Before LARP, there were other strange acronyms…
Before LARP, there were other strange acronyms…

So it’s recently occurred to me that I really don’t use this blog space often enough, and I was thinking of doing a regular feature where I talk about some of my favorite role-playing games, both old and new. This won’t be a particularly journalistic review, just some of my random thoughts about games that I get excited about. Maybe if there are some games that you readers would like to hear me talk about, you can make suggestions in the comments and I’ll see what I can do. In fact, if you have an indie game that you’ve written that you’d like me to try out, or if you represent a gaming company and have new products that you’d like me to review, send me an email and we’ll work something out! I don’t have a lot of free time lately, but I’m always interested in checking out new things!

Today’s Topic: Before LARPS, there were other strange acronyms…

I got into gaming in sort of a strange order. Most people I LARP with tend to have picked up tabletop gaming back in high school and then worked their way into LARP through that. *I* went completely backwards. I got into tabletop gaming LAST, after Id’ been LARPing for nearly a year. And my first experience with roleplaying was not sitting around the gaming table on Friday night, but online.

But Alina, you say!! What sort of roleplaying games were online in the early 90’s??

Well, aside from the various chat room/#IRC/forum/bulletin board based games out there, there were MUSHes.Or MUDs. Or MUCKS or MOOs or whatever the room that you played on called itself. (There are differences between all of those terms, but sometimes said terms were used incorrectly. It was a confusing time.) Whatever the term you used, it all boiled down to text-based roleplaying.

I played on a variety of MUSHes long before I ever heard of pen-and-paper games. Some had character stats, automatic dice rollers, and complicated mathematics to crunch combat between two characters with a simple command. Others had no rules at all and relied wholly on the imaginations and politeness of its players to mediate any combats that arrived. There was a curious code of honor in these games, with any powergamers or twinks who would write another player’s actions FOR them being shunned by their nobler compatriots. It was wild, wacky, freeform roleplaying in the extreme.

It didn’t always work. Sometimes, you’d sit in a text-based room for hours, waiting for someone to log on. Sometimes, you’d be in the middle of an epic drama in your own private room, only to have someone else’s conversation about Star Wars suddenly break into your game. But I loved every moment of it…

***End Part I

(Part II to come!!)

News: Posted May 24th, 2010 by Alina

^ 26 Comments to “Before LARP, there were other strange acronyms…”

  1. Trik Says:

    I’ve never played an IRC RPG, but I did spend quite a while engrossed in a forum based Zoids RPG, Generation Zi. It was the ‘imagination and politeness’ sort, with separate boards for RP stories and Arena combats. It was a lot of fun but then, well, WoW ate my life >.>

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 3:27 am
  2. soloran Says:

    Man, MUDs got me through college. I was an avid table top player in highschool and had problems finding a good group when I moved. I remember playing through the night and into the sunrise on weekends. Those games taught me to read and type *really* quickly. 🙂

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 3:30 am
  3. Darkdrake Says:

    Heh, I just recently really got into a MUD, and I am of the opinion that it is one of the best forms of role-playing out there. Sometimes animations just dont cut it

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 4:33 am
  4. Ellemerr Says:

    Ah! Freeform roleplay, how would I survive without you. Actually, due to a severe lack of roleplayers in my vicinity (not to mention a huge amount of shyness on my part), organized forum roleplay is the only kind of this glorious sport I have the pleasure of partaking in (though I want nothing more than bump into a weregeek one fullmoon night. Mark had it so easy!) They’ve definetly done wonders for my English, which used to be… *shudders* Don’t really want to think about that. Wouldn’t mind trying out LARPing next, though – even if I shouldn’t enjoy it (unlikely), nice costumes are like drugs to me…

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 5:31 am
  5. tebunga Says:

    only 13 but i’ma alphageek & 2nd generation geek

    anaway back to buisness you should check out a tabletop game werewolves:tha apocolypse and it’s expansion werewolves:the forsaken

    BTW was the whole thing about joel capturing a hunter all in his head or what?

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 6:42 am
  6. tebunga Says:

    the apcolypse i meant
    srry my keyboards a fail

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 6:44 am
  7. Jonathan B Says:

    I got my start in an IRC-based RPG, though it was less on the roleplay and more on the combat most of the time. We assembled our own rules and stat systems, based in the Wing Commander universe. It was one of those IRC players that drug me into my first MUSH, which was also Wing Commander based. After two weeks waiting on the starting planet for someone to come pick me up and take me where the action was, the guy who invited me finally turned up to pick me up. The next day, I logged on to find out I was dead, because he’d decided to try to run a massive fleet blockade with his little trader with me asleep on board.

    Just to prove I’m a glutton for punishment, I made a new character there within a day or two. I just didn’t fly with him again. 😉

    So are we gonna get a list of MU* that our fearless comic artist played upon?

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 7:03 am
  8. Nojh Says:

    I was a beek MUSH fan for years. I basically got into it at the same time I got into tabletop RPGs but I spent most evenings on various MUSHes prior to college. Sadly these days I find I just don’t have the time to sit down for a few hours and hash out a scene but I still miss it.

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 8:45 am
  9. TPRJones (aka ChiLynn@FurryMUCK, Gonomon@ChaosMUCK, and many others) Says:

    Ah, MUDs. They helped me drop out of college. Twice. 🙂

    Well, MUCKs, mostly. I started on IslandiaMUD, and I still remember being there the day it sank beneath the waves for good. But MUCKs were my true love. And I have never met a programming language that I loved so much as MUF, that scrappy little stack-based beast. Oh how I miss it.

    I got way too deep into programming on MUCKs. Some of the first vehicles and portable containers and autonomous robots were my creations. On one MUCK at one point I had built 65% of the items/locations/programs in the database, and it was not a small MUCK. I miss those MUCKs.

    MUSHes and MOOs never really did it for me. When the great MUCKs died, that was the end of an era.

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 9:22 am
  10. Mike Says:

    Heck, before LARP, LARPers couldn’t even agree on an acronym. Was it LRP? A LARPG? IL (Interactive Literature)? Eventually a consensus was reached with LARP which actually sounds like a word…

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 9:56 am
  11. Tink Says:

    Man, I was a huge MUSH player, played the same one for almost 10 years, Ashiron aka Seasons of the Wolf. Meet some great folks in there, people I still am friends with even outside of gaming.

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 5:27 pm
  12. tebunga Says:

    omg i googled MUSHes and i found one for e-mail and it is like epic and is about a draconic civil war and guess wat its run by fellow fans of weregeek its like zo totly epic

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 5:37 pm
  13. Zypher Says:

    Been reading for a while, this is the first post I felt a need to post on.

    I’m not sure WHAT kind of text-based this is, but I’ve found a lovely one. In FACT, I’ve seen an ad for it on this very site! Improbable Island. I’ve played a few, and it was online that really got me into RPing.

    Unless you count passing a notebook in class with friends? To the point you got it taken away multiple times… over multiple years…

    ANYWAY, sadly I’ve never LARPed or even played a tabletop (from lack of opportunity ONLY I assure you), but I do love reading your blogs and this comic. Keep writing, Alina!

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 10:47 pm
  14. Sin Says:

    *keeps clicking next button*
    Oh woe is me! It doesn’t continue on.
    Now I will have to actually actively check for new pages…

    Anyway…Roleplaying on forums is what keeps me going for the most part. Started on the rsf’s, then broke away to our own site. It’s dieing now, we need new blood. =/
    So if anyone is interested in forum roleplay stop by and have a look.

    Posted May 24th, 2010 at 11:40 pm
  15. SupAll Says:

    The first roleplaying I did was on the Imperial Conflict forums. I enjoyed those forums due to its simplicity but as I grew more fond of storylines and great character depth, I enjoyed a far more complex style. So much so, it seemed we were writing novels; one chapter at a time.

    Posted May 25th, 2010 at 2:36 am
  16. Jate Says:

    Oh man, I used to run and code those! And MUDDs, too – I ran with some great folks, played in some lovely ones, and helped destroy the world once or twice. I tended to play evil. Helped actually trigger the apocalypse of the world (with admins knowing it was a possibility but out-smarted the heroes!) and it was massive fun for all. Totally player run everything. Ahhhh those were the days!

    Posted May 25th, 2010 at 11:09 am
  17. Cori Says:

    I was a mudder, too! Where did you play?

    Posted May 25th, 2010 at 3:35 pm
  18. petergamer Says:

    You should check out the game that I write for; Fellowship of the White Star. Historic Horror roleplaying set in 1900’s Earth. Tons of fun, heavy investigation and very accessible, since we use only slighty modified 3.5 D&D rules. check us out at

    Posted May 26th, 2010 at 8:02 am
  19. Dannighe Says:

    Oh how I miss MUDs, there were some great people I met on my favorites, but most of them are long gone now. That has been the only rp experience I had, because I can’t find any other games in my area 🙁

    Posted May 26th, 2010 at 9:51 am
  20. Capt Kirkette Says:

    MUDs!! I love them! And the discworld MUD is still active and as awesome as ever. ^_^

    Posted May 26th, 2010 at 4:56 pm
  21. whims Says:

    When I was playing, MUDs were classified mostly be the codebase they started with (abermud, dikumud, lpmud, etc.), which was nearly always customized by whoever was running it. I have fond memories of an AberMUD variant, and BatMUD. Never really got into any of the other proliferating ‘M’ acronyms, though.

    Posted May 27th, 2010 at 1:13 am
  22. Ha! I started in the AOL chatrooms back in the ninties , then moved on to Forum posting, table top(The best D&D game I’ve ever been in to date), then LARPing (SOLAR!), Then a MUSH, and I have landed squarely in an IRC group, where I’ve been for the past few years now 🙂

    Posted May 27th, 2010 at 11:21 am
  23. anakin531 Says:

    i love these comics

    Posted May 27th, 2010 at 4:35 pm
  24. While I discreetly was able to play one or two RPGs in high school – mainly TMNT and Other Strangeness, it wasn’t until I got to college that I really got into any gaming at all. All at once, I was introduced to LARPS, standard RPGs (Shadowrun was my first real campaign), and MUDs. I was even able to play D&D after hearing how evil of a game it was. Hehe…

    Never played on any MUSHs, but after 13 years I’m still playing (and Admining!) on Torilmud (aka Sojourn, split from Duris, etc, etc) – one of the granddaddies. Never thought I’d be doing that. 🙂

    Posted May 28th, 2010 at 1:49 am
  25. I played a bunch of tabletop games throughout middle/high school. Got into LARPing in college ( Yay Vampire: The Masquerade!). Never played any MUSHes or MUDs, mores the pity.

    Posted May 28th, 2010 at 3:29 am
  26. Ray Says:

    MUDs, MUSHes, MUCKs, and MOOs!
    Played a bunch, really got into Ancient Anguish for a while (LPMUD), played a couple of ROM2.4 MUDs, until I realised that nobody ever bothered editing the default world, so all the ROM 2.4 MUDs were identical. LPMUD didn’t come with a default and therefore forced some creativity on the part of the MUD designers.

    Did play a MUSH for a bit, but never got into any of the other M* games much.

    Posted June 4th, 2010 at 6:31 am