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LegendMUD is a Diku-derived MUD created in late 1993 and launched officially on February 14, 1994[1][2]. It is themed around history[3], and early on used the slogan "history the way they thought it was." In older materials, it is sometimes referenced as just "Legend."It has been in continuous operation since inception, except for minor downtime when moving hosts or when having technical issues.

It is known for being one of the more innovative DikuMUDs[4], with particular attention towards roleplay features and a game system that was quite different from typical DikuMUDs.

Founding and history[]

LegendMUD was founded by Sherry Menton ("Charity") and Rick Delashmit ("Sadist"), both former players of Worlds of Carnage. Well in advance of the mud's launch, they were joined by several others, including Raph Koster ("Ptah") and Kristen Koster ("Kaige"), who were also players of that same mud.

Originally, Legend was hosted at, officially sponsored by the Academic Computing Committee of Washington College, in Chestertown, MD. It was originally hosted on a Macintosh SE/30. Eventually, it was moved to student account space at the University of Texas, where it moved frequently between different servers. Eventually, it was hosted on a dedicated server at the domain, and then eventually at its own domain of

Legend began as a Merc 2.0b mud, but was rapidly modified until little semblance of the original code remained. The Diku license remains on display throughout its history.

Eventually, the Kosters took over administration of the mud circa 1995. At peak, LegendMUD reached approximately 100 simultaneous users.

In 1997 Raph Koster retired from Legend as an active immortal to focus on Ultima Online. Kristen Koster remained as Implementor for several years before she too stepped down. The mud has since been implemented by Todd McKimmey ("Rufus"), Pam Eves ("Sandra") and David Champion ("Lorenzo") who have all stepped down. As of 2014 it's been implemented by Michael Weatherbee ("Mertjai") and Ruth Williams ("Lamia").

As of Fall 2017, LegendMUD has over 8000 rooms in over 60 areas.[5]


LegendMUD is extremely unusual among MUDs in being based on history and myth. It uses no stock areas whatsoever and never has. All areas are researched extensively during the building process and include a brief essay on the history of the area and time period that is available in-game via a command. Immortals must submit a proposal for any area they intend to build and it is not uncommon for an area to be rejected for creation or deployment if it does not meet standards.

Strict adherence to history is not required however; instead, the theme is flexible to allow for the presence of the supernatural, magic and mythical people and places in areas where those existed. For example, in Ancient Ireland one might encounter the Sidhe, and in Medieval England's Sherwood Forest you might meet Robin Hood.

The MUD is divided into three time periods: Ancient, Medieval, and Industrial. The Medieval time period is defined as ending with the invention of gunpowder while the Industrial period was originally defined as ending in the middle of the 20th century. Players must learn 'trans' quests to travel from one time period to another.

Areas in LegendMUD
Ancient Medieval Industrial
Aboriginal Dreamtime 17th C. Salem (Salem witch trials) 1930's Pittsburgh
Anasazi America 1802 Alaska 19th c. Paris
Ancient Seas The Alhambra African Savannah
Ancient Carthage The Black Forest Bengal
Ancient Egypt Boston, MA (based on The Scarlet Letter) Casablanca (based on the movie)
Ancient Greece The Crusades Dartmoor, England
Ancient India The French-Indian War Gold Rush Melbourne
Ancient Nazca Hospitaller Malta Gold Rush San Francisco
Ancient Rome (Emperor Domitianus' rule) Dante's Inferno Gypsy Carnival
Arabian Nights Legends of the Past (see below) Industrial Pyramids (Egypt)
Aztecs Medieval England/Sherwood Forest Victorian London Port
Beowulf (Ancient Scandinavia, based on the poem) Medieval Japan Paris France (Phantom of the Opera)
Celtic Ireland Medieval Kleinstadt, Germany Russian Revolution (Petrograd)
Land of Shadows Medieval Seas Seoni Jungle, India (Kipling' Jungle Book)
Pictish Country Pirate Caribbean The Somme, France, World War I
Roman Britain The Pirates' Den The South Seas, inc. Hong Kong
Tartarus St. Denis Abbey The Tea Route (China Tea Trade)
Svartalfheim(Norse Mythos) The Silk Road World War II North Africa
Transylvania Zanzibar
Tudor England
Viceroyal Lima, Peru
Viking Scandinavia
Ancient City of Y's


LegendMUD is believed to be one of the first classless DikuMUDs. Instead of selecting a class upon character creation, the player selects a "hometown." Each of these starting cities affect hidden statistics known as "axioms" which determine the capabilities of characters. Characters "born" in magical or fantastical areas have greater ability to learn magical skills, whereas characters born in technological areas have greater ability to use technological items such as guns. Characters born in areas high in the art of war have greater ability at fighting. Finally, a fourth axiom affects affinity with nature and related skills.

Statistics are on a 100 point scale, and differ from the typical Diku array[6]: Strength, Mind, Dexterity, Constitution, Perception and Spirit. Stats are readily altered by wearing different sorts of equipment, but do not advance as you level up your character.

Combat was originally a relatively rigid round-based system akin to that of other Dikus, but was redesigned early in the mud's history to use true variable-duration swings, where each attack cycled on a fixed rate of "pulses." This allowed one player to attack 3 times for the opponent's two, for example. This was fairly "spammy" so soon it was rewritten to calculate attacks on rounds using the pulse system, then tally up all the attacks on a round basis.

Magic in LegendMUD is extremely elaborate, see below.

There are an array of other differences from the base Merc 2.0b code.[7]

LegendMUD is also notable for having a strong emphasis on roleplay from early on (see below).

Notable technology and design elements[]

Classless skills system[]

Players are given a fixed number of "practices," similar to other Diku-derived MUDs. However, they are able to learn any skill for which they qualify given their stats, other skills, and axioms. Learning skills must be done by finding an NPC who will teach the skill; many skills and spell words are taught by story-appropriate NPCs who will demand that a quest be completed before you can proceed. It is also possible to lose access to skills because of changes in your attributes.


Sherry Mention created an herbalism system based on the historical uses of real world herbs. Herbs spawn across the mud in areas where it is appropriate for them to grow and could be brewed or made into poultices with varying effects.

Syllabic magic system[]

The magic system in LegendMUD is based on a very simple spell grammar wherein hard-coded spells were accessed via chanting combinations of words taken from Latin and Sanskrit. The meaning of the various words, if known, provided a reasonable clue as to what the resultant spell would be. Words had to be learned much like spells and some were mutually exclusive. This leads to "specialties" within those who used magic. The two major branches are oriented around Creation magic and Causation magic[8]

Any spell will contain one verb (know, hide, create, destroy, cause, or remove) and up to two subsequent words describing what that spell does in magical verse. Using the chant skill, you would CHANT [spellword spellword] EX [target] to use a spell. For example, to create an orb of light, you will have to 'chant kere (create) lak (light) ex'

Spells are not given to users in advance; you have to either discover a particular chant or be told it by another player. Once a spell is used once, you have it available to you via the spellbook command. "Cast level" determines your ability in using a spell; the first time you cast it, it is set as level 1, and it improved thereafter through play.

Vehicles and furniture[]

LegendMUD featured furniture from its inception, including muti-user furniture. It also developed vehicles that could drive, sail, or fly (most notably in a World War I dogfighting area).

Moods system[]

LegendMUD has extensive social support including dozens of emotes and alternate verbs for the SAY command. It also offers a "moods" system which allowed players to automatically attach "moods" or descriptive tags to their speech and even their movement. An option exists to display chat in "novelistic" form, with punctuation parsing and prose-like display quite unlike that of any other mud. This system went on to be used in Star Wars Galaxies.

Free-form clans system[]

LegendMUD began with hardcoded player clans but evolved into a system within a year or two whereby a minimum number of users could found a guild, which could be disbanded due to inactivity. This tied into several elaborate PvP systems, including guild warfare, clan standings, etc.

WHOIS badges[]

Legend was one of the first MUDs to make extensive use of what are today called "badges." Quests in the mud were able to grant badges of the form " a Companion of Beowulf," etc.

OOC Lounge[]

LegendMUD is notable for attempting to shape the social space of the mud by creating an "out of character lounge" which was a separate area disconnected from the mud proper. This was used for non-roleplay interaction, and featured elements such as a lecture series with invited guests from outside (include Richard Bartle and Mike McShaffry of Origin Systems; a gift shop; offices for the immortals; and a location for Halloween live storytelling.

The lounge is reached by going to an inn and typing OOC. It is departed by typing IC.

Social engineering on LegendMUD had mixed results.[9]

Scripting system[]

The LegendMUD "ACTS" system is an event-driven scripting system inspired by the EasyActs system in Worlds of Carnage. It did not, however, share any code. The ACTS system was never released, and therefore does not form part of the same direct family tree as MobProgs (which are directly based on the Worlds of Carnage code).[10]

Scripts were embedded in area files, given vnums, and could be attached to rooms or to mobs (but not to objects). They supported both cooperative and pre-emptive multitasking, inter-script messaging, global flags of several sort, dynamic mad alteration, procedures, and more. They do not support true variables and instead rely on a sort of register-based system and do not support process control. Mobs supported inheritance, which allowed sharing of generic scripts across the dataset. Large-scale system are frequently controlled by "daemons" which are invisible mobs hidden in certain rooms. Area files also supported dreams given to users while they slept, weather, and many other immersive touches.

ACTS were written by Rick Delashmit, who went on to create the Wombat scripting language used in Ultima Online. There are clear similarities between the two.

Embedded minigames[]

LegendMUD has various minigames including scavanger hunts, mud-wide games on April Fool's Day, scavenger hunts, "recall tag" (a form of tag whereby you used wands of teleportation on other users in a last-man-standing game. Now updated to play anywhere on the MUD and use the tag social on each other.), PvP tourneys, a Candyland themed game, holiday themed games such as a haunted house, etc. Special areas were created just for use in these arena-based games.

Global auction system[]

For a period in the mid-90s LegendMUD supported a full implementation of an auction system with automated bidding, minimum prices, escrow, and the like. This system was removed for several years and returned in 2007.

Expies awards[]

LegendMUD's playerbase has been voting on and awarding players and admins in a variety of categories such as "best roleplayer" and "best playerkiller" since 1994. The website maintains a history of these awards, which granted perks such as WHOIS badges and titles that could be prefixed to your name.

Legends of the Past[]

Legend offers a program whereby advanced characters who were retired were used as source material for creating NPCs. These NPCs were handcrafted to use the equipment and fighting styles of the original sources, and were found in a special zone of the mud near Dante's Hell called the Hall of Legend ("HoL"). Later, these NPCs were reworked by "Sandra" and made to roam the MUD as the original characters once did, renamed "Legends of the Past."


LegendMUD's quests were extremely notable for the earlier days of muds. The largest of them were of a size comparable to smaller text adventures, and often included complex puzzles and emotionally involving storylines. These quests did not offer the "quest lock" mechanism more common in MMORPGs, and so were frequently designed so that multiple players could be at different stages of the same quest at the same time.[11]

The solutions and steps to quests were not permitted to be publicly shared, and it was a matter of mud culture that players tended not to share the solutions early on.


LegendMUD, though never as popular as many other muds, has had a disproportionate influence.

The Karyn Incident[]

A user of LegendMUD whose handle was "Karyn" was reported dead. A memorial was constructed in game[12]. This led to a frequently cited essay entitled A Story About a Tree which has been widely cited and mirrored on the Internet[13]. The death of the player was later debunked, and it is believed that the player actually a female-presenting male. Wikipedia has detailed coverage of the story. It has been widely cited in books and written up as an article on[14].

The Declaration of the Rights of Avatars[]

The Player Code of Conduct on LegendMUD was developed based on the notion that players and immortals alike were both members of the same community. This was a view informed by the developments on LambdaMOO. LegendMUD had a system of disciplinary warnings for immortals, and fired its first violating immortal prior to its opening date for spying on users using the snoop command.

After discussion with Kristen Koster and Jame Scholl (LegendMUD and TinyTim player), Raph Koster wrote "Declaring the Rights of Players" which was originally published on the MUD-Dev mailing list. Said Declaration has since become a frequently cited and oft-reprinted article, appearing in multiple books and discussed at legal conferences related to virtual worlds[15].

Influence on MMORPGs[]

Four individuals on the original Ultima Online team were immortals on LegendMUD: Rick Delashmit (lead programmer), Raph Koster (creative lead), Kristen Koster (designer), and Todd McKimmey (designer). Delashmit has gone on to work on numerous MMORPGs including Star Wars Galaxies, and Koster went on to become Creative Director on Star Wars Galaxies and Chief Creative Officer at Sony Online Entertainment, as well as a commentator on muds, virtual worlds, and social media.

In addition, former Worlds of Carnage immortal Damion Schubert aka "Heretic" participated briefly on LegendMUD as well, assisting in the design of the combat system. Schubert went on to work on Meridian 59, Shadowbane, Ultima Online 2, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Online. Zack Karlsson, also a former LegendMUD immortal, went on to work at Sony Online Entertainment managing international CS, worked in business development at Sigil Games (makers of Vanguard) and today oversees business development for Namco Bandai.

Because of these connections, several elements of LegendMUD have had ongoing influence in the development of MMORPGs:

  • The moods system found in Star Wars Galaxies is a direct copy of the LegendMUD system, even making use of some of the same messages.
  • The LegendMUD Terms of Service document was notable for its emphasis on a social contract with its users. This gave rise to Koster's Declaration of the Rights of Avatars.
  • The Ultima Online class action lawsuit was led by a former player of LegendMUD; in essence, a disgruntled player followed the Kosters from one game to another.[16]
  • Many techniques of community management were imported from LegendMUD to Ultima Online.
  • The script language architecture used on LegendMUD, which was itself derived from Worlds of Carnage, informed the way in which scripting was done in Ultima Online,'Star Wars Galaxies, and Metaplace.


From early on in its operation, LegendMUD received awards[17]:

  • Mud of the Month, October 1995, The Mud Connector
  • Top Ten Site for Interactive Fiction by XYZZYNews.
  • LegendMUD is one of five Pueblo Recommended Worlds.
  • An EyeOnTheWeb Selected Site Award winner.
  • The Electronic Newsstand's MudGate's Mud of the Week for six months. "If you're only going to visit one mud, make it Legend," was what they said; you can read the entire review in the back issues of Legendary Times.
  • One of a dozen MUDs listed by the Australian Net Guide.
  • One of seven muds recommended by CNET, who wrote "Know what you're getting into when you choose a MU*, and be prepared to involve yourself, whether by living out your elfin fantasies, zooming around like Speed Racer, or building and exploring. If role-playing is what your alter ego has been craving, check out AnimeMUSH, which celebrates Japanese-style animation, or LegendMUD, a realistic history-based game with famously helpful players."
  • Listed as one of 20 recommended muds in the print version of the Internet Yellow Pages.
  • A top-ranked MUD according to Yahoo!'s Wild Web Rides, and described as "hot, hip, cutting-edge, a must-see." They also said the following: "This is travel through history the way it was meant to be! ... You'll want to explore all the areas of this great MUD... skills available are numerous and original... combat is fast and exhilarating... It would be really nice if more coders took the immense time and effort to study cultures of the past and put them into virtual worlds like this one."
  • Harley Hahn's Internet & Web Yellow Pages lists LegendMUD second on the list of about 6 or 8 muds that are recommended.

See also[]

External links and further reading[]


  2. "LegendMUD -- More Than a Decade of Goodness",
  3. God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture. Kate McCarthy. Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0415925649, 9780415925648
  4. Designing Virtual Worlds. Bartle. R. New Riders, 2003. ISBN 0131018167, 9780131018167. "LegendMUD was itself an innovative game, boasting a number of features to promote role-playing that had never been implemented before." Direct link to citation.
  9. "Virtual ‘‘Third Places’’: A Case Study of Sociability in Massively Multiplayer Games" Ducheneaut, Moore, Nickell. PARC.
  13. Manninnen & Kujanpää, "The Value of Virtual Assets – The Role of Game Characters in MMOGs," Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2007.
  15. Balkin, J., and Noveck, Beth. The State of Play: Law, Games and Virtual Worlds. NYU Press, 2006. ISBN 081479971X, 9780814799710
  16. Developing Online Games, Patrovsky & Mulligan. New Riders, 2003. ISBN 1592730000, 9781592730001. Includes mention of LegendMUD's connection to subsequent developments in MMOs.
  18. Bartle, Richard A., pages 209-211, Designing Virtual Worlds, New Riders (July 2003), Berkeley, trade paperback, 746 pages, ISBN 0131018167 (Google Books link)