Online Text-Based RPGs: The Undercover Achaean Returns... to Achaea!

text-based RPG

By Rio Rivera-Young

Greetings, Adventurers, young and old! The last installment of Undercover Achaean left me feeling as if I forgot something – as if there was some glaring facet of the magnificent Iron Realms text games which I’d left off of my checklist of secrets to uncover. After much introspection, I realized that this guide wouldn’t be complete unless I covered the text game where it all began! So this guide is for all the rest of you Iron Realm text game enthusiasts who might want to know a little about Achaea! 

The tour starts you off, after a brief character creation involving the typical name and race selection, wandering a road north of a town called New Thera, in search of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. The text RPG starts you off with denizen interaction immediately, getting the player used to the say, follow, look, and other staple commands of text games. One thing that Achaea does extraordinarily well is taking care of those who are new to text games completely. While the options are there to speed up the tour so that advanced text game players can whiz through it at finger-breaking speeds, the ANSI hints, the repeated commands, and the manner in which information is given is sufficient to walk through any manner of newbie through this as painlessly as possible with an automated system -- Achaea’s tutorial holds the player’s hand significantly more than the any other tutorial for any other text game that I’ve seen.

The learning doesn’t stop once you exit the trial, either. If you enter a house, which is strongly encouraged by nearly every source that a new player has, you’re immediately given amazingly helpful help files sent to you that will begin your text game adventures in Achaea in an informative manner. It gives you the basis of where your character is, what their role is, and how to advance to come to enjoy the game as a while.

This brings up another point – while all of the Iron Realms text games are RP-encouraged, Achaea would be the one that has the most emphasis placed on maintaining a complete immersion for all players involved. One unique method they use to police this is the credibility system. The basic principle is that all characters should be accountable for their own roleplay, and that it should remain acceptable in terms of not referencing out-of-characters events in an in-character mode. Losing credibility causes experience to be harder to gain and easier to lose, and eventually (in states of extremely low credibility) players can lose methods of communication in an attempt to keep the text RPG enjoyable for others.

Conflict in Achaea is dynamic. Much as in the world of Midkemia, there isn’t an over-arching Good vs. Evil plotline, while the axes of good and evil are most definitely covered in the factions. There are six unique factions, each with their own goals and desires. The Evil city of Mhaldor seeks to oppress others and strengthen itself. The Chaotic bastion, Ashtan, seeks freedom to pursue one’s own destiny. The Good city of Shallam seeks to eradicate Chaos’ impure influence from the land, while combating the forces of Evil to save the innocent from damnation. Eleusis, the village in the trees, seeks to spread a love for Nature and to defend it from those who would do it harm. Hashan, a city that prides itself on acting in self-interest, lies neutral along with the neutral-good city of Cyrene, whose desire is merely to serve as a haven. Alliances can change, enemies become allies and vice versa as the world shifts, so as far as a conflict system goes, Achaea can boast an absolutely amazing system across the board.

So, if you want a place to be introduced to online roleplaying text adventures, or if you simply want a good, consistent roleplaying environment, come check out Achaea: Dreams of Divine Lands!

Want to experience for yourself where the Iron Realms legacy truly began? Try out the infamous text RPG today! 

Rio Rivera-Young is a text game enthusiastic and - you'll never guess! - currently plays games from Iron Realms


I'm just wondering if the writer has ever had experience inside Hashan's walls in day to day life, or with Hashan's laws/beliefs..because unless things have changed really drastically, to label it as a city 'that is neutral and prides itself on acting in its own self interest', is far from the truth.


Hashan has had many great leaders through the years, but one of the greatest, put in the first comprehensive and working code of law, that ANY city on Achaea had, spurring other cities to do the same. Hashan also has a very extensive group of shopping areas, thanks to the hard work of many over the years.(That was true also, before the Crownmerchants even came to be a house.) Many come to Hashan for things they can't get elsewhere. I have personally seen Hashani run to rezz those of other cities, because of one reason or another. Hashani also tend to be very 'newbie friendly' in general.


I have personally seen Hashan in all its glory, defending itself. Rushing to the aide of its people, standing and dying for their shrines and icons. Hashan has also had to deal with quite a few traitors over the years, and has grown quite a bit stronger after each episode. I have seen Hashani group up to help defend a city they have a mutual defense treaty with as well. I have also seen Hashani defend different orders, and come to the aide of a forestal who has just been stolen from.


To say that Hashan is full of people that care for nothing but themselves is a clear injustice. There ARE people like that anywhere you go, and Hashan has had their share, but... as you can see I haven't stood idley by to let that supposed viewpoint rest for long.(Even though I do not play regularly there now, so this is my viewpoint of the people I know are still around there, that are trustworthy)

Quite so. I had a character from Hashan a few years ago. I watched as leaders came and went, but some of the core principles never changed. Hashan was full of those serving themselves and serving the city as a whole. If a novice did happen to die, they generally did not care where the novice was from, they would resurrect them and even offer advice. This was true for one of my first characters from Ashtan as well as my one-time one-week long experience with Shallam. Needless to say, Hashan is definitely more than meets the eye and to label them in such a quick phrase is a fair bit belittling.

I didn't read the self-interest comment as meaning that Hashan is "full of people that care for nothing but themselves." The city's stance as regards global politics is primarily one of self-interest (i.e., the interest of the city as a whole), as opposed to many of the other cities which represent some particular ideal or ethos to which the citizenry is expected to apply - Good for Shallam, Evil for Mhaldor, Nature for Eleusis. The neutral, independent stance that I think the author was referring to is a large part of what allows the city to flourish with such a diverse citizenry.

Even though I have never played a character who was a part of hashan in Achaea, I do agree with what you guys are saying.

Hashan is fantastic

this probably won't work in MkO, despite its advantages.

My idea of the city is that it's the neutral evil to Cyrene's neutral good - they're not out to dominate the world like Mhaldor, nor are they slanted towards any ideological bent. However, if you want to buy/fence stolen goods, or want to speak to some neutral spies/serpents, then Hashan is the place to go. I guess it's a legacy of being tied in with Twilight.

I could see that, but the alignment would chaotic neutral, simply because Hashani would deal with Shallamese, Eleusis, ect. They do what they want because they want to. Even though the city's ideals create a newbie friendly place... it also encourages the selfish montary gain from being double agents and dealing with both the rifraft and elite without discrimination.

...that Hashan should play up its commerce-based strengths and combine them with its neutrality. Basically, Hashan should be like the mob - at the end of the day, they want money, and they don't much care if the way they get it is legal or illegal. They should be like "nice grove you got there, be a shame if someone exterminated it."

If anything, this would make it more newbie-friendly. Some novice sees the description of the cities and can immediately peg 5 of the 6 into certain categories: Ashtan is freedom, Mhaldor is evil, Eleusis is nature, Shallam is good, and Cyrene is pacifism. Hashan just kinda gets "neutral, but differently from Cyrene's neutral."

this is a good idea


Hashan has always been the city that appeals to me the least in Achaea.

I don't think the author meant her description of Hashan in a negative manner.  Hashan -does- put its interests as a city before any other ideological viewpoints it might have, which is likely what the author was getting at.

it just seems that hashan is a bit too neutral and I don't know what you can get or do there that you can't elsewhere.

Hashan has always been and always will be misunderstood by the outside world of Achaea and even by many of its own inhabitants. Words like "neutral" are always being thrown around in vague and inaccurate manners. Hashan is a city, yes, of self interest in the fact that it stand outside of the over arching axis of the conflict dynamic, but it is not cloistered nor does it shun or avoid contact with other cities. It is a place of tolerance, knowledge and understanding as layed down by its founders and the Canon it holds. Hashan is more of an independent state than a neutral one, given its ever changing bonds with the other cities. It is interesting that whenever the cities are compared in these article that someone does not like how Hashan is represented though heh.


Hashan to be quite diverse and welcoming in the short time I played there.

I saw it as Ashtan Light

When I first joined Achaea, more than two years ago, I also joined Hashan -> Crownmerchants. I must say it was very welcoming and a great place for a newbie. Cyrene is much the same. However, I didn't find that Hashan is a place to stay once you're out of newbiehood :P

Is the crediblity system used effectivly in Achaea? We have a crediblity rating in our score in Lusternia, but I don't think I've ever seen it actually used.


Admins in achaea are pretty quick to dock someone's credibility if they breach OOC boundaries in public.

I've seen it used, yes. But it is often reliant on someone being around to witness the OOC aberration, which can result in some fairly inconsistent justice on the matter.

Agreed. It is used, but it's a matter of them spotting it. With the amount of players Achaea has, I don't think that it's safe to say it's policed constantly.


Wow, late comment. But it used to be more widely used in Lusternia and Aetolia, but I believe that in both cases it was mostly scrapped because it had turned into a way for the hardcore non-comm 'snugglies' to get back/punish combatters, lacking other methods.

I know the admins use it *quite* readily when there's a cause for it. Even a well put passing on of the scribbling of a mad goblin can result in a harsh drop in credibility (and the abrupt disappearance of the post, though it'd had its effect by then)... and it can take days before enough esteems can come about to give back the ability for even the most meager emotes, let alone shouting and the like.


I should note, the above's a reference to something I wasn't at all responsible for, but was terribly amused by at the time.

It gets used in Lusternia too, I just think a lot of people have given up on reporting OOC, or the OOC is something so borderline it can't be actively cracked down upon. I think it should be used more.

Personally, I've rarely seen a serious OOC violation in Lusternia anyway. The worst I've seen is combatants giving me tips on how to fix my system after a fight, in private. (Though I'd actually welcome this kind of OOC).

It does get used.

Those were one sentence (or less) summaries of the cities. Calling Hashan a neutral city that tends to act in its own best interest is not really that bad of a summary. Although, I guess calling it a "diverse", neutral city that tends to act in its own best interest would probably be better. Not really sure what else anyone would expect them to put in a one sentence summary.

Seems legitimate from what I've seen of Achaea so far.

The choice of words for some city's short descriptions are a little unfortunate for a few cities I believe. Personal experience with Hashan tells me that it's decidedly not neutral. Hashan sides with itself and only itself, which in stark contrast to neutrality. Likewise, while Eleusis does love Nature, the description of it colours Eleusis as some rainbows and bunnies hippy movement, which is but a sliver of those who are there.  A better sweeping generalisation for Eleusis would be that the village stands in staunch protection of Nature and interests. Calling Ashtan chaotic is somewhat true, but honestly from what I've seen Ashtan is only partially about chaos; it's an incredibly populous city with a very diverse set of ideals.  I also wouldn't say Cyrene "merely serves as a haven." While yes that's something it does, practical experience tells me it's also a free spirited city filled with artists of all sorts.

Zeon likes this.

Right, although Hashan standing only to itself is some kind of neutrality to the other axis of conflicts.

But I still keep my grudges about Achaea. I prefer Lusternia.

No matter how hard I try and how much effort I pour into the other IRE games, they just don't appeal to me the way Lusternia does.

Having played Achaea for the better part of six years (heck, I remember them days BEFORE the house system was released) I can honestly say that there's nothing that appeals to me there. Not to say that it wouldn't appeal to anyone else, but like you said... after Lusternia, the other games seem a little bland.

Everyone has different tastes and preferences, hence why theres so many different games out there.

no one fights against chaos like Ashtan.. which i guess is appropriate.., it is chaos after all

Yes the city descriptions are a bit lacking for some. Eleusis isn't full of snuggle happy people.

They are somewhat vague descriptions that are more open to interpretation.

it does take some though to imagine it

Honestly, Shallam and Cyrene are quite a bit more snuggly then Eleusis from my experiences.

I really found the 'task' list after starting to be really helpful in teaching the basics. I had fun checking them off and feeling like I was making progress while learning. The house system is good as well but I think it can overwhelm a true new player when they are spammed with rules immediately.

The addition of the task list was a brilliant idea.  It really has helped out a ton for a lot of newbies out there I feel.

It helped me a lot getting started.

Indeed. They're awesome if you're a complete text game newbie.


Aye, it is a good way to get started

i still dont get stuff like this

Evil city of Mhaldor seeks to oppress others and strengthen itself.

The Chaotic bastion, Ashtan, seeks freedom to pursue one’s own destiny.


And they have been allies since i started playing Achaea..?

sounds as logic as a Mhaldor-Shallam alliance..



Mhaldor and Ashtan are not technically allied at the moment. Its more like, they share a common enemy and recognize that they are much stronger working together than working apart. Many of Ashtans citizens are allied to Mhaldor, and many Mhaldorians choose to defend Ashtan. However, if you know your history, you'd know that Ashtan used to be Mhaldor's enemy, and even assisted Shallam and Eleusis in dropping the icons of Mhaldor the first time.

Great article for atracting new players! let's hope it will do just that :)

I've tried the other IRE games, and Achaea has come out to be my favorite. The other games are great but I find myself drawn more to Achaea myself. It's a good article. Keep them coming.

Excellent article!

I really love the newbie trial in Achaea . . . it's really immersing, and you can tell right away that the creators of the MUD have some great backstory going on. There's a lot of flavor to it. I think it's a pretty easy transition to, from trial to House, at which point you have plenty of tasks/learning/achievements to go for.

Yes, so do I. Just as soon as I tried the tutorial... I knew this was the game for me.

There was a time, long ago, when the Trial of Rebrith was optional.  If you chose to skip it, you came into the realms as level 1

I should give a try to Achaea.It seems all the articles are about that game, so it must be cool.


I just have to ask, was that meant as sarcasm or a genuine statement?


Achaea is the oldest IRE game, with the biggest player base. This leaves the other games as a bit more... shall we say specialized in their flavouring.


good read.

Six factions pretty much organised into two camps. When was the last time the bulk of Ashtan and Mhaldor fought against each other? Back when Mhaldor dropped Ashtan's icons? I wish some of these alliances weren't so set in stone, if Hashan can switch sides every 2 years, anyone can!

Making Hashan a commercial city sounds pretty boss. Someone needs to refer this to Aetolia.

Great read, love your articles


Your view of the inter-organisational dynamics of Achaea is outdated.

Achaea is awesome. That is all.

I've never played Achaea, but I think I'll stick with Lusternia for now.

A decent description of Achaea and a good read.

I don't frequent Achaea as often as before but when I did I've found it to be a bit bland. However, I do agree with the article as a good stepping stone into the world of MUDs in general. It gives you a good overview of what is out there. And the newbie system is okay in my opinion.

a darker org to polarize Eleusis. Back in the event where the God of Death tried to claim a portion of the Forests for his own. They should have let him have it!

there are darker organizations that seek to harm Nature, and there have been recent events involving the forest you're referencing

Nice read, especially of the intro tour.

I've never played Achaea, but the creditability system sounds interesting...

Nice article to potentially spike the interest in new players

That kind of sums it up decently, although a bit out of date.

I remember 8 years ago when I went through that newbie trial, it was the first MUD I ever played and I loved books so I fell in love with Achaea. And it was the first game to introduce me to RP in general. 

So,  a bit of a thank you Achaea. You served me well. 


It's still a good place, come back!

Whenever I started out in Achaea as a new character, it used to be in Hashan, which was newbie-friendly, or Cyrene, which had the dragon. Blue, I think it's name is; loved that dragon. Loved that people could turn into dragons!

 I haven't played in several years, but when I left the game was just turning over the guilds into the class system. I think the credibility system is an awesome innovation with so many people in Achaea. I don't think we have enough people in Aetolia to implement it, but with the smaller populace, I don't run into people who need to have it used on them, either.

Achaea wasn't my first MUD but the depth and scope of it, as well as the broad spectrum of opportunities and things to do has ensured that I've rarely even bothered with non-IRE games ever since.  I've met some long-lasting friends and people were awesome and helpful. It's so much better than the PKPKPK MUDs you find elsewhere. I spend a lot of time in Midkemia now, and I really really enjoy it, but I would definitely recommend Achaea to anyone just starting out in MUDs.  I was a lifelong dweller of Eleusis, and the cheerful good-natured fun that's (often) there made me feel right at home.

From what I've seen, credibility is almost never used. Also, in most cases it happens when a god generally dislikes you. I've never had mine dropped though, so I could be wrong.


As far as Hashan goes, it can be very newbie friendly. However, I think Cyrene is much better should you want something along those lines. Some of the conversations I remember hear on my Hashani alt...were just awful. Not saying it's everyone, but previously several people would talk about inappropriate things without any leadership intervention.


I'd agree Achaea is probably a good stepping stone into IRE games, tho it's been years since I played myself (basically since Housing came out.)  The setup is pretty basic far as choosing your side and the game devolpement should be mature enough that you don't see your game playstyle chanage radically overnight by new features (which has been my problem with getting back into Midkemia.)

... since I played Achaea... Imperian has been my home now for the years since I discovered it. I probably should try Midkemia at least.

Achaea was the first MUD for me years ago. Since then I have tried every single IRE game and with all honesty there are ups and downs in each of them, but my home is always Achaea first.

Achaea is just wonderful. It keeps me coming back. This is how Achaea makes me feel.


I love me some Achaea. And I've tried the other ones I just can't stop doing achaean things in MKO and the others.

Take your pick of whatever city appeals to you, because each city is equally good in immersing you right into their environment. One city or the other would suit you quite well; takes a bit of experimenting!

good article

I found Achaea really daunting, as a newcomer to MUDs. There was just too much... entrenched bureacracy and expected behaviour. Now that I've cut my teeth on the comparitively relaxed MKO, maybe I'll give Achaea another go some time.

I still keep coming back to Achaea even though I've done nothing of any worth in the game.

Great Article about Achaea.

Honestly, I never liked Achaea that much... I've tried playing it but it was really boring compared to Impy.

Achaea definitely > Aetolia, that's for sure. Glad I made the switch.

Achaea held my attention for a year or two, but I found my true IRE home in Lusternia. Still, I play from time to time, and keep a couple of semi-active characters. It has the most number of possible conflict fronts (sometimes so many that it becomes dead), but still, like the recent big war between Mhaldor and Co. vs Shallam and Co., and then the merging of Shallam and the Church, things can get very interesting.

The credibility system was without a doubt the smartest invention known to man... in Achaea. :P

I before, I wouldnt have noticed much of the never ending plot lines in Achaea, but this article reminded me, and provided even more information!!!

Decent article.

True, the city conflict is the best part of RP

Indeed, Achaea was the first MUD I tried

Same. Heard about it on the Screensavers.


Achaea is a great game if you can get around the self important, self appointed Help Referrers. I hate asking a simple question and having someone say "Theirs a scroll for that."


Or worse, having someone cold contact me about some minor infraction.


Or maybe that's just Shallam...


I usually try to give them both the answer as well as the help scroll where that information can be found.

Most people do. Help files are great, but in the end, it's best to try and give a personal little bit of paraphrasing. The only time I have only mostly given a help file is if the answer to a question is overly large - like "What do credits do?".

Pretty much why I read it, since I saw it in the title. I was a Jester when I plaaayed. Hehe, they were pretty fun.

Something I loved at first when coming to Aetolia from Achaea was that there were fewer guild help and city help files. I figured it would encourage more interaction between characters rather then a lot of reading and not a lot of talking. Then I found my guild to not be particularly active. Oh well!


Depending on your House in Achaea, the number of help files you end up reading over the course of your training and novice days and everything can be quite overwhelming. But having seen the world without them, I have to say I appreciate their existence when their needed! I do, however, agree with the person who finds it annoying when they're constantly being referred to the Help files rather than having someone take the time to give a brief description or paraphrase. Help files don't help my immersion!


Helpful cities sometimes might lose RP focus

Sometimes the wealth of help scrolls drowns people

Cyrene has been a wonderful city to start out in. People are friendly and mostly light-hearted but the thing that impresses me is the artistic talent and originality of the citizens.

Was a good place to start out in, friendly atmosphere but I had to move on :P

I agree

Took a break from FPS, and decided to try playing a MUD again. I never expected to stay, though. But my two characters are still around after a few years and almost every day I log in. Lot of misconceptions about Hashan but whatever, its a great city for those who actually take some interest in its history and development.

credit comment

I have to actually read this article one day, too many words to read now.

If Achaea now is the IRE game that most supports RP then it has done a complete 180.

I apreciate these articles. I find it interesting to see first hand how easy it is with a casual observation to make the odd mistake in reporting. Shines new light on how I will view news in general.

Agree, me!


thumbs up for the most part, I can say that personally, Hashan normally is the one city I like the most, with Cyrene being 2nd, Eleusis being 3rd, with Ashtan, Mhaldor, and Shallam all being dead last in how much I care for them, to the point of I'd rather be rogue than deal with any of those three, though I can say that my dislike for Shallam might be a tad unfair, but I've trouble giving forgiveness to a city that once made it a point to auto-enemy anyone who wasn't either a member of Cyrene, or a member of Shallam, and Mhaldor as of late has been just being an idiot as well, though I'm talking not of this recent IG business, I'm talking with the whole necromancy thing, any Apostates or Infernals who isn't a member of Mhaldor automatically loses their ability to use necromancy, and although I know there is probably more to the story, all that I've seen is mhaldor doing nothing but acting like a whiny little child throwing a fit because they aren't getting any respect from the other cities, and in fact, the latest actions could in fact be part of those same actions. Ashtan I don't care for because it stems from the fact that when Thievery was a decently-sized business, thieves were almost completely focused there, before Serpents were the only thieves, and only money was able to be stolen.

we really need dates to be added for posts as well

+1 to dates and also implement the website to be android friendly..

meh. Kinda bland, run of the mill article.











I really liked that article. But I would like to agree with Tarkanian dates on the posts would be a good addition.

This might be slightly unrelated, but the reason I play Achaea over any other IRE game is jesters. Not that they're amazing or anything, but a game that has jesters is still superior to a game that doesn't, in my book.

I forgot about this article

pretty good article

feels like he has a bit of a bias to his "home game"