Welcome to Avatar, Good Traveler! If you're feeling anything at all like I felt when I first found this wonderful addiction, your head is probably spinning and you haven't a clue where to start. Don't worry, you're not alone. The realms are constantly evolving, and there is always something new to learn. My goal in writing this is to provide a quick, simple reference to a lot of little tidbits people wished they knew when they started playing here.
As a new player, there are a few basic rules to keep in mind:
1) This is a family mud. Foul and abusing language will not be tolerated on public channels
2) Player killing is not allowed, and kill stealing is very frowned upon.
3) Harassment of any kind is not tolerated
4) Cheating in any form will be dealt with severely (See also: Loopholes)
They are pretty much common sense. Be kind and respectful, make friends...that sort of thing.
I strongly suggest that as you begin to feel your way around, you ask lots of questions. Use nchat often. Be vocal. There is a very large and helpful community of players here, with many different points of view. Don't be afraid to ask for opinions or help and try different methods. Also, I feel it is very important to learn how to do something instead of asking to have it done for you. It will pay off in the long run.
The commands are very intuitive once you get the hang of things, and the help files are very extensive. However, if you are new to mudding altogether, or feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of commands, the value of the Mudschool cannot be overstated. It will take about 10-15 minutes to walk through the most basic commands and how to begin your adventuring days.
Choosing a character
You can create an unlimited number of characters to see for yourself how they perform, but here is a very quick rundown of play styles.
I want to tank!
I want to be at the front, leading the way, and trying to shield my group from the majority of the damage thrown at it!
Warriors, Rogues, and Monks are all classic tanks. Warriors have a high pool of hit points and defensive skills like parry, shield block, and rescue. Rogues have fewer hit points, but have powerful sneak attacks that deal high amounts of damage and can sometimes cripple foes. They also have access to dodge and parry. Monks fight unarmed and also have rescue, dodge, as well as their own set of parries and counters. Due to their counters, Monks also hit hardest when tanking. Try tanking in hit gear if you dare!
I want to hit!
I want to take advantage of the cover of a tank to cause damage to my enemies!
Warriors and Archers are the basic physical hitters. Warriors have access to the most attacks of any class, as well as Bash and Trip, two skills that make enemies more vulnerable. Archers simply do a whole lot of damage in a single hit... and that's about it. Their only caveat is that they can't be in direct combat (tanking) in order to do the most damage. Rogues can be hitters, but they don't perform very well in that role until much higher levels (you will be a Hero by then), so a starting character shouldn't chose them just for hitting.
On the magic side, Mages and Psionicists both deal damage throgh spells, limited by their mana. Mages learn damage spells, as well as a handy skill called Surge that boosts your spell damage up to a factor of 5. (Be sure to use the SPELL command to check your spell costs before casting a surged spell!) Psions learn kinetic damage spells that can't be surged like Mages' spells can, but they generally do more damage and cost less mana to cast.
I want to heal!
Clerics are the primary healers. They learn very potent healing spells, which are limited by mana.
Also, all spellcasters learn Arcane Knowledge and Read Magic, which will allow them to use staves and scrolls. Many such items cast healing spells, but their uses are limited and they take twice as long to cast than a cleric's healing spell. Nevertheless, a brandishing Mage or Psion is often all a group needs to survive. (N.B. Clerics can also use these items to augment their own abilities.)
I want to just be really useful!
All classes have some sort of utility they can bring to the table. In combat, Warriors and Rogues can disarm enemies, while Mages, Clerics, and Psions have a number of useful debuffs (at lower levels, Blindness is quite useful). Psions in particular have debuffs that no other class can replicate, including Overconfidence and Deception (which is like a disarm with a much higher success rate).
All manner of spellcasters can use scrolls and wands to cast spells they don't learn themselves, and of course they have their own unique set of useful buffing spells.
To begin with, type score to see all kinds of helpful information about yourself. The first thing you're going to want to do is to train your Wisdom. Wisdom determines how many practice points you will receive at each level. Second to wisdom, Intelligence and Constitution are also very important. Intelligence determines the amount of mana you will receive per level, and also determines how effectively you are able to use Practice Points to learn your class skills. It is a common practice to train up these three stats as fast as possible before focusing on learning a lot of skills.
By now, you're also probably wanting to fix that whole naked thing and start finding some good gear! If you completed Mudschool, then you got a lot of very basic gear to start you out. Otherwise, you can find pretty much the same gear inside the Tree of Knowledge next to Nom. There are a few helpfiles you might want to check out. Help Level Gear will show you a list of nice stat boosting equipment you might want to track down, and Help Meadow will show you simple, ascii-based map of good areas to start killing things in, most of which will contain some of the aforementioned gear. This Wiki also has gear lists, including a Level 1-10 Gear List.
Keep in mind that you can wear items up to 3 levels higher than your current level, and use weapons (main and offhand) up to 5 levels higher than your current level.
Nom will be your healer and default Recall until level 4. This is a good place to buy candles (along with the nearby Jim the Peddler) and other basic supplies. It is conveniently located in the center of the Meadow.
Sol will be your healer and default Recall until level 14. He is located in the center of Stonehall, near many other useful services, such as a bank, Carl the trainer, an ent who will identify items for you for free until level 10, maps, and a safe place to rest. It is one of the first steps out into the wide world as you outgrow the Meadow.
Aelmon is the healer and default Recall after level 14. Aelmon is located in the middle of the city of Midgaard. The large city is central to the continent, and provides many services nearby, as well as faster access to many areas.
At any of the three healers, you can type list to see any items they may have for sale, or heal for a list of their services. All three will cast healing spells, cure poisons and diseases, and remove curses from you. For a price.
Sanctum is a very popular social hub of Avatar. In Sanctum, there is a donation room to possibly find some gear, an infirmary which is a healing and recovery room, as well as the location of many Spellbots. Many groups form in here and prepare themselves for battle. Gear gets sorted out, items traded, and many strange conversations happen in a safe place to sit idly and talk with friends. It is also a nice place to trade equipment between different alts, since multiplaying is not allowed (except on special occasions).
As you gain in levels, you will find yourself outgrowing areas you once hunted to extinction and watch your xp begin to dwindle. Exploring is key! There are hundreds of areas in Avatar, scattered and tucked away everywhere. The world is vast. Two vital tools to your exploration are the Areas command and the Where command. They will give you ideas on places to look for and tell you when you are in an area you don't need to be just yet. Don't forget to set your Recall as you wander about!
There is a tour guide in Stonehall northwest of Sol that will take you around to many areas (levels 5-25) for a nominal fee. He gives tips on how to find the areas as he takes you there. This is an excellent tool for at least getting an idea of where you should start looking around if you are feeling overwhelmed. There is a higher level version northwest of Aelmon for areas 20-50.
It's a part of getting bigger. Some days it's more common part than others. You will need to retrieve your corpse when it does. There are many ways to do this. Setting your recall often will provide you a fast way to get back to your body. However, there are a few instances that this is not possible. In that case, Speedwalking and/or creating an Alias are common do-it-yourself solutions to getting back all that precious gear you've collected. They work well for areas with aggie mobs and cursed rooms that don't allow you to set your recall. If you feel like you may need some extra time to get back to where you just died, you can always try asking somebody to embalm your corpse for you. If you've tried and just can't quite make it, or can't even find your resting place to begin with, you can always ask for some assistance on nchat. Keep in mind that nobody is under an obligation to help you, and polling for help repeatedly is rather frowned upon by most players.
As You Grow
As you gain in levels, more and more commands will become available to you, the information you see will expand, and the world becomes a richer and deeper place.
Level 1: Nchat channel available
Level 2: Your character saves!
Level 3: Chat channel becomes available
Level 10: You can see a numeric value for your alignment on your Score
Level 10: You may freely worship any of the gods available and learn how they affect you
Level 19: This is the last level unworshipping is free, starting at 20 it will cost you practices
Level 23: Movement costs start to increase. They will continue to increase as you progress in levels.
Level 25: Herothank becomes available to you
Level 51: Welcome to Hero!
Developing a character
Now that you're getting a bit bigger, perhaps you want to develop and express a persona for your character. A description will create a blurb about yourself for others to read when they look at you. Playerinfo is a less obtrusive way to sharing stories, laughter, brag about stats, whatever you want it to be. Eventually, you can customize the message people see as you enter and exit a room. While role-playing is not enforced, it is always encouraged, for your enjoyment and the entertainment of those you meet. Socials are nice quick commands that add a bit of depth and humor to your interactions with people (and mobs!). Title is another command you can use to describe yourself, or even create a surname.