A gothic high-fantasy MUD
located at cardea-rpg.com, port 23.
The technical: Cardea uses a custom codebase rather than something like SMAUG. It is alleged (though not officially) that Cardea's original codebase was bought out from under the developers for use in Achaea or Avalon, competing games. Cardea has been in beta testing for several years, but open to players. Players may purchase credits which allow their characters to gain in 'skill levels' faster. Players may log on through telnet or specialty clients.
The environment: Cardea's mythology, like most fantasy games, is one of dualism. The universe was created by Tarkun-Alteron, the Creator, who vies eternally for power with Untergrax, the Unmaker. These two powers invest their energy in mortals and lesser deities. The dialectic at play here is not just creation versus decay; players have focused much of their play into a conflict between the powers of Light and Darkness (ostensibly both servants of the Creator). Most, but not all of the roleplaying surrounds the conflict between these four powers, while smaller factions politick for supremacy. The administration favour 'roleplay' over mere 'gaming', and often push many of the plot arcs along themselves.
All in all, a very addictive way to waste days and days.