How to Connect to a MUCK

(Without Losing Your Mind)

This text assumes that you understand the basics of telnet, and how computers talk to each other. (Considering what you must have done to be able to read this in the first place, this is not such a bad bet.) If you're still shaky on these concepts, however, help may be found here, here and here. If these are not enough to satisfy you, try searching for the topic that perplexes you most at Yahoo or Lycos.

MUCKs are basically programs run on computers you will never see, which reside far, far away. Your computer is most likely not big enough to run the MUCK server software, which is huge and nasty and eats PCs for breakfast. All your computer can do is call the computer where the MUCK is running and talk to it, and tell that computer what you want to do, and relay to you what that computer (which is far, far away and cannot talk directly to you) says. This is very inconvenient and inefficient but this is how it works.

A program called "telnet" allows your computer to speak to the computer far away.

If you are using a Mac, a NeXT or a Windows-based PC, click here to see the appropriate instructions for getting to telnet. If you are using something like Lynx to see this, and have a plain UNIX account, follow this link. If you are using Netscape or Mosaic to view this, you can take a shortcut here, but the shortcut is often tricky and sometimes doesn't work if your viewer is set up incorrectly.

Using Plain UNIX

UNIX telnet is relatively easy. You'll have to quit whatever browser you're currently in to do this, or open up another window; but do whatever you have to do to get yourself to a UNIX prompt, which looks like this:


or something close to that. At the prompt, type:

          telnet <hostname> [port number]

where <hostname> is the name of the computer the MUCK is running on, and the [port number] is a series of four numbers that usually follows a MUCK address. The port number tells telnet which bit of the MUCK server to ask to speak with, and is very important.

For example: telnet 9999

Your computer should respond with a screen that gives you the name of the MUCK to which you have just telnetted, as well as a suggestion that you enter your username and password. Since you won't have a registered character, type connect guest guest at this prompt and hit return. You should now be logged on to the MUCK!

If you run into painful problems at this point, see the common problems section below.

Using Windows 'N' Stuff

If you chose this section, the computer you're on has a lot of windows crowding its screen, whether copyrighted or not. Somewhere amongst the blather is going to be an icon, folder or executable file marked something like "telnet" or "communications". Open it and fiddle with it for a while. There are literally dozens of telnet programs out there and I can't hope to explain to you all of them but most have help menus and such; try those before you panic. It's a pretty good bet you've got the right program if the icon has a picture of two mating computers on it or a telephone ringing or something funny like that (my telnet icon has a mime on it for some reason).

When you've found the telnet program, ask it to connect somewhere. Usually this means pulling down the "connect" menu from the top bar of the window, or using "File - Open" or something like that. The program will ask you for a hostname; reply with the address of the MUCK, including all funny numbers that come after it. In general, the format will be similar to this:

     <hostname> [port number]

(For example, FurToonia's address is 9999.) Enter the address exactly as it is given to you, and the program will whir, and beep, and usually come up with a screen giving you the name of the MUCK you're connected to, and a suggestion that you enter your username and password. Since you don't have a registered character, type connect guest guest at this point and hit return. You should now be logged in to the MUCK!

If you hit painful problems at this point, it would probably be best to see the common problems section at the bottom of this page.

Using the Nifty Netscape Shortcut

Sometimes this works, and sometimes this doesn't. It depends on how well the guy who set up the Netscape or Mosaic program on your computer did his job. The idea is simple: turn the MUCK address into a URL (uniform resource locator) in the web browser.

MUCK addresses are usually given in the form <hostname> [port number] ... for example, FurToonia's address is 9999. Turn this into a URL like so:

     MUCK address: 9999
     MUCK URL:      telnet://
     MUCK address: 8888
     MUCK URL:      telnet://

Easy, huh? Then just enter the resulting URL into your web browser and see what happens. If you get something funny like "Could not find application" then you're probably zapped; but see the common problems section at the bottom of this document just in case.

If you'd like to test whether this shortcut works right now, follow this link to FurToonia and see what happens.

Common Problems with Telnet

Telnet says something about "Server not found" or babbles about DNS entries.
The Internet is a very big place; your computer has to search through a lot of other computers to find the one computer you just asked for. It might be having problems if you entered a name for the site, instead of its number. (Net sites have a name, like, and also a number, like The name is there so you can easily remember the computers' names. The number is there so the computers can easily remember each others' names.) Sometimes using the number instead of the name will let your computer find the other one. The example for FurToonia is:
     telnet 9999
I get a login> prompt after I reach the other computer. It doesn't say anything about MUCKs.
You've forgotten the port number in the address. If you don't specify a port number, telnet tries to log you directly onto the computer. You need to give telnet the port number for the MUCK, or else it can't find the MUCK when it talks to the other computer. Just hit return until the other computer gives up and goes away, or disconnect and then reconnect, and make sure you enter the port number in the address the next time you try to log on.


The MUCK says "Either that character does not exist or has a different password." when I type connect guest guest.
Some MUCKs have different login procedures for guest characters. Some MUCKs don't even have guest characters and are invitation-only--this usually happens when MUCKs are run on small computers which can't handle a big load of players. Try reading the login screen carefully to see if it has any special instructions. It usually does.


Netscape says "Cannot find application" when I try to use it to telnet.
Netscape is a great program, but it can't do everything. For one thing, it can't telnet by itself. It needs a helper application to tell it how to do that, and that's what it can't find. If you know you have a telnet application on your computer, you can go to the "options" menu in Netscape, and under "general preferences" and "helper applications" you will see a little bar that contains Netscape's hopeful request that you give it the name of the telnet application. Do so (include the full pathname) and give it another try.

If your computer still won't let you connect, try posting to or a similar MUD or MUCK-related newsgroup, or ask your sysadmin or computer guru.

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