|Developer(s)||Skotos and volunteer game staff|
|Release date(s)||Beta: September 21, 2000
Released: April 2, 2001
|Genre(s)||MUSH roleplaying game|
Castle Marrach (abbreviated within the Skotos family of games 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, though it can be played on telnet, other MUD or MUSH clients for both desktop, tablet and smartphones. A graphical element of a map in the web-based client allows the player to see where his or her player is located in the game-world, and occasionally items in the game will create pop-up windows with player-created or staff-created images. Castle Marrach was 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.
Players are encouraged to build social networks to gain favor, which results in both 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: Arkham by Night and the Lazarus Project, so that commands can be entered more like typical sentences rather than as computer-oriented commands. Castle Marrach does not allow for free-emoting, which means players are restricted in their actions to what the parser understands. The game's parser has an extensive adverb verb noun system, which allows players to adjust items, their own bodies (and body parts), and the bodies (and body parts) of others. A command such as, shyly hold bob's hand would be accepted by the parser and be emitted as Jane shyly holds Bob's hand.
The subject of free emoting has come up several times over the decade-plus of game play, with players coming down on either side of the discussion, in the end the concept of consent in role-play has resulted in the free-emote system not being activated.
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 cast 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.
- "Castle Marrach (review)". Manifesto Games. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
- "New to Marrach?". Retrieved 2007-01-15.
- "Castle Marrach: The Forever Winter". Grrlgamer. Archived from the original on 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
- "The Lazarus Project: The Skotos Parser". Retrieved 2007-01-15.
- "Castle Marrach Discussion Forums: Considering WHAT? Gasp! No, not...free emotes?". Retrieved 2015-04-22.
- "Skotos Tech: Terms of Service". Retrieved 2007-01-15.
- "#33: What a StoryBuilder Can Do". 2001-05-11. Retrieved 2007-01-15.