Lost Souls is a medieval-fantasy-themed LPMud founded in November 1990, making it one of the longest-running MUDs in existence. It has maintained a consistent focus on technical innovation over that time, repeatedly revolutionizing its gameplay.
The setting of Lost Souls is on a world called Aedaris, five hundred years after the fall of the continent-spanning Altrian Empire. A fragmented political landscape dominated by independent city-states provides a fertile environments for adventurers seeking to make their names and fortunes. Nor is the action limited to Aedaris; other planes of existence provide unique challenges and rewards.
As of September 25, 2012:
- LDMud Driver v3.2.15
- Ain Soph Mudlib v2.6.7
- Lost Souls MUD v0.1.8
Lost Souls developers work to continually improve and even fundamentally rework the structure of the game, and have produced a number of distinctive or unique features, such as:
- While character levels exist, they are heavily de-emphasized, essentially serving as little but a measure of overall attribute development; a character's skills and attributes determine their performance in particular situations, not its level.
- A detailed skill-specialization system allows deep customization of character capabilities and permits heroic levels of ability to be reached through both practice and training, while avoiding a situation where everyone becomes equally good at everything.
- The ability to join a guild and multiple associations, each with their own advantages and limitations, brings further depth to one's unique character concept. Most of these affiliations can also be left, allowing new avenues of development to be explored.
- Advancement can be achieved not only through combat, but also through exploration, various minigames, skill use, questing, roleplaying events, and the completion of dynamically generated "challenges".
- A unique psionic wild talent system can add an unforeseen dimension of capability and complexity to any character.
- The broader world and many local areas are modeled using 3D map generation code, permitting flying characters to take to the air, intangible characters to walk through walls and the earth itself, and anyone to navigate to landmarks.
- Characters are modeled down to their limbs and organs, with appropriate consequences for their loss. Sever an opponent's sword hand and the sword goes with it. Smash an opponent's wing in an aerial duel and watch them crash to the earth. Break an opponent's leg and notice their ability to dodge your attacks evaporate.
- Where death on a traditional MUD may penalize you by the arbitrary loss of a large chunk of your character's advancement, possibly leaving hours of your life with nothing to show for them, on Lost Souls, death involves traumas to your character's mind and soul that can inflict various penalties, which can generally be overcome with effort or time — making the harsh effects of failure an obstacle to overcome, instead of a sudden, arbitrary destruction of hard-won results.
The above are only some of the more broad, sweeping features found in Lost Souls. Smaller features abound: a fully customizable status bar, screen reader support for the vision impaired, the ability to set a nickname for anything and thereafter see it as you designated, automatic adaptation to your terminal width, customizable colors for categories of displayed events, detailed introspection into the factors affecting your combat performance, the acclaimed language system, the much-loved chakras, the much-loved much-hated Deck of Changes, the nowhere-else-seen mental disorder system, terrain-following movement on 3D maps... the list goes on.
Guilds are organizations that somewhat resemble a "character class", but are joined as part of gameplay rather than selected during character generation. Most of them can also be left to pursue other options. There are no generic "warrior" or "mage" guilds to be found on Lost Souls; every one has its own idiosyncratic flavor.
- The Aisenshi are warriors devoted to mastery of a single weapon. Their mastery of esoteric philosophy allows them to develop potent capabilities based on channeling their spiritual energy, or chi.
- The Aliavelyrae are champions of the danaan, or elves, wielding powerfully enchanted weapons and armour alongside potent time-twisting magicks.
- The Aligned are initiates into a magick that uses art and science as its basis, studying the patterns of cosmic order to bring about strange and subtle effects.
- The Battleragers are the berserker chosen of Clangedin, war-god of the dour thondak peoples.
- The Brute Squad is made up of wandering brawlers with a taste for beer and dismembering their opponents.
- The Coven trains witches to empathically bond with a chosen animal familiar and use that bond to access hidden esoteric power.
- The Devonshire Clerics make the might of their chosen gods felt, whether through healing or wrath.
- The Equites Serpentina, part of the military of the city of Corna, empathically bond with their steeds and have unparalleled leadership abilities.
- The Erisian Liberation Front is a group of Discordian guerrilla theologians who invoke an array of gods, from the whimsical to the treacherous to the dark, in the name of chaos.
- The Green Lantern Corps battles Ahrikol, master of the Ringwielders, by capturing his rings and turning their power to their own purposes, making them into will-driven engines of light.
- The Hawkmen protect the city of Teryx, home of the winged aviar people, with valor and guile.
- The Justicars of Tyr are knights in service to Tyr the Even-Handed, dispensing his justice wherever they go.
- The Kazarak are the reanimated vessels of extraplanar demons, their bodies remade into deadly magickal engines.
- The Knights of the Round Table protect and defend Camelot and seek to bring its light to the dark places of the world.
- Leonid's Sentinels travel the land in their massive bronze suits of steam-powered armour, furthering the enigmatic goals of the Mad Artificer Leonid of Devonshire.
- The Lupines, an elite among the wolf-like garou people, serve the earth-goddess Gaia, protecting the wilds against those who would despoil them.
- The Nizari are assassins in the service of Kali, dealing death to those marked for it by their goddess.
- Ordo Ignis Aeternis are fire mages wielding profoundly destructive magicks.
- Ordo Maleficus are servants of the dark god Asmodai, spreading his wicked influence across the world.
- Ordo Undine Proeliatori are warrior-magicians who control the element of water.
- Ordo Zephyrius Mutatoris are mages who harness the chaotic power of weather and the element of air.
- The Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric, or POEE, are magickally empowered Discordians who channel a number of forms of chaotic power in service to their goddess, Eris.
- The Reapers serve their master Thanatos with senseless slaughter, bringing death to that which lives and destruction to that which does not live but walks.
- The Ringwielders receive potent Rings of Power from Ahrikol, and need but perform the occasional, small service in exchange for this favor...
- The Shapeshifters are kentaurs who have learned to turn the split nature of their heritage into an ability to assume the forms of a multitude of other forms of life.
- Shemsu Sutekh are the faithful of Sutekh, also called Set, and are able to empathically bond with animals sacred to their god.
- The Travelers are wandering warrior-priests of Ganesha, and serve as his intermediary in dispensing challenges, tasks which can offer great rewards in the completion — and sometimes considerable penalties in failure.
- The Verynvelyrae are wanderers who revere nature and learn to empathically bond with a companion animal, which gives them often-remarkable capabilities.
- The Zetesai are scientists devoted to the study of bizarre and otherworldly lifeforms by magickally bonding with them.
In addition to a guild, characters can join potentially any number of associations (though each may have its own requirements and be incompatible with other associations or with guilds). Like guilds, most associations can be left.
- The Agnihotri are devotees of the Firelord, Agni.
- The Almerian Inquisition exists to root out and destroy the Ordo Maleficus.
- The Apollonian Disciples are devoted to the sun-god Apollo.
- Ashe's Wardens assist Ashe, guildmaster of the Losthaven Adventurer's Guild, in training neophyte adventurers to survive in the world of Lost Souls.
- The Attuned have completed part of the process that results in some becoming Aligned, harmonizing their spirit with cosmic order.
- The Brotherhood of Wine and Song are a loosely affiliated band of drunkards and hedonists.
- The Chosen of Vashanka are devotees of the war-god of the city of Sanctuary.
- Collegium Magistrorum is an esoteric bond shared by all who have held the office of Archmagus.
- The Crafty Linguists are students of language led by the Discordian diplomat Janid Suzak.
- The Cult of Decay are worshipper of Ugior, god of disease and rot.
- The Deep Ones are a sect among the urlnu, a fish-like people, said to worship dark powers.
- The Explorers are a hardy group of adventurers dedicated to documenting the world of Lost Souls.
- The Fallen Blood of Chaos are individuals who once followed the path of chaos but renounced it, finding a new devotion to the gods of law.
- The Ghaunadauri are drow who worship the recently-arisen god Ghaunadaur the Devourer.
- Hank's Garbage Thondur are doughty individuals who take on the responsibility for collecting the garbage generated throughout the world.
- The Hellwalkers are orcs with demonic blood running through their veins, initiated into some strange pact.
- The Jinxian Plutocracy are the followers of Jinx, god of wealth of the city of Sanctuary.
- The Kazarzeth are wielders and servants of potent demonic crystal blades.
- The Legion of Dynamic Discord are an eclectic group vaguely devoted to Eris.
- The Losthaven Guard are the guard force of the city that forms the continent of Almeria's social hub.
- The Maidens of the Spear are fierce desert nomads who accept only unmarried women into their ranks.
- Ollin Tonatiuh are the followers of Tonatiuh, bloodthirsty sun-god of the Tenochca people.
- The Pantarchic Church of Yehovah is the universal fellowship of the faithful of Yehovah.
- The Questors of Tyr are followers of Tyr, god of justice.
- The Shadow Brethren are the sort of thing one would call the followers of the city of Sanctuary's god of deception, Doppel. Of course, anyone will tell you there is no such group.
- The Stalkers of the Gate are elite agents of Kalyxes the Shadow Lord, master of the Shadow Tower.
- The Steel Serpents are a regiment of the military of the city of Corna, providing crucial defensive support.
- The Storm Walkers are individuals of the zuth race — a massive draconic kentauroid species — who have opened their spirits to the essence of the lightnings.
- Synousia Algesis are the devotees of the goddess Tolmet, Lady of Pain.
- The Wandslingers are followers of the kentaur Clyde, who has raised wand combat to a science.
- The Weapons of Vengeance are those non-Patryns who have proven themselves to Xar, Lord of the Nexus, sufficiently to be permitted to wear Patryn magickal runes upon their flesh and serve Xar's campaign of vengeance.
- The Ygellethites are drow who follow Ygelleth, the traditional goddess of their people.