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There are a great many muds online that will let you become an adventurer in a fantasy kingdom of myth and magic, carrying out dangerous quests, choosing from a number of races and joining guilds for different professions. Frandum however is definitely one of the most unique approaches to this formula, since where most fantasy rpg muds tend to rate the player's experience in the game primarily on how many enemy's they can slay, in Frandum there is one, and only one way to gain experience, and that is by exploring and questing!
As you wander the wilds, beginning in the kingdom of Valea at the famous Crossroads of Wildstone, you will recieve updates in your diary. You might find a mysterious object, take note of a local shopkeeper, probe the secrets of a hidden room, or be given some sort of riddle to solve or quest to perform, (indeed the game has thousands). Of course, the world of Frandum is a dangerous place, and you will certainly come upon creatures who wish to stop you and chances to improve your martial skills, however the Gods of the land will award you no more experience no matter how much you kill.
Frandum therefore in some ways combines the best aspects of both an old style interactive fiction game, and a mud. Like an if game, you'll need to be on the lookout as you read the rich and detailed room descriptions for objects to examine, and take note of anything that can be pushed, pulled or looked in. On the other hand, Frandum has the flexible command structure of most muds, so no need to consider whether it's "press button" or "push button" or "switch button", use button will usually do.
Frandum also has a variety of different ways in which you can make your character and their journey unique. First, you must choose a race, human, dwarf, high or silven elf, Orc or Sibeis (human like reptiles related to dragons). While the races primarily are concerned with your roleplaying with other characters, races also traditionally follow one of Frandums three gods, Shezael, the dark queen of evil, Galanhir, the good god of light, or Reset the neutral god of balance. Which God and which alignment you worship has various affects on the game, what quests you perform, and whether on a global scale good, balance or evil is assendent, (an assendency which gives bennifits to certain players).Again however, where most mud games allow you to become a certain alignment just by killing off creatures of the opposite one, in Frandum it's all about questing, particularly in this case quests for your church should you wish to join one.
In addition to alignment and races, characters can also become members of several different guilds. Uniquely in Frandum however, guilds do not necessarily mean your stuck with the abilities of one and only one profession. Each guild offers different skills and quests to perform and you can become a member of several at once. Bare in mind however, that each guild has a rival guild, and once choosing to be a member of one guild you will not be allowed to join it's rivals, for example merchants do not allow thieves into their ranks, and the healers look down on the alchemists for their miss use of the properties of the natural world. Some other guilds such as the paladins or necromancers will also only accept applicants of a given alignment as well.
Though you can't advance directly through combat, also don't be mistaken into thinking that your life is free from peril or that a swift arm with a weapon or the application of some spells wouldn't come in handy from time to time. Indeed magic is one of the most interesting parts of Frandum since you learn skills by actually participating in the world, and learn new spells by actively tracking down the spellbooks in which they're written (often through solving a riddle or making your way into a secret area). You will also find that the magic in Frandum differs markedly from most muds since a lot of spells are not so much concerned with simply harming your enemies in spectacular ways, but in finding out new things about the world and traversing it, for example one major school of magic is invocation, allowing you to summon objects to help you by the use of runes. Since the ultimate goal of Frandum is to become a wizard, this is definitely a game for magic lovers.
Speaking of objects, a major aspect of the game comes in crafting, since you can make nearly anything out of anything. Forge weapons and armour, weave or knit cloth items, use carpentry, however where most games limit these to only a few resources and specific item types,Frandum's crafting system is as much to explore as it's world.
The developers of Frandum have been extremely responsive to requests to make the game play more streamlined with screen readers. Particularly useful commands include the ascii toggle, to turn off the ascii decorations in game that frequently cause screen reader issues, as well as a number of interface tweaks such as brief mode or viewing of exits (see help screen reader for details). Two other highly essential commands, to supliment for the ascii maps are the "area" command which lets you kno what area your in, where the nearest unexplored rooms are and how many quest points you have obtained in that area, and "directions" which lets you get a rough idea of the distance and direction of a given area. You can also use the "go" command to go to a given room if you type it's name as well.
Though the game is not focused on combat, for those who do want a challenge there is the tournament of death, an occasional event in which all participating players are given the same number of experience and similar skills and required to outwit and defeat each other, though of course participation is optional.
More about all aspects of the game can be learned on the above Frandum website, in particular much of the fascinating history of the kingdoms of Frandum, their guilds, and the wars between the different gods and races, not to mention some more basic adventuring tips, as well as the latest editions and changes made to the Frandum world, since this game is also still in active development.
With one of the most richly described worlds of any mud where exploration is the focus, a deep and glorious history and truly unique advancement, Frandum is highly recommended, especially if you want a break from the usual no holds barred kill fest seen in most muds.
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Updates: entry 25 Jan 17 and description 25 Jan 17