Furry? MUCK?

"We are field surgeons. We operate in the dirt...
The mud. The muck."
                        --- "Hawkeye" Pierce

Curiosity killed cats to date.

Oooookay... what's it all about then? There are better explanations found elsewhere, so I'll just give you the short version.

If you have a computer or access to one (and if you don't I'd like to know how you got here!), you probably play games on it and have some knowledge of "roleplaying" or "adventure" games in which you control a fictive character in a fictive world, generally with some kind of purpose. Nowadays these games all have graphics and sound and are controlled with a mouse or a joystick, but early adventure games "only" had more or less vivid text descriptions of the world and its people, and you had to type in commands to make the hero move around, kill the dragon, get the treasure and kiss the princess.

When computer networks became widespread it did not take long before someone started thinking about how cool it would be to play with several people from different places all in the same game, and so the multiuser game was invented. Because adventure games traditionally take place in underground or at least indoor mazes generically referred to as "dungeons", the new game genre got called Multi User Dungeon, or MUD for short.

The MUD genre soon became popular and started spawning variants, usually with names derived from "mud", which people then tried to think up more or less plausible explanations for. MUCK, for instance, alegedly stands for Multi User Character Kingdom. But wait, it gets worse! There is also MUSH which some people say stands for Multi User Shared Hallucination...

But enough of this nonsense, I only have experience with MUCKs anyway... They are generally more social and less plot oriented than the original MUDs, though people do get involved in all kinds of more or less weird things there too. Last week on TF&F, for instance, Candlewisp got turned into a squirrel, and everyone's trying to help him become himself again except for Waydya, who likes him this way and wants to help him adapt. (She's a squirrel too, you see, and secretly in love with him...) Confused? So am I, and I was there! :P

Perhaps that last bit of weirdness gave you a clue to the other term I'm going to (try to) explain briefly (hah!). Fictive characters in a fictive world don't have to be humans! If they are anthropomorph (or non-antrhropomorph for that matter) they are generally known as (here it comes) "furries". [Even birds and reptiles are called that, they don't have to literally have fur.]

There is more to the furry phenomenon than that, and if you want to know more you can start exploring from this site's main page [where you can find, among other things, a link to a German who plays a fictive character in the real world!], but this is the part that concerns MUCKing.

Imagine a MUCK where everyone (except for the odd human who didn't get the point in the first place ;)) is a furry,and you have a furry MUCK. Like, for instance, FurryMUCK (links on main page). It can be (and probably has been) described as a cross between a text adventure and IRC. I try to stay in character when I'm on, so my favourite description of these places is an amateur theatre where audience and cast are one, and everyone is improvising. (I'm pretty sure Nikon didn't expect Waydya to try to feed Candlewisp, for instance...)

There are virtual environments that use sound and graphics, but the basic MU* (generic term for all the variants) is completely text-based, so you can describe your character in vivid detail without drawing a line. (On a furry MUCK you can usually also describe your character's smell, and some people just cant wait for someone to invent the scent card, but I for one can definitely live without knowing what Kamida really smells like! ;))

© 1998 by Ragnar Fyri. All rights reserved.