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NiMUD NiM5 TheIsles


Initial release


Stable release

5.1a / 2010-Jul-26

Written in



MS-DOS and Linux


MUD server


Multiple Options


NiMUD is a periodically updated package of open source MUD software.  It has been distributed as "NiMUD", "The Isles" and "NiM5". It appears in the original Diku Family Tree from usenet and is also mentioned on the official DikuMUD website. The project included what became a popular variant of online creation for Merc DikuMUD, and possesses features adapted from LPC and DuneMUSH.  NiMUD also spawned the popular "magic gems" features of some Merc MUDs, who ported the code from early Isles versions.  Also, NiMUD instituted the first "Weapon Functions" in a DikuMUD, enabling the auto-decapitating vorpal sword.


Written by Herbert E Gilliland III ("Locke") and Christopher Woodward ("Surreal") over the telephone and via the internet in Pittsburgh, PA, primarily using the MS-DOS djgpp, and later developed for Debian linux using gcc. They met on Infinity BBS, Chris' Telegard BBS which was based in Hampton, PA. Co-author Chris Woodward died in 1997.


NiMUD OLC's full-screen debugger, as a sample here is a Hello World for NiMScripts:

echo({Hello world!});

The authors established a relationship with the Merc team through their site administrator, Holly Sommer of GrokMUD. A publicly available OLC among Diku derivatives was initiated as a periodically updated open source software package under the names NiMUD or "The Isles MUD". The OLC feature[1] was inspired by the online building system of Hidden Worlds and was later enhanced with ideas from PennMUSH, the software on which DuneMUSH was built (specifically the world generation and script language are inspired by the DSpace and MUSHcode of DuneMUSH). Original features were developed using DJ Delorie's GNU C Compiler by Surreal. Versions pre-dating the widespread public version were shared with contemporary MUD programmers by request. [2]

NiMUD's OLC was released in 1993 to MUD admins who were operating Merc 2.1 MUDs and who contacted Locke on his MUD. In 1994, Locke released the code for The Isles as two code-only releases TheIsles15 and TheIsles16. [3] 

The "online creation system" was ported as ILAB/OLC by Jason Dinkel in 1994, but he failed to include Locke or Surreal's real names. This version spread quickly and became, almost verbatim, repackaged with permission as ROMolc and EnvyOLC. A version was ported, with permission, to Windows 32-bit API by Omar Yehia (Lordrom), in 1996.  Subsequent mudders have vandalized the source code, leaving non-credited versions under names like "Ivan's OLC" and "Sam's OLC".

Features from NiMUD also have been integrated into Lyonesse an Italian-language variant, and is most predominantly seen as the work from which was derived, EmlenMUD, which is a popular but unauthorized derivative of NiMUD (it was illegal sold commercially, violating the Merc, Diku and NiMUD licenses).

"The software continues to be developed, although its most active work was done in the 1990s. It was also the first public mud to adapt ANSI color terminal codes to Merc from Chris' experience with Telegard." - Locke, in 2009, around the time of the final release of NiMUD

Project History

Originally named "Nameless Incarnate MUD" after Locke's first mudding experience on a Merc 1.0 called "Nameless Merc" - NiMUD's name was confused with the Assyrian temple at Nimrud. After Locke discovered this essay by philologist Farrell Till, whom he contacted after discovering the connection, he went with it artistically, and used the cultural history of Assyria to develop some of the game-play and thematic elements in the game The Isles.  Using a translation algorithm, the textual descriptions and events generated by this MUD software are automatically translated into 123 different languages.

Known as a more advanced codebase among Diku derivatives (17) , NiMUD has its own scripting language, and online creation system.  One of the efforts of NiMUD's primary coder, Locke, was to insure that many of the numbers and digits could be read in English, and that most of the descriptions used full words and descriptive text instead of broken sentences with bad grammar, expecting that MUDs one day would be read aloud to the blind.  Later versions of NiMUD utilize NASA data to generate worlds, a full-screen debugger and ASCII graphics language, OLC and "Trace" action recording features.  Many features of NiMUD's object system came from Zebesta, including the two-handed inventory, money-object and equipment description system.


It is dedicated to Christopher "Surreal" Woodward, its co-author, who died December 13th, 1995 from complications due to an operation on an hour-glass shaped "benign" tumor located in his brain.  The cause of this tumor, though speculative, may have involved prolonged exposure to a Cathode-Ray Tube (this was the reason his parents were given during the last few months he was alive).  Despite treatment, he was killed by the part of the tumor that could not be removed.  Woodward was a first-year computer engineering student at Penn State and had been an active member of both the BBS and MUD communities, contributing to PennMUSH (DuneMUSH), Telegard and Renegade BBS software, and Merc, a variant of DikuMUD.

Recent Changes

Evolution of the OLC Editing System
Originally, The Isles OLC implemented three advanced multi-modal game object editors and an area editor with security features:

Later versions have incorporated many other editors, such as:

Latest versions of The Isles/NiMUD use a new naming convention:

  • REDIT (Rooms)
  • MEDIT (Mobiles)
  • OEDIT (Objects)
  • AEDIT (Areas; now called ZEDIT for Zone Editor)
  • SOCIAL (Socials Editor)
  • HEDIT (Documentation Editor)
  • SCEDIT (Scripting; including debugger)
  • SPEDIT (Spell editor)
  • SKEDIT (Skill editor)
  • Scenes (replaces Rooms)
  • Actors (replaces Mobiles)
  • Props (replaces Objects)

NiMUD's major changes in recent versions reflect a desire of its surviving author to complete a conceptual connection between LARP-style roleplay, dramatic structure, and MUDs, a la the type of dramatic structures present in game design today. Some of this information originates with Don Marinelli, co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center. Applying elements of Aristotelian poetics, NiMUD has modified the terminology present in Diku-derived MUDs for objects, mobiles (mobs) and rooms to props, actors and scenes. The traditional OLC role of builder is now referred to as writer, and the role of implementer as producer. NiMUD also has a fully deployed scripting language, including a sub-language called Building Scripts, which permit deployment of entire areas, complete with uniquely named objects appropriate to each 'mud deployment' through use of a sub-interpreter that takes the form of the function build() in the main language. Build() can be fed this specialized builder script, or a reference to a script that contains the builder script, that uses relative vnum references to create unique areas, mazes, castles, and the like. Originally designed for player housing, it was extended to be more general and can be triggered by any script for any reason. Some examples uses include using the build() interpreter to generate spacecraft, boats and other vehicles, which interact via random encounters and move/dock scripts, castles complete with automated workers and random seiges, randomly designed dungeons, actor or object-triggered construction elements. This is a feature unique among MUDs to NiMUD, and after an exhaustive comparison with the other scripting languages, has been declared a first of its kind.


See also

   External links and further reading