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Realms of Kaos was a freeware hybrid graphical/text MUD launched in 1998 by UAN Entertainment's sole developer Lance "DungeonMaster" Hoskins. In development since 1996, it was heavily influenced by Dungeons And Dragons, with the original stat behavior and exp tables missing only the finest details such as the fractionalized 18 strength stat. It spent much of its first two years in relative obscurity, seldom getting more than 25 simultaneous users during the first two years, and then exploded in 2000 with hundreds of simultaneous users being the norm. It peaked around 2002 and then slowly declined in usage.
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In 2005, the original developer decided to move on (only to change his mind a year later), releasing a good chunk of the source material to select admins. Differences in opinion for what to do with the game resulted in a developer schism. Out of this rose a heavily revamped original game, as well as a game known as Realms of Kaos Revolution which operated until 2007. Realms of Kaos lasted until about 2013, and the developers Lance brought on eventually created a spiritual successor known as Ember Online, which launched in 2016 and is still up and running.


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Tropes for Realms of Kaos include:

  • 20 Bear Asses: A few of the quests were this...with the rest following other simple archetypes, like "kill X" and "find Y".
  • A Homeowner Is You: Instanced player housing was added in 2002, with certain customizing options limited to charter members.
  • Allegedly Free Game: For 2003-2005, there was a "Charter Membership" feature that gave donators mostly cosmetic features, with coupons for enchants to weapons being the only gameplay altering feature. When the game changed hands, the original charter members were lost and the feature was dropped.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • In the early 2000s, an update made it so health on level up is no longer random. Existing characters had this change applied retroactively.
    • After the schism, stat rolling was done away with entirely, replaced by a stat allocation system.
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  • Bag of Holding: While this did exist literally, a typical high level player's inventory consisted of mostly backpacks filled with other items such as potions, as top-level inventory space was extremely limited.
  • Class and Level System: There were four base classes and twelve advanced classes, though these were not distributed evenly. Fighter had five advanced classes, Rogue had three, while Mage and Healer had two. On top of that, each advanced class has one more upgrade each.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Mainly true for low level players, who lost a singificant amount of exp on death and are likely to have their items drop if they're not soulbound. Although deleveling is impossible, it was possible to get one's exp down to near-zero by dying over and over.
  • Crossover Cosmology: As the playable space was built by a wide variety of volunteers with their own set of influences, the game draws from a number of Norse, Greco-Roman, Mesoamerican and East Asian mythology. You could probably guess who built what by which set of gods they referenced.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: True for higher level players, who have most of their items soulbound (won't be dropped upon death) and at max level you'd essentially lose nothing.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: A simple four-element form of this did exist, but only a few monsters had elements they were weak to and only event weapons and a couple spells could take advantage of them. Spells did not have diverse elements until late into the game's lifespan.
  • Elemental Weapon: These did exist, but they were only barely in circulation — before the schism they were available solely from staff-run events. Few monsters even had an assigned element to take advantage of.
  • Fame Gate: Some quests did have this feature, though areas themselves would also be locked off to low level players. The latter could be circumvented (by design) by having a higher level player lead lower level players in a party or by sorcerers using a portal spell.
  • First Town: Terra is the landing zone for new players. It's not locked off from the rest of the world, though...in fact its ports led to a number of high level areas.
  • Healing Potion: Potion quaffing was completely unrestricted. PvP duels often came down to who ran out of potions first.
  • High Fantasy: Was purely this, with no present/future elements to speak of.
  • Hub City: Terra ended up being canonized as this (despite Trollheim being the fan-preferred hangout for years) with the addition of vast ports and being the only location for some time where player-owned houses were located.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Inventories were less than twenty at the base level, so players would buy a bunch of backpacks (which had their own limited space) and have inventories almost completely full of them. Macros would allow making quick use of potions in a pinch.
  • Invulnerable Civilians: Whatever qualified as NPCs in the game, such as King Grunthow of Terra and Queen Portencia of Duskan, could not be killed because they were baked into the scenery...only interacted with via the quest system.
  • The Lost Woods: Common in map design as the build tools were rather limited, but Dire Mist Marsh and Tuskon Swamp were among the earlier areas to have such layouts.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: You could reroll stats as much as you wanted...and most people certainly did. One could expect to spend hours getting the stats needed by a particular class.
  • Magic Enhancement: The Enchanter class is built around this, able to enhance weapons and armor permanently. Priests were also able to both soulbind items, preventing them from dropping after death, and add permanent blessings.
  • MMORPG: It could support a few hundred players in its zenith, back when doing so was non-trivial for a freeware game.
  • Permanently Missable Content: There were a number of weapons and armor that were exclusive to one-time only staff run events, such as the Tough-Guy Competition.
  • Perpetual Beta: The game was initially in Beta, then was labeled as alpha for several years, then shifted back to Beta in 2002. It never shifted to release before the schism.
  • Player Versus Player: Mandatory and central to the community. As a result, most guilds were labeled PK and Anti-PK.
  • Point Build System: After the schism, the game returned with a point build system, and all the old rolled characters were wiped.
  • Summon Magic: The Necromancer was the sole practitioner, able to raise the undead.
  • Squishy Wizard: Neither of the Mage's advanced classes could equip anything better than cloth. Cloth didn't scale very well either, so these mages would be dependent on spells to make up the difference later on.
  • Thinking Up Portals: The Warpdoor spell allowed Sorcerers to open up portals to town.
  • Turn Undead: The Necromancer had the ability to take control of weak enough undead monsters, though the challenge of getting them anywhere useful made this highly situational.
  • Vendor Trash: This existed, but few builders actually put this into their areas. This is mainly because of the small inventories that players were granted.
  • White Mage: Priests were tanky healers with the weakest offensive capability in the game.


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