The Adventurer's Guide to Discworld MUD

Learn & Teach

There are three ways of learning things in the Discworld MUD:
  1. The Task Master (TM) system.
  2. Advancing.
  3. Learning and Teaching.
And two things you can learn:
  1. Skills - your ability in various areas.
  2. Commands - the process for doing something.
There are two sorts of command, which I previously thought of as "unskilled" and "skilled", but now prefer to term natural and learned. Unskilled, or natural commands may be used as soon as you enter the Disc, such as look and inventory. Skilled, or learned commands are the sort you have to learn first, such as fix and repair.

Generally, learned commands require you to have learned a certain level of particular skill before you can learn them. However, you may find that some of the natural commands, such as search, work more effectively the further you progress in various skill trees.

The advance command is only available to Guild members, and then only at certain locations (known as advancement rooms). The TM system only kicks in once you've been using a certain command for a while - which means you need to learn the command before you have any chance of TMing the skill. But since you can't learn a command until you have first gained sufficient levels in the requisite skill, the TM system is something to look forward to rather than a place to start.

So, how does it work?

The syntax for teaching skills and commands is the same; and the same regardless of whether you're teaching yourself or someone else. It is:

teach x to [name].

For example, teach adventuring.health to sothis, or teach fix to sothis.

As mentioned elsewhere, you can abbreviate skill names to the first two or more unique characters. So instead of typing teach adventuring.health to sothis, you can get away with teach ad.he to sothis. However, when teaching a command, you must type out the name in full.

You can also teach multiple levels of a skill to someone in the following way:

teach n levels of x to [name].

For example, teach 5 levels of fight to sothis.

If you have enough XP to learn the skill(s) offered, simple type learn (or click on learn, if your MUD client offers you this option), to do so.

If you haven't got enough XP, the game will tell you how much you need.

Important point to note at this juncture:

You cannot teach yourself commands.
This is for reasons of realism. You can teach yourself "skills", just as in the real world you could read a book about, say, metallurgy, and develop a level of theoretical expertise in ironmongery.

But you would still need a trained blacksmith to show you how to make a set of fire irons or shoe a horse, no matter how much you might understand about bending iron.

As in life, so in art1.

Fortunately, as mentioned somewhere in Absolute Beginners, there are many players more than happy to share the wealth of their expertise with the technically challenged. A list of the top player teachers may be found on Flatline's site: http://skills.gothmudders.com/sensei.php.

Autoteach

Many of these people will have autoteach enabled. This essentially means you can help yourself to their expertise with the following command:

teach me x from [name]

But of course, it's always good manners to ask first.

And well worth enabling autoteach yourself, as a favour to other Adventurers, and as a source of XP for yourself, since teaching others confers small amounts of experience on the teacher.

The syntax to enable autoteach is:

options auto teach = on

Bear in mind, however, that until you have gained serious numbers of levels in a skill yourself, you may be unable to teach it to others2.

I have autoteach enabled - but generally I'm only able to teach commands. But feel free to help yourself, if you see me around!

Primaries & Primary Skills; Or, Where To Begin?

Now that you know how to learn and teach yourself skills and commands, the next question is, naturally: what do you want to do first, and which skills and commands do you need to make it happen?

The answer to this depends entirely on what kind of life you want within the game.

Members of Guilds have already made up their minds on this to a large extent. And thus, to those people is gifted a subset of skills which cost up to two-thirds less XP to learn than the rest.

These are known as Primary Skills, or Primaries, and they comprise the skills of most relevance to the chosen Guild.

The trade-off between being an Adventurer and a member of a Guild is the absence of primaries. It means that every skill will cost the same amount of XP, and thus it will cost us slightly more in terms of effort to improve our skills as those who have joined Guilds.

On the plus side, however, it will cost us no money to learn new skills. And, if we choose a particularly highly skilled player from whom to learn, the XP cost need not be considerable. And finally: the Guilded Ones only enjoy this XP privilege to level 300 on primary skills and level 25 or less on the others; after that, they face the same challenge as Adventurers in seeking an education.

Having said that, however, it would appear that Adventurers do have a skeletal presence within the primaries paradigm, in that we can advance, and use, guild points and guild levels. To summarise, Adventurers need to:

I surmise (and feel sure I have read this on the boards somewhere) that this is because the "Guild of Adventurers" is the default state of every new player, and it is therefore simpler to give Adventurers default primaries than it is to withhold it from any player who has yet to join a Guild. And for those who are eternally indecisive, or simply free-spirited, this is a very enjoyable feature.

Primaries 101

Typing skills primaries anywhere in the game, by any player of any or no Guild, will give you a list of skills at their current level and bonus.

Guilded players may also try cost primaries in the comfort of their Advancement Rooms, to find this list given with "Level/Bonus" replaced by "Cur/Max" and followed by "For Next".

Respectively, these columns show your current level in the particular skill, the maximum level to which you may advance it within the Guild, and how many XP you need to progress to the next level. If the "For Next" column reads "Mastered", then you have reached the limit of what your Guild may teach you.

Naturally, Adventurers need not concern themselves with cost primaries. For us, and all those in advance of level 300, there is the magnificent Bonus Computer, with its utterly splendid Teaching Cost Computer.

So, back to the original question: what do you want to learn? And of course, the answer remains the same: but with three things to bear in mind.

  1. You need as many HP as you can get, because the Disc is a dangerous place. Therefore, adventuring.health should be high on your list of educational must-haves. I would also recommend adventuring.perception.
  2. The more levels of adventuring.points you have, the more GP you acquire for using commands. However, the percentage of total GP to perform various tasks is determined by your level of [skill name].points in the relevant skill. More about this in the relevant sections as we reach them.
  3. The more levels of fighting.points you have, the higher your Guild Level. Players at Guild Level 50 or less may obtain free transport to safety from the Fairy Godmother... but once your Guild Level exceeds 50, you will forfeit a life for Godmother services.

Syntax Skills

Typing syntax [command name] can be very useful: it gives you a quick reference on how to use a command without all the exposition found in a helpfile.

The syntax file for the skills commands has recently been overhauled to give a little more detail than usual - probably as part of the skill tree changes. It now looks more or less like this:

syntax skills
Forms of syntax available for the command 'skills':
skills primaries {bonus|raw|teach|stats}   
                                 Show your skill levels and either 
                                 skill bonuses, unstatted skill 
                                 bonuses, teach bonuses or stat 
                                 dependencies in your primaries.
skills  {bonus|raw|teach|stats}
                                 Show your skill levels and either
                                 skill bonuses, unstatted skill
                                 bonuses, teach bonuses or stat
                                 dependencies in a skill subtree.
skills primaries [bonus]
                                 Show your skill levels and skill
                                 bonuses in your primaries.
skills {bonus|raw|teach|stats}
                                 Show your skill levels and either
                                 skill bonuses, unstatted skill
                                 bonuses, teach bonuses or stat
                                 dependencies.
skills  [bonus]
                                 Show your skill levels and skill
                                 bonuses in a skill subtree.
skills [bonus]
                                 Show your skill levels and skill
                                 bonuses.
Of particular interest is skills stats, which we shall look at in more detail when we look at The Rearrange.

Options For Viewing Skills

You have a choice in how you wish to view the output of the skills command and its permutations.

The default is branched, and provides a table of items which looks somewhat like this:

skills fighting
=======SKILLS=======Level/Bonus===
fighting............    5   26  
| melee.............    5   26  
| | dagger..........    5   26  
| | sword...........    5   26  
| | heavy-sword.....    5   26   
| | mace............    5   26   
Anyone reading this page with a screenreader may have already noted how irritating this layout can be; and even those without may prefer the alternative list view, which looks more like this:
skills fighting
SKILL                       Level Bonus
fighting                        5    26 
fighting.melee                  5    26
fighting.melee.axe              5    26
fighting.melee.dagger           5    26
fighting.melee.flail            5    26
fighting.melee.heavy-sword      5    26 
fighting.melee.mace             5    26
To change from the default to the list view, simply type options output skills = list.

To switch back again, type options output skills = branched.

Where possible on this site, we will be using the list view option, in the hope of providing a more meaningful and enjoyable reading experience.

Final Words

This is still a fairly cursory introduction to learning and teaching in the Discworld MUD. But it should be enough to get you started and point you in the right direction to learn more.

You can see some examples and the stuff on teaching and learning in the relevant section in Absolute Beginners, but the sites to really consult are these:

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
The Bonus Computer
The Bonus Computer site, maintained by Jeanie, is essential reading for all aspects of skills and stats. I'll be referring to it throughout this section of the site: it is invaluable.
http://skills.gothmudders.com/
Flatline's excellent site contains some cursory information about skills, but its real strength is in allowing players to upload their own current skills and bonuses for comparison. The lists of Best Teachers and others is automatically compiled on the basis of this data.
http://tmwiki.firstserved.net/index.php/The_TM_Project
The TM Project is a wiki containing information on how to gain TMs in various skills. Contributors add details of their various TMs, so the rest of us can have a go at TMing likewise, by recreating the relevant circumstances. I think. (Ask Sprynx.)
So there you go. Have a look at the various skill trees and commands to see what sort of talents you'd like to develop as an Adventurer, and have fun.

  1. And as it happens, the fix command only allows you to fix metal items rather than make them; possibly as much because nobody joins a virtual world to begin a career as a metal worker as because it would be difficult to code.
  2. Something complicated. Ask Westley.