Client Software

To connect to and play the game, you need some sort of client software, some sort of "telnet" or "terminal" or "mudding" client. All computers come with some sort of telnet program built-in. On Windows, you can type "telnet 5000" on the command prompt, and it will connect. But these telnet programs are often poorly suited for playing a MUD. They offer you no scrollback, no command history, no aliases... and more often than not, you don't even get to see the text you are typing!

Fortunately, there are a number of clients you can download and install, designed specifically for playing MUDs like Darkover. Most are free, but a few have trial periods and then require money to register.

Overview: Just Use zMUD

For Windows platforms, our highest recommendation is a registered copy of zMUD. After that, there is an old Freeware copy that is not as good, but is free. After that, it's up to you. I review many clients, but zMUD is by far my highest recommendation. For non-Windows platforms, like Linux and Mac OS, we have reviews of a few other clients. I have less experience with these, but there also aren't as many to choose from, so I make the best evaluation I can.



 - zMUD 3.62a - Freeware
 - zMUD 7.05a - 30-day evaluation, then $29.95
 - GMud - Shareware
 - MudMaster - Freeware
 - MudMaster 2000 - Freeware
 - Portal GT - 30-day evaluation, then $23.95

UNIX, Linux, etc.

 - yTin - Freeware
 - TinyFugue - Freeware

Mac OS

 - Rapscallion - Freeware

zMUD 3.62a

Freeware, Windows

Download directly from

Unless you have Windows XP, you can download this free zMUD directly from the Darkover web page, and try it out. (It may work in Windows XP, but we've heard complaints of trouble with it.) Keep in mind that this is not the best zMUD out there, it is only the free zMUD. If paying $30 isn't out of the question, you can download the current zMUD and evaluate it for 30 days.

zMUD 7.05a

30-day evaluation, then $29.95, Windows

Download from

The registered zMUD is our highest recommendation, and works on all versions of Windows, including Windows XP. It has more features, and is easier to use and setup, than any other client. Once configured correctly, zMUD can even make maps of the game, and give you directions between two points on demand. The established base of zMUD users is huge, and you can easily find help on discussion forums with any questions, if you can't simply find another player on Darkover who knows zMUD. It is very popular.

We have a zipped folder of settings, with colors and terminal options configured for Darkover,

Download Darkover settings for zMUD 7.05a

This zip file contains a "Darkover" folder that you can move into your ZMUD folder. It's nothing you couldn't do yourself, given enough time: just the mud's address, IP, and some font and color settings predone for you. If you are new to zMUD, it will save your time getting it set up.


Shareware, Windows

Download directly from

Although GMud is shareware, it will never expire or stop working, only bug you for a second or two with a "please send me money" screen. GMud does not have many features, but it has the important ones: aliases, macros, and triggers, and is easy to use. It is more or less the opposite of MM2K.

GMud is ancient, from around 1997 or so, and no longer supported or updated by its authors. It seems to work decently, but has some very annoying issues with lines that go past 80 columns, and also with colorization. Overall, GMud remains a choice for some people who just want something free and easy to use, although I recommend trying the free zMUD first. zMUD 3.62a has better help files than GMud, more features, and less bugs.

If you do use GMud, you will have to select "buggy_ansi" as a color option on connecting to the game. GMud's handling of color is very poor, and the game needs to be told you are using an outdated client in order to compensate for this. But again, please do not use GMud without trying one or two other free clients first. It is just not very good, in our opinion.


Freeware, Windows Console (DOS-like)

Download from

MudMaster runs in Windows console mode, what you might call a "DOS prompt". I used to use it out of nostalgia; my original way of mudding was through a DOS modem app called Telix, and I just like the way the DOS console looks in full-screen mode. If you're a diehard retro fan, you can give MudMaster a try, but it has some heavy drawbacks. It has a nasty habit of consuming 100% CPU no matter how good your comp is; it "uses as much CPU as it can get," as one MM user put it. That is a clue that the author of MudMaster just didn't have the patience and care to "do things right". You don't let serious bugs like "it consumes 100% CPU" slide if you give a damn.

If you really like the DOS console like I did, you are probably better off trying zMUD, and reconfiguring the colors until you like them. I don't recommend MudMaster highly. The documentation is just not very good, and the syntax on creating aliases with arguments (as well as other things) is very picky. But if it sounds like what you want, you can give it a try.

Some old versions of MudMaster have bugs in colorization, although Darkover at least has workarounds for them, and they will not cause you problems. The newest version, available from the website above, does not have these bugs.

MudMaster 2000

Freeware, Windows

Download from

This client took the internals of MudMaster and made a Windows GUI for them. The internals, being from MudMaster, are not the most user-friendly. The GUI, being a means to an end, is likewise not of the highest quality; it appears that the author was learning Windows programming while creating MudMaster. The screen scrolling is not as smooth as in zMUD, and the settings and preferences are not as easy to manipulate through the GUI as in zMUD.

None the less, the client is free, and is undoutably better than the original MudMaster. MM2K, as this client is called, does not have the obnoxious "100% CPU" bug that MudMaster does. If you don't want to pay for a client, and zMUD 3.62a and GMud don't satisfy you, this is probably your best bet. Personally, I have never liked it. In zMUD, I feel that although there are a ton of features available, if I don't want to use them, they will remain out of my way. I never had that nice, user-friendly feeling in MM2K... Like MudMaster, it always seemed to be pressing me to "learn how the client works". That bothers me, but I can be pretty picky about software; it may not bother you.

MM2K also has bugs in colorization. Some old versions of MudMaster contain the same bugs, and it appears that MM2K is based off one of these older versions. Darkover has a workaround to make colors appear correctly, but it just makes me wary of MM2K in general. Who knows what other ancient MudMaster bugs are burried in the thing, waiting, possibly forever, to be fixed?

Portal GT

30-day evaluation, then $23.95, Windows

Download from

This client is altogether good, but for practical reasons it is my lowest recommendation for Windows systems. It has about the same set of features as zMUD but is not as popular. If you are going to spend money, you might as well spend $30 for zMUD, and you will be using what most other people are. Also, zMUD lets you install on two machines, in case you connect from multiple places. Portal GT will make you pay an extra $16 to do that.

You can of course download evaluation versions of both zMUD and Portal GT, and try them both, but my recommendation is to try zMUD first. It's not that Portal GT is bad, only that zMUD is better, priced similarly, easier to use from multiple computers, has more support, and is and far, far more popular.


Freeware, Unix (etc.)

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yTin is an offshoot of TinTin++, a client that was very popular years ago but is no longer maintained. I have not used yTin myself, but I have heard good things about it, and the TinTin++ "style" of clients is definately the easiest to setup and use on UNIX systems. I used TinTin++ for years, and liked it.

If for some reason you don't like yTin, look for other TinTin++ offshoots before looking elsewhere. The main alternative to TinTin++ on UNIX systems is...


Freeware, Unix (etc.)

Download from

TinyFugue is a very old client that is supposed to be "very powerful", with the ability to create very intricate scripts. Its main disadvantage is that "very powerful" is simply not necessary for a high-action mud like Darkover. tf, as this client is called, is used by some people on heavy-communication muds, to run bots that are so complex, they might as well be servers. If you have ever used IRC to download files, you can get an idea of how fancy these bots can get.

That would be all well and good if it came with no strings attached, but it doesn't. tf has a very arcane and picky syntax, and is just hell to get started with. I used tf myself, for about six months, thinking it is what "real Linux hackers" use. I regret the experience; I got a lot of wasted time whining about nonexistent documentation, and nothing else for my trouble. I found I had to go read the tf source code (!!) to get even the most simple things done correctly, and that became very boring, very fast.

I just do not recommend tf. It is the opposite of user-friendly. There is a reason that zMUD (and MudMaster, etc., etc.) boast of some degree of TinTin compatibility, not tf compatibility!


Freeware, Mac

Download from

I've never owned my own Mac, so I can't give great recommendations here, but Rapscallion is the only GUI client I know of for the Mac, and it gets very good reviews online. It used to cost money, but it is no longer actively maintained, so it is free now. Several of our players use it and say it is good.

If for some reason you want to go retro, you could also try yTin and TinyFugue. (I of course recommend yTin!) I haven't tested these on Macs either, but I have used the clients on other platforms and they are both reported to work fine on Mac OS X. Definately try Rapscallion first though.