Dark Swords: Free Graphical MUD

Dark Swords is a graphical-MUD that has been running for over 12 years. Its the deepest and most complete online role-playing system I have experienced. I have played for 25 hours, another friend has played for 50 hours, and its time to recommend it to others.


To play, either download the FREE client on Steam or from their website, then register a character and jump right in. Caution, there is also an “EU” server with a different client and different registration system, they are different worlds - don’t confuse them.

More details:

Caveats up front: its Russian, so over half the users speak Russian. Its a MUD so it can feel old-school, where RPG = fight and kill mobs. PvP can be brutal until you understand the game.

Here are the top things we like about Dark Swords:

  • A graphical 2D interface that shows your location, surroundings, map, inventory, equipment and opponents visually. This allows for easy navigation and situational awareness, which I find hard in a text-based MUD.

  • A flexible skill system that allows you to combine any attribute upgrade, skill or power in any combination. Want to be a Mage with an Axe and buffs? A Priest that focuses on damage reflection and group heals? An assassin that can wear heavy armor and use a shield? A tank that specializes in AOE spells? Max level is aprox 250, which is 250 different skills chosen however you like. The list of skills is here, click through one “guild” to see its 15 skills:


  • The world is very large. Its composed of hub cities connected to dozens of “adventure zones” with strong themes, connected by roads that act like choke-points, organized into different zones. You can auto-walk from one explored area to another, simplifying navigation. The world node map is here:


  • Good balance between active and passive combat. You click to auto-attack an opponent, and your passive skills (like damage reflection, under the advanced School of Alteration) happen automatically. On top of that, there are active combat skills like combos or active magic skills like spells that you can trigger manually. These can be chosen and tuned to fit your style, from a passive “play on the sofa” style to a very active “pay attention every second” style.

  • An opt-in, opt-out PvP system with a strong theme. You can choose to enter the religion war, where worshipers of Sun fight Moon, and Order fight Chaos. Or you can choose to enter Chaos zones where anyone can attack. Or you can choose not to enter those zones and not choose a religion to avoid PvP entirely. The PvP religion system is popular, it seems like over half the players participate, and you can only attack and be attacked by players within a specific level range. We tried it and died 3 times so far, its fun!

  • The multi-player experience is good. Players can buy components, or craft and sell items. Players are visible on the map within a certain radius when you travel. Its easy to group up, and you can self-select your own difficulty by choosing the zone that’s the right fit for your party size. There are between 50 and 150 players online at anytime, and we often see other players in the same cities or zones.

  • Its a simple client, so it starts up in two seconds. Daily quests can point you in the right direction for your level. You can be out adventuring within a minute of wanting to play.

I attached a picture of my interface. I chose those windows and where to place them, you can modify things as you want.

Happy to answer any questions!

If even MUDs have IAPs nowadays, good thing I split from the genre.

Not graphically-stunning, pass.

The Steam reviews contain a fair bit of P2W criticism. In a MUD? Yikes.

Well, I mean, it’s a MUD.

Its a complex game, I cannot claim to be an expert. After 75 hours combined, neither my buddy or I have spent any money on “Platinum” (nor anything else).

There are in-game quests for “Virtual Platinum”, which we are completing. These will result in about 1,000 of these, which is enough for the normal bonus subscription (+20% health, +20% mana, neither of which we need) for 12 months.

The other uses for Platinum seem to be presents like flowers and engagement rings.

I also saw the negative Steam reviews that mention pay to win. So far, I see no evidence of it. I can imagine it might have an impact on high-level competitive PvP.

Its a good game to try for a few hours to see if you like it - we do! :-)

As someone who spends entirely too much time still playing MUDs, always good to have things like this pointed out. Old-school habits die hard.

If someone wants a free version of something like this- I’d strongly recommend QT3 folks rebuild something like say , Avendar.

Is Avendar a Graphical MUD? In Dark Swords I like the visual world map, click to move, hover to see a node name, easy glance at inventory, easy glance at equipment, click to attack a mob, mouse over a mob to see their status effects, etc.

The only other graphical MUD I found was Ember Online, but Dark Swords was a lot deeper.

NOpe, just a good text-based one.

Thanks for the post and update on this, @milspec

I am definitely interested if I can get caught up on other responsibilities this week after being sick for an extended period and missing a lot of work. With none of my social activities happening for at least a couple weeks, though, I will be bored soon!

Any suggestions on where to look to get a head start on how to play? I looked around the website and wiki a little yesterday and seems some sort of elf may be good to start with if fighting monsters. I saw there were some suggested builds there, but no idea of the order or how to learn to play. There is probably something there in the wiki I would imagine.

I will give you a shout if we make it in game. My wife and I are debating trying this or picking up Borderlands 3 on sale on Steam. We may choose the free one!

Hi @Kelan.

Part of the game’s charm is trying to figure out the mechanics. :-) The best info is at the EN site (not the EU site) wiki:


That includes the starter guide:


Info on Builds is important:


Note that most of the time people play a specifc Race for a specific Class. For example, Elf Assassin. Orc Melee. Dwarf Tank. You can break those rules, but before you do understand their racial abilities:


And here is the world map (again)



There are two other sites for info, but note they are often different or dated, so be careful:


The EU site is full of good general info, especially on the religion system, which is the basis for the PvP system:


Ping me if you have any questions. We are a combined 100 hours in, still having fun, still have not spend a dollar.

EDIT: Its Ok to make a character, learn the game, screw it up, and re-make a better one. It only takes 2-3 hours max to hit 50th, and another 3-4 hours to hit 100. By 100 you know what the game is about. :-) So feel free to experiment with early builds.

I have a Dwarf tank / priest and an Elf “Assassin” dagger melee. Friend has Orc Melee, Human single target mage and Drow AoE mage.

Thank you!

I was in the right place. Thanks for confirming. I will read up a little if I have time at work.

Good advice on just jumping in. I didn’t realize you could level that quickly so will just poke around and re-roll if necessary.

Just jumped off another 2 hour session w my friend. Time flies. There were about 130 people online.

Levels go fast until 100, then they slow down a bit. After 100 we still get 4-5 levels per hour, maybe double that if we were trying to be perfect. We are about level 130-140 now.

Eventually the world forces you into PvP zones. We have found up to about level 250 mobs in safe zones. Those are good to solo until level 250, but they are too small for a group.

Everything past 250 is in a Chaos zone. By that time you know the game very well. :-)

Best way to make money: check what the players are buying. They have player merchants set up on the roads outside of the main towns. Their sell price is green. Take the random “junk” loot from monsters and sell them to players for good cash. They are potions components and the players will profit from making and selling the potions.

I got the game loaded up, but got a little intimidated and distracted when I decided to start up my own Wurm Unlimited game and work on a settlement again so I never did make it in to Dark Swords.

I was just reading up on old posts after playing close to 100 hours the past two weeks to see if anyone else had an interest in Wurm Unlimited and found your old posts from 2015 about running a server! How long did you all last doing that? Was cool to see others that enjoy the game. If you ever get a world going again, make sure to let me know! :)

Wurm Unlimited lasted a few months. We had about 10 people playing. Got a decent settlement built, went exploring, made some roads, crafted some weapons, took a long sail on a big ship. Was fun, no plans to return.

We are still playing Dark Swords. :-) Casually, once or twice per week. Been getting into PvP fights about once per session, mostly getting our butts kicked.

If you mess with Wurm U be sure to tweak the settings to make it a ton easier. Or join a public (Wurm Online) server to find some folks. Wurm Unlimited solo on default settings would be a tough grind.

Oops, I thought I was replying to a private message there!

Looks like it may be an extended stay at home so I may still get to Dark Swords.

Since I mentioned it, though, yes, I did indeed configure the private server settings for Wurm Unlimited. I used to play on Mythmoor which had something like 7.5x skill gains and 5x timer? Something like that. I have already played through there pretty far so I decided to crank mine up pretty high to get back where I was before. I have been running 100x skill gains and 20x timer and it feels just about right! In the two weeks I am doing pretty well and have a decent mine, storage area, farms, crafting area, a cog and now working on exploring the new cooking recipes. I have most tools to the 70-80 QL range and just found some 97 QL iron!

I may get another week or two out of it and be looking for something else to do.

Nice. That’s the way to do it. We toiled like peasants for weeks in Wurm Unlimited. It was fun, but in a painful way. :-)