Muddled Times
Issue:Issue 16, June 2002
Section:Game Information

Newbie Central: Monsters

You can't play MUD2 for long without coming across monsters. Whether it's fireflies, rats, the goat or a clutch of zombies - or something far worse! - the chances are you'll encounter something within a few minutes of leaving the Elizabethan tearoom (if not sooner). They're as much a part of the game as rooms, treasure and other players. They come in many different varieties, each with their own peculiarities. What's the best thing to do when you meet one for the first time? How can you tell which are dangerous and which aren't? What if one attacks you? And what are you likely to come across anyway?

This issue, we're concerned with monsters, or, in MUD2 parlance, mobiles.


Mobiles come in many shapes and sizes. The first thing to point out to newbies is that initially mobiles are not dangerous. The ones that frequent the same places as newbies are either weak enough to beat up (like the butterfly), are so cowardly that they run away even though they could beat you up (like the ox), or they don't attack you anyway unless provoked (like the goat). As you rise in levels, you will begin to attract the attention of more of these, but by then you should be able to make a fight of it. Similarly, as you explore increasingly remote locations you may well come across mobiles that are mean-spirited enough to whack you no matter how new to the game you are. If you keep your head, though, you should be able to escape from even these unless, by some incredible misfortune, you've found one of the top-notch, really tough adversaries ...

Mobiles serve many purposes. The first thing you should ascertain when you encounter a mobile for the first time is why it's where it is. The main reason is likely to be one of the following:

  • It's there as an irritant.
    The thief and banshee, for example, would fall into this category. They don't often attack, but they have some annoying habits that encourage players to want to attack them.
  • It's there to make people less reliant on macros and strings of commands.
    You're not as likely to type things like w.......n......e.......op if you can be blocked by a zombie on the way and end up lost in a mine.
  • It's there as a warning of Worse To Come.
    If you get badly hurt by one of these, you'd probably be killed by what's beyond. The apes and the pasture dwarfs count as this kind of mobile.
  • It's guarding something.
    This is particularly true of mobiles that don't move (like the wolf, the ogre and the mobiles in the keep). Immobile mobiles :-) . These are usually very hard to kill and will often prevent you from leaving their room except by magic. You won't come across many as a newbie (the ogre is the one you'll most likely find first) but if you do then the best thing to do is to try walk away; if you can't, quit and restart (or, maybe more likely, flee and restart).
  • It's worth points.
    Do not underestimate the importance of this!. You can get a lot of points simply by killing large quantities of mobiles. When I was a mortal, I used to pay regular visits to the dwarfs and the apes to raise my score by several thousand. This isn't so easy for newbies, of course, because newbies are so puny and never have any kit, but nevertheless if you know you can always kill the coot and you know where the coot lives, you know a good way to get some points if you've run out of treasure to swamp. Remember: sometimes mobiles aren't guarding treasure, they are the treasure!
  • It's there because ... it's there!
    There's no reason at all really! It just adds a bit of variety and makes the place seem less empty. Mobiles like this aren't usually too deadly.

In the main, then, it should be clear that mobiles are there to be killed. Not, perhaps, by you, and not necessarily in combat, but they're all worth something dead. By tempting you to attack them, the game is encouraging you to put your character at risk. If you get too greedy, you could end up losing everything - but if you judge it right you can be in for an exciting time and come out feeling like a real hero!


Now of course, you'd much prefer to be the hero than the corpse. But how can you tell, when you come across a mobile for the first time, whether it's going to roll over and die first blow or mash you to a bloody pulp? There are four common techniques for finding out.

The first of these is simply to read the mobile's description. If it looks dangerous, it probably is!

The second approach is to ask someone else whose judgement you trust, or failing that, ask everyone :-) . There are quite often shouts to be heard like "how hard is the stag?" or "can a warrior kill a snugglepuss?". The quality of answers is not entirely trustworthy :-) but there'll usually be at least one person who gives an honest reply.

The third way to find out how difficult a mobile is is to use the value command, as in value tiger or whatever. In general, the more a mobile is worth, the more likely it is to kill you. This isn't always strictly true, because some mobiles are worth more for being hard to get to or to reward you for getting as far as you have done. Also, some mobiles are notoriously undervalued, such as the pony (grrrr!). They're worth like 50 points but they fight as if they were worth 250! On the whole, though, value is a fairly reasonable guide.

The final measure of likely difficulty is the mobile's environment. If you've fought your way through progressively harder opponents, you can be fairly sure that the ones you'll meet were you to continue will be harder still. If you're a long way from somewhere a newbie might go (not that you will be, since you are a newbie :-) ) then that also ought to tip you off that the mobiles will be strong. Another tip is to consider what period of history the area feels like it's set in: the longer ago it is, the more dangerous it's likely to be (honest! I know it sounds bizarre, but it's like a convention in MUD2!).

So if you've fought your way past a mermaid, sharks and an octopus and had to follow the directions on a hard-to-find map to get to a remote island where you encounter an immense, fire-breathing dragon, you probably don't have to ask everyone whether it's hard or not; instead, type qq just as quickly as your fingers can manage it :-) .


There is a rich variety of mobiles, and they all have their own characteristics. Even ones which seem quite similar can, after a time, appear to have their own personalities (ask anyone who regularly attacks the apes!). Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself when considering how best to tackle a mobile (or whether to tackle it at all!).

  • How smart is it?
    Yes, some mobiles are cleverer than others! Insects and snakes and other creature that are fairly mindless in real life will normally behave just as stupidly in MUD2 - fleeing prematurely (or not at all), not always eating wafers that are lying on the ground right in front of them, not dropping heavy objects (if you can get them to carry them in the first place, of course - bees have trouble holding onto boats :-) ), the list goes on. Humanoids are the smartest mobiles and you should watch out for them: they will try steal wafers off of you, they'll use weapons, they'll run some distance before stopping and sleeping after a fight. Some are even smarter than that - the man has a whole armoury of tricks up his sleeves. Don't assume that just because they're run by a computer they must be dim; remember that the game's author has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence (mm, so why can't mobiles talk? That would be cool).
  • Does it have any kit?
    Some mobiles start with weapons and wafers; you should try to get these off of them if you can (although you can't steal a weapon once it's in use).
  • Can it cast spells?
    Some mobiles are very adept at magic and will use it at range. Fortunately, you're unlikely to come across the more belligerent of these as a newbie, although the vampire is perhaps a little too easy to stumble into by accident (when the description says "Evil wood", you should believe it :-) ).
  • Does it have any friends?
    One rat isn't a danger, but seven or eight of them at once can be fatal.
  • Can it regenerate?
    Some mobiles - undead, basically - can recover stamina very quickly. If you can't damage them faster than they can regenerate, you'll never win. Zombies aren't too bad in this respect, but skeletons are utter horrors. On their day, a skeleton can take out even the best-kitted of mages, I've seen it happen and it's almost happened to me.
  • Has it gone up levels this reset?
    Mobiles can swamp treasure too, you know, although only a small number actually make a habit of it. If they do score enough points to rise (which will improve their stats, of course) then it's probably because they've just killed a high-level character. This means they'll most likely have their victim's kit, too. I've seen an individual dwarf kill first a mage, then a warlock, then a succession of necros and sorcs and miscellaneous lowlifes, to end up being worth over 13,000 points! Its strength, dexterity and stamina were through the roof! But unless you valued it, you couldn't tell it wasn't just a regular dwarf that happened to be wielding a longsword. Always check obit before you go mobile-hunting and whenever you hear the bell tolling; if someone at a high level just died to a mobile, you might want to avoid joining them!
  • Can it detect you?
    Many mobiles have a strong sense of smell and don't lose effective dexterity if they can't see you. For high-level players, this means invisibility spells are useless; for low-level ones, it means you shouldn't wander around in the dark and expect to be able to beat everything that you know you can beat in the light. It might be able to tell where you are, but that doesn't mean you can tell where it is ...
  • Does it have a special attack?
    The banshee famously screams if you speak in its presence and the grizzly will try bearhug you to death. There aren't many mobiles which are special like this, though, and there's usually at least a suspicion that they might have something extra they can do. "Mmm, let's see, a viper, gosh, I wonder if it could maybe have a poisonous bite?". Unfortunately, in at least one case, you don't find out about the special attack until it's too late (that's the basilisk, if you were wondering!).

In my opinion, the most dangerous mobiles - the ones that can actually kill you, rather than just make you flee - aren't actually any of the above. Yes, those that have allies can be deadly (you flee from one into the arms of another) and the ones that have gone up several levels are a nasty surprise, too. But in the first of these cases you usually know the dangers when you enter an area, so you can prepare yourself, and in the other case you just flee as soon as you notice those 40+ damage blows. Even the dragon, which will fry you even as you try to flee, isn't that bad, because people know what to expect.

No, the most dangerous mobiles are the ones that you fight so often that you get to know how they behave, so it's almost routine. Then suddenly, horribly, they get lucky. The worm turns, and you find yourself on the receiving end of a beating that you can't quite believe is happening. The worst culprit for this is the large goblin (goblin10). You've killed him 15 times before and never had any trouble, he often never even makes a mark on you. Then suddenly, when you've got all complacent, WHACK! You're hit for 30. WHACK! You're hit for 30 more. You can see your foe is nearly dead, it's only going to take one more tiny hit to polish him off, surely he can't ... WHACK! Not updating persona.

If something doesn't hit often, but when it does it hurts, be very, very careful fighting it ...


Finally, a word about mobile bashes. The basic idea is that the players co-operate to kill every mobile in the game in a single reset. This means everything from the ones you'd normally not bother wasting your time on to ones that are super-duper nasty. As a newbie, you'd try get the easy ones and leave the hard ones to the players who know what they're doing :-) . You have to kill at least one mobile to qualify for the reward (a whopping 3,000 points) that everyone gets if they're all killed, but unless you arrive really late through a bash that shouldn't be too tall an order.

It's worth pointing out, though, that you don't just get points when all the mobiles are dead. You can get not unwelcome amounts when smaller numbers remain - 50 and 100. It's unlikely that the total of surviving mobiles would get down to 50 except during a bash, but it approaches 100 quite often. If you type sv (meaning survivors) and the figure is getting close to 100, you might care to go kill a few easy-peasy mobiles to trip the bonus (which the other players will get, too). A wise old archwiz once told me that every time he leaves the swamp and sees a firefly, he types sv to see how the total is going. If it's near 100, he kills the fireflies and if that doesn't do it he heads off and does the bees, too. This is now also part of my own routine when I'm playing as a mortal - it's surprising how many times you can make an impression.


Further Reading

There are brief descriptions of some of the more well-known mobiles at

From the bash reports on the Muddy website beginning at you can find out a lot about mobiles and which ones are, mm, problematical :-) . Seamus also writes good, regular bash reports at



See if you can find out how dangerous each of the following mobiles is (but be prepared to flee in case the answer is "very"!).

  1. the dragonfly
  2. the parrot
  3. the fox
  4. goblin5 (type id if you're not seeing mobile numbers)
  5. the swan
  6. the boar
  7. the wyvern
  8. the crocodile
  9. the mean-looking dwarf
  10. the ghoul

Some of the above mobiles have special characteristics; try match these to the mobiles. Hint: one of them has two of the characteristics and four have none.

  • It will steal treasure off of you.
  • It has a weapon.
  • It has a poisonous sting.
  • It can cast spells.
  • It digs up truffles.
  • You can't see it if it doesn't move.
  • It regenerates.


Next Time

This is the last article in the Newbie Central series but for next time perhaps you'd like to tell us how much Lexley's articles helped you when you were new, or even better, start your own Newbie Help series!

This article orginally appeared in the February 2000 edition of Witch?

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