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Achaean Adventures

Exploring why I play MUDs, and what I like to do in Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands.

Author: SilasMaynard

Government Structure

Posted by SilasMaynard Tuesday August 7 2012 at 1:33PM
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So, my last two posts have focused a little more on the wider world of Achaea, and what the game offers. This is something I'll come back to, because that depth is something that I think Iron Realms excels at in its games; but I want to focus again a little more on the narrative of Silas's journey through Achaea.

When we left off, Silas's Shallam was just coming out of its war with Ashtan. The loss that the city suffered, and the aftermath of that defeat, no doubt played no small part in Silas's first reign as Sultan coming to an end after some 14 in-game years (around six real-life months).

Immediately after that, of course, Shallam, under its new, more careful leadership, underwent a period of repairing and rebuilding. Again, the varied play styles allowed by the IRE MUDs really stands out to you as part of the political structure of each of its games. There is as much need for that measured approach in the success of any text-city as there is to sometimes go crazy and shake things up.

However, it wasn't long before the city began to settle following the major upheavals, and Silas once again - and for the final time to date - found himself back on the Council of Viziers, and within a couple of in-game years, at the age of 120, he was chosen again as Shallam's Sultan.

This time, my focus was less on the direction of the city, and more on the make-up of the city itself. Working with Pentharian, with the then-lead producer of Achaea Maya, and with several players, I set about changing the very dynamic of the city's government.

Since its modern founding (the history of Shallam in-game long predates the period since people actually began playing Achaea), Shallam had been a democracy; but I and others judged that that just didn't work in modern Achaea for a city based so strongly on its ideals as Shallam. So, after some not-insignificant political wrangling, Shallam became a theocracy. The Sultanate was abolished in favour of a Caliphate, and Silas became the first city's first Caliph.

The dust is still settling, and the form may have altered, but that change is indeilbly printed on the landscape of Achaea. That is something I can look back on, as a player, and see as a legacy of the time I've spent playing one of the Iron Realms MUDs.

In the achievement-laden MMO world, it's really hard to beat such a lasting mark. That's why, no matter how fun and engaging other games might be, I still keep coming back.

Achaean Ideals

Posted by SilasMaynard Tuesday August 7 2012 at 12:16PM
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When we left off, I was examining the different ideals in Achaea, the inaugural MUD from Iron Realms Entertainment.

Each ideal - notably Good, Evil, Chaos and Nature - tends to be represented by a city (Shallam, Mhaldor, Ashtan and Eleusis respectively). However, cities often tend to be more wide-reaching, and somewhat more secular. So, the ideals are generally also given foundation in more religious style sects. For example, Shallam and Good had the Church (now replaced by the Citadel), Mhaldor and Evil have the Cathedral, Ashtan and Chaos have the Cult of Babel, and Eleusis and Nature have Oakstone.

Silas was a member of the Church for a long time, and through the Church I found a lot of things that really helped me to found and build him as a character. The history of the Church in Achaea was incredibly rich, filled with crusades and witch-burning (Occultist burning, in fact), and really allowed a new depth to the roleplay element of the game.

In Shallam, the atmosphere was much more relaxed, much more focused on rules and laws, much more secular. In itself, this isn't a bad thing; but I'm the type of player who likes to get a bit crazy with how far my character will go. To me, it's a bit boring to play a model of real-life in a game like Achaea: it doesn't feel like you're using the game to its true potential if you rein yourself in all the time.

The Church allowed that more zealous play style. In the Church, again, my character eventually rose through the ranks, eventually being entrusted by the Prelacy (the Church leadership) to serve as the Archprelate. Again, I took this opportunity and ran with it, re-evaluating and redefining the Church's position on a number of issues throughout the gameworld.

Under Silas, the Church took stronger stances against Chaos, Darkness and Evil, and I followed my preferred play style to change the Church's stance to be much more black & white on these issues, leading to wholesale branding of entire Orders as enemies of the Church for their Patron's associations with Chaos. Entire networks of shrines to various Divinities aligned against the Church were targetted for destruction.

Some people will doubtless have disagreed with my actions, but the beauty of it all is that as much as my character might have changed in the world around him, his position was not and was never unassailable. Games like Achaea allow for hugely complex and involved rivalries as well as alliances, and in the end this did of course prove to be the downfall of my character.

However, it's this allowance for players to make huge, sweeping changes to the world we all play in that keep me coming back to Achaea, and to Iron Realms. It's refreshing to have such an effect on the games you play, and to see and remember the changes that you instituted still in effect even today.

Religion in Achaea

Posted by SilasMaynard Tuesday August 7 2012 at 10:18AM
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In the previous posts, I've recounted some of my character's history, attempting to explain why it is that I keep coming back to the IRE MUD Achaea. I prefer to speak on what I know, so while this post won't quite follow the same timeline, it will still follow Silas's history.

For me, one of the most fun things in Achaea has been interacting with the in-game Gods themselves. In Achaea, these Gods are played by volunteer admin staff, and represent all sorts of in-game tenets.

They follow the model of the Greek Pantheon, with Sarapis as the leader of the Gods and a part of the elevated Pentad, and all other Divinities below him (or Him, if you will). Each God (with a few exceptions from the Pentad such as Sarapis, Maya and Tecton) maintains an Order of mortal representatives who will work and fight to increase the influence of their Patron, and to lessen the influence of their enemies.

As mentioned previously, Silas joined the Order of Pentharian, Lord of Valour quite early on in my playtime. As a Knight of Shallam, this seemed like the best fit, since Achaean Knights are, like their real-life medieval counterparts, beholden to the ideal of honour, which is of course an integral part of Valour.

There are, naturally, some small differences between Achaean Valour and the real-life definition of valour, because otherwise it would be far too easy to forget that you're playing a game. All other such ideals follow this same premise - for example, Achaean Evil isn't the same as evil in real life, just as Achaean Good isn't the same as what we might understand good to be. All ideals in Achaea have a fleshed out, in-game definition that players can really immerse themselves in through their characters.

But as part of the Order of Valour, my character set about rebuilding the influence of the newly returned Pentharian (newly returned as he had been taken over by a new volunteer admin). Backed by the rest of Pentharian's Order, he struck out on crusades against the Orders of Suffering, Oppression, Sin and Darkness, defiling shrines to their Patron Divinities and skirmishing against members of those Orders.

In this too, Silas soon rose through the ranks, being chosen after 20 years of very active service as Pentharian's mortal voice, and given the position of Hand of Elysia. Again, this was something I as a player relished. In the 70 in-game years (around two-and-a-half real life years) that my character held the position, I had a lot of fun re-establishing Pentharian's influence, and working with him to restructure his Order.

There are also, in Achaea, slightly different, overarching ideals that are worshipped and furthered by all sorts of different characters, and which form the axes for the major conflicts in the game. I touched briefly on Good and Evil before, but there are also Chaos and Nature, and a couple of more minor ideals, with the rest of the game quite staunchly defending their neutrality.

That's something to explore in another post, though.

City Leadership

Posted by SilasMaynard Monday August 6 2012 at 7:36PM
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Again following on from my last post, the pinnacle for people interested in politics in games like Achaea, Iron Realms Entertainment's flagship MUD, is city leadership.

Politics in general, but leadership especially, can be a thorny topic. However, it is something I personally have derived a lot of enjoyment from over the years. After establishing himself as a member of the ruling council, my character Silas was selected as the Sultan of Shallam at the age of around 89, which is a little over two years after I started playing.

I know that sometimes these timescales seem extremely long, but that is the nature of role-playing. Achaea is not the type of game where you can grind and quest your way to the head of the thieves' guild in 20 hours of gameplay, or beat the game in around 60 hours; MUDs are not the same as typical RPGs like the Final Fantasy series, or open world games like Skyrim. Instead, you get from MUDs what you're willing to put in.

For me, that time investment meant I was now given absolute authority in Shallam, with the ability to set for myself the direction of the entire city.

Some people, I know, are oftentimes unwilling to really wield the power that they are given, afraid of offending somebody or causing hurt feelings; personally, I thrive under those settings. Given the way Achaea is set up, positions of power really give you the freedom to take your ideas and run with them.

So, I ran.

It wasn't long before, under Silas's leadership, Shallam found itself embroiled in the first player-driven, outright war between two cities for in-game centuries. Many people bemoaned that decision: some probably still do; but it was a necessary step along the road that I saw for truly solidifying the ethos and the identity of the faction.

Sure, there was a lot of dumb crap surrounding some of it - but that's just something you occasionally have to put up with in the MMO world. At the end of the day, that war, and the events that surrounded it, remain some of my fondest memories, and amongst my proudest achievements as I look back at the years I've spent playing Achaea.

There aren't many games where, even with ultimate power, you can really affect the world like that. That's one of the best things about all of the IRE MUDs, and it's what keeps me playing even now.

Player Politics

Posted by SilasMaynard Monday August 6 2012 at 1:46PM
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Following on from my last post, one of the biggest motivating factors behind my continued interest in Iron Realms Entertainment's flagship MUD Achaea is the hugely rich, player-run politics system.

My character Silas, equipped now with a motivation and a Knighthood, got into politics early. He was elected as a Vizier of Shallam - a member of the ruling council of Achaea's good-aligned city - less than three in-game years (around a real-life month) after being Knighted. Almost immediately, I was hooked.

There are limits to the text-power available to your character, it's true, but it seems that much of the time the influence available is underestimated. As a newly minted Vizier, I began to form ideas for the direction I wanted to take the city in, and began to make and solidify the necessary alliances to allow me to do so.

At the time, Shallam was a bit of a mess. I'm sure there are a few players who will even now disagree with me when I say that, but the identity of the faction was really shaky and poorly defined, and there were massive inconsistencies in the in-game dogma that were consistently overlooked. People familiar with the situation will, I'm sure, remember instances such as Moraine, an infamous Occultist (and thereby an enemy of Shallam and all that Shallam stands for) being asked to send raiders in Nirvana, the holy sanctuary of the Priest class, to the pit of Golgotha, and other such stupidities. I resolved, with others, to make sure things like this stopped.

The changes that occurred steered the city through several years (both in-game and in real life) of turmoil, but more than that, they really got me invested in the city, and in the game, as a player. The sheer number of interactions that were stirred up by that turmoil, and just the level of emotion from all involved really solidified Achaea in my mind as a massively diverse and interesting game world.

Of course, the success of my character in any of his endeavours is for others to judge. What is important to represent here is just how much fun I had through it all. Achaea continues to provide these opportunities for hugely fun diversions from the commonplace concerns of real life.

Character Building

Posted by SilasMaynard Thursday August 2 2012 at 1:38PM
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For the past 8 years or so, I've been playing Silas on Achaea, the flagship MUD from Iron Realms Entertainment.

Okay, so that probably didn't take a genius to figure out, but my intention in this blog is to introduce you to why it is that I have stuck by both my character and by Achaea.

The first thing to do on any of the IRE MUDs is to create your character. It's a good idea as well to at least build an idea of what your character is going to be like. For instance, I knew early that I wanted my character to be good-aligned, and that I preferred the Knight archetype. So, Silas joined the city of Shallam and the then-Paladin Guild, now the Great House of The Templars.

I also learned about Achaea's Gods and their Divine Orders, which I will cover in greater depth in a later post. For now, though, Silas had a motivation - to be Good, to become a Knight, and to join the Divine Order of Pentharian, God of Valour. That motivation is something I've attempted to stick to - at least in its barest outline - throughout my time playing Silas, and it's been the basis for a lot of fun interactions and events.

Of course, there have been events in that time that have changed how I play Silas, and things that have happened that have drastically altered Silas's outlook on the world around him. Shortly after I started playing, for example, the Vertani event happened, wherein the town of Thera was destroyed, and a new, alien race emerged to threaten all of Sapience. Through this event, I began to take an interest in politics, because I was fascinated by the interactions between the various city leaders to attempt to solve this worldwide problem.

For those who know me and my character, the rest may very well be history; but politics is again something I will give proper coverage to later in this blog. For now, with the whole world in turmoil, Silas was still finding his feet, working steadily to progress to a point where, at the age of 62 (roughly 18 months after I began playing - which might sound like a hefty chunk of time, but seems like much less looking back, given how much happened), Silas was able to call himself a Paladin Knight, and a devotee of Elysia.

It's this system of setting and achieving long-term goals that really got me hooked on Achaea. Even now, 8 years later, I find new dreams to aspire to and new goals that I want to achieve, which shows that, like I said in my last post, Achaea really is only as limited as your own imagination.

Introduction

Posted by SilasMaynard Thursday August 2 2012 at 10:05AM
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As an introduction, I've been playing MUDs - most specifically Achaea, the flagship MUD of Iron Realms Entertainment - for the best part of the last decade. I play other games as well, typically RPGs such as Skyrim, but what keeps me coming back to Achaea is the sheer depth that text-based MMOs can offer.

Skyrim is a lot of fun, don't get me wrong - but in Skyrim, you're limited by what the game will allow you to do. In Achaea, with the right planning, I can almost literally do anything. If I want my character to defy the Gods - so long as I'm prepared to face the consequences for that - I can do so; if I want an event to, say, burn down the library of an opposing faction, I can send an email and I can see it happen.

With the way MUDs work, and with the hands-on approach of its in-game volunteer admin staff, Achaea is only as limited as your imagination.

Over the next few posts, I'll attempt to describe my path through Achaea by exploring the facets of the game that have kept me playing for the past 8 years and change. I'll show you why it is that Achaea remains my first choice hobby for time-wasting fun; and I'll show you why you too should lose yourself in its rich, sprawling, Divine Lands.

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