The Shadow of Yserbius

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The Shadow of Yserbius
Developer(s)Ybarra Productions
Publisher(s)Sierra On-Line
Release1991 (Incl. with TSN)
1992 (Offline Port by Sierra)
1994/5 (Incl. with INN)
Mode(s)Single player

The Shadow of Yserbius, originally published by Sierra On-Line and developed by Joe Ybarra of Ybarra Productions, was the first of three graphical MUDs for the online community. Opening to rave reviews, The Shadow of Yserbius, according to industry critics,[who?] set the standard by which all future MUDs would be judged. The game was followed by two sequels entitled The Fates of Twinion (1993) and The Ruins of Cawdor (1995). Until recently, only The Shadow of Yserbius and The Fates of Twinion were playable in offline mode.

The Shadow of Yserbius, along with its successors, remained online until 1996, when America Online purchased the rights from then-owner AT&T for an undisclosed price (rumored to be $40 million). AOL soon pulled the plug on The Shadow of Yserbius, which was a competitor to its existing online RPG Neverwinter Nights.

In late 2007, the ImagiNation Revival Project succeeded in resurrecting the long-dormant ImagiNation Network by using the original client software coupled with DOSBox. The Shadow of Yserbius was again available for online play with all features, graphics, sounds, and such fully intact and functional. Macros are fully supported and compatibility with old character and map files is enabled for TSN/INN versions 2.4 and higher. In early 2016, the server was shut down making online play not possible until recently.


Combat was simple turn-based point and click fare, typical of many graphical RPGs of its time.

The goal of the game was to kill an evil elemental creature called En-li-Kil. There were a number of "rooms", where up to 30 (later 60) people could meet and adventure together in groups of up to four. Combat was turn-based.

The available professions were Barbarian, Knight, Ranger, Thief, Cleric, and Wizard. Player races included Human, Orc, Elf, Troll, Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling, and Gremlin.

Another popular pastime was player vs player sparring. This later became corrupted by cheating, as well as version compatibility issues, which later versions tried to address with little success. The most popular of these cheating programs was a macro called VitaminF.

Many players were members of guilds, ranging from the SoF (Soldiers Of Fortune), KoY (Kingdom Of Yserbius), EMPIRE and DEADZ, to guilds such as TheMercs, KoC (Knight of Chivalry), KAAOS (Killing As An Organized Sport), and the FTT (Friendship, Truth, and Trust Guild). While some guilds were based on role-playing at times, some of the guilds were dedicated to helping others with interest in the Quests and building strong characters. A handful of the guilds started in Yserbius during the early 1990s, such as the MRA (Mystical Realms of Asgard), SoF, TheCelts, KAAOS, DEADZ, TheMercs, New Outriders, and the FTT, still exist to this day.

Source of information for gameplay. Detailed walkthrough available at Yserbius Forum Source of information for Gameplay Original Manual in PDF format

The Tavern[edit]

The tavern was the social hub for the game. Players who spent a lot of time in the tavern were known as "tavern rats". Many games and challenges took place there, as well as a significant amount of roleplaying.


Computer Gaming World in 1993 called the online version's static artwork "lovely" and approved of the questing and, especially, the social nature of the game. The magazine concluded that "Those who possess the money would be well served to try out TSN and Yserbius".[2] In June 1994 Shadow of Yserbius: Fates of Twinion was a finalist for Computer Gaming World's "Online Game of the Year" award, losing to Multiplayer BattleTech.[1]

Computer Gaming World in 1994 stated that the boxed set of offline versions of Yserbius and Twinion "a hollow shell of its vibrant on-line self ... Playing Yserbius without fellow on-line gamers is like being in an amusement park after hours, on in which the rides aren't all that fun to begin with". While acknowledging that "there is something to be said for" its "refreshingly simple" gameplay, and the usefulness of an offline way to learn and level up characters for the online version, the magazine concluded that most fantasy RPG players would be disappointed when Betrayal at Krondor, Lands of Lore, and other alternatives were available.[3]


INN Barn (2019-Present)[edit]

INN Barn was designed from scratch as a modern recreation of the former Imagination DOS network servers. It's been created and hosted by Jim Leiterman who worked for INN back in 1994-95 as a way to restore some of the functionality of the old network. In addition to the server, he has programmed a companion proxy interface for Windows to connect to said server. Basically, you run the innproxy on your PC, you run the INN software in DOSBox, and when you connect it connects to the running proxy as if it were the old dialup modems we used to use in the “old” days to connect to the INN Barn server. Being DOSBox it has native clients that will run in Linux, Mac, and Windows the only caveat being the proxy is windows only but has run well for Linux / Mac users under WINE.

We can now again enjoy playing with friends Cawdor, Twinion, and Yserbius along with most of other INN games like Boogers, Red Baron, Cribbage, Spades, Hearts, Cribbage and more for free. The Sierra Help Pages has graciously hosted a setup package for Windows you can download that includes everything you need to connect and play here:

MedievaLands (2019-Present)[edit]

MedievaLands, an enhanced recreation of The Shadow of Yserbius and The Fates of Twinion is free to play with native client software for Windows and MacOS. Improvements over the original games include a better new player experience, many new magical items, item tooltips, expanded player inventories, improved bulletin boards, official support for player-run guilds, achievements, and a cheat-free game world.

Players can download clients for MedievaLands at

INN Revival (2007-2016)[edit]

In May 2007, the INN Revival team released an INN server emulator which implemented most of The ImagiNation Network features, including The Shadow of Yserbius. The INN Revival project used the original INN client software running in the DOSBox environment, and reverse engineered the original client's network protocol. Because INN Revival used the original client software, it maintained all the functionality of Yserbius, including backward compatibility with popular macros such as VitaminF (a character modification program) and pre-existing player and map files from the original ImagiNation Network releases. The sequels Fates of Twinion and Ruins of Cawdor, based on the same gameplay engine and similar file structures, were added in early 2008.

The INN Revival server went offline in early 2016. The INN Revival website remains unavailable.

Ruins of Cawdor Offline Patch[edit]

The Ruins of Cawdor (the second sequel to Yserbius) has been patched to be playable offline.


  1. ^ a b "Announcing The New Premier Awards". Computer Gaming World. June 1994. pp. 51–58.
  2. ^ Baker, Samuel II (May 1993). "A Trip Into the Fiery Environs of TSN's Yserbius". Computer Gaming World. p. 78. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  3. ^ Yee, Bernie (February 1994). "Role-Playing Reversal". Computer Gaming World. pp. 144, 146.

External links[edit]