Is AresMUSH right for my RP group?

Hello, apologies if this is the wrong place to post this. I’m part of a relatively large (~20 active players) crossover forum roleplay that’s been active for a little under a decade now. We are currently hosted on a website that is not related to roleplaying, though it does have its own RP board. We have had issues with both the administration and the site’s user base in the past and have off and on considered relocating elsewhere. The idea of hosting our own MUSH holds a lot of appeal, as does being able to fully customize our own experience, and AresMUSH in particular with its web portal + game directory seems both user friendly and good for maintaining an active playerbase. I have a little experience with MUSHes, while the other players have essentially none (as far as I’m aware.)

Our setting is a crossover of sorts, populated by characters from various media franchises, as well as original characters. Our posting style is a bit more lenient than your average play-by-post RP, with sort of a modified, more detailed script format being favored over prose, with posts usually around a paragraph in length total. The tone tends towards an urban fantasy/modern vibe, but with superheroes, supernatural anime protagonists, medieval fantasy characters, ancient gods and spirits from folklore, etc etc. Players almost always have more than one character in use, as well, and frequently rotate characters in and out depending on the game’s current mood and their own whims.

What would the learning curve look like for transitioning from a rather lax forum RP to a MUSH? Some of our players are kind of set in their ways, so if we do end up moving, how would be best to make it less daunting for them? Would the structure of our game have to change very much? As far as skill systems go, would FS3 be best for this (As I understand it has no coded support for magic or supernatural abilities), or would something like Fate be a better fit? Apologies for the open-ended question, I just want to get a better idea of what we’re looking at before I commit to the cost of hosting a server. Thanks so much for your time!


Thanks for your interest in Ares!

What does the structure of your current game look like? Are there mechanics at all? Ways to do die rolls and such? Does it use a RPG system like D20 or just freeform characters with descriptive stats like “Clever” and “Resourceful”?

Are there multiple environments in play at the same time, or is everything centered around a common set of locations and a central theme?

Will be following this to see how it pans out.

I’ve done a lot of PBEM/PBP RP over the years, and have thought repeatedly how much easier it will be for PBP players to make the jump to MUSH via Ares. I doubt it will be easy for your players, if all they’ve ever done is PBP-style RP, but Ares is a much better tool for text-based RP - both MUSHing and PBP - than any platform I played on prior to this.

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I think it depends on the intention.

I don’t see why Ares couldn’t be used for a more traditional PBP game. Turn off chargen, pretend the MU client side doesn’t exist, and I think it would be pretty easy for players to adapt. The web scene system has a lot in common with Storium’s scene interface, and PBP players transition to that pretty easily.

Now if you’re going to advertise it as a “MUSH” on AresCentral and expect PBP players and MU players to coexist, then yeah - that’s probably not going to work out so hot. But I think that’s more a cultural divide than a technical one.

I’d need to know more about @Astra’s needs before I could weigh in on whether it might be a good fit as opposed to just a serviceable one.

Oh, I agree. I think games are drifting in this direction anyway. Slower-paced, expectations that scenes will take multiple days instead of a single sitting. So I’ll be interested to see what comes of this. :slight_smile:

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Thank you for the prompt responses!

Structurally, our game has mostly player-run plots and events, with longer form adventure arcs being run by a player who’s voted as GM for the duration of that arc. It runs at 1 day IRL = 1 day ingame, and characters have implicit offscreen downtime, like being at a job or generally getting into shenanigans. Scenes can either be fast-paced or slow-paced, depending on when people are able to post - we have slowed down in recent times though, so if an interaction is really juicy or relevant, people will try to make an effort to continue it another day.

There aren’t really any dicerolling mechanics as such, it’s more freeform characters with descriptions as you said. That’s more a technical limitation of the forum than an outright necessity of what we do though, I think we’d like a lightweight conflict resolution system compared to our more freeform stuff - just as an example, one of our GMs was having a lot of difficulty recently with a challenge he was running, since there was no objective way to measure how different players were performing. If I recall correctly he ended up just rolling a straight d20 for each team. I read the FS3 documentation and it seems good, I’m primarily just concerned about the lack of support for more supernatural characters.

There is one main city area that our action takes place in, but people place their characters wherever they’d like in the city, by noting where they are with a location tag in their post. We like to have adventure plots taking place in other locations as well, but most of the roleplaying focus remains in the central city.

I think, ideally, we’d like to make a transition to a MUSH, as opposed to using Ares as a PBP software. Our new player count has been distressingly stagnant recently, and I feel like this could give it a shot in the arm. I certainly would be willing to help our players make the switch, I really feel like the possibilities we’ll gain are worth the growing pains of switching to new software!

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@Astra What you’re describing doesn’t sound all that different from MUSH roleplay, so on a technical level it sounds like Ares would work just fine.

One difference is that Ares RP centered around scenes, each taking place in a single location. It sounds like yours is more single-threaded (with moves specifying their location), so that would probably take a little getting used to for your players.

I think the main issue you’ll face is cultural. MU players generally expect fast-paced “live” RP as a matter of course. The norm is just a few minutes between moves, with scenes wrapping up in a single sitting. As @KarmaBum mentioned, there has been a shift lately towards people being more tolerant to slower-paced RP, but it is still very much the exception rather than the rule.

A MUSH might generate dozens of scenes per week, where as PBP game might only have one scene spanning a week or more. Players used to more slow-paced RP can end up feeling out of the loop or overwhelmed.

Not saying that’s an insurmountable obstacle, but it’s something to be aware of.

FS3 is unsuited to super-powered and/or super-natural characters. As you noted, it has no ‘powers’ system, and there’s a blog post about why the mechanics just don’t scale beyond normal human ability.

Ares does have a simple descriptive trait system available as a plugin that would be a good fit for freeform PBP type RP. It doesn’t do dice rolling or conflict resolution, but it’s something. Traits is not currently available through the web portal, but I’ve been meaning to add that.

There are several other skill systems available for Ares, but none of them have a web component either. That would probably be a hurdle for your players, unless you wanted to set up their characters for them.

Of course you could build your own system with custom code, but that’s a ton of work.

The MU community itself is also distressingly stagnant, but I think this is a case where both sides can benefit from new blood with new ideas.


Okay, given everything you’ve said, Ares definitely looks like it’s worth us giving it a try. Thanks so much for the help! :smile:

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Day late and dollar short. I’m very interested to see how it plays out for you @Astra.

Ares seems an ideal fit for crossover forum to MUSH environment. Heck, with focus on the web portal, the traditional bulletin board systems are crossed over nicely to operate in a more forum friendly manner to help lead into the MUSH environment.

Not to disagree with @Faraday, I would note that while +combat is not suited to powers (super/supernatural), I imagine if combat was more GM ran (+rolling dice versus letting the system manage attack/defense/armor/etc) powers (in skills or advantages even) could be feasible. Then again, other options are out there too.

I’m curious to see what you come up with, I’ll be keeping an eye out for your project.

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It really depends on what you’re looking for.

@Tat’s Spirit Lake MU is an example of a magic system that was specifically crafted to blend with FS3, but it’s a relatively “low power” world for that reason.

The issue with high-powered systems and FS3 is the dice mechanic. If you start stacking dice (i.e. normal human is skills 1-12 but you think you can make a superpowered creature just by giving them 24 dice), the mechanics just don’t work out as explained in that blog post. This is a math thing, and there’s no way around it using the system as written.

So sure - you could use advantages to track powers and just let the GM “wing it”, but I’m not sure that’s really getting you anything over just using a freeform system.

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This is just my experience after futzing with this system for about a year now: The more you try to bend FS3 to fit a system it doesn’t - e.g., super powers - the more manual oversight you have to do.

GH is low-to-mid power overall. None of our PCs can do anything all that crazy. But everything they can do in combat required writing custom actions, because there was just no way to balance it properly otherwise. Outside of combat, we have them rolling their powers vs difficulty (e.g., roll Bob/Physical vs Lifting cars is hard/6) that an ST usually determines based on the circumstances and the scene. I wrote some custom commands for healing outside combat. Et cetera.

Even with all that, as @Faraday was saying, there’s still no way for the dice to allow PCs to go toe-to-toe with a god-tier NPC. The one time we did let them go into combat with what should have been a nearly invincible NPC? It got slaughtered.

All of this is just to say: FS3 is awesome, and I have all kinds of fun playing with it, but you gotta be realistic about what it takes to turn it into a system for magic powers - house rules, custom code, etc. It can be done, but at what point does tweaking it become more of a difficulty than using something completely different?


Completely agree, but the level of house rules and/or custom code is not near as much in other systems. The combat code is great, very detailed and logical when one looks under the hood, even if the average player doesn’t get into things like aiming for criticla/vital spots or understand the hit_locations. But FS3 is a great universal system in my opinion, it drew me in well before Ares (I also like Open D6). I can house rule vampire charm is some ability (or advantage in the new FS3.3), and in a storytelling environment, easily assume it works on the average human without rolling and house rule/modify/on-the-fly/Rule 2 that to charm the stubborn librarian needs a successful roll using the dice roller. With verbose on, I can on the fly say 2 successes are needed are even set a target number and fast math in my head (8 is the TN, a pro level skill of 4 with 4 in ruling attr is auto success, anyone with less then four dice rolls and tallies).

It does take work for consistency and/or trust in the GM. House rules for consistency is good, but trust in the GM is better for me in a storytelling circumstance, not every librarian is the same, as long as someone tells me what I’m rolling for, I’ll roll anything and accept the outcome without needed to rules lawyer it. Then again, I’m a fan of Rule 2.

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