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Advertising your MUSH

By Kirra (Dee Dreslough). Another quality tutorial brought to you by the makers of Spam. Public Domain. Feel free to alter or redistribute in any form.


I used to run Living Fiction MUSH (now it runs as DelphiMUSH). On Living Fiction, players were encouraged to open their own game areas. These areas were fully independent organizations which we refered to as Sub-Mushes. Many of these areas ended up becoming full MUSHes all their own because enough people discovered them, liked them, and they essentially outgrew Living Fiction.

However, many more didn't gather enough players and gather enough steam to become their own MUSHes. Why?


The number one question I am asked on the MUSH (that isn't related to some piece of buggy code I threw up), is
'How can I get people interested in my area?'

More than knowing how to build, write code, run wizards and RolePlay, you need to ADVERTISE!

The number one reason Sub-Mushes on Living Fiction failed is lack of attendance, not lack of talent or interest. I've run into numerous people who think if they just put 'Come see SpecialMUSH' in their @doing, people on Living Fiction will flock to them. You should advertise your MUSH on the MUSH (Through info rooms, +board and @doings), but that's not all you should do.

"Why Doesn't my @doing Do It?"
Most people on Living Fiction had ALREADY come to play in a particular Sub-Mush, or to start their own, so they're not going to necessarily be interested in what you're doing. You have to advertise in other parts of the Internet.



A successful MUSH requires a variety of steps:

1. Advertise on Usenet - let people know you exist.

2. Get a Web Page and write it, and Advertise it - let people know more about you, in an attractive and easy to access way.

3. Hold Discussions or Parties for the general public, and advertise Them - Get people online to meet the people and make friends.

4. Hold Public Events that relate to your game, to let anyone try the activities, and Advertise them. - Let people try the product without any commitment to buy.

5.Make joining your game a Special Thing.- When they join you, make a big deal. These are special people who make your game fun.

6. Give People Things to Do that cause them to want to tell the game to other people. The Pyramid scheme of gaming can make your mud crowded quickly.

PLACES TO ADVERTISE we've determined that advertising ONLY on Living Fiction (or on your own MUSH) is a bad idea. You have to do more.

The people who are there are already there with a purpose, and aren't likely to be lured into a different activity.

So, where do you go from here?


Man, this is so out of date. -Dee (10/20/08) These days, I would say buy Google ads, or find a YahooGroup.

Usenet is the Bulletin Board for the Internet. Commercial traffic in Usenet (unlike the Web) is forbidden, however MUSHes are free, and there are often many topics that will relate to the theme of your MUSH. Example: A person opening a Dragon related game - you can post about your MUSH in:,,, and other related groups.

Because Usenet (called Netscape News under Options in Netscape browsers) is not an obvious feature in WWW browsing systems, many users new to the net overlook it. Take the time with your Browser's help system to figure out if you can access Usenet News. Keywords: News, Bulletin Boards, Usenet. It's worth it - believe me!

I've found that groups are the best places to go to find experienced builders and coders, as well as wizards and admin. I tend to focus posts to the theme related topics, (like if I was opening a dragon roleplaying game) to find players and people a little newer to MUSHing.

It's generally a good idea to keep your usenet posts pretty short, making sure to tell people why your game is fun, and what they can do, and where they can go to find out more. If you post the entire rules and background of your game to Usenet, you might lose some people who were interested in your game because they get disconnected before they've finished reading, or just because it's too much to digest in one place.

An example of a bad MUSH post:


///////////////////////////// [ ARCANE MUSH ]///////////////////////////////////////////////

(Imagine a huge ASCII art header that goes on for a page, and you'll get my point...Finally, down below, the post starts:]

Come to ArcaneMUSH!

Arcane MUSH is a fantasy based mush on Living Fiction MUSH. You can't be a dragon - dragons are special there. If you want to be a dragon, you have to get my permission, and then I need to review everything you build.

You can be a serf to start, and if I like you, you can work your way up to knight, and maybe Royalty. But, you have to play my way, and you better not ever try to take over the place!

-Darkala, Dragon Leader of Malken City

More often then not, I find people's introductions to their areas being All Too Clear on what you CAN'T do. This doesn't tell people why they would ever want to join. In fact, it will drive them away in droves.

An example of a pretty good Usenet post:

    What:  Arcane MUSH - Fantasy Roleplaying
    Where: Living Fiction - 8888
           (Fantasy Worlds Section - create a character and tele to #13456)
    When:  Every Monday at 7:00pm we have a group meeting where you can propose new events and        races.

    We are seeking a variety of staffers, main characters and plot suggestions, as well as new races and buildings for adventures set in the worlds of Arcane and Armight.

    Arcane MUSH is a fantasy roleplaying mush based on the eternal conflict between the forces of Might and the forces of Magic. There had been peace between the lands of Armight and Arcane for a century, until the mysterious disappearance of the Princess of Armight during a tour of Malken City, the captial of Arcane. Komar the Mighty has raised an army on the outskirts of Arcane, calling Centaurs, Eagles, Dragons, Mages, Faeries, Humans, Elves, Wolven, Orcs and Giants to his aid, to raize the city and rescue his daughter the Princess and crush Arcane once and for all. The Five Dragons of Arcane and their subjects have also raised a force to defend their lands, protesting their innocence in the matter. Their navy is poised outside Caladen City, the coastal capital of Armight, and their army also masses along the borders to defend. They will resort to darker measures to save Arcane..if they have to.

    What's in it for you?
    Choose between any of the eleven races of ArcaneMUSH, or propose your own!
    Join the Mages, Captain a ship in the Navy, Command a platoon in the Army, or perhaps take up an independent quest to find the truth of the Princess's Disappearance. Full details of the combat system and back story for the plot are availabe at our homepage.

    We have a variety of staff and main character roles open, and there's tons of building to be done! For more information, please visit our homepage at:

    Darkala, Dragon Leader of Malken City, Arcane (


By putting your background and specifics on a Web page, with nice fonts, headers, tables of contents and other goodies, you'll make sure people get information in the best possible format. They can always refer back to the page for information on the game, even while playing. They can print the information easily, too. But, you can do more than just give background with your web page:

Getting a Web Page for advertising is REALLY REALLY GOOD.

Well, if you're here reading this, you obviously understand the power of the Web. Having a web page for a MUSH in these days is crucial, but just having a page isn't enough.

"This is All/Soooo, sooo out of Daaaaate!" (Sings Dee, on 10/20/2008)

Where to go for cheap web pages: Almost all providers at this point host web pages as complimentary features of your email account. Email your tech support group at your Internet Provider, or call your Internet provider to see if they allow personal web pages. Another good site is They offer free web pages to anyone who signs up.

If your provider won't carry your web page, there are numerous inexpensive web page hosts throughout the Internet.

Dig around - use Altavista, Yahoo and other searches and you'll be sure to find a web page site you can afford. Good Keywords: Free Webpages

(Did I mention this is all wildly out of date? Dee, 10/20/08)

You can write a web page with any text editor if you know how to HTML tag. But, most people new to web page authoring don't know all the fancy tags, and prefer to use Web Page Editors. The best editors I've seen (for the price - which is free) are any of the Netscape Gold Betas, which are free until they expire, or HotDog Lite, which is a Shareware program that you will eventually have to pay for, but it's well worth what little you'll pay. Other Web Authoring tools are available in Yahoo. Scam the web, do some downloading and choose the one that's right for you.

Even if you have no art to put on the page, and it's only text, something on the web is better than nothing.


There's a very old and very true addage in the Ad Biz:

Tell them why, and they'll buy.

If you tell them why your area is going to be the coolest, most fun, best place to come and build and play and talk and RP, you'll get users.

The first step in telling them why is determining the major motivating factors of your target audience. That's high-falutin' fancy talk for: What do the users want?

Major Motivating Factors for MUSHers:

I've found a few major motivating factors for mushers that are universal

1. Social Interaction - People want to talk with like minded people who are fun, who accept them, and who respect them.
2. Creativity - People want to create plots, buildings, adventures and share them with the people above.
3. Power - Some people want to lead, and find pleasure in being in control or in charge of a large group of other creative people. This can be, unfortunately, one of the most common reasons you'll find people wanting to become involved with a fledgeling MUSH. They want to be Wizards.

Analyse your MUSH in relation to these three key elements, and present these elements in an attractive way in your posts, web pages and emails.


Of course, for any organised group activity, there need to be rules. However, the first and easiest way to turn creative people like MUSHers off your ideas is to tell them a long list of what they CAN'T do. The rules must be made clear, but only after you've got the user interested in what you offer in terms of freedom and creativity in your area.

Page Structures for MUSH pages vary widely. This is a suggested structure:


1. Convey the theme of the area (Is it vampire, fantasy, sci-fi, warfare, original?) In the case of original theme places, have a LINK to short stories or edited log-files that illustrate a particularly enjoyable piece of roleplay.

2. Convey major activities of the area and give links to short examples of what the user is able to do there (ie: Tell them Why, and they'll Buy)

3. Tell them WHERE THE GAME IS, and how to reach it! It's best to post both IP numbers (like 3000) as well as the domain name (like 8888).

Many people have Telnet configured to work with their web browsers at this point. For this reason, you can put a direct link from your Web page to your game. Here's an example of an HTML link to a game, and how it would appear in the text file, and then how it will appear to people looking at the link:

<A HREF="telnet://">See ArcaneMUSH Now</a>
See ArcaneMUSH Now <- this is how the Link will look to players.

4. Links to MUSH clients and resources at the end of the page will also help your new users get good MUSH clients to make their visit to your site easier and better. Linking to Tutorials on other Web Pages, Mud Search Engines, Client Pages are all wonderful. These are the standard ones I use (You can cut and paste these on your pages - these are the actual links):

  • 5. An index of sections of your web page - Rules, Frequently Asked Questions, Background Stories, Maps, Cities, Character Bios, Player Bios, etc.


    Although rules can turn off players from joining your sub mush, it's best to make them clear and available before anyone bothers logging onto your MUSH and using up DB space. Just don't make them the first thing on the page. Your web page can act as a valuable FAQ (frequently asked questions) site, Background Information resource, and rules listing for new users.


    In the first few months of your MUSH's operation, you'll find people asking you all sorts of questions. WRITE THOSE QUESTIONS DOWN! You can record your best answers and create a frequently asked questions list from these experiences. The more questions you answer in the FAQ, the less time you'll spend answering them later on.


    For roleplaying areas, especially the original ones, giving detailed information about the nuances of your world is critical.

    Examples of Background Information:
    Let's say you're running a fantasy style campaign where Gryphons are the dominant species, and humans are outlawed. Elves, Dwarves, Inops (hobbit like people) are all legal citizens of Gryphonia, but humans have to hide in caves and work to find a magic item to redeem the human race to Gryphonia's royal couple, King Artal and Queen Misira. Before your users ever log on, you've got to let them know all of this! Plus, it will serve to interest them in the story of the world, and give them an idea of what they'll be doing.

    On Pages inside the Web Page, you also should list all your rules and regulations. Have a small link from all pages to the Rules and Regs Page, but DONT keep your rules and regs on the first page. It will turn people off.

    "Why tell them the rules if it will turn them off?"
    Well, imagine your a devout member of the Church of the Holy Splunkel, and you start building and doing all this stuff for a MUSH because you love the theme (which has nothing to do with Splunkels), and then one day, you wander into a crusty old back room belonging to the God of the MUSH, and you find a huge treatise on how no member of the MUSH can advocate or espouse any of the beliefs of the Church of the Holy Splunkel. You'd be peeved, and you might pack up and leave and cause a ruckus, even though you'd never done anything to expose your Splunkel-faith, nor had the God had a problem with you.

    If you'd had the ability to find out within the first few minutes of examining the area that some tenets, no matter how secondary to the MUSH itself, were unpalatable to you, you may never have wasted the time supporting the group.

    Principles can clash - best to get any nuances of your MUSH's beliefs or administration out in the open to keep incompatible users offline.


    Once you've got a page that explains all about your MUSH, you've got to get people to visit it. From there, they'll get the information they need to know if your MUSH is for them, and then they'll log on as well informed users.

    The best places to register your pages, and your MUSH, are:
    Usenet (See above)- when you post to tell about your MUSH to people on, include your URL so they can get more information.
    Yahoo - This big list is organized by topic, so people who might be looking around for things only slightly related to your theme will see your link and might come exploring. Find the topic that matches what you're doing (Search on MUSHes for instance), and then use the 'Add a Link' option to give them information on your page.
    AltaVista - This page searches by topic and keyword, so if anyone's looking for anything relating to your theme or keywords, your page will come up. You can use the Add a Page option there to get the robots that make Alta Vista's lists find your page faster.
    Lycos - This is another big keyword list searcher. If someone is looking for anything relating to your theme, your page will come up in the lists they see. You can also inform Lycos of your link so their search robots find you quickly.

    Other search engines are available: Webcrawler, Inktomi and others. The more you register with, the more your site will be seen and the more users you'll get. Yahoo has a list of all the Search Engines you can register with.

    There are also a number of MUSH and MUD specific list pages where you should register your site and information about it.

  • Some Mud Lists you can register with:
    The Mud Connector -
    The Mush MATRIX- Find MUSHes here!

    LINK TRADES With Other People's Related Web Pages

    Finally, link trades with sites that relate to your theme can really help bring people to your door.

    Examples: Let's say you're doing a MUSH dedicated to Dragons. There are tons of Dragon related pages out in the Web, and each of these would probably be willing to host a link to your page if you are willing to host a link to theirs.

    Use Yahoo, AltaVista and other search engines to find pages that relate to your MUSH's theme, and email these people for links to your page.

    HINT: If you really want a link from someone, be sure to put a link from your page to theirs first! It makes a good impression. They'll almost always check your page before they give you a link.

    RUNNING EVENTS IN YOUR MUSH've got a Web Page, you've got a Usenet Post that's gathered a respectable staff. Now what?


    Having one regularly scheduled event where you can guarantee at least one major staffer will be in attendance, with a pre-selected topic, will help keep people coming to your MUSH. It also allows you to find out what your players are like outside of roleplay.
    NOTE: Serious meetings, where big problems will be discussed, or greivances will be aired should NOT be advertised on Usenet for new players. Seeing the seemy underbelly of your game's politics will turn people off immediately. Hold the big meetings at a different time.

    Make the regularly scheduled meetings something of a social event, with a fun topic.

    Example for Gryphonia:


    [meeting] Topic: Gryphons!

    Where: GryphoniaMUSH (Telnet: 8888)
    When: Wednesday 8:00pm Eastern Standard Time USA
    Room: #45567

    Every Wednesday Night at 8:00pm, the members of Gryphonia put aside their differences and meet to discuss an aspect of the game, or of fantasy in general. New players interested in the MUSH are most welcome to these meetings.

    Tonight's topic:
    What are Gryphon Life Cycles? What would life as a Gryphon be like? How many eggs might they lay? Do they lay eggs, or bear live young? Why would Gryphons evolve? What's your favorite Gryphon, or Gryphon story? How do you prefer to spell Gryphon? Anything relating to gryphons is welcome! We look forward to meeting you and hearing your ideas.

    -Griffy, GryphoniaMUSH

    Howbout Throwing a Party?

    Events are a good way to meet players, and get people involved in your MUSH.

    By setting a time and a place, and a purpose, for a gathering of people, you ensure that the maximum number of people are all on at the same time, so they can meet each other, make plans, make friends and become a social group. If you let your players make objects, games and other fun-making stuff for the party, they're likely to invite more people, and the party will go longer.

    Contests for Trivia in your theme or other popular themes works well. Scavenger Hunts or multi-player adventures (short ones) can add thrill to the party too.

    Theme Related Events

    You can also bring people into the roleplay on your MUSH through Theme Related Events.

    If you're a combat oriented fantasy group, you may want to have a special battle, where new players can sign up and quickly join in the action as footsoldiers. Combat systems and games make it easy for new people to feel like they're really part of the event. This will let you get to know them, and give them something exciting to do while they meet you and see what goes on on the MUSH. They don't need to make any commitments - they can just log on, try it, and if they like what they see and make some friends, they will visit more often.

    Inductions - Recruiting Ceremonies and Schedules for Positions in your Game

    I'll start with an example of one of the most successful induction devices ever used on MUSH: The Dragon Hatching. Certain mushes have theme related events that naturally act as wonderful advertising and motivation for people to join in their activities; Hatchings where dragons choose human partners for life and other events like this draw people interested in a dragon related theme and gives them a goal and a reason to play day after day. It gives them an opportunity to come away with something important - a dragon. They feel special, and appreciated by the MUSH after these events. (Although, for those who don't pair off with a dragon, they might feel jilted, and start politicking, but the number of happy players you garner through hatchings will outweigh the politicers overall.)

    "But We're Not A Dragon Game"

    Finding an activity with this kind of draw for other themes can be challenging, especially if your game is very plot driven. Think about what's most fun about your MUSH - what you enjoy - and devise a way to make it quick and simple for a new player to participate, with a goal.

    There might be a Captain of the Guard who needs new King's Guards. She might hold a series of tournaments, using the combat system on your game, as an events. At the end of the series of contests, she would choose from the roleplayers who showed the most promise. This selection process might be as simple as drawing random lots if your players care more about fairness. Other heads of groups might also make selections from the newcomers for recruitment. By making induction into the MUSH a special event, you'll endear your game to the people who dedicate themselves to it.

    The Player Pyramid Scheme

    Having Ranks within a game, with concrete promotional paths, will keep players returing too.


    Joe joins ArcaneMUSH and starts the Navy. He wants his navy to be fun, so he goes out on Usenet, advertising ArcaneMUSH, but especially mentioning the navy. He's created a system that will give people a reason to play again and again and advertise the mush to others.

    People who join Joe's group find out from his numerous posts and his well designed information rooms on the MUSH.

    'Naval Combats happen every Tuesday at 7:00pm Eastern Standard Time, and again on Thursday at 10:00pm Eastern Standard.

    If you serve as a crewmember through seven victorious combats (where your ship doesn't sink), you can make your own and be the Captain of a Sloop.'

    Fifteen combats is three weeks if a player makes every one and their ship wins. Joe goes on in his planning:

    Ships vary in power and combat effectiveness, depending on Crew Size:

    2 crew - Sloop - Transport Duty - damage rating: 1
    5 crew - Dragon Boat - Fast Fighting Ship - escort to Frigate - damage rating: 3
    10 crew - Frigate - can have as many as 12 guns - need one person per gun - damage rating 8-12
    20 crew - Flagship - can have battering ram and 12 guns as well as raiding and bording parties. Damage rating - 12, plus it can take control of other ships. Only the flagships can capture enemy vessels.

    Captains of ships will recruit for their boats, further advertising your MUSH to gain combat effectiveness for their ships. By getting better ships, they ensure that their crew can survive, the three combats to become a second in command or to get their own ships.

    Joe keeps records on the battles, who won, and even has art and heraldry for individual ships and the registries of both his navy and the enemy navy on his web page. When people see all this, they're impressed. They start to dream of having their own boat, and building a port island of their own...they log on to find out and join a boat.

    It's a giant pyramid scheme that makes your MUSH more fun, and gives people a goal - and a reason to log on more than once.

    A good game has a way to progress. Games where everyone except the staffers are lowly serfs forever don't do well.


    A successful MUSH requires a variety of steps:

    1. Advertise on Usenet - let people know you exist.

    2. Get a Web Page and Advertise it - let people know more about you, in an attractive and easy to access way.

    3. Hold Discussions or Parties for the general public, and advertise Them - Get people online to meet the people and make friends.

    4. Hold Public Events that relate to your game, to let anyone try the activities, and Advertise them. - Let people try the product without any commitment to buy.

    5. Make joining your game a Special Thing.- When they join you, make a big deal. These are special people who make your game fun.

    6. Give People Things to Do that cause them to want to tell the game to other people. The Pyramid scheme of gaming can make your mud crowded quickly.

All art and text (c) 1996-2008 Dee Dreslough unless otherwise noted.
Please read and understand my Terms of Use for the artwork.