Legends of Terris (http://www.legendsofterris.com) is a MUD. A MUD, or Multi-User Dungeon, is essentially an online, multiplayer, RPG type of game. The catch is, the entire thing is text. That is, as opposed to walking into a room, and actually seeing a room with a monster in it, you'd walk into a room and see "You enter a room with moss covering the ground. The walls are decrepit and crumbling, with ivy growing down the sides. There's a faint smell of blood in the air. You see a Kobold approach. There is a Dagger and 15 Gold on the ground," or something along those lines.
MUDs have been around since the late 1970's. While their popularity might not be what it once was, they still have their special place. The difference between playing a text-only game like a MUD, and playing a normal, graphical game, is similar to the difference between reading a book and watching a television show. Both of them can convey the same point and message. With the book, however, it is left up to you to form the pictures in your mind. Needless to say, some people can't stand books, and would only watch television. Others happen to love books, and the way that a good description can form a full picture in your mind. That's how it is with a MUD. Each room requires a detailed description, of where you are, what is there, and what is going on.
Legends of Terris started around 1993 as "Terris." By 1995, it had made its way onto AOL UK. My personal experience with it started somewhere around 1997 or thereabouts. It remained on AOL through around 2000, at which point it moved onto the internet, where it currently resides.
Play takes place in a "Wizard" front-end. This is essentially a program, where all of the text is displayed. When the game was on AOL, this was "in front of" the main game window, which just had a plain display of all the text (and I don't think anyone really used once the Wizard became available). With the move onto the internet, the Wizard is where all gameplay takes place. This program allows the game to be broken up into windows, with specific text in each window. For instance, you could have all text in one big window. Or, you could have a main window where most of the game takes place, but have a separate window for Tells (private messages directly to you) and another window for Shouts (messages from someone to everyone in the game). These windows allow you to make things more organized, so you don't lose track of a Tell in the midst of a fierce battle.
As well, across the bottom of the program are listed your statistics: health, spell points, experience toward your next level, what weapons you are using, etc. There are also a number of "macro" buttons, or buttons with pre-set text commands. That is, if you want to pick up all the items in the room, you could either type in "get all" manually, or simply click the button with a hand icon on it to get all the items in the room. You can also set your own macros to numbers. So, for instance, if you wanted to, say, cast a Chill spell, instead of typing in "cast chill," you could set a macro saying "cast chill" to the number 5. Then, simply typing in "5" and hitting enter will cause the game to input "cast chill." This will all become second-nature to you as you play.
What makes this text format stand apart from the many graphical games available, is the picture the game paints in your mind. Again, some people, for instance, hate books and will only watch television or movies. Others, however, far prefer books, feeling that the graphical medium pales in comparison. The pictures that the descriptions paint in your mind can be just as beautiful as any image. Even now, I can still close my eyes, and walk my way down the streets of Devardec in my mind, through my guild, or to my favorite little glade by the forest.
To discuss the specific gameplay, Terris plays similar to other RPG types of games that you may have played before. You make your way through a town, stop by a shop to buy some items, visit a trainer to learn a spell. You then head out into the wild, where you'll encounter a variety of monsters. Defeating these monsters will give you experience points, which will lead to a new level. When you level, you'll gain hit points and spell points, as well as "build points" which can be spent on learning new spells and skills. Enemies will drop gold and items, which can be kept or sold, and used to buy new items and weapons. The main difference, of course, is that everything is in text.
It's not just monsters all the time though. Some of those items you find lying around on the ground are going to be important for more than just equipping or selling. Terris also has literally hundreds of different quests spread throughout the world. People looking for certain items, or wanting you to slay a certain creature, or any number of different tasks. While you could go through the game just killing monsters and paying no attention to the quests, that wouldn't be much fun. Many of the quests give good experience bonuses, or items which you wouldn't find elsewhere. As well, making your way through a long quest, gathering clues and information, is very enjoyable.
You start out the game by choosing from a number of different classes and races to play as. Whether you want to be a Human Warrior or a Half-Elf Sorcerer, the choice is up to you. Each character choice comes with its own specific set of skills and statistics. A human might be able to use a wide variety of swords and shields, but, that big heavy battleaxe you find along the way is going to be far too heavy for an elf to even lift, much less use. Similarly, a Sorcerer can learn offensive spells with ease, but, if they want to learn some healing spells, it's going to cost them much more than it would cost a Shaman. There's a good deal of freedom in the game, and it's up to you to explore all of the choices you have.
One of the major decisions in your character's life will be joining a guild. While you're pretty much free to join any guild you want, obviously if you're a spellcaster and join a non-spellingcast guild, you'll have a bit of trouble finding a place to learn those higher-level spells. A guild isn't just a place to learn skills and spells from, though. A guild is your new family. Each guild is made up of hundreds of members, people of similar skills and styles, and is a great way to make friends, find groups to go adventuring with, to interact with, and all of the things that make Terris so fun. Similarly, later on you'll also be able to join a temple of your choosing as well. The temple isn't the same as a guild in that you don't learn skills or spells or anything from a temple. A temple, headed up by an immortal who is the patron of that temple, is a group of people who have come together based on a topic of interest. These vary from Love to Mischief to Chaos to Nature and many other topics. Your temple is another great place to meet people, with whom to enjoy your experience in the world.
In the end, this is what makes Terris so memorable. While there's something to be said for your normal single-player games where it's just you and your group against the world, there's something special about the people you meet, and the interactions you share, within the world of Terris. These people aren't just computer-controlled entities, only there for a game plot. These are real, living people from all over the world, who are going to shape your game experience for you. The foundation of Terris is a strong and dedicated community. Staff, immortals and heroes committed to making the game an enjoyable place to be, expanding and adding new and interesting stuff. Guild and temple leaders dedicated to their community, to roleplaying and adventuring. The people you meet in the course of your daily journeys, people just like yourself, adventuring through the world of Terris, and having a good time.
Terris is a world alive with adventure, intrigue and enjoyment. Wonderful people, with whom to form lasting memories. There's nothing else quite like it.