Let’s take a peek into the time capsule that is the year 2006. One of my friends at the time was telling me about a game called Lusternia: Age of Ascension. He said it was the greatest thing ever, like the ultimate RPG with other real-life players shaping the world, doing quests, and even engaging in Player vs Player combat (PvP).
Wow! That sounded amazing! But if it’s so great, why hadn’t I heard anything about it up to that point? Why wasn’t everybody playing Lusternia?
Well, the catch is that Lusternia is known as a MUD – a Multi-User Dungeon. And what makes MUDs unique is that many of them are strictly text-based. You heard me correctly; everything is Lusternia is text scrolling up on a screen.
If you want to do something, you have to type it in! For example, you might want to SWING your sword at a SPIDER or you could SAY HELLO to everybody in the room. You can even do more complicated things like creating a custom beast companion or complete a complicated questline. But the completedly text-based world can certainly be a turn-off for people.
Here are 7 reasons why you should give Lusternia – or other MUDs – a shot.
1. Join an Organization
Within the world of Lusternia there are six main organizations: two forests and four cities, each with their own set of guilds, skills, and classes. And there are HUNDREDS of in-game years of history between these factions. We’re talking alliances created, alliances broken, wars, friendships, treaties, and more. And all of this history is shaped by the players in the game. People can get elected into leadership positions of these organizations and dictate the direction that the organization goes.
What this does is creates a living, breathing world that is constantly shifting. All you have to do is find something that fits the playstyle that you want to pursue. Do you want to play in a forest that finds comfort in the solace of night and leans heavily into spider and crow imagery? Glomdoring Forest is the place for you. Or are you a lover of bureaucracy, clouds, and crystals? The City of Hallifax might be your home. There’s something for everybody.
The development team at Lusternia is constantly releasing new areas to explore within the Basin of Life. And, every time that a new location is released, there is usually a quest that you can complete there. These quests range from easy quests like solving a simple puzzle to something more complex that requires many steps and sometimes several hours of work.
There are even special quests that give you a unique line attached to your character when you complete them! These HONOURS quests are one of the things that I enjoy most about the world. For some quests, there are even two different sides that you could do that would give you a different HONOURS line. Checking out somebody’s HONOURS and seeing all the quests they’ve done is a testament to their achievements in the game.
3. Learning to Code
Depending on what client you use to access the game, Lusternia is also a really good gateway into learning some basics of coding. Because the game is centered around ‘speed of typing’ at times, writing some code to help remind you of certain things or to perform tasks in a more efficient manner can be a real blessing to your experience.
Back when I first started playing, I was only writing simple aliases and triggers. An alias is a shortcut that you would type to do an action. For example, instead of typing out GIVE BALL TO JOIYA, I could have an alias where typing GB would actually send GIVE BALL TO JOIYA. Triggers are responses that fire when a line or word shows up on your screen. For example, you might have a trigger to WAKE yourself up if you see, ‘You have fallen asleep’.
If you play Lusternia through the Mudlet client, you would be coding in the Lua language. Readers familiar with some of the other content I’ve written may recognize Lua as the language that you use to code in Tabletop Simulator. Look at that crossover content!
4. Artistry and Writing Contests
Every month, Lusternia has Artisanal and Bardic contests that you can enter. The artisanal contest is for artists; submit an artwork that is uniquely tied to the world of Lusternia. This could be a digital painting of your character or a drawing of your favorite location in the game. The bardic contest is for writers who want to submit a story, play, poem, or scholarly work that could only fit within the game world.
If you’re able to do well in these contests, you can earn credits for yourself! Credits are the special currency in the game that are used to buy powerful artifacts, increase the skills your character knows, or just sell them for gold to buy other things for your character. If you can continue to place in these contests, the rewards get better and better. It’s a really good way to explore the aspects of the game that you enjoy most while getting a nice little reward out of it.
5. Become Divine-Adjacent
If you are able to reach level 100 in Lusternia, you become a Demigod. This isn’t true divinity, but you do gain access to a swathe of new powers and abilities. Some would say that the game truly starts once you hit level 100, as is common with a lot of MMO-style games. There is also a level above Demigod called Ascendant, which is much more difficult to attain.
What’s nice about leveling in Lusternia is that there are a bunch of different ways that you can go about it. Of course, you can go around bashing mobs and that’s going to probably be your bread and butter for experience. However, you could also influence denizens, such as begging them for charity or empowering them to new heights. Most of what you do in the game can earn you a trickle of experience, so you can lean into whatever sounds best for you.
6. PvP Combat
Player versus Player combat in MUDs can be very overwhelming, because you’re just seeing text fly by on the screen at an alarming rate. Add in a combat with 10+ combatants in the same area, and that text is going to be very hard to follow. That’s where some basic coding and triggering comes into play, so that you can highlight certain things that you care about, like getting afflicted with a poison or regaining your balance.
As I mentioned above, each class handles combat in a completely different way. You can swing axes, swords, etc if you want, but you could also be a bard and damage through song or an Aquamancer and flood out your opponents. It takes time to be used to any particular classes, but there are always ways to change your class if you aren’t finding it to your liking, for a cost of course. Learning your abilities and how they interact with other skills in your class can be very rewarding, and it’s becoming one of my favorite parts of the game now that I have a decent base underneath me.
7. Robust Crafting and Design
Lusternia also has tradeskills! You can harvest herbs, enchant items, forge weapons, brew tea, and even extract poisons. For the more tangible tradeskills, like being an artisan or a cook, you can actually submit your own designs that people can then make in the game. For example, you might have a really good idea for a unique table or perhaps you want to have a shield that resembles a giant mammoth. You can totally do that!
Every organization has a cartel for each of the tradeskills, so you’ll always have a way to submit your designs. Furthermore, you can also purchase a clan and turn it into a cartel for a specific tradeskill if you want to have more ‘ownership’ and control over the designs. All in all, it adds a really nice layer of player-run worldbuilding and character customization that you just can’t find in some modern games.
Lusternia: Come Play with Me!
Well there you have it! MUDs have been around for a long time, but they’ve never needed graphics to grab players’ attention. Maybe it’s time to give one a shot and – if you play Lusternia – you might see me in-game as well!
Let’s play in the MUD!