Meeting with a Stranger
The stranger, clad in green cloth, steps out from behind a tree and looks at you enigmatically, tilting his head. When he speaks his voice is clear and lilting but curiously aggressive.
"They say that life is a game... Perhaps the time has come for you to finally find out if you are a player."
"I wonder if you are worthy of the challenge? You don’t look like you will be but one who has lived as long as I is not necessarily fooled by outer appearance. Circumstances have a habit of bringing out the best in people. Maybe a hero does lurk inside. If so, we will soon find out. I can take you to a place beyond your pitiful little imagination ... "
"Others will look to you as their salvation, their leader. Have you got the strength to command them, to send them to their deaths in a greater cause? Bloodshed cannot be avoided but perhaps you can minimise it if you are swift in decision and deed. Be swift and bold. If you act fast and your deeds are impressive others may rally to your banner. Indeed maybe you will find allies, though it would be wise to ask yourself whether or not you can trust them? Do they really share your goals or is this is a short-term arrangement for convenience and they will turn on you the moment that other opposition is removed? Anyone who allies with an icelord should learn to look over their shoulder constantly and those who join with dwarves should not be surprised to feel the pain of an axe in their legs. Yes, I did say dwarves. There are ferocious dragons, awesome giants, psychotic dwarves, hairy barbarians and many other things you have encountered previously only in nightmares."
"Time however runs out... A hero is needed now not next month. Follow if you have the courage."
He disappears back into the trees. You hesitate for a moment.. And then ...
Lords of Midnight
Lords of Midnight (LOM) was a British computer game that came out in the mid 1980s. Many (well me) regard it as the most addictive game of all time. Essentially it was a strategy game, to do with the recruiting and moving of armies, however it had enough atmosphere and RPG elements that readers of Crash magazine voted it their adventure game of the year. In Lords of Midnight you took the part of Luxor the Moonprince and his troops in trying to defeat the evil Doomdark the Witchking. There were two ways to do this, one was a quest, involving stealing the Ice Crown from the Tower of Despair using Luxor's son Morkin, and the other was military, conquering the citadel of Ushgarak. The first route (the quest) was the quickest and easiest, however the military option was definitely the most rewarding.
The sequel to Lords of Midnight was called Doomdark's Revenge (DDR) and featured a much larger map, a new villainess Shareth the Heartstealer and multiple races to recruit from. A final game in the trilogy, The Eye of the Moon, was never produced and came out many years later on the PC as Lords of Midnight: The Citadel. Sadly it is often viewed as a disappointment and is regarded as the least successful game in the series despite having by far and away the best graphics.
Though the ZX Spectrum is long dead, many of its games have not followed it into the graveyard thanks to Amstrad releasing copyright on its ROM, enabling the creation of legal emulators. Hence people who never had a chance to try the original games can often do so quite legally downloading an emulator plus the spectrum save game files (I say legally, however as with much in life the situation is a little more complex, it is legal to write, own or run an emulator, it is legal to run an emulated copy of a game if you owned the original or if the author/publisher of the original has given their permission, which a great many have now done including Mike Singleton, author of LOM). A very small minority of spectrum games, were so good that rather than emulating them people have gone to all the trouble of writing their own PC conversions from scratch. DDR and LOM are in this group. Hence they have been brought to a whole new generation and in many ways are as current as if released today. Thus the use of present tense in the title of this page.
Chris Wild wrote the first conversions of LOM/DDR and they have all the features of the originals, plus a few small enhancements which no-one could object to, and which in many cases we spent hours wishing had been implemented in the originals. Since then he has started work on the Midnight Engine which is a system for writing and running Midnight-like games but not limited to the original worlds or characters. Though this is only available as alpha software it is at least as stable as the Windows system it runs under and a full version of Lords of Midnight is available to download with it. Many others though than just Chris have been inspired to write their own versions and on the M/MU links page you will find versions of LOM to run under just about every operating system, It is worth downloading and trying a version of the original LOM in order to get a feel for the game world and the type of commands. However LOM is not the same as M/MU.
Jean-Yves Rouffiac has written his own system for playing Midnight-style games on-line using multiple players via the web. In the original games it was just you against the computer. The original LOM and DDR have been converted to run under M/MU however both have been enhanced for the on-line system, with new characters and some new features. Opportunities for interaction between players have been exploited.
To be continued...