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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Take a trip into world of the 'Rings'

By Burt Lum

When Tolkien created the world of Middle-earth it was so detailed that readers found it easy to immerse themselves into a world of hobbits, elves, orcs and Ring Wraiths. The book, "Lord of the Rings," was so rich in character and culture that it created a reality of its own.

Back when the book was written, that was called fantasy. In today's tech-laden jargon, it is called virtual reality.

While spending time visiting myriad Tolkien and "Rings" Web sites, I found one that was uniquely interactive and allowed visitors to play out their Middle-earth virtual reality. The site is at elendor.net.

The Elendor site is actually the reference guide of an interactive environment called a MUSH, or multi-user shared hallucination.

The Elendor site provides detail to the structure and foundation for participation in the MUSH. The best way to describe MUSH is as a role-playing game. The Web site is your playbook, and the actual game environment is textual.

To participate, you need to first download a MUSH client. The one I chose was a Mac-based client called Savitar at www.heynow.com/Savitar/.

The Elendor site provides information on how to connect to the Elendor MUSH. These are two separate applications. Once there, you will see how to create your character and join a culture. As an example, you can give yourself a name and become a hobbit, elf or orc.

You can then join a culture (think of this as like a community), such as Breefolk or Shirefolk. The MUSH is text-based and will require reading through basic instructions for speaking and moving around. Some patience is required, as this is not your typical instantly gratifying graphical user interface. But with patience, your experience will be well rewarded.

As a text-based environment, words describe the scene and your imagination allows you to craft your experience. Unlike general chat groups, the Elendor MUSH is well regulated and suitable for all ages. And with the resurgence of interest in "Rings," activity in the MUSH is quite lively and entertaining. ;-)

Reach Burt Lum at burt@brouhaha.net.