Brainstorming help request: teaching rationality basics in an RPG setting

post by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-14T19:05:58.951Z · score: 7 (10 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 39 comments

EDIT: Minor updates happened.

 


 

I'd like to ask you all for thoughts on a certain idea I'm toying with. Especially any of you who are familiar with the Wheel of Time fantasy series by Robert Jordan.

I play a MUD (multi-user dungeon, basically a text-based MMORPG), based on that series. One of my characters is a member of the White Tower, which is basically a mage organisation/school, and as part of our roleplay activities we sometimes hold classes (example, long, probably not worth your time) for lower rank members. These typically last an hour or two and sometimes get used to convey interesting real life knowledge. For instance there has been a class on mnemonic techniques.

I see an opportunity to spread rationality a little. One of the Ajah (subdivisions) of the Tower is specifically concerned with pursuing truth, logic etc. which means if I joined it, I would have no trouble teaching a class or two with some material from the Sequences. I wonder if any of us here have done things like that in the past?

What sort of essentials would you pack into a class or at most a few classes 1-2 hours each (not just me reading stuff out but including a discussion), for people without technical backgrounds? Conducted at typing speed, so basically imagine you're going to spend two hours talking to 3-6 people about rationality on IRC chat or some such setting.

Also, should I involve or steer away from the metaphysics of the Wheel of Time setting (the Creator/Dark One, the Pattern etc)?

My ideas so far:

Part 1: "Cognitive biases, or why you, yes you, are an idiot".
- which ones would be most interesting/simple/useful to teach about?
- Obviously i need to start with how knowing about biases can hurt you...
- Confirmation bias: I might try the 2-4-6 game, though it'll be a bit of a mess in a group setting.
- what other biases and examples would you use?

Part 2: Truth and evidence
- truth, map/territory
- what is evidence
- rational evidence vs other kinds of evidence
- what is not evidence (instead of UFO cults I'd speak of False Dragon followers)

A question I anticipate coming up: Is there rational evidence for the Creator/Dark One/the Pattern? Ideas for handling this needed.
Note: I am NOT aiming at atheism at all costs, like a Force Skeptic approach. It's neither very rational if we're in WoT, nor practical for my character. In fact I intend to not talk about religion if possible. Wrong setting, wrong audience for that.

Part 3: Bayes' theorem
- the wedding in the desert example looks easily adaptable (Aiel!)
- more examples of practical Bayes Theorem application needed!

Or is the very idea of teaching Bayes in such a setting an outrageous underestimation of the inferential distance?

So yeah. Any ideas or advice that might help me give this shape and make it interesting and successful would be appreciated.

39 comments

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comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-14T20:05:10.776Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I see an opportunity to spread rationality a little. One of the Ajah (subdivisions) of the Tower is specifically concerned with pursuing truth, logic etc. which means if I joined it, I would have no trouble teaching a class or two with some material from the Sequences. I wonder if any of us here have done things like that in the past?

Are you serious? I was a Warder in the same White Tower on that MUD. My Sedai (Cate) was a Brown - the other of the two 'Academic' Ajah. The Brown Ajah are a bit more worldly (and more scientific than philosophical) so our research involved near daily 'field trips' to investigate the Seanchan continent and rather a lot of collection of severed heads from inside Seandar itself.

  • truth, map/territory

This is the obvious one. I mean... come on. The vast majority of you will actually use maps on your computer. The maps you have are almost certainly not perfect - mine was close but when new zones are added or changes are made the map is going to be wrong. Following the map will make you crash into the wall, slow you down for a pulse and give the guy with the red or purple asterisks on their name the chance opportunity to hit you.

You could extent this by looking at how the map available to the character are not even the same as the territory. That is, if you don't practice enough search you cannot open that door. If you don't practice enough track you don't see tracks the same way. But the territory itself is no different.

  • what is evidence
  • rational evidence vs other kinds of evidence

Talk about SMOBs. How much evidence the load one time is about how often the SMOB loads that item in the future. Does getting the load this time make it more or less likely that it will load next repop? (Including the few exceptions where it does make a difference.)

Part 2 : Cognitive biases

  • which ones would be most interesting/simple/useful to teach about?
  • obviously i need to start with how knowing about biases can hurt you...
  • what examples would you use?

I think I'm using Brown Ajah thinking again in as much as all the examples springing to mind are the ones that are real world (from their perspective) applicable (it's what I would do if I logged in as Cate and was teaching her class for her). So:

  • Sunk Cost - does the fact that you've spent the last 20 minutes chasing *Fantus* make it more worthwhile to risk it and charge into Falme after him than if you had just arrived and hadn't invested any effort yet?
  • While you are at it, teach them expected utility calculations. Those things are awesome. ie. Is it better to go on a smobbing run with just the bonded pair and keep all the loot ourselves or to take others and be a somewhat safer, a little quicker but have to share the loot around? If I have a 90% chance of surviving a fight against two trollocs with enormous axes, 70% chance of killing one of them and 30% chance of killing both but I am wielding the Ancient Greatsword Justice and Jewelled Wristcuffs should I stay and fight or flee?
  • What is the name of the bias where humans feel like they are doing something worthwhile just because they gain lots of (largely useless, non-transferable) status, form (non-strategically useful, text only) connections with other people and acquire a steady stream of (irrelevant, text based) resources? Research that bias. This should prompt you to log in, find a weird looking stone pillar, type "embrace; channel 'create food'" then repeat until you get the message "You feel no connection at all to the True Source." That is the best way I know to counter the cognitive bias that makes you want to play MUD!

Or is the very idea of teaching Bayes in such a setting an outrageous underestimation of the inferential distance?

You're a White. The sort of Novices that would bother going to a White's classes for anything other than brown nosing would expect that sort of thing. It is pretty much exactly what they are supposed to be doing. If you used in game examples it'd probably stick with a couple and for those who don't actually learn Bayes theorem they may learn the notion "hey, sometimes I can calculate probabilities for things and it helps!" - a good start.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-14T20:14:26.394Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, what, you're actually Wedrifid as in Wedrifid? I always thought it was a coincidence. We were clanmates then. Earle, before I declanned him. (Got a better-statted Warder now)

Also, great reply, thank you. But some of the stuff you suggest is OOC, and I'm talking about an IC class. Mostly I'm thinking about "playing wotmud", can't talk about that in-character.

You're a White.

Red currently, thank you very much. ;) Just thinking about switching for this. In any case, I'll doubt I'll have much attendance if try to make it just for White students. The game is smaller than it used to be.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-14T20:46:43.192Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, what, you're actually Wedrifid as in Wedrifid? I always thought it was a coincidence.

The one and only - I believe literally, across the internet. I mean seriously, wedrifid? Who would use that as a name?

We were clanmates then. Earle, before I declanned him. (Got a better-statted Warder now)

No doubt created with the newfandangled system whereby you can choose a name then type "restat" at level 5 rather than creating a new character name every attempt by bashing the keyboard like you are supposed to.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-14T20:51:35.495Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The way I created Earle was even more fun. Namely I had someone else stat him for me. EDIT: correction. Someone statted him for Troika and I had them give it to me instead.

Also, it's at level 3 now. ;)

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T14:16:26.849Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Level 3? Doesn't that autodelete?

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T14:24:02.438Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Level 3? Doesn't that autodelete?

I'm not sure what you mean. Anything below 30 autodeletes if you wait long enough, but that's not a problem for restatting.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T14:55:47.174Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Red currently, thank you very much. ;) Just thinking about switching for this.

I never got the appeal of that Ajah. They can't bond warders and hunting down male channelers seems like something between pointless cruelty and an exercise in futility. Are White's allowed Warders at least?

The game is smaller than it used to be.

For years MUDs were ahead of their time. But then came WOW - something about which I am exceedingly grateful. I refused to start WOW so when Cate and the other gamer friends I had migrated from MUDs to WOW it was my ticket to the real world!

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T15:01:51.335Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, only Reds don't bond. Never missed it, for me it's just zone sense at the cost of -20 SP at all times.

The appeal? Being the real PK Ajah. Have you seen what sort of people apply to Greens? ;)

But yeah, hunting MCs is an exercise in timewasting. Fortunately our role as channeler combat specialists allowed me to double as a Dreadlord-counter and get most of my QPs from north PK without feeling un-rpish about it.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T15:50:49.765Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, only Reds don't bond. Never missed it, for me it's just zone sense at the cost of -20 SP at all times.

You get regen too don't you? Oh, and three times your normal hitpoints! Then there is the actual Warder that intercepts attacks and flattens their group while you nuke them. Those guys are awesome.

Have you seen what sort of people apply to Greens? ;)

Melyssan! Did she ever end up going dreadlord by the way?

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T16:25:57.203Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You get regen too don't you?

Yeah, it' doesn't make a huge difference though.

Then there is the actual Warder that intercepts attacks and flattens their group while you nuke them. Those guys are awesome.

Haha, no. They're really not. One, most of them have egos much bigger than their skills. Two, when they die they cost their Sedais HPs, MVs and huge lag that often means she dies too. Three, nowadays every DSer and their fleas know how to circumvent interception anyway. And four, there's the stupid RP restriction that basically attaches you at each others' hips... well at least that was made more sane a while ago. But still. The Warder gets pretty much all the benefits, so it's been really funny to me to watch all those Warder-hungry unbonded Sedai switch to hunting mode whenever a new one is clanned.

I'm not saying there's no benefit at all. But there are costs too, and I'd definitely miss the 20 SP.

Melyssan! Did she ever end up going dreadlord by the way?

Nope.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-06-16T23:22:21.170Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A question I anticipate coming up: Is there rational evidence for the Creator/Dark One/the Pattern? Ideas for handling this needed.

Evidence for the Dark One: the taint on Saidin, historical records of the Age of Legends (a lot has been lost, but there must be something, otherwise how would they even know stuff like who Lews Therin was?) Darkspawn like Trollocs and Myrdraal, and the spreading Blight. Possibly invoking the Dark One's true name, but this could realistically just be a superstition people are too afraid to test. If I had that much evidence the Dark One existed, I sure as hell wouldn't want to try it out.

Evidence for the Pattern: Balefire, the Horn of Valere and the various heroes tied to the wheel who it summons.

Evidence for the Creator: Stuffed if know. If I lived in the WOT-verse and knew about the Dark One and such, I'd suspect that he might have sort of antithesis who prevented the world from being completely fucked from the moment it came into existence, but if history is actually cyclic then there's the alternative that there's actually an infinite regression in which the Dark One has always been sealed up by people. Considering nobody in the entire series ever seems to doubt his existence, maybe he just straight up drops knowledge of his existence into people's heads so you can't not believe in him. This may be the least confusing way I can make sense of the degree of religious homogeneity in such an obviously supernatural setting.

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-06-18T09:29:01.004Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Evidence for the Pattern: Balefire

This is the first thing that occurred to me as well, but would the characters know about it? Or does this game require a significant barrier between player knowledge and character knowledge?

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T09:47:45.729Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We're talking about an in-character class, so even though I'll be talking to fellow channelers I don't think any of us is aware of balefire.

On the other hand, Ogier lore on the Pattern, including how some of them can sense ta'veren, might be valid IC knowledge for me.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T14:01:40.006Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

We're talking about an in-character class, so even though I'll be talking to fellow channelers I don't think any of us is aware of balefire.

We weren't supposed to know about Balefire? Oops.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T14:11:15.714Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Come to think of it, I suppose my Sedai would know, but you're hardly supposed to be telling Novices about it.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T14:50:41.644Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Come to think of it, I suppose my Sedai would know, but you're hardly supposed to be telling Novices about it.

That's good. Wedrifid would have known too - given that he was curious, Cate Sedai was a specialist in arcane research and both were rather direct about seeking out and exploiting any novel sources of potential power.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T14:58:06.561Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

seeking out and exploiting any novel sources of potential power.

Oh, such as?

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T15:42:28.293Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, such as?

  • Every tactic for farming SMOBs, as soon as they came out.
  • Automatic Ways navigation
  • optimisation of all forms of intercontinental travel.
  • Harnessing various previously unidentified features of the magical universe (ie. Bugs) for fun and profit. ie. I probably still have 10 characters with maxed out bank accounts and full stockpiles of weaponry.
  • Quite possibly the best scripting/mapping/targetting/automation code ever used by MUD players. The ability to write advanced regex was probably even more of a bonus to Wedrifid than Warder multibash, attack, heal and health and stamina regeneration.
  • Killing just about every possible MOB target in the MUD, simply because they were reported to be hard or impossible. Extra fun if this required using usually useless spells specifically to target a weakness and if, after a month or two of exploitation they had to remove the shocklance or jewelled wristcuff load because we were flooding the economy with top end items.
  • When they were younger, automatic purchasing of all key economic items the moment the MUD came up. What were they again? The gold breastplate and occasional gold greaves, a large steel spear, an ivory necklace, all the flatwort tea and the yellow vials.
  • We aimed to have Justice at least every second time. Because Warder spawn sense isn't nearly as cool as having your light saber light up every time they come within three zones. (We also used that to figure out rather a lot of darkfriends within the Tower. We kept the identities to ourselves unless we found non Justice proof but it is kind of useful to know when to just leave a fight.)
comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T18:44:22.034Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Harnessing various previously unidentified features of the magical universe (ie. Bugs) for fun and profit

And here I naively thought that the thing to do with bugs is to report them so they get fixed...

We aimed to have Justice at least every second time.

Hah, bet you were well loved for it. I remember when I had Justice for about a year and a half (with some breaks). Fun.

Would still be doing it probably except Justice is currently bugged and not loading, ever since a game crash literally 1 second before I was going to pick it up. (The most you've-gotta-be-kidding me MUD moment ever, for me.)

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T19:18:16.137Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And here I naively thought that the thing to do with bugs is to report them so they get fixed...

Sure, when they annoy me. Even fixed a few myself once I got my somewhat short lived coder Immortal. :)

Hah, bet you were well loved for it.

Used to have people scream in outrage when I took it on trips to Seanchan. For some reason north PKers thought I was obliged to go to the blight and die to a gank of 10, not play hide and seek down south.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T19:19:48.592Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why was it short lived?

Used to have people scream in outrage when I took it on trips to Seanchan. For some reason north PKers thought I was obliged to go die to them, not play hide and seek down south.

Haha, so it was you. I remember people were complaining about some guy doing that. I never quite stored the name because nothing that happens south or west of Lugard registers in my brain.

Yeah, I got hated on just for using it extensively.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-18T20:08:16.607Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why was it short lived?

I was less equipped to live with bullshit at that point in my life. ie. I corrected Nass and he threw one of his tantrums. Obviously now I'd be able to identify the political threat and avoid it. It's the flipping internet. If it was worth the effort of defending epistemic purity then it was worth using a proxy, an anonymous name and delivering the messages strategically so as to maximise the cost humiliation for enforcing a deception. (Which isn't hard, Nass humiliates himself without much help.)

Haha, so it was you. I remember people were complaining about some guy doing that.

Don't know what they were complaining about. By virtue of sheer bulk of hours played I spent more time killing Fades than most players and on the one occasion I managed to lose it to a Seanchan I killed him three days later. Then I let Cate be a Justice Wielding Aes Sedai for a couple of months while I went back to being a proper warder who could throw away his life heroically.

Yeah, I got hated on just for using it extensively.

That's what they call "winning". If folks don't like it they can bitch and wheedle their own way into the Warder clan!

It's scary how much of that world I still have stuck in my brain. Four hundred zones, each zone a hundred interconnected rooms. I can probably still navigate most of that via text and a lot of it without even looking. Then the rough location of all the mob spawns, and where all the horses are. And where all the horses end up when any of Cate, I or a Ruy/Patricia alt has logged on. A (now obsolete) social and political map of the nations and key characters in each, with an additional speculative map of which characters are actually alts of others and to what degree they can be expected to be corrupted by their out-of-character incentives. Basically my brain treated it as though it was the real world - except rather more entertaining.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T20:35:51.317Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Don't know what they were complaining about.

Probably has something to do with the widespread belief that it's everyone's business what you do with your equipment. Which I'm not entirely sure where it's coming from, but it's always pleasant to see this expectation frustrated.

comment by gwern · 2012-06-18T15:58:09.192Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, IIRC, balefire is well-documented in the old lore and may be forbidden; I more vaguely recall Moiraine stealing a ter'angreal which specialized in producing balefire, and since she didn't spend her life playing with random ter'angreal, someone else must have known of its function or it was listed in storeroom catalogues. If balefire is discussed in the old books, forbidden by Tower law, and a ter'angreal is documented as producing balefire, it's hard to see how any Aes Sedai could doubt balefire's existence.

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-06-21T17:01:20.213Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense, though I had vague memories of the existence of balefire being suppressed.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-18T18:08:05.173Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, Moiraine learned how to actually weave it herself. The ter'angreal thing was someone else. Not that it matters.

What matters is that class will be taught to Accepteds and Novices, so discussing something Moiraine describes thus...

'Something forbidden,' Moiraine said coolly. 'Forbidden by vows almost as strong as the Three Oaths.' She took Aldieb’s reins from the girl, and patted the mare’s neck, calming her. 'Something not used in nearly two thousand years. Something I might be stilled just for knowing.'

... is out.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-06-19T05:42:31.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My understanding is that it's forbidden to use or even know how to weave balefire, but not to know it exists or what it does. Knowledge of its existence moves around among Aes Sedai quite a lot without comment throughout the series.

Letting Novices and Accepted even know it exists is probably bad conduct, if not forbidden though, lest someone lacking sufficient discipline be tempted and try to learn to use it.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-06-17T01:44:25.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Evidence for the Dark One: the taint on Saidin, historical records of the Age of Legends (a lot has been lost, but there must be something, otherwise how would they even know stuff like who Lews Therin was?) Darkspawn like Trollocs and Myrdraal, and the spreading Blight.

The taint on saidin is the only thing there that demands divine interference, as best I can tell. The weirder Darkspawn are clearly supernatural, but they're not supernatural in a way that demands a god when you've already got magic, and their own opinions could be explained as religious differences. The Blight's harder to explain, since receding suddenly by miles when a bunch of Darkspawn get killed is kind of a giveaway, but that could be coincidence or a nonsapient link between them and it; with Fisher King symbology all over the place the latter's not too far-fetched. And since the Dark One seems to have almost exclusively acted through mortal agents during the Age of Legends, those events don't bear any obvious fingerprints of the divine either. All told, I think I'd still assign some probability mass to the theory that most of this Shai'Tan business is just something that one side or the other of a semi-legendary conflict ginned up as a psychological warfare tactic.

Evidence for the Pattern seems to be stronger, though, especially since the magical Pattern-based protagonist powers that the leads get seem to be a well-known and quantifiable phenomenon in this setting. Not to mention the divination abilities that some people get.

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-06-17T02:03:25.738Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Even the taint on saidin doesn't strictly demand divine interference. The fate of Shadar Logoth demonstrates that man-made supernatural corruption can also occur, and the events of the ninth book even indicate that gur zntavghqr bs gur gnvag ba Funqne Ybtbgu vf rdhny gb gur gnvag ba fnvqva, fvapr gurl obgu ryvzvangr rnpu bgure. So it's not vanishingly unlikely that humans could have tainted saidin themselves. The Blight and the Darkspawn are physical corroboration of the narrative that involves conflict with the Dark One though, as is the taint on saidin.

If anyone who's not a Darkspawn or one of the Forsaken has actually been to Shayol Ghul and made it back to tell about it, that would provide additional evidence, but as far as I can tell the only reason anyone on the light side knows it exists is because the legends say so, and maybe because trollocs and myrdraal have attested to it on some of the rare occasions when people actually talk to them.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-17T09:46:41.658Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Glad to see the responses, keep'em coming if you have'em.

Regarding the DO: in-game, my character has raided Thakan'dar itself. And when you try to channel there, the Dark One smites you with lightning. Which I've lived through. And being a channeler, I can claim having felt the nearness of the Bore. So I expect to have the least trouble with that one.

The Creator is a bigger puzzle. He doesn't seem to do anything...

comment by Desrtopa · 2012-06-18T01:00:42.178Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose an alternative is asking your students to ponder the question of what evidence there is for the Creator, and leave open the possibility of being Creator-agnostic. Clearly in a world like the WOT-verse, the prior for a supernatural creator deity is much higher, given that there's a pretty well established supernatural anticreator deity, so there's not much call to be an a-Creatorist, but even if we know from authorial say-so that the Creator exists, there's not necessarily anything wrong with acknowledging from a character perspective that there isn't enough data to be confident.

comment by stcredzero · 2012-06-14T22:23:59.531Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Part 1: Truth and evidence

  • truth, map/territory

I could envision lots of interesting map/territory exercises enabled by the mechanisms of the MUD.

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-15T18:42:26.487Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What do you have in mind? I'm not sure what you mean, but mechanisms of the MUD are going to be difficult to discuss in an in-character (in-universe, roleplayed) class.

comment by stcredzero · 2012-06-15T20:13:34.516Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a way you could implement a "map" separate from the "reality" of the MUD?

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-06-15T17:32:32.143Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a bit off topic, but I'm just wondering what the experience of playing a MUD is like? I've long wanted something like a MMORPG with depth, freedom, exploration, good social role-play where it is not hard to find people in character and well preferably free. Anyone have any suggestions? Any science fiction or fantasy setting will do.

Also a more specific question how much lore would I need to fit in this MUD?

comment by Rain · 2012-06-22T16:40:20.030Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a screenshot of me playing TorilMUD - a combat-heavy hack 'n slash MUD based primarily around gear acquisition.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-06-17T00:54:12.530Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a bit off topic, but I'm just wondering what the experience of playing a MUD is like?

Varies wildly. The format's very old and requires relatively little specialist knowledge (if you can code a Telnet client, you've solved probably the most difficult technical problem in creating a crude MUD server, although it can of course get way more complicated), and there are open-source libraries all over the place, so MUDs have been made that cater to every playstyle you can imagine, as long as it kinda-sorta works with text output and command-based keyboard input. There are games that're focused on exploring the world and poking things to see what jumps, and there are games that're all about roleplaying and lore, and there are games that are pretty close to a multiplayer Progress Quest. There's a famous article by the developer of MUD that goes into these divisions in somewhat more detail.

If you're looking for a lore-heavy game with a good roleplaying community around it, but with gameplay depth and room to explore, that narrows down your options quite a bit; the RP side of the MUD universe is associated mainly with the MUCK and MOO families, which tend to be less gamified and more closely resembling a network of IC chat rooms with props and some spatial structure to them. There are some exceptions, though; a few years ago some games with heavy RP aspirations attempted to form a subgenre of sorts under the banner of RPI (Roleplaying Intensive), but unfortunately the initiative seems to have largely collapsed under the collective weight of the egos involved. Some of the games persist, as do others with similar goals but no direct involvement: Armageddon, a Dark Sun pastiche of sorts, is one of the larger and more resilient. (I'm involved in a similar project, on a much smaller scale.)

If Armageddon and its cousins are a little too lore-heavy and/or serious for you, I've also had a lot of fun playing Discworld MUD. Haven't touched it in years, though, so I can't comment on its present state or any recent changes.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-15T23:54:53.435Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also a more specific question how much lore would I need to fit in this MUD?

How much lore would you need to know about WoT to fit into WoTMUD? For reference, I hadn't even read the WoT books when I was playing and had no trouble fitting in. (I did have a girlfriend who introduced me to the MUD and could answer lore questions but reading wikipedia would be just as easy.)

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2012-06-15T19:09:20.833Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a bit off topic, but I'm just wondering what the experience of playing a MUD is like?

Not sure if this is what you're asking, but, well, you control a character you've created. Every time you move, or "look", you get a description of the location you're in, who else is there, what objects are and what obvious exits. You can interact with some objects, for instance "drink well". You can interact with other players, talk to them, join organisations, develop your roleplay, and of course you can attack people. Example:

Tower Square
This side of the square is the southern section of the Tower Square.
In the center is the walled off White Tower. To the south a large
boulevard opens up leading to the Southharbor. To the north you see
the southern gate of the tower grounds. The square continues east
and west.
A large banner rests here, depicting a map of Tar Valon.
[ obvious exits: N E S W ]

An oil lamp, set in a steel cage, hangs from a high wooden pole.
An elaborately sculpted marble fountain splashes merrily.
A stout wooden barrel stands nearby.
Saldria the Wearied Novice is standing here.
Yasmi of Murandy is standing here, riding a gray palfrey.
A sailor is here.
A gray palfrey prances skittishly nearby.
The Tar Valon town crier stands here, spreading the news.

  • HP:Healthy SP:Bursting MV:Fresh >

(Yasmi and Saldria are other players).

Exploration is definitely there; for instance on WoTMUD there are AFAIK about 400 zones of about 100 "rooms" (locations) each, there are a lot of little secrets to discover; also, good zone knowledge (at least in the areas you frequent) is necessary to be successful as a fighter. As to freedom, yeah you do pretty much what you want, unless you join some organisation that provides more structure.

Depending on the MUD, combat may be voluntary or unrestricted, and the MUD may be heavy on roleplaying or light. Some MUDs I've seen basically are all about story and/or interecting with people by writing out elaborate descriptions of your actions. Others are more about PK (playerkilling).

WoTMUD has unrestricted combat - indeed combat is a major source of advancement in ranks, which earns combat bonuses - and is fairly light on the roleplay (but it's definitely there if you want it, especially in some of the more RP-oriented clans). Though unrestricted combat doesn't mean you can just whack people on the head without consequence; if you attack someone within the jurisdiction of some country, people who serve that country will give you a criminal warrant and hunt you. Mobs (=NPCs) from that country too. Unrestricted just means it's not against the overall game's rules for anyone to attack you.

how much lore would I need to fit in this MUD?

The wikipedia article on the Wheel of Time should pull you through if you don't try to join one of the roleplay-heavy clans such as the White Tower. Some more googling over and above that will likely prove useful, especially if as you say you are interested in in-character interaction.

Any ideas for my class? At the moment I'd particularly welcome ideas for practical examples of applying Bayes' Theorem, fit for a non-modern setting. ("urn problems" are not what a nonmathy person would call a practical application.)