Castle Marrach

Castle Marrach (often abbreviated as "CM") is an online multiplayer storytelling fantasy produced by Skotos. The game revolves around the world of Queen Vivienne, a half-fae, half-human sovereign queen, and the mysteries of her secluded realm atop Mount Ardan. Players take the role of "newly awoken" individuals who can barely remember their past before being revived in the Castle.

Castle Marrach is a browser-based game and has often been likened to a MUSH environment, but includes graphical elements. First introduced in beta on September 21, 2000, and commercially released April 21, 2001, it has consistently been expanded by the player-run game staff.

Social networking

Players are encouraged to build social networks to gain favor, which results in both a soft social friendships (or enmities) as well as an explicit rank on the Great Chain of Being. The Queen is at the top, and players begin at the bottom, working their way up.

While the game has traditional game systems such as combat, crafting, and sorcery, the social structure of the game and emphasis on social roleplaying distinguishes it from most other games. For instance, the game also has different languages unique to its world which players can speak, either from the time of their awakening (an uncommon talent), or through learning through in-game lessons. Social status may be determine one's ability to learn some of the more elite languages of the Castle's society.

Teaching and learning are also elements of the game's social networking. Players are required to learn from other players, and to remain together for a half-hour while the roleplayed lesson is conducted.

The game also has a strong sense of roleplaying, discouraging the use of leet-speak, and encouraging social acclimatization of the "Newly Awoken" guests of the Castle. Sometimes they are pejoratively referred to as "Newlies," until they attain "Middlebie" status, and finally, "Oldbies" for players who have been around for a while (usually a year or more).

The castle culture reflects a working medieval fantasy society, with rewards and consequences for player actions. For example, though there is a dungeon in the game, unlike other roleplaying games, it is a place where unruly characters who break the in-game laws are thrown for days, weeks, or even years, depriving that character of roleplaying opportunities. It is generally not filled with monsters and treasure as one might find in Dungeons and Dragons, though there might be fellow incarcerated inmates or gaolers to periodically socialize with. On the other hand, performing a favor or acting genteely before the high ranking characters of the game might result in promotion via social interaction without having to "level"-up.


The game includes a natural language text parser shared with other Skotos games, such as Lovecraft Country and the Lazarus Project, so that commands can be entered more like typical sentences rather than as computer-oriented commands. For instance, to interact with another character, one would type a regular-sounding sentence:

  • glance at Sir Launfal concernedly "Yes, my lord! It certainly should be brought to the Queen's attention!"

Thus, in this example, the parser accepts verbs, prepositions, titles, nouns, particularly distinguishing names, and adverbs (collectively known as an "emote"), as well as a text string of one or more sentences presumed to be spoken aloud by the character, called the "evoke." Other elements of grammar include adjectives, cardinals (one, two, three, or 1, 2, 3...), conjunctions (with, and), ordinals (first, second, third, or 1st, 2nd, 3rd), possessives (Sir Lanfal's white scroll), and pronouns (shake his hand firmly).

The result is that players can create rather long but natural sentences which have pragmatic and dramatic effects in the game. All of these would be examples of valid commands:

  • grasp my steel longsword's grip with my right hand warningly "Speak no treason in my presence, varlet!"
  • consider my 4th scroll peevishly "Why don't people sign their scrolls so I know who to respond to?"
  • juggle my three dead toads and my two rotten sausages agilely "It helps alleviate the tedium of centuries, don't you think?"


Players are encouraged to contribute participatory content to the game, whether as coders, artists, plotters of events, or as special staff-directed characters, known as "Veteran Players," which are akin to casted actors in a play. Plots remain open-ended; though there are often ostensible goals for the players to achieve and long-term plot arcs, there are not pre-scripted outcomes to many interactions (known as "scenes") or to whole stories, making the social evolution of the game partly in the staff's hands, and often in the control of the players themselves.

There are not the usual pre-set adventures or encounters with monsters and non-player characters that result in camping. While the game allows for combat with certain types of creatures, and permits player versus player (PvP) conflict, it has a strong system of consent, which means that one has to specifically allow their character to come to harm from the environment or from another player. Even social interactions may be consented or denied, to prevent unwanted intrusive interactions with other players. This is to prevent "griefing" by other players.

The game uses an extensive private TWiki project collaboration system to keep information for the player guilds and game staff. The game objects themselves are made with a unique set of tools called the StoryBuilder Toolkit. This has a browser navigation tree, called a "Tree of Woe" to let builders find existing objects, and other browser-based pop-up and command-line tools and scripts to edit and test new additions to the world. The core of the game is built upon LPC, but only the elite engineers of the game are allowed to modify such code.

Guild system

The guild system in Castle Marrach is fairly unique in that the rulers of the castle must approve any new guild being formed, with the requirements depending upon the stated purpose of the guild. Players are encouraged to join one of the already existing guilds within the game, and will find that the prospect of starting one from scratch will be met with resistance.

It is because of this resistance towards the creation of new guilds, that those guilds that are finalized tend to be long lasting groups that have the ability to effect great change within the game.


While most of the game is based in the text parser, the game has a map function so that players can see where in the game world they are presently. They can click on the map to see a larger map of the floor or area they are on. Certain items in the game world can also be examined to pop up a graphic, such as a painting or a calligraphic invitation to a special event.


External links

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