A brief history, by Joshua Bell.

What is a MUSH?

This is best answered with a series of more fundamental questions.

What is a MUD?

A MUD is a text-based multiplayer virtual world.

What is a TinyMUD?

TinyMUD is one of several variants of the general MUD concept, with two distinctive characteristics:

So, what is a MUSH?

Technically, TinyMUSH - one of several variants of TinyMUD that extend the basic MUD concept with an intrinsic programming language to permit complex automated interaction between players and objects within the world. TinyMUSH uses a script language similar to the commands used for nominal game interaction - "get foo; @desc me=Wearing a hat.;move north; drop foo" was a valid MUSH script. Other TinyMUD-variants use more formal languages (e.g. TinyMUCK used FORTH) or just different dialects of script (e.g. TinyMUSE and TinyMUX). The TinyMUSH scripting language evolved over time to include many paradigms from functional programming languages like LISP and ML such as list processing.


NarniaMUSH was a MUSH (or, to be precise, a series of consecutively operated MUSHes) based on the world described by C. S. Lewis in his series of short children's novels The Chronicles of Narnia, the most well-known of which is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. More information about the fictional world and its creator can be found at the canonical web site, (or see below).

An early Narnia-themed MUSH was created in November 1991 and shut down in February 1992. I was not involved in that endeavor. Here's the login screen which I happen to have saved.

The "new" NarniaMUSH was founded in August 1992 and lasted until March 1995. I was one of the founding administrators, focused on developing useful code to improve the role playing experience. The MUSH eventually grew to include hundreds of locations ranging from the Lone Islands to the Lantern Wastes to Tashbaan, each richly described and populated by real players and simulated inhabitants. This NarniaMUSH was set just after the events of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, with anachronisms* like another visit by the Pevensies, an early visit by Jill Pole and the return of Reepicheep. During the lifetime of the MUSH we contacted the Estate of C. S. Lewis and received permission to operate the game, with certain limitations.

In March 1995, NarniaGolden was launched. NarniaGolden was set during the time of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Golden Age of Narnia when the Pevensies ruled from Cair Paravel. Simultaneous with the launch of NarniaGolden was the appearance of FreeNarnia**, an attempt to have a more free form role playing experience. A document reviewing both is available here. NarniaGolden lasted until September 1996, when players unhappy with limitations on character selection appealed to the Estate of C. S. Lewis for intervention, which resulted in a request to shut down the MUSH.


A few more Narnia-themed MUDs have come and gone. Here are those that I know about, with the status:


Tash, the Inexorable (art by Tim Stuby)
__ ,-'' `-. /\\` _\ , |\\ (_\/| ` / /-'o `-. | / --' | ( (_/( /_, /' /\_,-'|`-'/ | |_.--._|/-' | | , /)` \\_| ,) || `--\ |_// |' |__, /|\ `

Administrators on the game (known as Wizards) typically took the role of gods or magical creatures in the game. Long-time players took roles from the books (kings and queens, or famous characters). Other players took the role of general inhabitants of the world. Our interpretation of the books was that while the world of Narnia was a magical place, beings possessing outright magical powers were extremely rare and not a part of daily affairs. Therefore we wanted to ensure that those roles were filled by people we knew to be responsible so as not to disrupt the balance of play. Players who proved themselves as competent role players were given choice roles and allowed to help develop the ongoing environment of the game world.

On NarniaMUSH I played the roles of Tash (as a wizard/administrator) and Reepicheep (as a player). Not all players were so lucky as to get one of these choice characters - but there are perks for being first. Among the first players to join in the fun was someone who took the role of Queen Susan, who happened to be named Susan in real life. Her roommate Tanya joined at around the same time and took over the role of Queen Lucy. Inevitably, you develop social relationships with the players behind the characters they portray - hopefully a friendship, but occasionally an antagonistic one. It's the latter that usually spells the end of a successful MUD, but the former is more common. Nearly every year, a group of the players on NarniaMUSH would attempt to get together in real life for a party-type gathering. At one of them (Disneyland), Susan and I met in person and we clicked. Cue the cheesy music.

On NarniaGolden we avoided the roles of gods altogether; my administration character was Algol (a star, and a pun on algorithm). I was graduating from university and starting a career while NarniaGolden was getting started, so I was not as involved in this stage in the game's life cycle as I was in its previous incarnation.

Historical Documents

This is part of my collection of documents used both within the game and to communicate to other players via email. They may be of historical interest - at the very least, I had fun reading them 10 years later when putting this site together. Many of these are Calormen-centric; I attempted to develop that part of the world and encourage players to role-play within it.

At the time we were building and playing the game (1992-1995) the World Wide Web had not yet caught on and hence communication was limited to text files transmitted either through the game or via email.



Short Fiction

These are not the height of literary achievement - these are primarily edited transcripts of stories made up on-the-fly on NarniaMUSH. 

From the epic Calormene Nights:

Reepicheep Stories

NarniaMUSH Advertisements

These were posted to the USENET newsgroup to attract players to the MUSH. They provide insights as to the evolving character of the game.

Miscellaneous Documents


* How did we explain these anachronisms? If anyone asked, I'd explain that the MUSH was actually set in the true Narnia, found "farther up and farther in" at the end of the Last Battle, in what is essentially Reepicheep's fantasy version of Narnia; nearly indistinguishable from the former ("shadowland") Narnia, but even more fun - and bullocks on leaving out poor Queen Susan. NarniaGolden attempted to avoid these anachronisms, but battles over how the role-playing should conform to the books were the eventual downfall of the game.

** FreeNarnia lasted until the summer of 1995. Yet another attempt to make a more freeform Narnia-based world, "NarniaMUSH II", started in October 1995 and lasted through some time in 1996. I had no contact with either. For more information, consider searching on a USENET archive such as Google Groups. You'll probably find a lot of dirty laundry being aired.