MUsings

Looking Back, Part 2

In the first post, I looked only at my years playing Angharad on Tales of Ta’veren, but as hinted at therein characters number two and three made their appearance while Tales still existed. Or rather, characters two and three that really went anywhere. As with my very first attempt at a MUSH, I did try out a few other places very briefly in the 1995 to 2000 span when I was most active as a player. I revisited Riva MUSH (this time with a character that I actually recall the name of, she was called Kelinda after a character in Geraldine Harris’s Seven Citadels series) and also tried out a game based on Feist’s Rift Wars saga, though “tried out” consisted mainly of making a character and not getting much further than that. She was called Rhiannon and by now it should be clear that I always borrow names.

But, I am getting ahead of myself a bit, as character number two did in fact appear as early as August of 1995, which I do believe was well ahead of both Kelinda and Rhiannon.

One of my newfound friends on Tales of Ta’veren happened to also play on Elendor MUSH, already a comparatively old and well-established game at this time. I had read Tolkien and I was fond of the books (fond enough that I had read not just LotR but the Silmarillion as well as some of the histories of Middle Earth through a collection that was put out in Swedish), but for some reason it still took him pointing out that Elendor had coded horse objects for me to give it a try. And despite that recruitment pitch, I set my sights on playing a Noldor! I think it was because I had read the Silmarillion and other historical materials about the setting more recently than LotR itself and become quite fascinated by the older histories. In particular, I recall having become quite the Feanor fangirl. Fortunately (and yes, I do mean fortunately, as it affected my whole life), I was told Noldor were a restricted species. I then cast my eyes on the Dunedain, only to be told that they were also restricted. It was then that someone suggested I might just enjoy Rohan. In hindsight, of course I would enjoy Rohan, land of the horselords. And if I had never joined Rohan, I would probably never have become friends with another Rohirrim, played by a certain Elio, which might just have changed a few things about the direction of my life.

If I had joined Rohan at a more seasoned stage in my MUSHing career, my character would probably not have been named Ceridwen. Rohan, and most of Elendor, tried to stick to proper names for each region, though this was not as clearly enforced in Rohan in 1995 as in some of the cultures that made use of Tolkien’s own languages. The decision to stick firmly to Anglo-Saxon for Rohirric names came a few years later, largely thanks to Elio being the theme fiend that he was (yes, before there was ASoIaF to obsess about, there was LotR, and he was gooooood). But in 1995, Ceridwen got a pass as sounding more or less in the right direction, though later on I always did regret it a bit and became very particular about picking culture appropriate names for my characters. Of course, I also did not want to play a blonde character (as a non-blonde Swede, I developed a bit of a blonde antipathy throughout school and then in the early days of the Internet, everyone would ask if you were a blonde if you said you were from Sweden…), so I made Ceri a redhead. That needed more explaining than the name, since everyone in Rohan was supposed to be blond, so I had to make her half-Gondorian. I am not sure how the dark-haired Gondorians and the blond Rohirrim were supposed to have produced red hair, but lets just say fantasy genetics. It worked in 1995 anyway. The fantasy genetics also kicked in to make her quite short by both Gondorian and Rohirric standards; I am anything but tall and willowy in real life and I wanted to play a short, somewhat stocky girl, dammit.

Ceri was of course mad for horses. She was also quite a bit of a tomboy and a good deal more outgoing and friendly than Angharad; I had learned my lessons (for now, at least) about playing stand-offish recluses. Some of my favourite scenes over the years ended up happening on Elendor and it was also there that I got to see some really brilliant roleplayers for the first time. Top-notch Elendor roleplay is still the gold standard as far as I am concerned, though many would undoubtedly consider it quite spammy. There was certainly a trend for a while towards longer and longer poses and I had to switch to a mushclient that didn’t have a character limit in order to keep up! The very best Elendor years were probably in the late nineties, just as the game was going towards being a bit more thematic and orderly (there was some crazy shit going on in 1995, from nazg├╝l roaming around in Rohan to friendly orcs outside the gates of Minas Tirith and travel times were ... loosely adhered to) but before it became too stagnant. The game is still up, but it is a shadow of its former self, so far removed from the days when all the available connections filled up and you had to wait for someone to disconnect before you could get on.

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