Tibia: the MMORPG

Tibia is a(nother) mmorpg. Developed by CipSoft1, and published by them in 1996, Tibia has suffered from moderate to fair success ever since.

The Tibia client is free to get and the game is free to play, but paying for a premium account gives the player bonuses such as character promotions, additional areas, more spells and costume add-ons.
An account is created, which has an account number and password. This account can have many (I'm unsure how many) characters, which are completely independent of one another - they can be created on separate servers, have different vocations, etc.
There are, at the time of writing, 74 Tibia servers, and 2 'test servers', a concept so frighteningly boring that it has been moved to the appendix.

Graphics & sound

There is...contention...about whether the Tibian graphics are 'good' or 'bad'. Visually, it's not a treat - 2D, plan-view centred on the player's character. No music or sound effects. On the flip side - no one can sneak up on you, it's much harder to get lost or be unable to see, and the repetitive parts of training don't make annoying sound effects.
My most hated parts of the graphics are the monsters. "What's that, Cip? A new boss monster? Great - what's it look like? Oh, I see. Another enlarged demon."

Gameplay

Controls

The controls are simple. The mouse can be used for everything - left-click on the ground to move there, right-click for a list of commands applicable to what you click on. Right-clicking on food, drink, etc gives the option 'use' for instance, which causes your character to eat the food (something which is accompanied by orange writing above your character, saying 'yum' or some such). Right-clicking a monster or player gives the 'attack' option, which is self-explanatory. Another command that appears for ropes, fishing rods, some runes and various other items is 'use with...', which turns the cursor into a cross-hairs. This is used to target things (duh) and thus select with what the item will be used.
Alternatively, you can move your character with the arrow keys. Holding alt makes left-clicking auto-attack what you click. Holding ctrl makes it use or use with, and holding shift makes it 'look at'.
Oh, and hotkeys. F1 through F12, plus shift+F1 to shift+F12, and ctrl+F1 to ctrl+F12. These hotkeys can be used in various useful (or aggravating, depending on who uses them). When pressed, they will auto-type into the chat window what you have recorded, and can be set to auto-send it as well...Good for casting spells quickly. They can be set to use items (on target, on user, with crosshairs) such as runes quickly too.
The chat window is so universal I won't go into it. The most useful thing I can say is, move the cursor around using shift+arrow keys, or you'll move your character by mistake. And, Murphy's Law being what it is, you'll tread on a fire field. And die.

I'm sorry, did I say simple? My mistake.

Levelling

There are several different levels and skills that are advanced to improve a character.

First, there's the ol' fashioned Experience Level. You start at 1, and monsters give experience when killed, which advances this level. If 2 players both cause damage to a monster, the exp is split between them according to the proportion of damage they did to the monster. Each level advance increases the maximum amount of hp and mp available, as well as the maximum capacity available. It also increases the speed with which the character walks.
The other level is Magic Level. You start at 0, and advance by spending mana points (mp). Spend enough, you gain a magic level. It affects how much damage you cause/heal with spells, runes etc.
As well as levels, there are skills to train. For knights, an important skill is their melee fighting, which can be either Club Fighting, Axe Fighting or Sword Fighting. This affects damage done by melee weapons, be they clubs, axes or swords. Paladins, on the other hand, rely on their Distance Fighting skill. This affects damage done by distance weapons such as (cross)bows, spears and shurikens. Just about everyone uses Shielding to some degree. This is the ability to block physical blows, to avoid damage.
The only non-combat skill is Fishing. This affects the probability that an attempt to fish will be successful.

At the Start of the Game

When you start playing any character, you'll start at lowly level 1, on Rookgaard2. Train hard, reach level 8, and you may go speak to 'The Oracle', a statue who gives you a vocation, and sends you to a city on the mainland. Premium players can use a different statue, which has various other cities as destinations.

Vocations

Vocations are central to the gameplay of Tibia. There are 3 or 4 different vocations, depending on how you look at it.

Knights

Knights have the best HP gain, quickest levelling of melee fighting and shielding skills, and best capacity (ability to carry weight). They have the worst magic (max magic level 4), worst MP gain and can't make any runes. Knights are generally regarded as the most underpowered vocation (at the time of writing - they used to be far more powerful, relatively speaking, and could recover in the future). This is mostly because of the long time necessary to train a knights skills (in chosen melee combat area and shielding) before they can cause and deflect enough damage to train exp level effectively.
Pros: Doesn't need any supplies to hunt continuously, lots of HP, effective shielding reduces number of physical blows that connect.
Cons: Can't use many runes, low magic level severely limits capability against physical-resistant foes, must fight at close range, long training time for skills.
Knights can be promoted to Elite Knights.

Paladins

Paladins could be considered the most balanced vocation. Something of a compromise, they aren't the worst in any category, but their speciality is distance weapons such as bows and crossbows, meaning their distance fighting skill levels the fastest of all vocations. Paladins are not considered as underpowered as knights, possibly because they're better, but possibly because there aren't so many paladins to whine about how weak they are. Training a paladin's skills is much the same as training a knight's skills; it must be done before the character is truly capable of fighting.
Pros: Can run-and-shoot monsters, avoiding damage, can cast 'create arrow' and 'create bolt'3 spells, and sell to make money. Can use 'create food' to level up magic, as the food generally recovers enough mana to use the spell again. Better capacity, hp, shielding advancement, and hp regen than mages; better mp regen and magic level advancement than knights.
Cons: Not quite as good physically as knights, in terms of blocking and ability to take hits. Not as good magically as mages; can't make and use as many runes, slower mp regen etc. Selling bolts, arrows etc is not as profitable as selling runes. Requires ammunition to hunt.
Paladins can be promoted to Royal Paladins

Mages

'Mages' actually covers 2 vocations, Druids and Sorcerers. Druids are healers and mages of nature, but unfortunately come across in the game more as clerics. Sorcerers are offensive mages. The differences are slight; it's limited to a few spells either way, as they both have the same rate of advancement for hp, mp, magic level and skills (well, Druids advance minutely faster in shielding and melee). Hp advance is the slowest, mp advance the fastest of all vocations. Magic level advance is the fastest and can be advanced without limit4.
Until somewhat recently, mages were the most annoying vocation, as they were bereft of any capability to fight and level in the early game, having to fight with melee or distance until they could get some offensive spells or make runes. However, this has been reversed with the introduction of wands (sorcerers) and rods (druids). These are magical weapons, causing elemental damage that ignores armour. They are available on the mainland (anywhere that isn't Rookgaard), from lvl 7+. The first wand/rod is free, the first time you get it. There are 5 wands and 5 rods; they are usable at lvls 7, 13, 19, 26 and 31, with increasing damage. Some are ranged, so you can run-and-shoot to avoid damage from melee attackers. They cause consistent, reasonable amounts of damage (unaffected by magic level). Their biggest drawback is that many monsters are immune to one or more elements, making some or all of the wands/rods useless.
Pros: Wands/rods give good damage early on, allowing hunting without prior training. Don't need to pay for runes (mostly - sorcerers can't make Ultimate Healing runes, Druids can't make Sudden Death runes, but you can live without 'em, as with most other vocation-specific runes and spells), can sell runes for cash, premium players get cheap, powerful attack spells like energy strike early on, many powerful spells available (especially for sorcerers), lots of mp to use, Druids get 'create food' which is good for levelling magic (but limited, see appendix).
Cons: Can't hunt if their mana gets depleted, slow hp increase/lvl, not much capacity so can't carry a lot of loot, slowest advance in martial skills.
Yeah, mages are considered to be overpowered. How did you guess?
Druids can be promoted to Elder Druids, sorcerers to Master Sorcerers.

Combat

PvM

Player-v-monster combat is the best way to train and level on most if not all servers (PvP-enforced gives exp for killing players, but it's not the most efficient way to level up). Monsters are all the non-player objects that can be fought, killed, and yield experience when killed. If 2 or more players kill a single monster between them, the one who caused most damage (and hence also the one who received most experience) gets looting rights for 10 seconds.
Monsters come in many degrees of difficulty, from the clich├ęd first enemy, the rat, to mighty foes such as Demons and Juggernauts, as well as the terrifyingly powerful bosses like Morgaroth or Ferumbras. As the difficulty varies, so does the experience gained. Many of the more powerful enemies require large teams of players working together to defeat.
There are two or three common methods of character improvement through PvM combat. The first is Training, which involves fighting monsters in such a way as to maximise the increase of skills. Because of the way skill-experience is calculated, you can fight some enemies for hours, causing only a little damage at a time, allowing them to hit you. Causing the damage raises the attack skill, whereas blocking and taking the damage raises the shielding skill. Common enemies for this are slimes, which spawn copies of themselves, allowing long training without fear of defeating the enemy. Other good enemies are those with self-healing, like monks.
The second is Hunting. This consists of defeating large quantities of enemies for experience and sellable loot. This could be said to be one or two types of improvement; as it increases both level and money, and could be used exclusively for one. Hunts require different foes at different levels, or for different purposes. Hunting many enemies, for extended periods of time, requires that you bring adequate stockpiles of runes and/or manafluids5.

PvP

On some servers, there is no PvP combat. On most, however, there is. It's essentially identical to PvM in the mechanics (spell-and-wand/rod damage is halved; not sure about melee). Initiating PvP combat is risky on Tibia, as you can never know what equipment your foe is wearing, what kind of supplies they are carrying, or what their hidden levels (magic levels, skills) are. On standard PvP worlds, your character will be flagged with a skull for attacking any character who doesn't have a skull themselves. There are 4 colours of skull, representing different things:
White Skull. Attacking/killing an unmarked player results in a white skull.
Red Skull. Killing over a certain number6 of unmarked characters results in a red skull. They last longer than white skulls. A player with a red skull loses all items upon death, resulting in a greater drive7 to hunt and kill red skulls as a form of vigilante justice. Killing twice the red-skull limit of unskulled players results in an instant, automatic ban (for more information on bans, see appendix).
Yellow skulls. An interesting type of skull. When a player who has a red or white skull is attacked by an unmarked player, the attacker gets a yellow skull which is visible only to the player he attacked. This is so red-or-white-skulled player can kill in self-defence without incurring further penalties.
Green Skull. This is the way of showing that you are in a 'party' with the skulled player. Attacking them will incur no penalty. Hence, an important tip is - don't accept invitations to party mode with strangers! Unless, I suppose, you quite enjoy watching your character die.

The other penalty for engaging in PvP combat is the Protection Zone lock. Attack another player, even in self-defence, and you will be unable to enter protection zones (areas where PvP combat is impossible, a safe haven from PKs. But mana and hp don't regenerate in PZs) such as depots (item repositories) and temples, for a short time.

There are some servers - oh, servers are called 'worlds' sometimes - which are designated 'PvP-enforced'. They have cute, friendly sounding names like Inferna. On PvP-enforced worlds, there is no penalty for attacking other players (except PZ lock), and killing players of level equal to yours or higher (also those slightly lower level, by 10% maximum) gives experience if you kill them.

Death

It is nigh-on inevitable that, at some point, your characters will die. This comes with a set of penalties, but you might get some nice steak knives out of it8.

When your character dies, you lose 10% of your total experience in all skills, possibly resulting in downlevelling. Get downlevelled to level 5, and your character is reset to level 1 on Rookgaard. This is called being 'rooked'.
ANY container you are carrying (like bags, backpacks etc) will be dropped when you dies, along with anything in it. Each piece of equipment has a 10% chance of being dropped as well.

Magic

Magic in Tibia is principally used by sorcerers and druids, but paladins and knights also have a variety of spells available.
Magic is split into two principle sections: runes and instants.

Instant spells

Instant spells take immediate effect when they are cast. They all cost some amount of mana to cast. Instant spells can be further divided, like so:
Attack spells are spells that cause damage or otherwise harm your foes when cast. The simplest are the 'strikes', which take form as a blast of power against anything on the square in front of your character. There are waves, beams, fields (which create a long-lasting effect over one 'field' (area which is taken up by, say, one character or half a bench or a ladder's entry points), ranged strikes, and area blasts. Fun. Unless you're the Beholder on the receiving end, that is.
Healing spells heal things. No, seriously. There are various degrees of self-healing, as well as individual-other healing and mass-healing.
Supply spells turn mana into items of some kind. 'Create food' is one supply spell, as are 'create bolts' and 'create arrows'. As well as mana, supply spells use up 'soul points'. Soul points are used for creating things using magic; different spells use them at different rates. They can be restored by killing creatures which grant exp points equal to or greater than your experience level. Doing so causes the soul point total to rise at a rate dependant on the status of your character (Free account, Premium, or Promo). The maximum amount is similarly dependant.

Rune spells

Like instant supply spells, rune spells use up mana and soul points. They also use up 'blank runes,' which can be bought in magic shops. They create various types of runes, an item that can be used anytime to produce the effect of the spell 'stored' in the rune. Runes can be used by any class, provided they have the requisite magic level. Some spells exist as both instants and runes; some as only runes; some as only instants. An example of a spell that is both is Ultimate Healing (most powerful single-target heal). Rune-only spells include: Sudden Death (most powerful single-target attack), Fireball (umm...a fireball...) and both Light and Heavy Magic Missiles. You know what they do, surely. There are no supply-runes, but all other spell types are included. There are also some spell types unique to runes, such as:
Fields turn a field (remember them?) into a Bad Thing. Such as a Fire Field, which causes burnity death, or Poison Field, which has no effect because pretty much every monster is poison-immune and pretty much every player has "Antidote," the spell.

Quests

Quests, pah. Finding ones without a guide is likely to be pointless and unrewarding; completing them even more so. Quests on Tibia consist of a chest (or dead body, hole in the ground, etc) that you can only open once/character, for a set reward, such as gold or equipment. Some involve talking to NPCs, others just involve looking. Not really the best game feature.

Guilds

Alliances of players working to a common goal. At least, that's the idea.
...
...
What, still here? Really, there's so little to say about guilds that I'm stretching it as it is. I mean, what do you think this paragraph is for?

Summary

Really, I don't know why I like this game. The graphics are outdated, levelling is slow and aggravating, there's no music or sound, every time I do anything I run at least a risk of being PK'ed, if not killed by monsters. Everyone seems richer, stronger or more tibia-wise than me. But I can only say, play it, and the doubts vanish9. Because, when you're playing, there's only one question left...

"br?"


Appendix

At present, the appendix is not complete. If there's anything I've missed and you'd like to be recorded, tell me.

1) We call them 'Cip'. Generally in the context of 'Cip are arseholes, aren't they?'. But we love 'em really.

2) Yup, Noob Isle.

3) They create arrows and bolts. Paladins can also create poison arrows, burst arrows, and power bolts. The last 2 depend on magic level, and so were often the weapon of choice for mages, at least before wands were introduced. They are still used quite frequently by mages.

4) The greater amount of mp you need to spend to advance mlvls for knights and paladins is a limiting factor. The highest mlvl ever reached is 90, by a mage, requiring a total expenditure of 7728032 mp. This puts the practical limit to a knight's mlvl at less than 8, and a paladin's at less than 26. Assuming they worked at it as much as the mlvl90 mage, anyway.

5) Manafluids restore mana points when used. Not economical for, say, runemaking, as there is no profit. Sometimes profitable for hunting in how much it accelerates the speed and efficiency (for mages at least).

6) 3/day, 5/week or 7/month.

7) FRII ITENS!!!

8) May or may not be true.

9) This may, of course, be a hypnotic trance.