Summer '97 Downtime / Hack
7/6/97 Webpage returns1
10/19/97 Karma Invented1
5/98 HRPT: Elementalist destruction of Tuluk (1450)
6/18/98 J'karr added to clan page1
9/11/98 Haruch Kemad Clan Opens1
7/99 Apocalpyse Code Theft1
7/12/99 Craft implemented1
9/8/99 New T'zai Byn Announcement1
11/1/99 Blackmoon added to clan section1
11/99 HRPT: Allanak conquers Tuluk (1476)
1/00 More crafting skills unrolled1
10/21/00 Red Storm Village Rebuilt1
2/1 Earliest weekly update1
2002 Javascript implemented by Tenebrius1
2/2 HRPT: Liberation of Tuluk (1516)
9/10/2 New whip code1
9/21/2 New gdb
3/18/3 Halaster's 3rd Retirement1
6/28/3 SLK and ATV open for play1
10/3 HRPT: Mantis invasion of Luir's (1542)
12/3/3 Baby objects removed1
3/8/4 Tiernan aligns game clock with real clock1
3/31/4 Adhira hired1
Date (M/D/Y) End Times (2006-2012)
1/14/6 Biography command added1
~Apr. 2006 Request Tool Invented1
5/6 HRPT: Copper wars (1567)
6/1/6 New weekly updates implemented1
?2006? Arm 2.0 Announced1
11/1/6 Mood implemented1
3/8/7 Halaster's 4th Retirement1
4/7 Death of kank (1575)
5/1/7 Projected End of Arm 1.0[wiki]
9/17/7 Great Karma-Off12
10/7 HRPT: Gith-Allanak war (1579)
6/1/9 Sanvean retires.1
11/9 HRPT: Tuluk flood (1596)
12/8/9 Highest players online (170+) at once ever seen by Xygax1
2010 Avg. Logins: 272
2011 Avg. Logins: 256
2/11 HRPT: Red Fangs RIP (1607)
2012 Avg. Logins: 259
5/15/12 Arm 2.0 Officially Cancelled1
Date (M/D/Y) Nowadays (2013-)
4/1/2013 New Website1
2013 Avg. Logins: 284; Highest new accounts in history(?)
7/13 HRPT: Volcano destroys Muark lands (1627)1
8/29/13 Ness returns (when did he leave?)1
2014 Avg. Logins: 251
11/14 Player-Created Clans (MMHs)
2015 Avg. Logins: 235
4/15 HRPT: Tuluk closes its gates (1641)
4/27/15 Tuluk closed to play EVERSHINE1
8/15 Ness's release notes thread starts1
Fall-Spring 15/16 HRPT: Tablelands-Gith wars
2016 Avg. Logins: 220
2/16 Wikileaks Hacking Scandal1
3/21/16 Elementalists changed (Drovians, Elkrosians, Nilazi removed)1
2017 Avg. Logins: 207

Other big ooc events?

  • switch to modern account system
  • distancing from Dark Sun IP? (was this a thing for real?)
  • introduction of Elkrosians and Drovians and Nilazi? 1998 website not there, 2001 website they are there -- no webarchives in between.
  • playable gith?
  • opening/closing of various races/clans...
  • Think command introduction.
  • Rental apartments intro.
  • Stun intro.
  • Feel command introduction.
  • Thrain is < 4/13/951 this post suggests 18th age1 this post suggests Summer of '941
  • Khann (96 at least see Sanvean's video)
  • move to no view of skills
  • move from levels to skills (1992ish)
  • sdescs implemented (1992ish)
  • Allanak, Tuluk, Red Storm, etc. (Cities)

When did Arm actually open?

Scott Goehring ran a famous weekly (or almost weekly) mudlist from rec.games.mud.announce in the early 90s.1 Arm is first listed on February 23rd, 1993 although it is listed as "not open for players". It is not listed in the prior listing on 2/11/93, so we can speculate that it was first advertised to Scott between 2/11 and 2/23. In a usenet post dated March 21st, 1993, Jhalavar says that he has not yet "opened it up" but does project a grand opening for May 1st of that year. There is no official launch announcement to my knowledge, and even though it begins to show up from then on forward in Goerhing's listings, Jhalavar repeatedly tells us that it is open for 'playtesters' and not 'players' in usenet posts. The first listing where Arm shows up with the flag 'not open to players' removed from the listing is August 23rd, 1993. The last mudlisting before that is 6/6, so we can assume, perhaps, that Arm went 'official' between June 6th and August 23rd, 1993. Since July 5th, 1992 was when Jhalavar announced Arm to be open to playtesters, and July 4th, 1994 was when the new thrash version of Arm opened to players, a poetic date of July 5th, 1993 might be in proposed as the official opening date.

Goerhing data:

iboga: 2/23/93N, 3/12/93N, 3/26/93[TO]N, 4/16/93[R]N, 6/6/93[R]N, 8/23/93, 9/4/93,

carie: 9/12/93[R], 9/17/93[RR], 9/26/93[RR], 10/3/93[RR], 10/18/93[RRR], 10/30/93[RRR]

carie/studsys (listed as both): 11/14/93, 11/25/93, 12/17/93[R], 01/24/94[TO]

(The mudlisting ends 01/24/94.)

[R] means it was refusing connections; [RR] means last suc. connect was 7 days ago; [RRR] last suc. connect was 30 days ago; [TO] that it was timing out; N means that it was flagged as 'not open to players'.

1992: University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne: atropa, gaussa, iboga

The first attested post about ArmageddonMUD occurs on April 2nd, 1992 (reproduced in full below). It opened its port to 'playtesters' on July 5th, 1992 in a usenet post titled "Armageddon is now open for playtesting!!"

Armageddon is now open for playtesting! If you would like to participate in lots of fun (including down 'n' dirty player killing), send mail to [redacted], and I will mail the address back to you. We hope to be completely open within a week or 2, if all goes well with playtesting. Jhalavar@Armageddon

However, it wouldn't be until around July of 1993 that we have an official opening of sorts for players, or at least where it first shows up as "open to players" on Scott Goehring's mudlist. There is no mention of what machine the game runs on until September 6th where its host is listed as gauss, a machine in the Statistics Department at the University of Illinois (gauss.stat.uiuc.edu).

There is some indication that gauss was not the first machine. A usenet post from three days earlier suggests Jhalavar was in the process of migrating to a new machine (9/3, see even earlier 8/3) and on 9/8 he tells us that gauss is a new faster machine. As well, his reflections from 2000 suggest that there was a machine before gauss. What was this ur-machine? In two posts (6/25 and 9/13) Jhalavar notes that the code is available on a machine called atropa, also on stat.uiuc.edu. Perhaps this was the ur-machine? There is no mention of a machine associated with ArmageddonMUD after 9/8 until February 6th, 1993, in a usenet post from Jhalavar (see below) which lists the host as iboga on the same network.

We can speculate then that Arm was hosted on one or more ur-machines (perhaps atropa) until around September, 1992, when it moved to gauss, where it remained unti it moved to iboga around February, 1993.


Operating Systems

We might also speculate that atropa was a Sun 3/50, gauss a Sun 4, and iboga a Sun 3/50 again. In a usenet post from February 8th, 1993 Jhalavar notes that Arm is currently on a Sun 3/50 and was running on a Sun 4. This supports the theory that that iboga was a Sun 3/50 and that gauss (or atropa?) was Sun 4. The plot thickens, however. A later usenet post from a player (8/16/93] states that Jhalavar "finally [moved] to a sun4 and off the old sun350". But on 8/23/93 and 9/4/93 it is still listed as at iboga. 9/12/93 is when it first is listed as carie. Perhaps he was porting it to carie when the friend wrote this and so carie is a Sun 4? In the carie announcement post (see below) he does note that the lag is gone on carie (something he bitched about on the Sun 3/50) and that it is new machine. Jhalavar's own 2000 recollections report that the FIRST machine was iboga and that iboga was a Sun 3/50 and that they then moved to gauss which was a Sun 4.1. However, later in an addendum to the 2000 recollections he writes that "I seem to remember that it was on the Sun4 (gauss.stat.uiuc.edu) before we had to move onto iboga. Before gauss, it was on a different Sun3 in the same network (it's original home), but I can't remember its name." There is also mention of porting to an Apollo machine.

Until new data comes to light, we can speculate that atropa (or the ur-machine) was a Sun 3/50, that there may have been an Apollo machine in the mix around this time too, that gauss was a Sun 4, iboga a Sun 3/50, and carie almost certainly a Sun 4.

During 1992, Jhalavar wrote four fairly substantive posts outlining ArmageddonMUD's core features, which I reproduce below. He also tells us that he invented Kruth (8/26), wrote an online creation system (OLC) (8/26, 9/2, 9/13) --- which as it turns out was one of the first1, and a primitive MUD programming language called Armageddon's Shitty Mud Language (ASML) (9/29/92, 3/22/93)--- which eventually gets replaced by Dan's Mud Programming Language in 1994. He also struggled to find a good management model, both for staff and players, as some of the usenet posts attest. He also toyed with the idea of a GUI to ArmageddonMUD.

During this period, too, we got the most interesting posts from Jhalavar about his views on game design, which I give us below. Incidentally, he was just 13 when he created ArmageddonMUD in 1991! Apparently, he liked to play thieves the most.1

When and why did Jhalavar first invent ArmageddonMUD? On 9/3/92 Jhalavar tells us that the game has about a year's worth of development behind it, which suggests it was invented during the Fall of 1991. As to why, on 7/24/92 Jhalavar writes:

People run them [sc. MUDs - nauta] because they LIKE to code, and they LIKE to watch other people have fun, not so they can sit around and soak up praise for their accomplishments.

Other points of interest:

  • OLC code at least was hosted at Berkeley (5/24/92)

  • DikuNET with ArcticMUD and Dark Shadow as sister MUDs (7/4/92)

Of this era, Jhalavar, in 2000, reflects (note that Jhalavar got the machine names confused, see his follow-up comments; I've omitted inaccuracies that I've found):

1991 -- mid 1992:

Armageddon started [...] with stock DikuMUD code. The first thing I added was an online creation system -- DikuMUD rooms/objects/mobiles(NPCs) had traditionally been stored in a cryptic text file format. When this got underway people showed up to help build the world. Some time later we had a skeleton of a world built (centering around the first version of Allanak which I made, not at all the same as the current one.).

It started attracting players around this time (1992?). It was pretty advanced (compared to other DikuMUDs) even then, but it was disappointing to see people take little interest in role-playing. My initial goal had been realism, and I was somewhat disillusioned when people figured out the limitations of the game. I spent a lot of time on the code, removing loopholes, adding features, and fixing bugs. There were frequent crashes and reboots. This is around the time that I overlorded Nessalin. (Until then it had been just me and Yxya.)

Who were the staff?

This is a tough question. Yxya, Achilles (who gets dumped quick it seems), and Jhalavar, obviously. Then we have a thread from 7/4/92 where two more immortals pipe in on some drama about Thenndrax: Powermonger and Balstaff. Nessalin was maybe overlorded, but no hard data other than Jhalavar's 2000 reflections. Halaster self-reports as being hired three times, but gives different dates each time (1992, 1993, 1994)12. He also claims to have been hired by Kelvik, whom Nessalin talks about too in his early anecdote. There's also a post from Coramyr on 4/20/92 complaining about not having access.

What did the game look like during the Gaussian age?

Jhalavar provides us with four advertisement posts about its features (4/2, 4/19, 5/24, 7/4, discussed in more detail below). From these, and other posts during this period, the picture looks something like this. It is based on Athas (Dark Sun), and has over 3000 rooms. RP is enforced. There are special procedures in place for criminals (crimcode) --- a feature he thought would help enforce RP, wagons (4/19), fall rooms, sandstorms, hit locations, and armor as extra hps. There were 91 spells (4/2) then 95 (5/24) then 97 (7/4).

The only mention of races is on 9/3 where no list is given, but Jhalavar states there are over 30 races, 6 of which are playable (in 1996 at least there were 7). From an early anecdote by Nessalin (see below) we can assume that half-giants were implemented already, and a post on 6/2 talks of elves and mantis. It's probably safe to assume humans were a race too. So which race was missing? Mul, halfling, half-elf... (City elves and desert elves get separated out at a later date1.)

Guilds are interesting. Initially, there were 11: Warrior, Mage, Priest, Thief, Ranger, Assassin, Dawnmagus, Shadowmage, Druid, Warlock, and Shadowdancer (4/2). Rangers had a combination of mundane and "priest" spells, as with standard Diku, so the only pure mundane Guilds are Assassin, Thief, and Warrior. By 5/24 there are 12 Guilds: Shadowmage was dropped and replaced with Illusionist and Necromancer. As well, Thief gets Haggle, Ranger gets Bandage and Trap but loses Disarm, and Druid gets Creeping Doom. In a post from 9/3 he says there are 19 Guilds, although he does not list them. In a later post on 3/21/93, when he reports dissatisfaction with the original Guild system and states his intention to rewrite them, he says there were "20-some classes" during this period. We can guess that he rewrote them, and it won't be until 2/27/94 that we get a new list of Guilds, and this list looks a lot like our contemporary list, with Defiler, the four main elementalists (called 'clerics' still), and Templar as Magick Guilds, and Assassin, Warrior, Pickpocket, Burglar, and Ranger as Mundane Guilds. (In the 2/27/94 post he tells us that Shadowdancer and Merchant are coming soon.)

"Armageddon DikuMUD.... Play or die" 4/2/92

On April 2nd, 1992 a post arrived on rec.games.mud signed by three authors: Acidion, Achilles, and Yxya. Here's what it said:

A new MUD will be going up soon, with lots of new modifications I've been working on for quite a while. This is the same code that ArcticMUD is using, and I'm still doing lotsa new shit... Here's a list of some of the things I've done/am working on:

(1) Room creation: I'm about done with some code for online room editing, which includes creating rooms from in the game (most online diku editors don't have that). You can basically do anything: extra descs, doors locked and unlocked, direction descs, etc.

(2) Object creation: I'm not quite done with this, but I will be soon. Everything works fine, but if you work at it diligently you can usually find SOME way to crash it. You can edit and create objects of any kind, even set affects, types, and flags by referring to the name, like this: "otype sword weapon", "owflags hat head", "oaffect1 ring mana 10"

(3) New areas: Hell, we're even doing new KINDS of areas... The MUD has an apocalyptic setting, much like Dark Sun. We aren't imitating the areas on Athas, but we're making areas with similar themes. So far we have over 3000 rooms in creation, but I imagine only 2000 or so will be open when the MUD is public.

(4) Roleplaying: Yes, we're actually encouraging players to role-play (perish the thought!) So therefore player killing laws are identical to those governing NPC killing, and you will receive a criminal flag for doing any malicious deed to anyone in the city if you are caught. This is not a 'flag' system, it's merely a realistic roleplaying system. NPCs can also get criminal flags, ya know. ;-)

(5) New guilds: We have 12 guild planned, and almost all of them are completed, titles and all. They are mostly combinations of existing guilds, but all of them have at least one or two unique talents. There are also a few special guilds that offer completely original skills and spells to the players. Heres a summary of what we have done so far:


Warrior: Kick, Bash, Rescue, Dodge, Disarm, Parry, Dual Wield.
Mage: All the old Mage spells, including over 20 new ones.
Priest: All the old Cleric spells, including over 30 new ones.
Thief: Backstab, Sneak, Hide, Steal, Pick, Climb, Listen, Trap.
Ranger: Kick, Disarm, Dual Wield, Lower level Priest spells, Hunt, Listen.
Assassin: Disarm, Dodge, Backstab, Sneak, Dual Wield, Listen, Trap, Throw.
Dawnmagus: Passive, lower level Priest and Mage spells.
Shadowmage: Backstab, Sneak, Hide, Mostly Offensive Mage spells.
Druid: Many nature-oriented Priest spells at low levels, Listen, Hunt
Warlock: Dodge, Disarm, Parry, Dual Wield, Offensive Mage spells.
Shadowdancer: Sneak, Hide, Pick, Mostly Priest spells, and many new ones.
We're still trying to decide on the last one... I'm kinda stuck betweem Illusionist, Alchemist, and Templar. ;-)

(6) New spells/skills: We're up to 91 (original code has 53) so far... We hope to add lots of variety to this MUD, and make it one of the best around.

(7) Special procedures: We're getting a shitload of these done... I just finished an elite guard that hunts down criminals, charms them, blinds them, strips their equipment, leads them out into the desert and sells them to a wandering slave trader. I've also added a magical sword that can be enchanted by putting a special gem inside it, and another sword that energy drains with a command word. As you can see, I want to make more adventures and quests to the game. I will also allow things like immortals switching to NPCs, provided they correctly role-play and not use their immortal at all to interfere. (Role- playing cityugards with strange brain diseases would be out of the question).

(8) New room flags: We've added "fall" rooms, where all players and objects fall down to the room below. Also things like sandstorms will add flavor to the MUD.

We hope to see you all there as soon as we open! See ya!

This message was signed by Acidion (aka Jhalavar aka Gothmog), Achilles, and Yxya. And so ArmageddonMUD was announced. It was up on 4/5/92 at least, with a projected opening of late May. (Who was Achilles? In his 2000 Reflections, Jhalavar mentions that it was just him and Yxya... and in 7/4/92 ad post it is just Jhalavar and Yxya.) The wiki site attributes Arm to three authors: Dan, Nasri, and Santiago. Nasri (aka Yxya) has a post as late as 1994 on usenet. The e-mail address was Santiago's from this post, and Dan continues to use Santiago's e-mail address to post to usenet throughout 1992.

"Armageddon" 4/19/92

17 days later, we get an update. Note that 'moving rooms' aka wagons are invented (in bold, see also this earlier post from 4/4). This is signed by Acidion (aka Jhalavar), although it is sent from Santiago's account and three e-mail addresses are included...

4) Moving rooms This is pretty cool... You can make objects that you can "enter". When you enter them, you are taken to another room inside. I've also written code that allows you to "harness" certain animals to them, and then "order" them to move around from nother room inside.

"Armageddon" 5/24/92

This is signed by Jhalavar (not Acidion), Achilles, and Yxya. This post repeats most of what is in the previous post, although note that OLC is finished and uploaded to ucbvax.berkeley.edu. The other thing of note are the changes to the subtle Guilds. Shadowmage was removed, and Rangers lost Disarm, and there were other additions (in bold):

  • Warrior: Kick, Bash, Rescue, Dodge, Disarm, Parry, Dual Wield.

  • Mage: All the old Mage spells, including over 20 new ones.

  • Priest: All the old Cleric spells, including over 30 new ones.

  • Thief: Backstab, Sneak, Hide, Steal, Pick, Climb, Listen, Trap, Haggle.

  • Ranger: Bandage, Trap, Dual Wield, Lower level Priest spells, Hunt, Listen. [Ranger also lost 'Disarm' - nauta]

  • Assassin: Disarm, Dodge, Backstab, Sneak, Dual Wield, Listen, Trap, Throw.

  • Dawnmagus: Passive, lower level Priest and Mage spells.

  • Illusionist: Backstab, Sneak, Hide, Mimic, Clone, Ventrioquate, and many other illusion spells

  • Druid: Many nature-oriented Priest spells at low levels, Creeping Doom, Listen, Hunt

  • Warlock: Dodge, Disarm, Parry, Dual Wield, Offensive Mage spells.

  • Shadowdancer: Sneak, Hide, Pick, Send Shadow, Mostly Priest spells, and many new ones.

  • Necromancer: Aura Drain, Finger of Death, Animate Dead, Demonfire, Resurrect, and many others.

Also note that spells are up to 95 and the combat example they give is much, much longer.

"More News About Armageddon" 7/4/92:

This post repeats much of the same information from 5/24/92, but it is only signed by Yxya and Jhalavar (where did Achilles go?). Also note that they expect to "open for playtesting by the end of the weekend." Things of note: spells are up to 97, and DikuNet has been added:

(12) DikuNet:

DikuNet is a network of DikuMUDs, currently only consisting of 3 (Dark Shadow, Arctic, and Armageddon). It supports things like remote who, remote tell, and a chat room that is 'shared' by all the MUDs on the network.
Dark Shadow is open right now (address is 128.146.37.87 6666), and if anyone would like to check this out, go north and east of the room you start in and say something... Who knows, maybe someone will say something back. ;-)

More development notes... "RE: Death Muds?" 9/3/92

The only other post that hints at development here suggests that there are now 19 guilds. In a post 3/31/93, Jhalaver reports that during this stage there were around 20 Guilds, and they weren't balanced, so he rewrote them then.

Staff and Player Management

A few early posts offer a humorous insight into early staff and player management. For instance, an early immortal named Thenndrax (or 'Phil') became so furious about being denied a promotion that he apparently (8/25/92)

went beserk and started doing shit like "force all quit" (repeatedly) and loading the one npc he had created a few billion times into the room where I was standing. He then preceded to yell insults at me, after which I promptly zorched him. Then he took it upon himself to MAIL BOMB my account with about 20 megabytes of crap, and later made up stories rather similar to the one posted here.

(Apparently, 'Thenny' was still furious a year later1.)

Another funny anecdote from this period 9/1/92 relates an incident that prompted Jhalavar to write the ban code, and some other utilities (7/30/92) to handle problem players. The 9/1/92 post is worth reproducing in full:

It IS strictly role-playing. I don't think I explained the whole situation. These people logged on with names like "JhalavarSucks", "FuckYouJhalavar", and then shouted things like:

"THIS MUD SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

again and again and again (the MUD was unplayable for anyone who didn't have NOSHOUT and QUIET for about an hour). I had to shutdown the MUD and write site-ban code.

They were interfering with everyone else's enjoyment of the MUD. Do you think they have a right to do that?

Another, much more seriously problematic player even made a 'bomb threat' as Jhalavar recounts on 7/6/92.

A GUI for Arm?

Apparently, Jhalavar did toy with the idea of a GUI for Arm.

9/2/92

I played this game for about 3 minutes on a friend's computer, and it was quite cool. I doubt that MUDs will advance that far in the near future, but I might be adding some actual graphics to Armageddon (might!). It would be in the form of a IBM client. GIFs (VGA, or at least I hope so) would be on the computer, and would be put on the screen when certain codes are sent from Armageddon. They would probably be fairly simple... Like maybe different pics for every guild and race, which would be quite a feat, but I know someone who's pretty good at computer art (he did about 100 sprites for a PD skateboard game I wrote 3 years ago). Also it could put pics for different people on your group, and possibly another one (like two crossed swords when you're fighting). If I manage to get this done, I'll distribute the code so players can add animation and whatnot.

9/6/92

This isn't as far-fetched as it sounds... I plan to add some VGA graphics to Armageddon soon. The game would send certain signals that would be processed by the client, which would display picture A at X,Y or whatever. I'll post about any sucess I have.

-Jhalavar-

10/15/92

On PK

6/12/92

There are also some posts (8/3/92, 8/4/92 about pkilling. See also these 11/20/92 11/24/92 12/23-24/92

6/12/92 - discussion with Alan Cox (of AberMUD / Linux fame) on PK

92 unsorted

6/25/92 - wizhelp file (list of commands for imms)

6/25/92 - code at berkeley and atropa uiuc

6/25/92 - link with arcticmud

4/3/92 - link with arcticmud

4/13/92 - on open-mindedness about MUDs

6/4/92 - creation command list

12/4/92 - development of skills-based (not levels-based) system - discussed by Jhalavar

1993: Marquette University: carie, studsys

On March 21st, 1993, Jhalavar wrote a usenet post in which he projected an official opening for the MUD around May 1st, 1993. I have not been able to find an official announcement. In Volume 5, Issue 9 of Scott Goehring's "Totally Unofficial List of Internet MUDs" published on June 6th, 1993, Arm is still listed as "not open for players"; however, in the next issue (Vol. 5, No. 10), published on August 23rd, 1993, this qualification has been dropped. Hence, we can speculate that its official opening must have occurred between June 6th and August 23rd. A poetic date of July 4th, 1993 is what I propose as the grand opening of ArmageddonMUD, to correspond to July 4th, 1994, when it re-opens on thrash, and July 5th, 1992, when it opens to playtesters for the first time.

During the Spring and Summer of 1993, the MUD was still hosted at UIUC on gauss. It is not clear when it switches from gauss to iboga --- gauss is listed as the contact on 9/8/92 (see the last chapter) and it isn't until 2/6/93 that the machine is listed, and this time as iboga, also at UIUC. We can merely speculate, then, that it ran on gauss up to February, 1993, when it was ported over to iboga.

After spending the Summer in Illinois (as attested by Scott Goehring's almost weekly mudlisting), ArmageddonMUD moved to Wisconsin to live among the Jesuits at Marquette University on an apparently unreliable machine called carie (carie.mcs.mu.edu), where it was announce as open to players on Sep. 9th, 1993. According to Scott Goehring's mudlist, carie was pretty spotty, and it was quickly moved to another machine at Marquette: studsys, this time @mscs.mu.edu where it was announced as open on November 5th, 1993. Studsys also crashed quite a few times, and in March or April of 1994 it was slated to be upgraded123. According to an immortal called Powermonger on 4/7/93:

Not long ago, (1 week) Ur posted that there were major problems on the new studsys, that were being SLOWLY worked out by the opr's there. He also said not to expect much till after Aril [sic] 15.

It is unclear if it came back up on April 15th, although it is still record in Axl's mudlisting as on studsys in 5/20/94, although this might just have been a leftover, as there are several usenet posts complaining about it having been down for several months1. In June of 1994, a post goes out announcing its re-opening on a new machine in a new place: thrash at the University of Iowa. (More on this in the next chapter.)


Here's what Jhalavar had to say of this age, in his 2000 reflections:

mid 1992 -- early 1993:

Now there were some really creative people working with full force. I trashed the old Allanak and made a completely new one (which still stands, but with many improvements I'm sure). Ur created Tuluk and everything around it and was overlorded. Everything that had existed in 1991 had been replaced.

Armageddon was looking less and less like a DikuMUD, both internally and externally. Many of its recognizable features were now in place: the magick system, skill trees, the guilds, the races, riding animals, wagons, spices, bartering, the front page menu, the character application process, permanent death, etc. But it was mostly all the little things that added to the game's complexity and realism.

I wrote a simple language (to replace hardcoded extensions) called ASML (Armageddon's Shitty MUD Language) which I later replaced with the less-shitty DMPL (Dan's MUD Programming Language). (Is this still around?)

People were starting to role-play a little bit, but not enough to make it convincing.

snicker Yeah, my 'gate' is sort of like yours, Ab. 'Hands of wind' doesn't have the same effect of Adversary's 'gust of wind' though. The Merc people apparently found my magick spells file by rooting around a machine where I had stuffed it (one that isn't on any ftp list, to my knowledge), and then slapped a copyright on the top. I've since talked to one of them and told him they could use all but a few of them which I thought were rather specific to Armageddon's setting. [...]

Hmm... I wrote all four of these spells originally for Armageddon (and released them). I was rather shocked, however, when I downloaded the "Merc" code and saw someone else's name posted over the top of the file, and a few crude mutations of my code. I would appreciate it if the Merc people would either remove the spells which I wrote, or give proper credit where it's due.

(Merc almost immediately apologised and gave Dan credit.)

A claim of authorship, and the suggestion that Arm dates back to 1991. 2/12/93

I myself claim to be the "author" of Armageddon, because I've spent the last two years hacking apart DikuMUD code (the vast majority of it has been written by me, but I'd rather not post numbers and wind up sparking another penis-waving "My code is bigger than yours!" flame war).

Some thoughts on game design "RE: adversary at templar" 3/21/931

Playing should be its own reward, although that's another topic entirely. My point was that having a lot of playing experience doesn't qualify you for an administrative position. [...]

On most MUDs, immortality isn't all that sought-after anyway... Most players reach 20th level (or 30th, 50th, or 100th as the case may be) and just stay there. [...]

It depends on the purpose of "immortals"... On Armageddon I'm probably going to start using other terms to refer to the "gods" once I finally open it up (projected opening date is May 1st, and I don't think there will be any postponements at the present building rate.) Perhaps allowing players to perform the function of "real" gods (instead of rule- enforcers and socializers), like being able to assist players in certain ways, would work, but I have yet to see a MUD that implemented that kind of system successfully. [...]

Obligation? Not by a long shot. The one major flaw with the Diku system is that it's unbalanced... MUDs start off nicely, with players advancing higher and having fun. After a while, people get bored and a lot of carreer-level-20 characters show up, along with an excess number of immortals. The "economy" is filled up with inflation, and characters end up having to carry around more and more money. Eventually the gods get fed up with it all and decide to reset the damn thing, players and all, usually making a few minor changes intended to keep it from happening again, but only suffice to delay it by another month or two. Abaddon periodically "resets" TempleMUD, and there's a clamor on Usenet about it every time. [...]

"Fairness" is entirely subjective. A lot of people don't think it's fair that their immortal characters were deleted, but at the time there at least a hundred or two immortal characters on the MUD, and something needed to be done about them [sc. on TempleMUD - nauta]. Same with player killing. If I slaughter 20 players, it's certainly unfair from their point of view, but I see no problem with it. I try to maintain an objective standpoint, which is why I'm not whining about my immortal character being deleted, as many other people are right now. [...]


Not only that, but it eliminates a lot of the socialization/role-playing elements of a MUD, and turns it into a single-player game. Why bring along a thief if you can pick the lock? Why bring a priest if you can heal yourself just as well? The main justification for it is "realism", something I almost always support... The reason I don't like mult-classing is that it's not realistic. A more "realistic" version of multi-classing would be a system in which there are many classes, and some of them are "combinations" of the original 4. Armageddon's old class system (it's about to be completely redone, but not because it didn't work right) involved 20-some classes, many of which had some skills from one of the original classes, and some skills from one of the others, and were balanced so that one of these characters wouldn't have an advantage over a "single-classed" character. It actually worked fairly well, but I didn't think the classes had enough originality in them to be considered seperate classes (rangers, although they had a few unique skills like "hunt", "trap", "listen", etc., were still refered to as fighter/clerics). [...]

My vehemence toward extra level systems is only really directed at those in which the "top" level characters are moe powerful than 20th level characters in DikuMUD (which are a bit too powerful anyway, IMHO). [...]

No, it isn't special (switching to present tense after reading Abaddon's most recent posting)... That's exactly why it's such a good system. Abaddon has added about as many modifications as most other MUDs, but he's done them much more slowly... The difference is that just about every modification he's made to it has been an intelligent modification, not more levels to make the players more powerful or anything as silly as a "knee" or "about the legs" wear-position (once I saw a player wearing two glowing "bronze knee-protectors" on another MUD). [...]

"Gizmos" are only bad if people work on them at the expense of more important things. I added an "infobar" to Armageddon, as well as some ANSI to make the intro-screen more flashy, but that wasn't until I'd done lots of work on making the game more playable.

An amusing early synopsis 12/28/93

Armageddon studsys.mscs.mu.edu 4444

pk meter: 5 'We do not differentiate between players and non-players.'
difficulty: 'Varies. It's more difficult with certain classes than others.'
base code: Vanilla Diku exp for pk: 'We don't use experience, but I'd say yes.'
quotation: 'Was that a player? Good, maybe he had something cool.'

Original world. Lack of exp-- utterly skill based. Mounts and wagons. Bartering with storekeepers. A semi-realistic 'feel'. Focus on role-play as opposed to power-play environment.

Opensource Arm? 12/30/93

Dan also hints he might release the source code. To my knowledge, he did not. Also note that Genesis outdates Arm and might well be the oldest continuous world (1989 to present).

Much to my dismay, I haven't seen very many combat MUDs that are similar to Armageddon. There are lots of MUSHes, MUCKs, and MUSEs that are strictly role-playing, but none (that I've seen) have very well- developed skills/combat systems, if they have them at all. There's an LPMUD called Genesis that has a similar description system, but I don't know how much role-playing goes on there. There's also a DikuMUD called MUME... I've heard role-playing is "encouraged" there, but not enforced like Armageddon.

If anyone's interested, I might release the Armageddon source code next summer, if the would-be administrators are willing to put in the time and effort required. (Please don't mail me about this yet.)

1994: The Second Age: The Age of Thrash

It isn't clear if Ur's projected re-opening of studsys for April 15th was ever realized. The next documented sighting of ArmageddonMUD takes us away from Wisconsin and back to the cornfields, this time Iowa. On June 18th, we get a post from a user called 'armag' posting from @lust.isca.uiowa.edu, stating that they are bug-testing on a new machine: thrash.isca.uiowa.edu, and that they plan to re-open around July 1st. The next day a call for Questmasters goes out. (In this post, we find out that DMPL is complete and OLC has been improved.) Arm does, indeed, re-open in July: on July 4th, 1994 the following announcement hits usenet:

"Armageddon returns! 7/4/94

Armageddon is officially open to the public again, and is running at: thrash.isca.uiowa.edu (128.255.200.25) 4444

For those not familiar with Armageddon, it is a role-playing MUD derived from DikuMUD 1.0. It is set in the world of Zalanthas, a harsh desert world, reminiscent of the world of Dark Sun.

Be a defiler, a feared breed of magician who sucks his energy from the life of the land itself. Be a burglar, and pilfer houses and crack safes at night. Be a pick-pocket, and work the crowds of the cities to earn your living. Be a warrior, and go off on perilous adventures into the desert wastes. Be a Templar, an evil servant of the Kings of the cities. Be an agent of one of the powerful Merchant Houses, making your living by trading and conquest. Be an assassin, and knock off political figures for thousands of obsidian crowns. Be a ranger, and hunt and scout to earn money. Be a cleric of Suk-krath, Vivadu, Ruk, or Whira, the four elemental deities, and help shape the destiny of the world.

Armageddon is a very role-playing intensive skill-based game, with over 3 years of work put into it, and was one of the first role- playing-oriented games of its kind on the internet. If you're interested in this kind of game, please stop by and make a character.

To my knowledge the last post from Jhalavar is 12/28/94. In his 2000 reflections, he states that he left around this time.

It isn't clear when we get a website. On 7/26, a player posts an ftp dir on lust.isca.uiowa.edu with 'allhelp.txt' and 'tuluk.txt'.

What did Armageddon Look like in 1994?

We have a fairl substantive feature list in a post from 2/27 reproduced below.

"Armageddon!" 2/27/1994

Armageddon - studsys.mscs.mu.edu 4444 Based on Dark Sun, Armageddon has ten guilds you can choose from.

Defilers: All around mages, mana is gained by draining life force from the earth and plants around you. (Don't announce you are one, since you are likely to be hunted down and killed)

Elemental Clerics: Sun, Wind, Water, and Stone...The accepted type of magic in this world.

Assassins: Familiar with poisons, a fighter/thief mix that can be deadly.

Warriors: Standard class, added subdue skill perfect for kidnappings.

Pick-pockets/Burglars: Two thieves of a different kind and expertise.

Rangers: Better suited to live in the mostly desert environment.

Templars (need permission first): They make the rules in their cities, their power comes from the sorcerer-kings they serve, and to kill one is to be marked for death.

Merchants, Shadowdancers (coming soon)

In Armageddon, other players aren't recognizable by their names, you only see their descriptions. (giving out your true name right away could be a bad idea, since with that knowledge, an evil defiler must summon you and put you out of your misery!!!)

There are no levels in this mud. Your health (hp) is fixed, and based on your endurance only(unless magically increased). You get better at using your skills and spells by using them. Spell casters get new spells by mastering simpler ones (you need to master invis before you can get ethereal, for example). There are several factions to ally yourself with. Become a member of House Kurac, and build your fortune dealing in the addictive spices, illegal in some areas. Join House Salarr, those who deal in weapons of death. Many other alliances exist, and you have only to find them and gain their trust.

Role-playing is a must here, however...If you ignore this, do not be surprised if the templars seem to be checking your wagon more than usual, or charging you taxes that you've never heard before!

Death is final in this mud, unless you are a new character in your first 2 hours of play. This does not mean you lose everything, though. You may inherit most of the skills of your old character, but then you are not given the 2 hour safe period...

Casting spells is also much different. There aren't several different healing spells of varying power, for example. Spells are all cast with power levels as a part of them. Thus if you wish to cast a more powerful heal, merely cast 'mon un vivadu viqrol wril' and you will feel like new...You may have up to 10 aliases to make you life easier in your casting.

We also currently have about 8 languages. Find someone who will teach you Mirukkim, the language of the dwarves, and increase your comprehension by listening to someone who speaks it better than you!

So, if this sounds like something you might want to check out, feel free to stop by! If you don't get through at first, don't give up! The Overlords may simply be adding spell components, or something else to improve the game. Once again, the address is: studsys.mscs.mu.edu 4444 Give Armageddon a try, you won't be sorry!

Another post ("rethinking the philosophy of the diku" 1/8/94) from Jhalavar also sums up the state of Arm in early '94:

This is basically a quick and dirty summary of the major differences between Armageddon and most other MUDs out there. The system is entirely skill-based, multiple charactes are not allowed, role-playing is required, not just recommended, new players must submit a lengthy application, and the description system makes it impossible to tell players apart from NPCs. Armageddon is down right now due to machine problems, but should be back up soon. The address is studsys.mscs.mu.edu 4444.

There are some other ads too: 8/16/94

It would seem that the advertised Guild rewrite from 3/23/93 was almost completely finished by 2/27/94, although merchants and 'shadowdancers' are listed as forthcoming. (By 7/4 merchants at least are live options.) The Guilds look very much like the ones we recognize today: Sorcerer, Templar, Rukkian, Whiran, Vivaduan, and Krathi, although they are still called 'clerics'. As well, we have our main mundane Guilds, which are purely mundane: Ranger, Warrior, Assassin, Pickpocket, Burglar, and Merchant. Language code is in place --- 8 languages --- and the magick words are also in place. As well, we can see that House Salarr and Kurac are at least in play, and spice has been implemented.

A few interesting differences:

  • What is a shadowdancer? This was in the very original set of Guilds...

  • There was no karma, and Dan's vision for enforcing RP was to use templars, which required 'permission'.

  • You could 'carry over' skills from previous PCs!

An amusing early review 9/5/94

Since it doesn't seem like anyone officially in the know is going to say anything, I might as well. Port 4444 of thrash.isca.uiowa.edu has seized, and will most likely remain in this state until Tuesday (this being the Labor Day weekend), when someone can be physically present to reboot the machine.

This does not mean Armageddon is down. In fact, it is cheerfully running elsewhere. Where, I will not tell you, since it has been made abudantly clear to me that regular players are not welcome. Allow me to relate the circumstances. If you don't really care, now is the time to stop reading.

[1] 4444 seizes sometime Saturday afternoon.

[2] Unhappy at the prospect of Armageddon being down an indeterminate period of time, I cast about and by a lucky fluke, discover where I can connect. Logging in, I see an Overlord and thank him for putting Arm up while 4444 is locked.

[3] Over the next day, I log in at various times and run around. Different immortals are visible during these times, and generously tolerate my presence, even giving notice prior to reboots. Over time, a few other players appear, seeming to have discovered where they can connect as well.

[4] Intermittent SYSTEM messages appear, separated by a few hours. In order: SYSTEM: Log off now, guys. SYSTEM: Log off. SYSTEM: Leave.

Each time, I and the others on comply as quickly as possible (a matter of a few seconds). I figure some invisible immortal is about to do something risky, and doesn't want players around for a while.

[5] Finally, late this evening, the last message comes through:

SYSTEM: If you come back again, you'll regret it.

I am then yanked into Flint's Tavern just as I type "quit".

I'd be interested to know just what I did to merit this sort of treatment. A simple "Log off, please, we're not open for regular players here" is all it would have taken in the first place. Instead, I get told nothing, and then am suddenly treated like a criminal.

It wasn't like I was making a pest of myself, either. I left the immortals alone, quit when they asked me to, and didn't say a thing when all that I owned mysteriously vanished twice. Please excuse me for being enthusiastic about the place.

So, be warned, all. Armageddon is a very different mud with some great ideas, and if you're interested in roleplaying, you'll get hooked in no time. I like it even better than Arctic, and that's saying a lot. But you'll also be tormented by crashes, inexplicable outages, and being between characters. And sometimes get treated like third-class dirt.

Notes:

"Armageddon---WAKE UP!!!" 8/24/94

  • A long player complaint thread with some interesting quotes in it. Powermonger is staff (Highlord); 50 apps per day...

9/15 Discussion of some early mechanics (scan, flee, throw)

9/24 - Rare Yxya post.

1995: The Lost Year...

1995 might be a lost year unless we recover data from ISCA's 'Mudding' forum. We have very few substantive posts about ArmageddonMUD on the various usenet fora, and the general discussion board (gdb) has not gone live yet. Further, we do not have archives of the old website --- the earliest archive on the Far Back Machine is 1997. Here's what we can piece together:

Arm was still running at thrash, and Bram was on staff. Its website apparently was hosted at Princeton. It used an invitation system for account creation, had a max cap of 40, although in September Bram reports peak numbers to be about 30, and with Arctic and MUME it is frequently cited as one of the top 5 RP MUDs.12.

Notes:
9/12/95 usenet thread1

A very interesting thread with early player reviews and Bram's reply. Notes:

  • invite system
  • webpage is: armag.cs.princeton.edu
  • server is thrash
  • player count around 30 during peak (max hard limit: 40)
  • sometimes they do refuse new apps
  • imms don't show themselves
  • mobs don't use stamina (its on the buglist)
Bragging thread (some oldies but goodies)1

This seems as good of spot as any. In this thread, a lot of memories on old mid-90s PCS: Khann, Thrain, J'Karr, etc. No hard dates, though.

  • Slave Revolt in 'old' Allanak?!

11/30/95 - Bram about character apps and wait times

8/25/95 - another post from Bram

1996: Ginka Pie and Israeli Hackers!

1996 was a tumultuous year. Arm entered what might be called the modern era on two fronts: (1) the general discussion board (gdb) was launched in the Spring of that year and (2) we moved to a server called 'ginka' in the Fall of that year. However, this year was also the year of the Great Israeli Hack, occurring in April.

Launch of general discussion board (gdb) in March, 1996

Most important for archivists, the general discussion board comes online. The first post (the order is actually wrong in the archives) is 03/10/96 about staff-player interactions by Bram (post 16)1. Highlights among the topics from 1996 (note: the 'live' gdb discussions from '96 are not accessible: we just have the archived gdb posts as accessed via the wayback view of the 1997 website1):

  • Nessalin's long proposal on a New Magick System 3/18/96

  • Bram's post about a Player Representative 4/9/96

  • Proposal floated to establish a staff contract 3/17/96 forebidding lower-level staff from disciplining and non-RP interacting with players. (Presumably, this is to prevent favoritism.)

  • Removal of invite-only system in November 11/23/96

  • How OOC talk ruined a quest (info on Freil) 12/09/96

  • Amusingly one of the last posts is about quitting out (post 117 12/31/96

The Israeli Hack: April, 1996

On 4/16/96, Bram writes:1

Armageddon was hacked. the machine is down for a couple weeks while the OLs reinstall the operating system, with extra security this time. They said there will be no player file purge, and all currently active plots will continue when the game returns.

Since the machine is down, obviously the web page isn't up - the announcement they made saying the above was on the isca bbs: telnet bbs.isca.uiowa.edu (23, port is optional. TELNET, not tintin.), in the Mudding> forum.

Just before this, we can see that it was a site from Israel and also Carleton University1 which were under suspicion of being banned.

Sanvean recounts this on her youtube channel, although she gives no dates1 NB: Sanvaen says taht the hack occurred when she was a player. Her 2nd PC was hired by Khann, which means Khann is < April 1996.

Move to ginka November, 1996

According to usenet, it must have occurred between 11/5/96 where it is listed as thrash and 11/18/96 where it is listed as ginka. In a usenet post dated 10/15/96 Bram notes that Arm is down and will be down for 'about another month'. In early December, Bram writes a gdb post about the 'new system'1. While down, our website at least was hosted at Princeton, alternatively listed as www.armag.princeton.edu, armag.princeton.edu, armag.cs.princeton.edu1.

Other notable events

  • The 2nd APM occurred in Iowa the summer of 19961. I'm not sure when the 1st occurred --- summer '95?

Staff:

Bram, Thanas, Azroen, Nessalin...

Notes:

11/18/96 - Tenebrius post about psionics on usenet

1997: Karma & More Hacks

Oct 19th, 1997, Karma was announced. Spring of '97 also, apparently, saw another hack, and the machine was off-line for what appears to be at least a month, although perhaps it was down for much longer than that, perhaps even November! This could also be the period during which spiders infested the machine, although I have not verified that1.

For archivists, the most exciting thing about 1997 is this is the first time the Way Back Machine archives the website, so we have a pretty good view on what the game was like in 1997.

According to the Apr. 3rd, 1997 website the following clans were open to play:

  • Allanaki Militia
  • Blackwing
  • Cai Shyzn
  • House Kadius
  • House Kohmar
  • House Kurac
  • House Salarr
  • House Oash
  • J'karr
  • Ptarken
  • Zeina al Azia

(By Jan 13, 1998, Guild, Byn, and House Reynolte have been added. By Dec 3, 2000 "Tribal Peoples" and Black Moon.)

Notes:

2/23/97 - Arm is up

2/27/97 - Arm is up

3/13/97 - Arm is up, Azroen is imm.

4/25/97 - Ginka is "taking a trip", should be back up in a few weeks or a month. (Was this the trip to get the spiders cleaned?)

4/30/97 - machine was hacked, expect down for a couple weeks

5/18/97 - currently down due to a malicious hacker

6/9/97 - website is up at least

8/3/97 - up and running ref. to Vestric

8/11/97 - up and running

10/15/97 - user asking if Arm is still down...

1998

We have the first documented player-staff meeting on September 16th, 1998. This gives us valuable information on what was going on that year.

Staff members: Zagren, Azroen, Sanvean, Halaster, Vardag, Baylock, Nessalin, Brazen, Naar

Player questions:

  • nerf look

  • slavery: everyone wants to free the fucking slaves!

  • can i spec app someone too old or too young?

  • etc.

Highlights:

  • Joking reference to Thrain

  • Azroen gets progressively more and more drunk

  • Search for 'pig-eyed templar'. It's worth it.

  • Enforced staff clan rotations already in place by '98.

1999: Crafting and the Byn

As the new millenium drew near, ArmageddonMUD experienced two important changes: crafting code and the grittification of the T'zai Byn. In IC news, Allanak conquers Tuluk in the IG year 1476 (November, 1999), an HRPT widely discussed on the gdb. 1999 also, sadly, saw a hack wherein the codebase and at least the pinfos of players was stolen. Sanvean recounts this on her youtube video log and there is a post about it on the old gdb. The hackers went on to run the codebase as Apocalypse, although I haven't found any concrete data on this yet.

Crafting

Apparently Halaster's initial idea from 1998, the new crafting code went live in the Summer of 1999, with some further tweeks added in January, 2000 (and presumably beyond). Imagine a time when Merchants (implemented in the Summer of '94) did not have the full panoply of crafting skills! (There was some discussion on whether this would make the Merchant Guild overpowered on the gdb.)

The grittification of the T'zai Byn

One important hallmark of Armageddon lies in the term 'low-fantasy'. While hotly contested, one thing that this term means is that the narrative focusses not on the main character but on the side characters. Another thing this means is grit. And that, in a nutshell, is the T'zai Byn. It wasn't always this way. Here's what the Byn looked like from the clan board in Dec. 1998:

The T'zai Byn is the allanaki fighters guild. Soldiers, guards, hunters, and guides; all who make their living with their weapons can be found among its members. Mercenaries of the Byn are often hired on for short to medium contracts for work with merchants or noble houses. Warriors from all walks of life are welcome in its ranks. As the home of many of allanaks finest warriors, it is not uncommon for aspiring swordsmen and women to seek training from the masters of the Byn. Those who train at the Byn are indoctrinated into a wide variety of skills, everything from manners and etiquette to geography and bladesmanship. Along with the above skills, a large portion of time is spent in studying the philosophy of Dakin, the path of honor. Those who follow it most closely adhere to it in all aspects of their lives; their words carry the strength of steel. A white sandcloth cloak, stained with a crimson swathe marks those adepts of Dakin. All of the above make the men and women of the T'zai Byn some of the most sought after mercenaries in allanak.

Let's note some highlights.

  • First, it is a "allanaki [sic] fighters [sic] guild". This reads like something in a more traditional H&S Mud.

  • They wear white!

  • They are the "finest warriors".

  • They are adepts at Dakin, some sort of "philosophy" where a "path of honor" is followed.

This does not sound at all like the Byn we know today! And it is not. Here's some discussion of what happened, with Krrx, Nessalin, and Sanvean in the March, 2000 issue of Imaginary Realities. As you can see, we have Nessalin in part to thank for the grittification of the T'zai Byn, although this was definitely the love child of Krrx who announces its grand re-opening on August 8th, 1999 with the following description:

The T'zai Byn is Allanak's oldest and largest active mercenary company. While the Byn is in many respects an independent organization, Highlord Tektolnes has seen it fit to grant the company the title of "the Allanaki Mercenaries' Guild." It thus has a quasi-official role in preparing many of Allanak's young people for military service (e.g., in merchant Houses, noble Houses, the Allanaki Militia, etc.), but you'd be hard pressed to tell it by looking at them. The Byn has a decidedly seedy reputation in many corners, and might be seen to be mere privateers, only a step above raiders. It's reputed to be more of a rough-and-tumble outfit than a crack military unit. Still, the training is cheap, and supposedly just the thing to prepare you for military life ...

Chronology: Real World vs. Zalanthan

The first 'chronology' page that I can find is from July 2nd, 1997[website]. It ends at 1389 (misprinted as 1399); no new entries are on the December, 1998 page. The first new entry that we can find in the webarchives is 03/09/2000 which takes us up to 1476. (However, there is no webarchive between Dec. 1998 and March, 2000.) We can nail down at least a terminus before which and after which from this. As the last entry in 03/09/2000 is 1476, we can assume 1476 happened before 03/09/2000! Since, as well, events after 1389 happened during 1998, we can assume that staff didn't start consistently updating the chronology page until around 1999.

Two other important ways I acquired dates (other than coming the gdb archives): (1) around the 21st Age (2004) time 'normalized', which means that you can plug those dates into the Zalanthan converter (https://armtimeconverter.neocities.org) and get good results. (2) From 05/2000 up until 03/2004 the web crawler archived a snapshot of timeline.cgi which gives us the ACTUAL real life time AND the Zalanthan time! So these will be fairly reliable.

Hence, it is just dates before 1484 (05/2000), more or less, which are 'open' --- for these I have relied on gdb archive posts.

So to sum-up:

  • up to 1484 (05/20/2000) we have no reliable guide other than gdb posts.

  • 1484 (05/20/2000) up to 1541 (10/05/2003) dates are not 'normal' so we can't calculate them with a converter, but we do have snapshots of the web archive. So super reliable.

  • 1541 (05/20/2003) and forward: we can use the converter

LoD's Reflections1

A post from an original player, LoD, who played Thrain and Khann, gives us some idea of when the timeline begins once we step before 1389. Here are the highlights relevant to chronology:

  • There was no Red Storm, Cenyr, Tuluk, Luir's, Blackwing, or any other civilization besides Steinal and Allanak.

  • The Doomsbringer, Arch Magi, Shadow, and Tan Muark were all real clans.

This suggests that at least some events prior to 1389 are real events!

More LoD Reflections

Also the Coming soon thread

Another nostalgia thread

Chronology Before 1389

Note Date                                 Event
?? The Old Council of Kings begins to decay. In the final meeting between the Kings and Avangions of old, the Council unanimously votes to dissolve itself.
??? The Empire, which apparently encompassed all of the land between Vrun Driath and the River Yen-el-Tun (even unto the darkness in the Broken Rim Mountains), disintegrates into feudal dukedoms. Years of territorial war follow.
Note: Jhalavar's 1st computer game was "The Dragon"1 ??? The Dragon arrives at Gol Krathu and quickly seizes power. There is little resistance. Some accounts indicate that the lands were given over to the Dragon in a dark pact of betrayal. Servants of the Dragon roam the earth, crushing all opposition.
??? The Dragon rules the Known World for four hundred years. Most life, poisoned by the Dragon's magick, spread black plagues among the populations. Elves, dwarves, and men scatter to the furthest reaches of the realm to avoid the terrible Dragon, his dread servants, and the killing plagues which accompanied them.
??? The Dragon, for reasons unknown, departs the Known World. The empire of the Dragon, unable to function, crumbles within five years.
77 (Year 0 Age 2) First Age ends.
154 (Year 0 Age 3) Second Age ends.
c.170 (Year 16 Age 3) Nomadic tribes begin to settle at Vrun Driath and Gol Krathu.
231 (Year 0 Age 4) Third Age ends.
According to LoD these were real clans! c.290 (Year 59 Age 4) The powerful chieftain Quintus Tektolnes conquers and unites the tribes at Vrun Driath into a small kingdom. The tribes called Doombringer, Tan-Muark, and Shadow are among the conquered.
308 (Year 0 Age 5) Fourth Age ends.
According to a gdb post by ??? Quintus was real c.312 (Year 4 Age 5) Quintus' son, aged 22, treacherously slays his father and assumes control of the kingdom, now called Allanak.
Jhalavar mentions redesigning Allanak ... when? c.320 (Year 12 Age 5) Work begins on the walls of the city-state of Allanak at Vrun Driath.
c.370 (Year 62 Age 5) Rumors reach Allanak that at least one servant of the Dragon still abides in the Known World.
385 (Year 0 Age 6) Fifth Age ends.
Ur created Tuluk... when? c.400 (Year 15 Age 6) A hitherto unknown warrior named Muk Utep sacks the twelve tribes at Gol Krathu with an army of terrible barbarians out of the northwest. The tribes called the Elves of Mallok and the Twin Warlocks are among the conquered. The city-state of Tuluk begins to rise under Utep the Sun King.
c.450 (Year 65 Age 6) Nearly one hundred years of warfare grips the Northlands as Utep wages campaigns of conquest to expand his domain.
469 (Year 7 Age 7) Sixth Age ends.
539 (Year 0 Age 8) Seventh Age ends.
616 (Year 0 Age 9) Eighth Age ends.
628 (Year 12 Age 9) The armies of the city-states of Allanak and Tuluk clash at Wyntek Harzen, east of the Red Desert. The battle is short and inconclusive. During the war, a black fortress is discovered in the sands. It is believed to be the home of Luir Dragonsthrall, last living servant of the Dragon.
LoD mentions this was a place he visited c.650 (Year 34 Age 9) The city-state of Steinal rises in the far east under the vile sorcerer Valasurus.
693 (Year 0 Age 10) Ninth Age ends.
744 (Year 51 Age 10) Tektolnes confronts Luir Dragonsthrall deep in the obsidian mines of Allanak. By use of incredible magicks, Tektolnes buries Luir under ninety-nine cords of rock.
Note Date                                 Event
770 (Year 0 Age 11) Tenth Age ends.
847 (Year 0 Age 12) Eleventh Age ends.
888 (Year 41 Age 12) The armies of Allanak and Tuluk clash on the scrub plains near the Shield Wall. The battle continues, inconclusively, for an entire year.
Tuluk redesign? 911 (Year 64 Age 12) The Dragon appears in Tuluk and an obscure exchange occurs between Muk Utep and the dread beast. At least one-fourth of Tuluk is destroyed by the Dragon. Afterward, the Dragon once again departs the Known World.
924 (Year 0 Age 13) Twelfth Age ends.
Jhalavar created merchants after Feb, 1993, see usenet c.950 (Year 26 Age 13) The well-known dune traders of the realm begin to organize into merchant companies.
LoD's mention of these clans as real could begin here? 1000 (Year 76 Age 13) The ancient tribes begin to reclaim their identities. The Elves of Mallok, the Shadow Clan, the Doombringers, the Tan-Muark, and the Twin Warlocks all resurface in various places across the realm.
1001 (Year 0 Age 14) Thirteenth Age ends.
1020 (Year 19 Age 14) Feudalism experiences a resurgence as the ancient tribes occupy and rule various parts of Utep's and Tektolnes' kingdoms. Small wars take place between the tribes over territorial disputes.
Ditto with steinal 1055 (Year 54 Age 14) The armies of Allanak and Steinal clash just west of the Great Salt Flats. Enraged, Tektolnes summons powerful magicks and puts down Valasurus, burying both him and the destroyed city of Steinal under the sands.
1078 (Year 0 Age 15) Fourteenth Age ends.
1092 (Year 14 Age 15) The Clan Wars begin. Pressed beyond their limits, the Shadow Clan claims right of revenge against the Elves of Mallok for the death of one of their number. The Elves refuse to admit guilt, and war is begun. The Doombringers and the Tan-Muark, through conflicts of their own, also enter into the war, as do the Twin Warlocks.
1149 (Year 71 Age 15) The last members of the ancient tribes are presumed dead. The fierce warfare between the tribes deprives them of sufficient numbers to survive, and the Clans vanish. Feudalism declines, accompanied by a rise in mercantilism.
1155 (Year 0 Age 16) Fifteenth Age ends.
No mention of Kadius in Feb. 1993 1161 (Year 6 Age 16) Merchant House Kadius establishes an emporium in Tuluk. Other Houses quickly form and follow suit in both Tuluk and Allanak.
Feb. 1993 magick rewrite? 1200 (Year 45 Age 16) The clerical orders begin to rise. For unknown reasons, the powers of the elements experience greater access to the elemental planes.
1232 (Year 0 Age 17) Sixteenth Age ends.
1300 (Year 68 Age 17) Mercantilism grows extremely rapidly. By 1301, almost all of the economy is in the hands of Merchant Houses.
1305 (Year 73 Age 17) For the first time in five hundred years contact is established with the Cai-Shyzn mantis clutch. A minor amount of trading between the mantises and civilized people begins, but once more, after a few short years, the mantises seclude themselves from further contact.
1309 (Year 0 Age 18) Seventeenth Age ends.
Spice already in-game Feb. 1993 1348 (Year 39 Age 18) Without warning, Tektolnes bans the use of spice in Allanak. Tensions begin to grow between House Kurac (who controls the spice), Tuluk, and Allanak.
See LoD 1367 (Year 58 Age 18) The village of Red Storm East is formed by a collection of rebellious Allanaki farmers. Surprisingly, no reaction from the Allanaki templarate takes place, so it is assumed the action of the farmers is sanctioned.
1386 (Year 0 Age 19) Eighteenth Age ends

Chronology of the Known World 1389+

Note Date                                 Event
Was this Freil?1 If so, this was a PC. Dates unknown, but < Dec. 1996 1389 (Year 3 Age 19) The first Defiler in over 1500 years is found and killed outside of Tuluk. Ancient texts resurface which detail much of Defiler magick.
Thrain was a PC, dates unknown 1394 (Year 8 Age 19) The joint forces of the Clear Waters Oasis tribe and the Ironsword clan attack Allanak's obsidian mine, managing to free the slaves. Thrain Ironsword dies in the battle along with several templars. After the attack the Clear Waters Oasis tribe, joined by a horde of former slaves, lay siege to Allanak. During this time, Tektolnes is mysteriously absent.
1395 (Year 9 Age 19) Exactly one year after the beginning of the siege of Allanak, Tektolnes reappears in the guise of a dragon and breathes death upon the sieging army - the army ceases to exist. Over the course of the next few years, a temple is built near the entrance of the city, in which the newly formed white-robe templarate preach the worship of He Who Rescued Us, the Mighty Dragon Tektolnes.
1403 (Year 17 Age 19) An unprecedented meeting of the three great merchant houses - Kadius, Kurac, and Salarr - takes place in Allanak, presumably for them to discuss trade matters of the Known World. It ends, however, in the death of one of the Kuraci representatives and as a result, cooperation between the houses is set back even further.
1409 (Year 23 Age 19) For reasons unknown a large clutch of mantises emerges from the Tablelands and attacks a sprawling encampment of gypsies near Luir's Outpost. With the aid of Blackwing elves, the mortal enemies of the mantises, the gypsies are able to totally defeat the onslaught.
1441 (Year 55 Age 19) A fire of questionable origin starts in the scrub plains south of Tuluk and almost destroys the city. Isar, High Templar of Tuluk, uses powerful magick to stop the fire, however. The fire leaves a wide path of scorched earth leading south away from the city.
1445 (Year 59 Age 19) After a miserably failed coup, Precentor Kul is banished from Tuluk by Precentor Isar.
05/98 1450 (Year 64 Age 19) A terrifying and presumably magickal cataclysm strikes the city-state of Tuluk, leaving it to be nothing more than a pile of rubble and ruins. Over seventy thousand people are killed that day in what has since come to be known as the Fall of Tuluk. During the chaos, Precentor Kul manages to overthrow Precentor Isar and gains control over what little remains.
1458 (Year 72 Age 19) A new government in Tuluk is formed, still headed by the Sun King Muk Utep, giving a greater authority to the common people, noble houses, and merchant houses of Gol Krathu. This council becomes known as the Northlands Alliance.
1461 (Year 75 Age 19) A small army of Allanaki soldiers launches a surprise attack on Luir's Outpost. After dealing a considerable amount of damage, the army sweeps northward to the Scaien Gates of Tuluk. However, they are met by an enormously larger army, and destroyed in a humiliating defeat. The first victory of either side in the ongoing Allanaki-Tuluki conflict ever, this Battle of Tuluk re-establishes the northern powers as a force to be reckoned with.
1463 (Year 0 Age 20) Nineteenth Age ends.
1471 (Year 8 Age 20) Terrorists with the assistance of massive amounts of flash powder destroy the Dragon Temple in the heart of Allanak. However, moments later, Allanak launches an invasion of the Xytrix-Za valley of mantises, completely annihilating what remains of the Cai-Shyzn clutch.
1475 (Year 12 Age 20) A minor skirmish takes place just south of Luir's Outpost between the city-state of Allanak and the Northern Alliance that results in the first-ever Allanaki victory over its northern enemy. This takes place during complex negotiations between Kurac and Allanak, after which Kurac is allowed back in Allanak, although the ban on spice remained in place. One month later, Allanak seizes Luirs.
Note Date                                 Event
11/15/99 1476 (Year 13 Age 20) Allanak, after centuries of bloodshed and war, launches a successful assault on the Northlands. In a series of bloody battles, Allanaki troops conquer the region of Gol Krathu. The lone surviving Allanaki templar, Elaira Fale of the Blue, is credited with the victory. However, the invaders are unable to finish the job, as Muk Utep holes up in his pyramid and an indefinite siege begins.
05/20/2000 1484 (Year 21 Age 20) 1st Website Archive
06/16/2000 1485 (Year 22 Age 20) Website Archive
04/22/2001 1501 (Year 38 Age 20) Website Archive
05/09/2001 1502 (Year 39 Age 20) Website Archive
09/09/2001 1505 (Year 42 Age 20) Website Archive
02/28/2002 1514 (Year 51 Age 20) Website Archive
1516 (Year 53 Age 20) After forty years of Allanaki occupation, the Sun Legions of Tuluk launch a surprise attack on the Southern forces occupying the Gol Krathu region. Composed of members of the Sun King's Legions, the Rebellion, various human tribes of unknown origins, and hordes of hideously mutated and deformed creatures, the army successfully penetrates the Scaien Walls and liberates the land inside. The Allanaki Red Robes Sathis Valika and Aquila Nenyuk are slain in a duel with Isar, who is also mortally wounded during the confrontation. In the confusion, Kul himself is also cut down as the Tuluki forces make their way towards Luirs, liberating it from Allanaki occupation as well. Here, the Allanaki Red Robe Ihsahn Kasix and his units are caught between the Tuluki army and Kuraci militia. They are summarily executed.
06/19/2002 1519 (Year 56 Age 20) Web Archive
09/19/2002WA 1522 (Year 59 Age 20) Under the cloak of night, aided by a tremendous sandstorm, a small group of terrorists set off several barrels of flash powder within the Tor Academy, causing a tremendous amount of damage and chaos. Simultaneously, a Tuluki force led by the Jihaen templar Gavale Uaptal descends on the Xytrix-Za Valley and slaughters the occupying Allanaki forces.
10/02/2002 1524 (Year 61 Age 20) Website Archive
12/19/2002 1528 (Year 65 Age 20) Website Archive
02/23/2003 1531 (Year 68 Age 20) Website Archive
04/22/2003 1533 (Year 70 Age 20) Website Archive
08/09/2003 1538 (Year 75 Age 20) Website Archive
1540 (Year 0 Age 21) Twentieth Age ends.
10/05/2003 1541 (Year 1 Age 21) Website Archive, Not in Sync
1542 (Year 2 Age 21) A swarm of mantis, led by a sorceror that identifies himself as the Lord of Storms, descends on Luirs' Outpost, forcing the Kuraci presence within the outpost to flee. Rumors persist that he is marshalling his forces for a northward assault on Gol Krathu and that he has formed a dark alliance with a powerful creature from east of the Tuluki Plains.
1543 (Year 3 Age 21) The Kuraci forces, finding themselves without a homebase, establish Ten'Sarak as an alternative trade route through the Red Desert. Located somewhat southeast of the Outpost, Tan'Sarak provides an effective, if temporary, location to centralize their operations.
02/07/2004 1547 (Year 7 Age 21) Website Archive
03/04/2004 1548 (Year 8 Age 21) (Last) Website Archive, Also Tiernan Timelord Sync1

Fun anecdotes / stories

Halaster and the gaj

Mine was I think in 1994 [this almost certainly was prior to 1994 - nauta]. ArmageddonMUD wasn't really a role-playing game yet, it was a heavily modified DIKU MUD but had a cool page that talked about some of its features. They had just removed the ability to see your stats and specific numbers. A buddy and I created Shadow-dancers which were like a mix between assassins and clerics. A backstabbing, sneaking healing-magic badass. This was the days when you typed "cast 'heal' me" and none of this Vivadu fancypants stuff. So Allanak was just built and we started wandering out west of the city into some kind of tower. In the top of the tower was a gaj, but we had no idea what a "gaj" was. We just ran in typing "backstab gaj", "cast 'heal', me", etc.

Kelvik, one of the staff at the time, showed up and started playing the gaj fighting back. My buddy got killed and so while I was running around the tower hiding and fighting the gaj back and forth, he quickly made another character and ran to me and we defeated the gaj.

This was the days before sdesc's, too, so it was shit like "Frank arrives from the west".

A few days later I applied to be on staff. Kelvik was stoned and recruited me without talking to me first. It was a different game... :D

Nessalin and the wagon

This was before either of us were on staff.

The game had just rebooted so I logged in with my character (a warlock) and Kelvik logged in with his (a shadowdancer) to go get the wagon. There was only one wagon at the time and its location didn't persist through reboots, so when the game crashed it was a mad dash to go get it. We were too late, it was already gone.

Being a warlock I turned us both invisible, being a shadowdancer he turned us both ethereal (which at the time was really just another kind of invisible, requiring a different kind of detect spell to see). We bolted west out of the city to the grasslands hoping to catch up with the wagon (which moved slower than running) and did manage to catch up to it.

We boarded it but the driver had already picked up the key, gone into the pilot's chamber, and locked themselves in.

Kelvik dispelled his invisibility and ethereal spells and I followed him as he went outside and started moving ahead of the wagon, hoping whoever was piloting it would see a lone traveler on the road and come out to attack them. Which they did. But...it was a half-giant, which were just brutal, back then.

As soon as they stepped out I hit the wagon with the invisibility spell just as kelvik backstabbed the pilot (a half-giant). Even if he killed us he wouldn't be getting that wagon. Once done with that kelvik fled and I cast blind on the guy. It wasn't hard for Kelvik to chase him down, after that, and cast sleep on him.

At which point we started stealing all his gear rather than killing him on the logic killing him would just see him back in the game sooner with a geared up newbie (probably a half-giant) heading straight for us.

Once he was robbed of his gear we went back to the wagon & started driving towards the drow city - which was a cake walk in an unassailable wagon since the game didn't (apparently) have room flags blocking wagons yet.

;
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