The Adventurer's Guide to Discworld MUD

Skills for Newbies

On my previous guide to the delights of Discworld MUD newbie-ness, I wrote a comprehensive introductory chapter to the subject of acquiring skills and learning commands. And, sadly, it was crap.

And then, just as I despaired of writing anything useful at all on this most valuable area of Discly life, Pumpkin Town appeared! And it provides two things:

  1. The opportunity to gain five levels in four of the seven skill trees
  2. A much easier model of the skill trees for me to waffle about
And you can find it in the Guilds Grove. Join me there! (locate guilds on map if you can't find it).

The Guilds Grove

A light breeze drifts through the maple trees and the leaves seem to shiver with delight.
As Adventurers, we shun the Guilds and abjure their comforts as the rugged individuals we are.

But while in Pumpkin Town, there is no reason why we may not avail ourselves of a small taste of their lifestyles.1.

So, enter each Guild house and say a hearty yes when the opportunity to learn something is offered.

As ever, remember to read all available signs and look at everything. Especially in the Priests' Temple, which offers you the chance to alter your alignment and become either good or evil. As an Adventurer, this is very much a roleplayer option, but if you want to follow a specific god, you need the right alignment.

Much running around Pumpkin Town later...

You have diligently investigated every exit in the Guilds Grove, and incidentally admired the way the maple trees tremble in the wind.

And, while carrying out your various Guild-related tasks, you may have noticed the occasional message like this appearing:

Saving...
You suddenly feel you know more about fighting.
or:
Saving...
You feel you've learnt something important about headology.
These messages indicate that you have acquired some skills.

It also shows you that the game has saved your character at this point, so that something goes wrong, your accomplishment is preserved for you. Nice!

To see precisely which skills you've learned, and how many levels you gained in them, type hskills:

hskills
Recent skill changes during this session:
Tue Jul  1 16:47:15 2008 - covert increased by 3 levels to level 3.
Tue Jul  1 16:55:26 2008 - fighting increased by 5 levels to level 5.
Tue Jul  1 16:55:56 2008 - covert increased by 2 levels to level 5.
Tue Jul  1 16:56:23 2008 - faith increased by 5 levels to level 5.
Tue Jul  1 16:59:34 2008 - magic increased by 3 levels to level 5.
To see a list of all your skills, simply type skills:
skills
========SKILLS=======Level/Bonus===
covert..............    5   26         
crafts..............    0    -         
faith...............    5   26
fighting............    5   26
magic...............    5   26
>
Incidentally, what you see in the above example is the branched view of the skill trees, which is the default view. You may prefer the alternative, which is list (especially if you're using a screenreader).

To change from the default to the list view, simply type options output skills = list - then type skills again to see the result:

skills 
SKILL           Level Bonus
covert             5     26 
crafts             0      -
faith              5     26
fighting           5     26
magic              5     26

To switch back again, type options output skills = branched. From here on, however, we're going to be using the list view option.

Postscript

If you've fiddled with your alignment in the Priests' Temple, you'll have noticed similar TM-style messages whenever you rescued or drowned a beetle. Typing score align will you show you what your alignment is after every significant act - hskills will only show skill advancement.

Also, just as you have to wait until you're out in the big wide Disc to join a Guild, likewise choosing a god: you cannot bother a god until you leave Pumpkin Town. Ah well.

Skill Trees

Once upon a time, there were six skill trees: Covert, Craft, Faith, Fighting, Magic and Other.

Then one day, the mighty creator Dasquian let it be known that henceforth the Other tree should be split asunder; and lo, in its place stood two new trees: Adventuring and People.

And there was much rejoicing; from me, anyway, because Other was such a miscellaneous collection of oddments, my brain caved in at the very thought of writing about it. Craft produces a very similar effect for the same reason; but it is possible that some day, it too will be pruned into an interesting new shape.

Anyway...

Each tree has branches, with leaves descending from them. Type skills [skill name, e.g. covert] to have a look:

skills co stats
SKILL                                Level Bonus
covert                                  5     26
covert.casing                           5     26 
covert.casing.person                    5     26 
covert.casing.place                     5     26 
covert.hiding                           5     26 
covert.hiding.object                    5     26 
covert.hiding.person                    5     26 
covert.items                            5     26 
covert.items.poisons                    5     26 
covert.items.traps                      5     26 
covert.items.weapons                    5     26 
covert.lockpick                         5     26 
covert.lockpick.doors                   5     26 
covert.lockpick.safes                   5     26 
covert.lockpick.traps                   5     26 
covert.manipulation                     5     26 
covert.manipulation.palming             5     26 
covert.manipulation.passing             5     26 
covert.manipulation.sleight-of-hand     5     26 
covert.manipulation.stealing            5     26 
covert.points                           5     26 
covert.stealth                          5     26 
covert.stealth.inside                   5     26 
covert.stealth.outside                  5     26 
covert.stealth.underwater               5     26
The four skill trees you've managed to develop in Pumpkin Town may only be advanced from the top level down, in increments of five levels.

So here, for example, as you've already got five levels of Covert itself, you can now start working on Stealth. But you won't be able to work directly on Underwater Stealth skills until you've got Stealth itself up to level ten. But, every time you advance Stealth, all of Stealth's leaves will advance by the same amount simultaneously.

The relationship of skill leaves and branches are separated and identified by dots (this is clearly evident in the list view shown above, but less so in branched). So the Stealth branch of Covert is covert.stealth, and the Underwater Stealth skills are covert.stealth.underwater. You can also abbreviate the names, to the first two or more unique characters.

For example:

covert..............    5   26
| stealth...........    5   26
| | underwater......    5   26
is covert.stealth.underwater, or co.st.un.

Developing your Adventuring, Crafts & People Skills

The rules for skill advancement for the last three skill trees - Adventuring, Crafts, and People - are slightly different.

You may have noticed that Crafts is listed when you typed skills - but you've only got zero levels of Crafts skills. And the Adventuring and People skill trees aren't listed at all.

As previously mentioned, when you advance a branch in a skill tree by one or more levels, you advance all its leaves by the same amount at the same time. The amount of XP required to do this is the cost of advancing each individual leaf, all added together. So, the more leaves a branch has, the more XP is required to advance it.

While the Crafts tree is subject to this same rule, the cost of advancing the entire tree to level five is so immense that players are allowed to dive straight into a branch and start from there. So, instead of having to advance Crafts to level five before you can start work on your craft.carpentry skills, you can simply start with craft.carpentry itself.

Technical reasons aside, this exception to the rule for Crafts makes better sense from a game play perspective. Do skills crafts to see the fascinating range of activities available under this tree, and you'll see what I mean.

The now defunct Other tree deviated from the rule even further: you could advance the leaves but not the branches. And again, like Crafts, not only was it a big skill tree, but it contained a very miscellaneous collection of skills, many of which were better described as individual characteristics than workable talent.

Dividing Other into Adventuring and People has rationalised this mixed bag very nicely. We'll look at them all in more detail in the Skills & Commands section, and you can have a look at the trees themselves by typing skills adventuring and skills people; for now, however, we just need to consider health and perception. These are located on the Adventuring tree.

Generally, how healthy you are isn't down to "skill" in the usual sense of the word - but, as mentioned in an earlier chapter, you can improve your health by gaining levels in adventuring.health. Likewise, your ability to notice miscreants lurking in the shadows - and hide from them! - is improved by increasing adventuring.perception.

Clearly, these are highly desirable skills to cultivate. But how to acquire them? Read on...

Learning and Teaching Skills

Discworld MUD help files:
Learning: http://discworld.atuin.net/lpc/playing/documentation.c?path=/helpdir/learn
Teaching: http://discworld.atuin.net/lpc/playing/documentation.c?path=/helpdir/teach
Taskmaster: http://discworld.atuin.net/lpc/playing/documentation.c?path=/concepts/taskmaster

So, skills are incremented in levels. And special commands (i.e. the sort for which you need particular skills, such as Repair) may be acquired once you have gained enough levels in the requisite skill.

Skills can be gained in two main ways.

The method by which you've gained these five levels of Covert, Faith, Fighting and Magic is the most naturalistic - you performed a task which used the skill, and improved by practice. This is known as the Taskmaster (TM) system.

The other way is by being taught. You can teach yourself, or you can learn from someone else. The command for this is:

teach x to [name]

Try it now, by typing

teach adventuring.health to [your name]

teach adventuring.health to sothis
You can teach yourself 1 level of other.points for 500 xp.
If you have enough XP to learn the skill on offer, the game presents you with the option to learn:
Use "learn" to learn the skill.
You offer to teach yourself 1 level of other.points for 500 xp.
> 
learn adventuring.points from me
You start to teach yourself 1 level in adventuring.points for 500 xp.
Saving...
Saving...
You finish teaching yourself 1 level of adventuring.points.
> 
If you haven't got enough XP to learn a skill, the game helpfully tells you how much XP you need to do so:
teach craft to sothis
It would have cost 9000 xp to teach 1 level of crafts to yourself.
You can also teach multiple levels of a skill, providing the person you're teaching (in this case you, obviously) has sufficient XP to learn, by typing teach n levels of x to [name].
teach 5 levels of fighting to sothis
You can teach yourself 5 levels of fighting for 512253 xp.
Use "learn" to learn the skill.
You offer to teach yourself 5 levels of fighting for 512253 xp.
And yes, that was a purely fictional example: the chances of earning 512253 XP in Pumpkin Town are remote to nowhere. But you get the idea.

Levels & Bonuses

Skills are the attributes required to do things. They are incremented in levels, and the more levels you have in a particular skill, the better you will be at using it.

Bonuses also increase with your skill level, but they can be significantly modified by your statistics. And your statistics can be altered.

The Rearrange

Required reading: The Bonus Computer, maintained by Jeanie.

As you know, typing score will show you useful stuff about your character. You can also modify it to check out your vital statistics, by typing score stats.

score stats
Constitution ... 13                    
Dexterity ...... 13                    
Intelligence ... 13                   
Strength ....... 13                
Wisdom ......... 13
Height ......... 180 cm
Weight ......... 80.6kg
Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Strength and Wisdom can be altered with the rearrange command, to give you better bonuses in various skills.

However, there are a number of important points to note about the rearrange command:

  1. You can only rearrange once. If you do it and decide you don't like it, you're stuck!3
  2. Rearranging always involves a trade-off. Your bonuses in one area will improve, but they'll suffer somewhere else.
  3. You don't have to rearrange - you can spend as long as you like with the default stats and still do well.
The general - and best - advice is: don't rush to rearrange. Get used to the game, explore it and your character, and decide what makes you most happy in here.

Then, when you know what sort of character you want and what sort of things entertain you most, research the skills which will allow you to do them well. And then - and only then - think about rearranging your stats.

And definitely read the section of Skills & Commands entitled "The Rearrange".

Until then, leave well alone. Adventurers advance much more slowly than Guild people, for reasons I shall come to elsewhere. Rearranging allows you to gain an extra edge on certain activities, and thus bonuses represent more of an advantage to older characters than younger and/or lower level ones.

Final Words on Skills

Learning and Teaching Commands

There are two sorts of command in the game. I think of them as: It's not possible to teach yourself commands - you have to learn them from someone else. And since we rugged Adventurer types do not have Guild schools with teachers from whom to learn, this involves asking other players very nicely if they will be so good as to share with us the fruits of their learning.

There is no set protocol for this, but remember: good manners never go out of fashion. And most people are more than happy to share - plus they earn XP when doing so.

If the kind person offers to teach you a skill or command, the syntax displayed onscreen looks exactly the same as it does when you offer to teach yourself (with their name instead of yours, obviously). And so all you need to do is type or click on learn when prompted, as usual.

Particularly generous souls, such as Lanfear will have autoteach enabled. This means you can simply learn things from them without any active input from them. However, it is still good manners to ask first, just in case a someone who is apparently "idle" is actually busy doing something that is invisible to onlookers (e.g. having a private conversation with someone via tells).

To take advantage of these saintly persons, the commands is: teach me [command] from [a.n.other].

For example:

teach me repair from lanfear
Lanfear offers to teach repair to you.
Lanfear offers to teach you the command "repair".
Type "learn repair from lanfear" to learn the command.
> 
learn repair from lanfear
You learn repair from Lanfear.

Once you've learnt a command, you can teach it to someone else (unless they are at a higher level of the requisite skill than you are). And, since, as previously mentioned, teaching earns you XP, it is entirely in your own interest to enable autoteach and share the wealth with all those lucky enough to cross your path.

To do this, the command is: options auto teach = on

And there we have it!

That concludes our crash-course in getting an education on the Disc. There is (or will be, when I've finished writing it) a far more detailed section on Skills and Commands elsewhere on this site, so have a peruse and let me know if it's any help.

But now, brave Adventurer... you have learned all you possibly can in Pumpkin Town. You are absolutely at liberty to spend as long as you like trundling this sweet, peaceful little town - but maybe you're feeling a little bored with safety? Feet feeling just that little bit itchy for new roads to explore?

Well, you are now as ready as you can be to go forth into the sprawling pit of romance, intrigue, and adrenalin that is: The Discworld!

So! Click the Going Forth link and ... er ... go forth!

NEXT: Going Forth
BACK: Gaining XP

  1. Indeed, as mentioned on the sign, you can't join any Guilds in Pumpkin Town, even if you wanted to.
  2. For more details about how the game saves your character, point your browser here: http://discworld.atuin.net/lpc/playing/documentation.c?path=/helpdir/save
  3. There are solutions. But getting it right to start with is infinitely preferable.
  4. The Teaching Cost Computer. Part of the Bonus Computer site maintained by Jeanie.