INTRODUCTION TO ZODIACThis documentation is set up in three levels. The first level is this introduction, which is one LONG file that tells you everything you need to know to get started. You may want to capture it for further reference, or print it out.
Next is the "major subject" level. If you type HELP COMBAT, for instance, you will get a general discussion of combat and a brief description of each combat-related command.
Last is the individual command level. Typing HELP and the name of a command will give you a help file on just that command. This may or may not contain any more information than you found in the discussion of that subject . . . for simple commands, there's not much more to say.
About the MetaverseZodiac is part of the Metaverse, a multi-player online game environment created and run by Steve Jackson Games, using the GURPS roleplaying system. It is based on the "MOO" text-based system originated by Pavel Curtis. There are many different MOOs on the net.
The Metaverse was first launched in 1993 on Illuminati Online. The current Metaverse is very different from the original version, and future incarnations will change rapidly as we learn more about what our players enjoy and what our computers can do. Those who are playing right now will have the opportunity to watch this rapid change . . . and perhaps affect its direction.
About ZodiacOur current Metaverse scenario is called ZODIAC, and all this documentation is specifically written for that scenario. Zodiac is a fantasy environment designed to test both the combat system and the non-combat interactions between players. (Or, to put it in plain English: You can kill each other, or you can make deals.) Click here for an introduction to the scenario.
We will create more scenarios later, after this one is completely wonderful. Some will emphasize roleplaying, exploration and puzzle-solving over combat.
It won't hurt you to read a good general tutorial on MOO playing. However, the Metaverse command set is very different from that of a standard MOO. It adds a lot of new commands for roleplaying (combat, searching, hiding, buying and selling, and so on). And it removes the commands that let players do "unrealistic" things . . . move instantly, create new objects, talk to others at a distance, and so on. In the Metaverse, those things are considered magic, and only the wizards do magic.
If you don't know the command for something, experiment. There are a lot of special commands that aren't documented here, because part of the game is finding them out. Typing HELP and a subject word will often be, well, helpful. And sometimes if you just LOOK at an object you'll get clues.
Finally, remember that this is a social game. You're supposed to be interacting with the other players, not just slaughtering them. So ask for help, and when you meet a newer player, try to help them out.
New StuffThis game is constantly evolving in response to player feedback. From time to time there will be new commands, or changes in old ones. We will revise the documentation, of course . . . but if you keep up with the Announcements page, or use the NEWS command regularly, you can read about new features as they happen. Except for an occasional deliberate surprise, of course. (Insert evil laugh here.)
Administration and House Rules
Player RegistrationYou will have to register in order to play.
Player EntryOur pre-alpha games will run on an irregular schedule, as announced on the news page. Login information is available here.
When we settle down to a schedule, we currently think that we'll run one game a night, starting at 8 pm Central time. New players will be allowed to sign up starting at 7:30 pm and continuing until the game is full (whatever we decide that means) or until the game starts, whichever comes first.
The game is free, and will remain free for the indefinite future. You must register before your first game (allow a couple of minutes for that process, the first time you connect). Once you are registered and have a user name and password, you will be able to connect quickly.
We DO ask that you give your real name when you register, and please register only once. (Yes, it's possible to register more than once using different e-mail addresses. We consider it cheating, and we will be unhappy if we find out about it. And someone who divides his play between false identities is cheating himself out of credit that he would otherwise be earning for time spent in the game . . . see HELP SCORES.)
Character GenerationOnce you've registered, you can use our web-based character generator to create a new character, or edit an existing character.
Character NamesA "player" in the Metaverse is a human being, out there someplace in the real world.
A "character" is a fictional person in the Metaverse, with various abilities described by the GURPS roleplaying system. Each character is controlled by one player. The Zodiac scenario allows each player only one character at a time. You can either create your own character with our character generator, or have one randomly created for you when you login. Keep in mind that any injury, improvement, or changes to a saved character during the course of a game last only until the end of the game. High scores and special achievements are kept on the PLAYER'S permanent record - see HELP SCORES.
You can give each new character any name you like, except for someone else's PLAYER name, or a name already in use in that game. No one (except the wizards) can tell who the player really is. If you use your own player name for your character, or always pick the same name, you will earn a reputation. If you always pick a different name and don't tell who you really are, you will effectively be playing anonymously, though all your scores will still be saved under your player name.
WinningWe've said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating. The way to win in Zodiac is to get three keys of the same type, and exit from the gate that matches those keys. A gate is like any other exit. You can leave it by walking that direction, or just by typing GATE.
The Wizards (and the Mages)A "wizard," in MOO, is a user with high privileges - usually one of the programmers who runs the game. Our wizards are the people who created, and who maintain, the Metaverse. Some of them are SJ Games employees; others are volunteers. Be nice to the wizards. They're working so you can play for free.
In the Zodiac scenario, the MOO wizards play characters who are . . . real wizards. Power-mad mages. Some of them are insane, and most of them are grumpy. So be REALLY nice to the mages in the Zodiac, or you'll probably suck up a fireball.
Each of the Zodiac mages has a different personality, and will be roleplayed according to that personality. When you get to know them you will have a better idea what to expect. However, all of them tend to be rather arbitrary. If you deal with them, don't be surprised if unexpected things happen to you. Some will be good, and some won't. The job of the people roleplaying the Zodiac mages is to keep the game INTERESTING. Therefore, complaints that they are not completely FAIR will be met with feigned sympathy and suppressed giggles.
CheatingWe know that there are a lot of ways to cheat this game, starting with the old "open an IRC window to talk to your friends in secret" trick. But effective cheating leaves traces, and remember, there may be in invisible wizard in any room at any time. If we catch people cheating, they may suffer some sort of permanent sanction. Then again, we may just put in-game prices on their heads, or otherwise play with their minds.
Keeping to ThemeZodiac is a high-fantasy recreation of a bloody, dangerous, intrigue-filled city where wizards play a brutal and mysterious game. It's a rough place. And the whole point of the game is to get into the fantasy.
You can play your character any way you want - treacherous or honest, murderous or peaceful. You can organize with other players, or you can be a lone wolf. You can even set goals for yourself that have nothing to do with the "official" object of the game. But you have to stay in character.
So please don't chat about the latest South Park episode - or even ask questions about the rules - in a public area. That might impel the other players to kill you, or the wizards to turn you into a toad. Rules questions can always be taken to a wizard (or an experienced player) one on one. And everyone is welcome to come to Valhalla after the game for a post-mortem.
High ScoresThe Zodiac "high score page" keeps track of which players have performed best overall. See HELP SCORES.
CreditsThe Metaverse could not have existed without the help of many volunteers. Visit the credits page to see who we (and you) owe thanks to . . . and how you can get into the act yourself!
CommandsBelow is a very brief guide to the most important commands. Note that when we mention a command here, it will appear in ALL CAPS to make it clear what you are supposed to type. However, you don't have to actually type it in capital letters!
For a listing of commands in outline format, type HELP COMMANDS.
Character Stats and InventoryTo look at your own character stats (abilities, advantages, disadvantages, and so on), type STATS. (In this magical environment, stats and abilities can change, so you may want to check yourself every so often...) Character creation is described at length elsewhere.
If you just want to check how much damage you have taken, type HITS.
To see what you are carrying, type INV for inventory.
You will be able to see some obvious things about other characters when you look at them . . . whether they are brawny or scrawny, what weapons are in their hands, and so on . . . but you can't look at their actual stats or inventory.
For more information, type HELP CHARACTERS.
CombatCombat in the GURPS system is very detailed, but Metaverse puts a lot of the complexity into the computer. Here are the basics: Combat is deadly, though the darker it is, the harder it gets to hit anybody. Bigger weapons, and stronger fighters, do more damage. Armor and shields make you harder to hit, and also take some damage when you ARE hit, but they are expensive and slow you down. When you fall down, you're usually unconscious rather than dead, but you're not likely to wake up unless you have a loyal friend to help you.
To attack Fred, type KILL FRED. If Fred is getting the better of you, you can try to FLEE. For more about combat, type HELP COMBAT. Do HELP WEAPONS to learn more about weapons and their use.
If you have an edged weapon in hand, and a helpless or dead foe before you, you may type, for instance, BEHEAD FRED. This will divide the character Fred into two parts: "Fred's head" and an anonymous corpse. Why would you want to do that? Play the game and see. Hint: Moloch is hungry.
To learn even more about the combat system, we suggest you either read the GURPS Basic Set or get into a lot of fights in the Zodiac.
CommunicationTo say something to the others in your room, type SAY and then what you want to say. But you can also just type quotation marks. So if your character is Ragnar, you type"Let's look over there. . . . and everyone in the room sees Ragnar says "Let's look over there."For more about communication, and different ways to communicate, type HELP COMMUNICATION.
InformationThere are several commands that will get information.
The LOOK command is very, very important. If you just type LOOK you will get a description of the room you are in. If you type LOOK and a direction, you will be told what you see when you look in that direction. The better your vision, the more you may see.
If you type LOOK and the name of an object, you will get a description of that object. This could be yourself - LOOK ME - or another character - LOOK FRED - or an object in the room - LOOK SWORD - or something mentioned in the description of the room or another object - LOOK WALL. When you enter the Zodiac, try looking at a lot of things.
Other important information commands include STATS, HITS and INV (information about your character), WHO (status of the game), and NEWS (recent rules changes and new features).
For more information, type . . . wait for it . . . yes . . . HELP INFORMATION.
MovementAreas in the Metaverse are called "rooms," even if they represent streets, vehicles, whale stomachs . . . Each room is connected to one or more others; read the room description to see which way you can go. You can move to an adjacent area either by typing the direction (such as "northeast") or its abbreviation (just "NE"). Most rooms are N, S, E, W, or NE, NW, SE, or SW. Up (U) and down (D) will work in a few places.
If you are in a room with only one exit, you can also just type OUT. And if you are going to a room with a name (like Bruno's) you can type its name. This is the only way to reach a room that is not in one of the ordinary directions.
When you enter or leave a room (unless, of course, it's pitch dark there), others will "see" you enter, and you will get a description of what the room looks like and who is there. When someone leaves, you will "see" them leave. And in general, when someone in the room does something, you'll see it.
For more information, type HELP MOVEMENT.
ManipulationThe Metaverse is full of virtual objects. You can do a lot of things with them . . .
To pick something up, type GET -- for instance, GET SWORD to pick up a sword. To drop it again, you would type DROP SWORD. The things you drop will usually remain visible in the room, but if they're small, or it's dark, they may become hidden when they hit the ground!
You cannot just take things from people, unless they are dead or unconscious. In that case, GET SWORD FROM FRED would work. You could also type LOOT FRED and take all his stuff.
To see what you have, type INV for inventory. For more about carrying things, do HELP CARRY.
To give something to another player, you could type, for instance, GIVE SWORD TO FRED. However, he does not take it automatically; he'll be presented with a yes-or-no option.
To take something out of a container, or off a table, you must specify its location . . . GET SWORD FROM STONE or GET BEER FROM TABLE. For more information, do HELP MANIP.
ThingsObjects in the Metaverse fall into many different categories, including weapons (HELP WEAPONS), animals (HELP ANIMALS) and potions (HELP POTIONS).
Use the manipulation commands (HELP MANIP) to deal with things.
And Remember . . .Look out for the rats.