How to Play TriadCity

The TriadCity Players' Guide

Welcome to TriadCity!


TriadCity is unlike the gaming tradition it grew out of. While its command mechanics plant both feet firmly in the MUD, its themes, the multiple strategies it enables for character growth, and its literary pedigree are unique. It's helpful to begin by highlighting some of these differences.

Character Growth

In TriadCity there's no privileged path to character growth. The MUD tradition privileges violence — in many conventional RPGs violence is the only way to gain experience, levels, and access to more sophisticated capabilities. In TriadCity you're totally welcome to hack-and-slash if that's yer thing. But, you're not forced to. If you'd rather you can Heal things, write TV shows, contribute maps, invent new hair styles, be a newspaper reporter, grow and magically Actuate herbs which enhance player capabilities, or even just explore. Or do many of these things at once. Each of these actions will provide experience leading to higher levels.

TriadCity has the concept of character Roles, which structure the capabilities characters can gain. Unlike traditional character classes, you're not limited to just one Role — although certain Roles are incompatible with others. Roles enable the Skills which are key to advanced actions. Your Skills define not only what your character can do, but who your character is. They combine to enable interactions with the City that are uniquely yours.


TriadCity is generally satirical. Players have compared it with Mystery Science Theater 3000 because it makes fun of pretty much everything it touches. We've also heard the comparison with Michael Schur's brilliant The Good Place, which, while satirizing consumerism, vanity, shallowness, and human foibles in general, also has a serious moral purpose. Satire is moralistic; we're comfortable with that.

To cite one example among many. TriadCity frequently toys with and subverts the defining racialism of the MUD tradition. Please note "racialism" not "racism". The RPG tradition almost universally derives its structure from characteristics attributed to race. Where frequently the bad guys as well as the subhuman monsters are depicted as dark. It's not accidental that Mordor is "the black land"; or that Marvel's "Dark" Elves are baddies; or that Peter Jackson's subhuman Orcs in The Two Towers were portrayed by Maori. TriadCity deliberately highlights these often unconscious associations of blackness with "evil", whiteness with "good", where our admittedly moralistic intention is to blow them sky high.

Literary Relevance

TriadCity evokes the Modernist / Postmodernist literary heritage while extending it in ways that are impossible in print. From Modernism we've taken the literary device of subjectivity, but we've radicalized it by imposing genuine subjectivity on characters' perceptions of the World. Two characters in the same Room may see the Room differently — the computer may literally describe it differently to each of them. We have unreliable narrators, first-person narrators, competing narrators undercutting each other. From Postmodernism we've taken the device of Worlds intruding into other Worlds. For example, we have Tweets flying around the game World as birds; one of our players described it this way: "a virtual game world in which virtual birds flit around repeating things said by real people in the real world, on an electronic platform named after birdsong." Nice. We play lots of language games, with Rooms written as haiku, Anguish Languish, cockney rhyming slang, Pig Latin, lipograms — and puns by the zillions. These are among the reasons The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism cites TriadCity as its culminating example of literary Postmodernism. There's more detail here.

Support for Blind Players

TriadCity began as a Web-based game with a GUI client. We've modified the game engine, and, more laboriously, the game World, for access via MUD clients, to enable blind players as first-class participants.

To do this we've added command-line alternatives for each value or control displayed visually by the GUI. There's a section in the comprehensive Command Reference listing these commands added for MUD clients. Additionally we've modified literally thousands of in-game pop-up signs to write their content to MUD clients for access by screen readers.

Very Friendly Culture

TriadCity is completely free of the flame culture which so frequently mars other MUDs. Even our bulletin boards are safe. One reason might be that we don't market to teenagers. Another is that we assertively moderate. Whatever the explanation, for twenty years TriadCity has had more women players than men, going all the way back to the days when there were ten male gamers for every female. We're very proud of our success in keeping TriadCity free from the name-calling and petty squabbling we've so often found elsewhere.

Next Steps

Welcome to TriadCity! Read on, Macduff!

Players' Guide TOC

Not yet a member? Get started today!