Starting out in a new game always kind of sucks. No matter how long you've been gaming, no two games are exactly alike in syntax, rules, or expectations. These differences ensure that you are bound to screw up at some point in your newbiehood, and unfortunately, that's enough to keep more timid players from giving a game a fair chance.
The syntaxes in Iron Realms game are fairly intuitive. The newbie introduction is quite thorough, there is a HELP file (called "scrolls" when referenced in the game) for nearly every subject, and there is a newbie channel, manned by Guides who are trained to assist newcomers. There are some things, however, that these resources aren't going to cover. Some aspects of a game's culture, atmosphere, and roleplay can only be gleaned from experience.
I've been playing Achaea for about ten years. I caught on to the technical aspects of the game very quickly. Unfortunately, it took me a couple of years to really understand how best to get involved in the game's roleplay and community. I made a lot of mistakes early on by focusing on the wrong things, and adopting an attitude that wasn't particularly constructive. Fate was kind, though, and I eventually fell in with a group of players whose dedication to their roles inspired me to try to make something out of my character.
I want to take some of the sting out of the start-up experience, so if you're planning to give Achaea a shot, here are some things I wish I'd known ten years ago!
-Don't be a dick. This sounds simple enough, but you'd be surprised at how many newbs come into the game with the impression that they are the hardest mother-violator that Sapience has ever seen. Be polite and behave civilly, and other players will be willing to help you. Act like a jerk, and you'll probably get griefed out of the game - if the administration doesn't ban you, first.
-Achaea is roleplay-enforced, but that doesn't mean that the Gods have time to sit around punishing people for every minor OOC reference. There will always be players who refuse to remain completely in-character, but that doesn't mean that you need to lower yourself to their standard of behaviour. Remain in-character at all times, and ignore other people's OOC statements when you can. If it gets to the point where someone's insanity is really beginning to bother you, don't be afraid to ask them, through a TELL, to knock it off. Most people will stop once they realise they are bothering you. If they are rude, or if they continue, don't hesitate to report their "insanity" to a senior member of your House or city.
-Choose a name appropriate to a high-fantasy roleplaying environment. /\/00bk1ll3r696969 is not going to cut it. Achaea's naming standards are enforced, for the most part, and you will be asked to change your name if it is considered inappropriate.
-You should turn on the game's overhead map as soon as you exit the Trial of Rebirth. It will really help keep you from getting lost. The syntax is CONFIG MAPSHOW ALL, and then you can set the number of rooms your map shows in any given direction by typing MAP RADIUS, and then a number from one to five. I have my radius set to five, but I've noticed that five is rather large for display within the HTML5 browser client used by most newbies. I'd recommend using a radius of three or four if you're using the HTML5 client, and a radius of five if you decide, later on, to switch to an alternative client.
-JOIN A HOUSE. Achaea is incredibly complicated, and it is unlikely that someone new to the game will be able to integrate well on their own. The requirements that Houses incorporate into their novice programmes consist of items that you will need to survive, and reading you will need to understand in order to effectively play your role. Most Houses also have standards of behaviour that they expect their novices to meet. These restrictions typically mimic the bare minimum of Achaean etiquette, and those that don't are usually specific to your chosen faction - like the reading your House may require, they will help you to learn how to roleplay as part of the organisation you've joined. Houses are not "restricting your freedom", or otherwise hindering your game experience. They are there to help you, and to give you a group of like-minded individuals with whom you can interact and grow. This isn't a single-player game!
-People who randomly capitalise entire words are probably not yelling at you. Since there is no way to make text bold in a way that will universally translate across MUD clients, capitalisation is how people emphasise syntax and HELP scrolls - as you can see, I'm so used to this habit that I've been doing it in this entry before I even explained its significance.
-It's okay to say "no". There are thousands of players in Achaea, and you're bound to meet one or two who want to involve you in situations with which you may not be comfortable. Whether they want you to fight their battles for them, or bombard you with unwanted sexual propositions, there is no shame in politely, but firmly refusing. If someone continues to harass you, tell a House or city elder. If you aren't part of a House or a city, and are still under level 21, tell one of the Guides.
-Don't go AFK. Ever. There aren't usually administrative consequences for doing so, but you could easily be killed, robbed, or otherwise molested if you stand idle in the wrong place. The ivy-covered archway to Minia, the spot on the Prelatorian Highway called "Nearing Lake Vundamere", the Brass Lantern Inn, Tyrandiel's study in the Lucretian Athenaeum, and the Common Room of the Crystal Leaf Inn are all locations where thieves and libertines look to take advantage of new players. Avoid them if you plan to leave your computer for any length of time.
-Rat collectors, public tutors, and other NPCs are considered people within the context of the game. They should be treated accordingly. Though you will hear other people do it often, you should never refer to an NPC as if they were a landmark. You wouldn't say, "I'm going to Aunt!" if you were going to visit your aunt at her office, or, "Meet me at Christine the waitress!" if you were taking a friend out for lunch, would you?
-Always PROBE something before you kill it, to ensure it isn't loyal to one of the six major city-states, or to another player. Killing a creature that belongs to someone else is the quickest way for a newb to get their ass kicked.
-Always ask before killing something in a location that is occupied by someone else. It is possible that they may be killing it, or that the NPC is conversing with them, or maybe they're trying to do something that would be interrupted by a sudden outburst of violence, such as meeting with their friends. Simply saying something like, "May I kill that rat?" will suffice.
-Don't kill NPCs with proper names. In a given village, you're going to see tons of generic villagers, and one or two who are identified by name. Usually, the named NPCs are the keepers of some lucrative quest. You'd be better off leaving them alone and trying to find out what they want, rather than killing them for experience.
-Do the Achaean Orientation Tasks, and take advantage of the newbie areas. People are often in such a rush to advance that they fail to realise how good these resources really are. You can gain a ton of experience and gold - which only become more difficult to earn later on - by completing the tasks and doing the newbie quests.
-Your motto or warcry should be in-character.
I think that's plenty, for now. I'll write up another one of these later tonight or tomorrow, focusing more on roleplay cliches and pitfalls pertinent to Achaea, and especially to my dear Occultists.