Battle the dangerous Knob Goblins
of the Nearby Plains
! Hoard meat
, or participate in the thriving player economy! Craft a Bitchin' Meatcar
and take a vacation!
If Zork was the mother of computer role-playing games, KoL is her bastard son.
Kingdom of Loathing is a free browser-based MMORPG found at www.kingdomofloathing.com. It was opened for business in February 2003. KoL's creator and patron deity is Jick. The game is in open beta until the end of the Naughty Sorceress quest is written, which is slated to happen whenever Jick gets around to it.
***UPDATE 8 June 2005***
That'll be tonight, actually.
Like most other MMORPG's, in KoL the goal is to kill things and take their stuff. However, as you may have guessed, the whole affair is gone about with tongue firmly in cheek. Graphics, for instance, are exactly perfect to the subject matter, being primarily stick-figures. Instead of using Gold or whatever as a currency, KoL uses meat. As in, "I'll give you 10,000 meat for two Scrumptious Reagents".
That's not to say that the game is all just ha-ha. Adventures, such as the Zork-inspired Strange Leaflet, or the quest to clean out the Bat Cave, require wit, logic, and plenty of out-of-game knowledge. How do you defeat a giant fly? What do you call a fish with no eyes? Where do Leprechauns come from?
New players may select from a staggering six classes, such as the muscular Seal Clubber or the arcane Sauceror. Each class has widely varying abilities. The Seal Clubber deals huge amounts of damage to monsters by hitting them with large blunt objects, the Disco Bandit relies on his Moxie to avoid damage and to backstab, the Accordion Thief casts a range of buffs to strengthen other players (usually in return for meat), etc.
In game, each character has three major Attributes- Muscle, Mysticality, and Moxie. Muscle deals with hitting, damage, and hit points. Mysticality deals primarily with mojo points (mana). Moxie deals with avoiding being hit. Some classes, such as the Disco Bandit, have abilities, such as the Moxious Manoeuver, that also take the attributes into account. Each class favors a certain attribute; Disco Bandits favor Moxie, for instance. Attributes go up when the sub-attributes (such as Mysteriousness and Wizardliness for Mysticality or Smarm for Moxie) get high enough; killing monsters raises your stats. Gain enough in your favored attribute and you'll gain a level, making you more powerful, more efficient at gaining stats, and better able to kill things and take their stuff, ad infinitum.
Also, everyone has two other important numbers: Hit Points and Mojo Points. They work pretty much like in any other RPG. Hit Points is how much damage you can take before you're too beat up to continue (in which case you have to go rest; no one ever 'dies'). Mojo Points are used to cast spells and use special abilities. Both refill completely once per day. (edit: as of November 2004, both refill a set amount, depending on what you have in your campsite)
To actually go out and do things you have 'Adventures' that may be spent killing things and taking their stuff, crafting, gambling, or exploring today's Daily Dungeon. Each day, each character gets at least 40 adventures- more with certain items, such as the Meat Maid who cleans up your campsite, saving you some time.
Drinking is similar to eating, except that, instead of getting more full, you get more drunk. Drink too much and you'll be less effective in combat. Drink until you're falling-down drunk and you'll be totally ineffective until the next day, although you might score with some twins from the Knob Warrens Harem (thankfully, though, there is no hangover mechanic). Fullness and Drunkeness reset each day.
Most foods and drinks can be crafted from other ingredients (which must be found or bought). For instance, a Bottle of Gin + Olive = Martini, which gives more adventures and sells for more than the ingredients would. The drawback to crafting is that it takes adventures, unless you've made or bought a Chef-in-a-Box or the like. The making and selling of Hell Ramen is currently the most powerful force in the economy, although the recent introduction (and subsequent mysterious disappearance) of the mysterious Spectral Pickle Factory is sending shockwaves.
The player economy is so smooth that big-time MMORPGS should take notes. Players can go off to strange areas (such as the Hole in the Sky, Haunted Pantry, and the Orcish Frat House), kill things and take their unique, exotic stuff, and come back to town and sell it, of course, but you could also put it in the Flea Market and try to have the lowest price, or buy your own store in The Mall and try to sell it there. Also, there's a trade channel in the chat panel, and an "offer item" option when sending a message to an individual.
Kingdom of Loathing might not be more than an underground niche time-waster, but, dangit, go try it out. The game never ends, but you still win if you get a chuckle.