Shadowgate Mud better emulates the D&D tabletop experience better then ANY other mud out there! For a roleplaying Mud that is literally all that can be said about it. Its not 100% perfect in every way but the experience is just unlike anywhere else. In addition to this the world is HUGE! I mean bigger then the biggest big big world ever! I don't know how big it is exactly because no one has ever actually explored the whole thing. The only real problem is, THERE AREN'T ENOUGH PLAYERS! And thats what I am trying to fix with this post.
When you join Shadowgate Mud, the first thing you will see is the tutorial and then a large newbie area with five or six decent sized areas to explore. Carefully and perfectly balanced. Honestly so much care was put into the newbie area its honestly one of the best most polished areas in the game. Its fun, easy to learn and anyone can quickly get the hang of it. After the Newbie area there will be a long stretch of mostly just exploring, learning geography, meeting and talking to other players, developing relationships and if you're really lucky you'll find people around your own level to roleplay with, travel with. And you can freely ask for help on the lines.
If there is a goal in the game, then the goal is to build your character's renown. That means roleplaying enough that the whole community knows you then doing things to get yourself noticed. Defeating monsters, killing bad guys, saving cities, bearing the torch of your faith, entering politics ect.
In my own personal opinion before level 20 you are probably going to just be getting yourself established and learning the people and getting to know your own character and his potential roles in the world. Once you pass level 20 thats when you really need to think about shaking things up and getting seriously involved. By then you will hopefully know enough f everything to not get embarrassed.
I'll admit it can be a little slow up to that point if you don't have anyone your own level to travel with and roleplay with, but I really think its worth it once you hit the stride.
And if you decide you don't like the game, please leave a post on our forum or BBoard explaining why.