[MUD-Dev] WIRED: One brave soul's UO diary.

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Mon Jun 22 14:50:33 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


URL:http://www.wired.com/wired/6.05/bunnies.html

Kill Bunnies, Sell Meat, Kill More Bunnies 

Are we having fun yet? 

By Lizard 



Hail and well met! My name is Agamar, born of Moonglow, and the
following are the journals of my adventures in the lands known as
"Britannia." Or maybe "Sosaria." Or something - in truth, the two
names are oft used interchangeably. My intent in writing was to record
for all time my grand deeds of heroism, to tell of dragons slain,
demons vanquished, and maidens rescued. For a variety of reasons,
however, it didn't work out that way.

My pseudo-Shakespeare, by the way, is actually a form of English known
as "Britannian." Speaking in it is the best way to separate yourself
from the myriad "kewld00dz" who are the object of universal scorn
among the UO cognoscenti. But it's hard to maintain on your own.



Mine first day in britannia 

Despite many warnings and trepidations, I didst purchase this Ultima
Online, intending to set forth and explore the world for
mineself. Mine first character was an alchemist with some passing
sword skill, and I didst set him in the Lycaeum, amongst the
scholars. His first task was to brew some potions, but he had no
mortar and pestle.

I ventured forth into the city of Moonglow. The city was nearly empty,
which was fine by me. Later, I didst find an herbalist, and didst buy
from him a mortar and pestle. But when I opened my pack to begin
mixing potions, I found TWO of them. Had one been in my pack all
along? Why hadn't I seen it? Whatever ...

Soon, mine efforts paid off, and a black potion was mine. 

Having found someone selling potions earlier, I thought to add to his
stock and enrich mine own pockets. But he wasn't buying. Clearly, a
career in alchemy was out of the question. And I had no cash to buy
weapons with which to kill animals, and no other skills of note.

Farewell, Magion, would-be alchemist ... Hello, Agamar, would-be warrior. 

I decided to start again in Moonglow, since I'd gained some
familiarity with the town.  This time, I bought a weapon, a cutlass,
and dared forth into the wilderness in search of some vicious bunny or
deadly gopher upon which to ply my skills. In time I found ... A GOAT! 
A glorious battle it was, nearly a quarter of my strength sapped - but
its ribs were mine! Then, oh glory of glories, a CHICKEN! Soon, I had
feathers and ribs. A hero was I! I found a butcher and quickly sold
the ribs for a lofty four gold pieces each.

Two hours of play, and I had killed a chicken and a goat and earned
eight gold pieces.

Mine secondeth day 

Having had some trivial success hunting and selling meat, I decided to
try that again. I ventured forth north of Moonglow proper, where I
found a lot of wandering healers, but no animals. After much more
searching, there were still no beasts to slay, so southward I
wandered. While passing along the road, someone said, "I'm a member of
some stupid guild with a goofy name" (well, not his exact words) and
shot an arrow at me. He missed;

I booked, and he didn't follow. 

Wandering farther south, I came upon a small building. Inside were two
farmers, who ignored me - and at least a dozen rabbits. Working
carefully to avoid targeting the farmer and his wife, I made short
work of the cute little bunny rabbits, then worked my way back to the
butcher. I sold the meat, and that, plus my leftover money, was enough
to get me a leather tunic! I wish that Origin would imitate France and
regulate names.  I'm already tired of seeing characters named
"Cornholio the Fighter" and "Famous Anus the Thief." And why can't
players be taught to say, "The foul knaves didst strike me from
behind!" rather than, "Those pussy wimps fucking killed me when I
wasn't looking!" (an actual quote from today's game).

Also, why is it, when I go out of my way to be polite and forsoothish
and otherwise role-play, I am utterly and completely ignored? Several
times, I tried to get simple information like "Pardon me, but which
way is the tailor?" or "Excuse me, Noble Lord, but do you know who
buys hides?" and didn't even get "Smeg off, Newbie" in response.
What's the point of a multiplayer game if the only interaction with
other players is running from them or looting their bodies? Culture in
an online society is shaped as much by the unseen people running the
society as by those who inhabit it. We'll see how many more days this
life of killing bunnies and selling meat keeps me amused.

Mine thirdeth day 

Ah, another day dawns in Moonglow. Agamar, still a neophyte warrior,
continues his quest for fame, glory, and a mountain of dead bunnies.

My first quest took me north of Moonglow a bit. This time, 'twas a cow
I espied.  Emboldened, I lunged at the black-and-white spotted fiend,
only to find that this cow had fire for blood. In mere seconds, I was
gasping for breath and, discretion being the better part of valor, I
withdrew from the conflict.

I healed, and again I ventured forth. This time, I happened on a man
in robes fleeing a mongbat. He asked for help, and so I slew the
beast. The mongbat had no treasure, but it did have ribs. The man was
distraught, having just been slain and lacking even a dagger.  I gave
him mine, and, since he was a tailor, I also gave him those hides I
could neither sell nor sew. He was quite happy, and we discussed the
dungeon he had died in, and other topics. At last, someone who wasn't
trying to kill me and who could talk in complete sentences! Wandering
farther through the woods, I found a crossbow someone had
abandoned. While the teachings of the Avatar argue that stealing is
wrong, the teachings of pure survival took hold. I was well beyond the
guards, no one was about looking for it, there was no body nearby
... so I snarfed it.

But selling it proved difficult. The weaponsmith could not afford it,
and no player would stay still long enough for me to make a sale. I
tried to role-play, tailoring my pitch to each passerby. But by the
time I'd typed out "My Lord, this crossbow wouldst go so well with thy
purple cloak!" the person in question would flee the screen.

The aura of fear in every town in Britannia is palpable - no one will
stand still, no one will talk, everyone runs everywhere lest a
second's hesitation make them a victim of some small-genitaled
preadolescent armed with a lightning bolt.

Then a bit farther south. The "bunny house" was still there, and there
were still bunnies in it! More slaughter occurred.

On my way back, I noticed someone in plate armor on the road. As I
passed near him, he began to run toward me, so I ducked and dodged and
ran right onto a strange stone platform - which placed me suddenly in
the heart of Moonglow town again. My pursuer appeared as well, but,
surrounded by the teleporting death squads of Lord British, he chose
to flee rather than continue his probable attack on me.

Exploring some more, I found a building called "[someone's] Newbie
Training Hut."  Inside were two practice dummies. I took a few swings,
then a man clad in red plate armor asked me if I wanted to "spar." It
would have been nice to engage in some practice with another person,
but frankly, I could not bring myself to trust him. I said, "Nay, I
would not survive," and fled back to town.

I went north, slew some more bunnies (and a snake!), and logged off. 

Mine fourtheth day 

My entrance into Britannia was something of a shock. Rather than the
cozy inn I had fallen asleep in, I was standing in the weaponseller's
shop! Further still, I had forgotten all I'd learned the day before of
magic resistance! Verily, 'twas most strange ...

My pattern continued - kill bunnies, get meat, sell meat, kill more
bunnies. I won't bore you too much with such mundane details, save to
note that I saw far more creatures than usual - pigs, llamas, snakes,
and goats fell to my blade, and it seemed I was becoming ever so
slightly more skilled. We shan't discuss, however, my innumerable
failures to find uses for the hides of the creatures I slew or my
accursed sewing kit. A thousand naked orphans could have been clothed
with the hides I have wasted. Heading back into town, I went into the
armorer, only to find nothing I could afford. The group outside was
planning a dungeon voyage. I quipped I was but "two bunnies" shy of
the armor I wanted, and was about to go off to kill more, when one
noble fellow (in deed if not in title) tossed some ribs on the ground
- enough, when sold, to permit me to make my purchase. Perhaps it is
true that "what goes around, comes around." Or perhaps, being decked
out in the finest plate and astride a horse, he had no need for the
puny gold to be had from rabbit ribs. No matter the motive, I was
grateful, and soon I had leather trousers to match my tunic.

Heading south of Moonglow town, I came upon a body in the woods, still
clothed, with no one nearby but a healer doing nothing - which is what
healers seem to do. I examined the corpse and found it to be someone
called "Pulp Fiction." While I despise looters, it seemed as if this
person was not coming back, and besides, with a name like that ... The
body had gold, a cape, some clothing, and a bow with many arrows.
Knowing I was doing wrong (but tempted beyond resistance), I absconded
with the gold and the cloak, leaving the weapons for the owner of the
body to claim. I do not attempt to justify my deed - this land brings
out the worst in people, it seems.

Heading northward again, I slew a llama, then a wild boar, which did
put up quite a battle! Also, I found several beggars, and, feeling
guilty over my corpse-robbing, gave them the rest of my gold.

Mine fiftheth day 

Once more, Agamar, Slayer of Bunnies, found himself in Moonglow. It
being the middle of the day - a time when most adolescent
player-killers are taking remedial gym - the town was relatively
peaceful. As with last night, the woods abounded with furry creatures
to slay, and slay them I did. There's at least one llama that will
never more harass the good people of Britannia! And the threat posed
by the pigs has been dealt with via swift and brutal justice. They
deserved no better. Yes, I, Agamar, vow it!  No pig, llama, or sheep
shall prey upon the good people of Moonglow while my scimitar remains
intact! The mounds of llamas, bunnies, and pigs turned into enough
ribs for me to buy leather sleeves. I was now armored head to toe and
went in search of greater things, and found - wolves! One beat me to
half my life, but it eventually fell, and I took out its partner a few
minutes later.

But that brought up a conundrum: A cow can (almost) kill
Agamar. Agamar can kill a wolf with relative ease. Therefore, I
assume, a cow can kill a wolf quite easily. Which leads to the image
of wolf packs being hounded - er, cowed - through Britannia by packs
of bloodthirsty bovines.

Back in town, I was accosted by a nonplayer character. He spoke most
strangely, thus: "I collect. 'Tis an odd hobby, I know, but Bob has
one. I will pay you 545 gold for it." No amount of prying could get
him to tell me WHAT it was he collected! I tried repeatedly to make
sense of his nonsense, but to no avail. He was not alone in his
strange speech; all around me, the people of Moonglow babbled oddly.

Marveling in wonder at such passing strangeness, I retired. Soon,
perhaps in a day or so, I will be ready to venture out of Moonglow! 
Excitement awaits - who knows what dangerous bunnies, killer sheep,
and vicious pigs lie waiting for me in fabled Britain, honorable
Trinsic, or wooded Yew?

Mine sixeth day 

Well, this was a most interesting time, indeed. The best and worst of
this world, in one series of escapades.

Early this morning I was about in Moonglow, as usual. I took to the
Dojo just outside of town, and spent many boring minutes whacking a
dummy, to no noticeable effect on my skill. I did notice someone in
the training center next door practicing with a mace. As I practiced,
I saw a flash of lightning strike this person dead. He was neutral in
alignment and a novice in skill, barely armed and armored - no threat
at all to the three plate-mailed figures who appeared on mighty
horses. But someone killed him just the same, for no reason.

Not wanting to be trapped in the small training center, I headed back
to town. There I managed to engage some folk in conversation while I
tried to sell some chemical reagents, and eventually we began to
discuss other things - the realms, the dangers to be found there, et
cetera. A young alchemist tried to sell me a healing potion she had
made; I told her I would buy it but I had only five gold. She demurred
to sell it to me for such, but instead chose to give it to me.

After this, I went hunting. North, there was a cow - a badly wounded
cow!  Remembering my earlier defeat at the hands of such a beast, I
closed in, and with great skill and vigor, slew it.

I was avenged! I took a nap in the inn and awoke with a purpose: I
would explore other parts of this realm. I quickly headed to the
moongate. I entered, and emerged in a deep wood. A bit of wandering
took me to a town, Trinsic. A most wondrous place - far larger than
Moonglow, and with many shops I had never seen, such as a furrier and
a tanner. At last, someone to buy my hides and furs!

After talking with a bard and a fisherman, I ventured south into the
jungles, expecting a bounty of animals to slay. I saw but one panther,
and it was tame. Besides that, nothing.  Not a mouse, bird, or rabbit
stalked those trees. But that was not the worst. When I was returning
to Trinsic, I happened on two murderers. Before I could run, one
paralyzed me, and the other simply hacked me to pieces. Knowing better
than to reincarnate, my ghostly form went off in search of a healer.

I found one and I was reborn, naked but for a robe. I made my way back
to where I was killed and found my own body. All that was left was my
sewing kit. With reluctance, I helped myself to some other detritus
the cowardly killers deemed beneath them, including a fishing pole and
a bow. I resolved to rebuild myself.

After selling the bow and buying some clothing with the proceeds, I
set about fishing. I don't think I need to tell you that my efforts
were less than salutary. After much time, I didst win but one fish,
and that sold for a mere one gold! This would take forever. I
concocted a plan to return to Moonglow, there to find some who knew me
and beg their aid. But it was not to be, for the linkage between this
world and Britannia had been shattered! For hours I was unable to
rejoin my avatar there. When I finally did, my joy was overwhelming,
for the gods had apparently turned back time! I was intact with my
possessions, as I had been shortly after entering Trinsic! Not wishing
to repeat history, I retreated to the moongate and then to
Moonglow. While I was grateful to have lost several hours of bad play,
I'm sure thousands more were not.

Mine seventheth day 

Well, I would love to tell thee all of mine seventh day of
adventuring, save for one problem. Apparently, it didn't exist.

I could tell thee of my traveling moongates, of seeing the jungles of
Jhelom and the great trees of Yew, even beginning a humble nest egg in
the bank of Britain. I could tell you of my first encounter with a
bull. I could tell you of the corpse of a monstrous scorpion I
happened past.

I could, but it seems none of these heroics occurred. After a few
hours of adventure, my link to Britannia shattered, as if I had woken
from a dream. When I finally returned, I was back at the inn at
Moonglow, and nothing seemed to have happened at all! This has
happened to me twice this day, and I am very angry. Why have
adventures when the consequences, for good or ill, simply vanish?

Mine seventheth day redux 

redux The second half of this day wenteth much better than the first
had gone. I awoke where I went to sleep - in Britain. I decided to
continue my original plan, which was to journey to Yew and seek out
something more exciting than a llama to slay.

Heading south from Britain, I couldn't help but notice that the woods
abounded with animals - most of whom became ribs and hides. I despise
wasting their fur, but no one would purchase it, no tailor could use
it, and it was heavy.

Then I made my most grievous error. I saw a bear, and, having slain
two in the past, chose to take this one on. Mayhap my blade was dull;
mayhap my armor was torn.  Whatever the cause, I died.

I chose to become a ghost and ran looking for a healer, not finding
one until Britain. I had gold and some salable merchandise in the
bank, so I ran southward again in the robes of the newly reborn. I
circled where I thought I had died for a while, finding nothing. I
happened on two others and asked if they had seen a body anywhere. One
replied, to my great astonishment, that not only had he found my body,
he had saved all my equipment - and then handed it back to me! I did
not write down his name, which I deeply regret, but he was honorable
in both title AND deed, he was a ranger, and his name sounded vaguely
Japanese.

I thanked him most profusely and returned on my way. I did finally
make it to Yew. I have grown used to the moongates, and can usually
tell where I am in mere moments. I wandered hither and yon, putting
evil llamas, killer cows, and villainous pigs to the sword. I also saw
a dragon for the first time in my life! Naturally, I ran - bears I can
face, but dragons? No.

I decided to explore Empath Abbey, a place I remember from a very
distant time and shard, when it was I who was the avatar
himself. Outside the abbey was a small building labeled "Manusco's
Public Forge - Free Repairs!" Fearing my weapons and armor were
getting worn, I decide to take a chance. Inside was Manusco, and,
indeed, his services were free - though I paid him all the gold I had
on me anyway, which wasn't much.

Outside the abbey was the dragon! Since I was in town, I feared
somewhat less. But I noticed it was not attacking, and seemed it was
being talked to! Next to it was a fellow on a horse, who seemed to be
its master. He said he had indeed tamed it. I was surely impressed.

With all that, then, it was time to sleep - for the first time in a
place other than beloved Moonglow, my home. Truly, I have traveled far
in my week in these realms, for when I went to sleep, I noticed I was
no longer a mere neophyte, but a novice.

Mine eightheth day 

Another day of frustration. 

I awoke in Yew, where I had gone to bed. I had set for myself a goal,
this day, of finding something other than a sheep or llama to
fight. While speaking with the smith outside Empath Abbey, I learned
of an orc encampment to the south. I made my way there, across the
deep forests of Yew, and was impressed by the structure. It was truly
alien and foreboding, and surely a place of adventure.

Except that it was empty, save for "Sir Clueless Newbie" (aye, that
was his name) and a lady friend of his. Since both seemed honorable, I
chanced to greet them. Since the "encampment" was long since deserted,
and I had no desire to run into some "Dread Lord Beavis" type, I
departed.

While wandering back to Yew, I passed a llama. I made sure it was not
a pet, then made to slay it. I do not like the slaughter of harmless
animals, but I do need to eat, and killing things is sadly my only
skill of note. But as soon as I did drop into a fighting stance,
someone screamed, "Guards! Murder!" and in but a second, I was quite
literally a ghost of my former self.

Fortunately, a wandering healer was near, and I was restored to life
and gathered up my equipment. I thought back to some words I had
read. "If thou seekest monsters to slay, avoid the roads and the
coastlines - travel as deep into the woods as thou canst." So I did. I
left all sign of civilization behind and wandered for what seemed like
hours through trackless woods.

Nothing. 

After much more wandering, I found a foreboding fortress of
granite. This had a door, a thick metal one. I entered, and the stench
of death didst assail my nostrils. Shredded bodies littered the floor,
and skeletons dangled in chains on the walls. Slowly, cautiously, I
explored.

In the exploration, I passed two folk clad in armor running the other
way. I tried to ask them what was about, but got no answer. I
continued.

... and continued.

... and continued. The place radiated great terror, but there was not
so much as a rat wandering these empty halls. I had read enough tales
in my youth at the Lycaeum to know that lost crypts in the deep woods
ought to be teeming with monsters - but there were none. I found two
rooms filled with chests, but the chests were empty.

As with the orc fortress, this was a place that promised adventure,
but failed to deliver.  Still, I was determined to at least explore it
all. I remembered a passage I hadn't investigated and headed for it,
hoping to find ...

Connection lost. 

After much trying, I reconnected, only to find myself right next to
the abbey. Once again, an entire adventure simply NEVER HAPPENED.

I will have a hard time finding that lost crypt again, as well. 

I doubt I shall bother. I would not have minded being slain by a liche
in the depths of that crypt - it would have been a fitting fate for
one so foolishly exploring alone. But what I do mind is the feeling of
utter helplessness and frustration that is overwhelming my attempts to
play this game.

Mine nintheth day 

Well, after nine days, I finally had the sort of adventure you're
supposed to have all the time - along with the usual Ultima Online
nightmares we've all come to know and loathe. I had arranged to meet a
friend and voyage with him. We met outside the abbey in Yew, and
promptly proceeded on our quest.

Henryk ('twas his name) and I voyaged deep into the forests of Yew. He
bade me track for monsters, but, growing up in the city of Moonglow, I
had little skill in the matter.  By sheer luck, we stumbled on a
cougar. With some effort, we slew the beast, and had cougar ribs for
our lunch meal.

At this time, or so, I began to tell Henryk that I believed monsters
to be myths - in nine days, I had seen no living beast more outré than
a mongbat. Scarcely were the words out of my lips when an ettin
appeared! We leapt to battle, and soon it fell to our swords.  Henryk
needed to rest from the fight, so we waited.

Then ... 

Connection lost. 

AUUURRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!! Some half hour later, it was possible to reenter
Britannia. There we both were, standing outside the abbey. Killing the
ettin must have been a dream.

We set off again, figuring the ettin might be where we last found
it. We paused in a clearing to check our bearings, and then a tent
appeared right next to us! I thought for a moment someone might have
just built it, but then hordes of orcs poured out! We tried to battle
them, but we were surrounded and slain - in large part because I kept
following Henryk, no matter how hard I tried not to. So we became
ghosts. I watched as the orcs looted our bodies, then ran off.

Henryk returned and led me to a healer. I was restored to life, and we
found our bodies mostly intact - but my coif and ringmail, the result
of a week's worth of bunnyslaying, were gone.

As we pondered what to do next, we met with a scholar named Kahn whom
I had seen at Moonglow, and also the ranger Hawk. Mostly reequipped,
we were discussing going to seek the orcs when a monstrous troll
appeared! Kahn leapt to the attack, and Henryk and I turned to aid
him. The troll perished, and its small horde of gold was split twixt
the three of us.

We decided to return to Yew, as I was still bare-chested, when a woman
came running by. I casually identified her, only to find she was a
murderess of deservedly ill repute.  We tried to flee, but magic and
the "slowness disease" took us. She was concentrating on Henryk, and I
could have fled, but when she slew him I felt compelled to turn and
strive to strike at least one blow for honor's sake. I do not know if
I reached her before she slew me with a magic spell. If you see this
woman, a dark-tressed witch, flee at once if thou art weak, or turn
and slay her immediately if thou art strong.

There were but few of our goods she did not feel a need to abscond
with ... my boots and gloves were all that remained of a week's effort
to better myself. Finally, we made it to Yew. Back in the abbey, we
met Khan, who took pity on our misfortune and loaned us some gold and
equipment, including a magical wooden shield! I was most grateful.

Apart from the server crashes and the stupid player-killers, this is
what this game SHOULD be like. Adventure! Excitement! Companionship! 
Role-playing! No one said "Hey, cool" or "Dude" or "Man, that sucks"
or any other such drivel - all dialog, and there was much of it, was
spoken in, well, the same tone as this memoir is written.  Politeness,
honor, and chivalry were the watchwords of the day.

Afterword 

I suppose some additions are in order. Whatever happened to Agamar? 
Did he ever see an actual monster? The truth is, Agamar retired soon
after my last entry, as a new shard (server) opened up a lot nearer to
me. With the lessons I learned while bashing bunnies, I was able to
bring my new character up to fighting trim in a lot less time. Some of
the problems I whined about have been fixed since these journals were
written, but there are also plenty of new ones: the Invasion of the
Spawn Destroying Santas, the Attack of the Dupers, the Suburban Sprawl
of Yew, the Vendors From Hell, and so on. Ultima Online is an ever
changing world - you never know what is going to go wrong next.

I'm on my third character now, which I created entirely to hang out
with hardcore role-players on yet another server. This isn't to say my
life has been easy - if you happen to see Arik Thornebain on the Lake
Superior shard, don't mention gazers, please....


Lizard can be reached at lizard at mrlizard.com. 

--
J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...




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