So you wanna build an area...?

The immortals at Dawn of the Ages (DoA) are only too happy to see new players try their hands at building. Not everyone has the desire to put in the hard work, long hours, and constant self-criticism it takes to create a new, and well-designed, area. But that's why you're here, right?

To this end the immortals at DoA want to provide you with the documents, links, and software you need to successfully create an area. Some of these are specific to Dawn, and can be found at the top of the list below; others are written for other muds, or for muds in general, and appear next on the list; and last on the list are links to sites which focus on writing in general, and from which you might benefit. The list is by no means exhaustive, and you might find other helpful sites by searching places such as The Mud Connector or Google. If you come across a site that has helped you, and you think that site may help others, please contact Anasadi via e-mail.

Dawn Resources

The primary guide to building an area on Dawn is A Guide to Building an Area on Dawn of the Ages, which delves into the codes, formats, and details of an area file. Everything you need to find out about building an area for Dawn of the Ages can be found in the Guide. The immortals have also written the supplement On Writing Areas, which is a softer approach to developing areas for Dawn. The supplement discusses and emphasizes issues of style by taking a builder by the hand and showing her how to build a fully functional area called the "Red Beer Inn". To round off the guides is a summary of the two, which gives a builder guidelines if and when she considers submitting an area. The summary is more straightforward than the guides, and should be viewed mainly as a set of crib notes to them.

To create an area a builder needs an editor of some kind. Dawn has two editors, one for Windows and another for Linux. The Linux version is in beta status right now, and is undergoing development as you read this. All future developments for an area editor will be for the Linux version, so learn the Linux OS now.

Dawn also, by the way, has a Socials Editor. The editor is written in Java, so it stands a good chance of running on any operating system. Try it today and find out.

Mud-Specific Resources

Helpful Software

A useful tool for builders is a mapper, which allows the builder to lay out her area so she has a good visual grasp of the place. One such tool, The ASCII Mapmaker, is no longer actively developed, and the last version (1.4) can only be found on download sites. Here's the Google search for the software. You might also try a non-ascii mapper such as Tiled, a generic mapper which, since it's written in Java, should run on the OS of your choice. The Linux version of Dawn's Area Editor also creates maps and much more, but it does require you to use Linux. Finally, there's the good ol' fashioned text editor, which I use and have never had a problem with. Here's an example of how plan out your area using this simple software.

If a new name for your mobile doesn't come to mind, or you have a terrible time thinking of names as a rule, a random name generator can help. There are several of these spread across the internet, a good one being's Name Generator. The generator has many different flavors of names, including Tolkien-style names and Warhammer names. You can find other name generators across the internet, including one I use called the Everchanging Book of Names, but Squid's generator does a good job, and is OS independent.

Helpful Building Tips

If Dawn's Guide above doesn't help you enough with writing your own areas, you can look at other documents found on the Internet. How to Plan an Area, for example, gives a decent introduction to building areas. You can also find another well developed series of documents at The Art of Building, which gives a more in-depth look at some of the issues you may struggle with as you build your area. The document Building Wheel of Time Themed Areas is designed for another mud, but does give a good outline as to how to build a room for an area. Lastly, if you want to take a look at other people's work for area ideas, pop on over to Dibrova, which hosts perhaps all the stock areas ever made for MUDs. (Remember, use these stock areas for ideas, not for implementation or for plagiarism.)

Other Resources


Not all builders like area editors, but prefer to use plain ol' text editors. UltraEdit comes highly recommended, and uses syntax highlighting, macros, and ftp capabilities. TextPad is another decent Windows editor. If Macs are your thing, you might try BBEdit. There is a free version called Text Wrangler, and it has most of the capabilities of the pay version. On Linux, there's the Nirvana editor, or NEdit. NEdit is not as robust as UltraEdit, but it has nice features, and better, it's free.

Of course, if you're into flexing your mental muscles, showing off to your friends, and want an editor that does just about everything including washing the dirty dishes, you might try downloading Emacs, the editor of computer gurus everywhere. It's usable on just about every UNIX flavor, on Windows, and on the Mac, it's extendable, and best of all, it's free.

Reference Books

Where would most writers be without at least one dictionary and one thesarus? The best of these, unless you count the Oxford Enlgish Dictionary, is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus Online. It's the standard by which other dictionaries and thesauri are compared. Another good dictionary is the one found at The same people host a decent thesaurus as well, found at

Books on Writing and Style

Finally, to become a good writer no matter what you're doing, learning from others is perhaps the best of methods. Authors often accomplish this by reading what others have written in the way of books, papers, and articles, such as you will find at Project Gutenberg, a repository of out-of-copyright works of literature, non-fiction, history, religion, philosophy, and just about anything else written under the sun.

Short of this, you can learn style, too, from style books. The best of the best of these is William Strunk's Elements of Style, the classic of style books. You may do well to invest five dollars at your local used book store and get the later edition titled Strunk and White's Elements of Style, which discusses even more issues of style than the first edition. You might also benefit from either A Grammar and Style Guide, A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices, or even A Grammar Handbook.

Remember, the best areas are not those that are the most creative, but are the best written.