There have been complaints on the newsgroup that the Ultima Dragons can be cliquish, and that there are many inside jokes and in-group customs that can scare off prospective Dragons. This FAQ is an attempt to rectify that.
A few of the Dragons, including myself, have combined their resources to produce a Web page that will partially explain just what it is the UDIC is all about. Hopefully, this page will help shy newbies feel comfortable enough with us to sign up, and let help not-so-shy newbies go in with a little background information on who's who.
The Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter is an organization of people from around the world who have one thing in common: an interest in the ULTIMA series of games published by Origin Systems.
Members of the UDIC meet in a variety of different venues -- on Usenet, on the Web, on Internet Relay Chat, and soon on Ultima Online. They discuss game storylines, Lord British's philosophy of the eight virtues, the future of the Ultima series, and anything else that comes to mind. *Nothing* is off-topic in the UDIC newsgroup as long as it is of interest to the Dragons.
There are no membership dues or responsibilites involved with joining the Dragons, and only one requirement: to have played, not necessarily solved, any one game in the Ultima series (Ultima I-IX, Ultima Online, Ultima Underworld I and II, Runes of Virtue I and II, Savage Empire, Martian Dreams, Akalabeth, and Escape from Mount Drash).
Even if you don't want to join the Dragons, you're still welcome to ask questions of the group in the rec.games.computer.ultima.dragons newsgroup. Collectively the Dragons have put in thousands of hours at every incarnation of Ultima, and it's almost certain that one or more Dragons will have the answer to any Ultima conundrum you may face.
If you decide to join us, you just have to fill out a short form so we can add you to the roster of Dragons. You'll get to pick your Dragons nickname, within certain guidelines, and our official greeters will welcome you into the club!
Q: What's with the UDIC badges on the signatures?
A: A UDIC badge is just a way of indicating that the poster is a member of the Ultima Dragons. You can use the standard -=(UDIC)=- or invent your own. Many dragons don't use them at all.
Q: Why does everyone call themselves a 'Dragon'?
A: Because dragons are cool! Dragon smiley: >|B===8D
There's actually more to it than that, but it's a very long story. You can get the full history of the Dragons in the main Ultima Dragons FAQ.
Q: What's with all of the off-topic messages?
A: There is no such thing as off-topic in rec.games.computer.ultima.dragons! Anything that is of interest to one or more Dragons is on topic. There are only two exceptions to this rule. The first is "spam," which is off-topic throughout the Internet; non-Ultima-related advertisements are also off-topic in rgcud. (Advertising Ultima products is encouraged.)
The only other thing that's off topic in rgcud is accusing someone else of being off topic. You'd be surprised how often this happens!
Q: Are there any topics that are discouraged on the newsgroup?
A: Yes. The topics of pedophilia, the separation of church and state, comparative religion, and the morality of pirating out-of-print computer games are discouraged. The topics have already been thoroughly talked out, and there's no more to be gained by discussing them. Ophidian Dragon is preparing a document that summarizes the consensus among Dragons on these and other "old news" topics.
You should also remember that the Dragons come from all races, religions, nations, creeds, and sexual orientations. Before posting something that would offend a whole group, keep in mind that members of that group are almost certainly present.
Q: What is a 'plot thread'?
A: A plot thread is a story told cooperatively by the entire UDIC, or a significant portion of it. Each Dragon adds a little bit to the story as it develops. Generally, the stories are about UDIC members themselves, in their Dragon personas. It's best to read a few plot threads before actually joining one to get an idea of what's expected.
The general rules of plot threads are: you can't kill off a Dragon (or Health Vader), you can't rewrite the history of what's already happened, and you can't end the thread prematurely. All other "rules" vary from thread to thread.
Q: Which is the best Ultima?
A: According to the Dragons as a whole ... all of them. This thread has been running on and off since the Dragons began. The most popular Ultimas seem to be Warriors of Destiny and Serpent's Isle, although Exodus, Quest of the Avatar, The Black Gate and Pagan also have very devoted followings.
Q: What is the "reorg"?
A: The name of our newsgroup used to be rec.games.ultima-dragons. A Call for Votes was issued to break the group up into separate Dragon and Ultima discussion groups, and it passed over the objections of many Dragons. This is a sore subject with many on both sides, and it is best not to bring it up. You can still discuss Ultima in the Dragons group, and are encouraged to do so.
Q: How do I get a title added to my signature?
A: You don't. The UDIC does not have any governing body to award such titles; any that you see are self-granted. Generally those who want titles are tolerated, especially if they go back a few years, but it is considered in bad taste for someone to assume one unless they are (at the very least) a greybeard.
Note that, while it is not possible to earn a regular title in the Dragons, it is possible to earn one that is generally accepted through bravery and honor in a plot thread. The only frequent poster who uses a title of this type is Bajoran Dragon.
Q: Can I ask for hints?
A: Most certainly! We'd be happy to help with software, hardware, and gameplay problems, as well as offer clues, tips, hints, advice, opinions and occasionally ASCII maps. Check the FAQ first, though. We don't mind getting repeated questions, but it's probably faster to get what you need from the FAQ.
When asking for hints, be sure to use a descriptive header. Title your message something like "Need Help in Monitor (SI)" or "Sorcery in U8 Doesn't Work -- Help Please". Very few Dragons have played every Ultima, and even fewer read every message. Specifying where you're stuck in the header will get the attention of those Dragons familiar with that game; due to the sheer volume of questions asked, messages titled simply "HELP!!!!!" will likely be ignored.
If you don't get a response, don't despair. There are 100+ posts a day on the group, and you may be asking a question that only a few Dragons can answer. Be patient, and repost your question weekly until someone picks it up.
There is only one question that we no longer feel compelled to be even vaguely polite when answering. See the next entry.
Q: Ultima runs too quickly on my system. How can I slow it down?
A: First, realize that this question is asked approximately twenty times a week on the Dragons newsgroup, and it is answered in every Ultima FAQ on the Internet. Very often, the question will be posted four or five times in one day, and it is very clear that the people posting the question haven't bothered to look at the group and see that the question and answer are already there. So please forgive us if we snap. ;)
To answer your question: go to http://www.udic.org/ultima and get the program MOSLO. This program was specifically designed to solve this very problem.
Q: How can I get a copy of Ultima 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Savage Empire, Martian Dreams, Runes of Virtue 1 or 2, any NES Ultima, Escape from Mount Drash, or Akalabeth?
A: We've been wondering that ourselves. All of those games are out of print; you'll occasionally find them in a discount bin or a store with an out-of-date inventory. (Check toy stores, drug stores, and bookstores, too.)
There exists a CD which has Ultima 1-6 on it, but it's hard to find. The demand is so high that, even when a store manages to find some copies, they sell out often within 24 hours. Oddly enough, despite this, Origin is still hesitant to re-release those games.
Probably the best thing to do if you want those games but don't have time to search for them is to write a letter to Origin asking them to release the older Ultimas in a compilation. If they get enough letters, they may decide it's a profitable venture! Even if they did decide that, however, you still shouldn't expect to see such a CD until maybe the middle of next year.
Q: Could somedragon please send me a copy of Ultima IV?
A: Ultima IV is not freeware, but it is currently legal for members in good standing of the Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter (only) to distribute it. Any non-Dragon you see distributing Ultima IV is doing it illegally, but it's not like there's any dearth of Dragons doing so. We won't e-mail it to you, but ask on the newsgroup and someone is sure to give you a URL where you can get it legally.
Q: Could somedragon please send me a copy of an Ultima game other than Ultima IV?
A: If you're looking for the IBM versions, the answer is no. Origin is considering re-releasing these games, and it would be ILLEGAL to give someone a copy of one of them.
Q: What about an emulated version? Will you send me that?
A: Ah ... that's a gray area. About half of the Dragons feel that emulated Ultimas are still software piracy, because they are not condoned by Origin; the other half see it as a good way to get those games. (Since Origin never, ever plans to re-release the Commodore 64 or Apple ][ Ultimas, pirating those games isn't, strictly speaking, stealing. Therefore, it is illegal but, some say, not immoral.)
Feel free to post this question in the newsgroup -- making it VERY clear that you are looking for EMULATED Ultimas, not the IBM versions. You'll still probably get a few angry replies, but you may also get some nice replies with instructions.
(If you don't know what an emulator is, keep reading. That question is at the end of the second section.)
Q: Could somedragon give me the questions and answers for Ultima copy protection? I bought the game, but I've lost my documentation.
A: No offense, but we have no way of knowing that you're telling the truth about having the game. Even if you have the CD in front of you, you might have borrowed it from a friend (yes, that's illegal too). If you've lost your documentation, contact Origin, not us.
Q: One file on one of my Ultima disks doesn't work. Would somedragon send me a copy of it?
A: Even a request like this would be ILLEGAL for us to answer. Treat this problem like any other software problem, and take it up with the manufacturer -- Origin.
Q: What is Weyrmount?
A: Weyrmount is a multi-user dungeon frequented by many of the Dragons. The Telnet address is weyrmount.sensemedia.net Port: 9020 (thanks RedFerret!)
Q: What are greybeards?
A: The term is slang used to refer to a Dragon who has been an active member of the UDIC for a long time, usually a year; some greybeards include chevrons in their signature, below their UDIC badge, to make their status known. It's not really a title, and there is no formal definition of the word. And yes, women can be greybeards too.
Q: What is a troll?
A: A troll is someone who posts a blatantly antagonistic message in order to get attention. Trolls are best ignored unless your response is especially humorous (and totally at their expense).
Don't worry too much about being accused of trolling if your intentions are sincere; usually, when someone's trolling it's pretty obvious. Basically, don't attack an ethnic group, a religion, a nationality, a sexual orientation, or the Dragons as a whole. It's fine to attack Origin's policies, game characters, or even specific Ultima games, but if you don't like Ultima at all you don't belong in this newsgroup.
Q: If the Three Stooges aren't Larry, Curly, and Moe, who are they?
A: The Dragons often refer to Iolo, Shamino, and Dupre as the Three Stooges, largely because of the extreme incompetence they display in combat in Ultima VII and Serpent's Isle.
Q: What is Super Avatar Brothers?
A: That's a nickname applied to Ultima VIII, for the reason that, as in Super Mario Bros., success is largely dependent upon reflexes and jumping skill.
Q: What is Cinnabon's Cinnabon Bar?
A: Cinnabon Dragon has a charming little restaurant that is the UDIC's version of Cheers ... or possibly of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. Any number of things can happen there, but all are welcome and the food's great. The Cinnabon's plot thread is continuous, and "cartoon physics" are in effect, so bring a bizarre sense of humor with you if you drop by!
Q: Who is Health Vader?
A: Health Vader is a fictional character who appears a lot in plot threads. He is vicious, evil, and merciless, and he hates cinnabons (and Cinnabon's). He has tried numerous times to destroy the Ultima Dragons, and is the plot thread villain of choice for many Dragons.
Health Vader has two lieutenants named Kerock and Merock. They are fairly new additions to the Ultima Dragons universe, and the full extent of their abilities is unknown.
Please note that Health Vader, Kerock, and Merock enjoy the same protection as other Dragons do in plot threads. You're not allowed to kill them.
Q: What's the deal with dolphins?
A: There's no delicate way to put this. Let's just say that it is an off-color joke that got way, way out of hand!
Q: What are the PVLB, DLF, and DFB?
A: These organizations are factions of Dragons that support a particular political position. You can get more information from their Web pages; all three can be accessed from the main Ultima Dragons site, in the links area.
Q: What is a cluebie?
A: One particular Dragon uses the term to mean 'clueless newbie'. Most other Dragons avoid the term, as UDIC members are strictly forbidden to attack newbies.
Q: Who is the Muppet?
A: That's shorthand for The Big Red Muppet, and of course this refers to the Guardian. (Try turning off the sound in Serpent Isle and running it with the command SERPENT HISSS JIVE.)
Q: Why do some Dragons hate emps?
A: For the same reason that many Star Wars fans hate Ewoks -- they're inconveniently small, irritatingly cute, annoying fuzzy, and have nothing to do with the story they were dropped into. That's really all there is to it.
Q: What is a 'twit filter'? What is '^H^H^H^H'?
A: Some Dragons were modem addicts even before the Internet existed; both of these terms date back to the old days of WWIVnet and Fidonet. You'll see these term used a lot by Dragons like Lost and Kender that have worked as BBS sysops.
A 'twit filter' is similar to a killfile. ^H^H^H is a bit more complicated, and relates to an annoying problem on a few near-prehistoric newsreaders. Nowadays it's meant to mean "I regret saying what immediately preceded this. For example, someone might type an awful pun or something embarrassing, then add ^Hs to indicate that they regret typing it but decided to leave it in anyway.
Q: Who is Aaron?
A: Aaron was a practical joker back when the Dragons were still a Prodigy club. He liked to create clubs with names very similar to existing clubs, irritating a great number of people. When called on it, he responded with torrents of flame. This did not exactly endear him to the masses.
Q: What is anadaking?
A: Again, it's related to a strange, inconsiderate individual. Back when the Dragons were a Prodigy club, each message downloaded used expensive online time. Anadak got bored one day and posted a few hundred messages, many of them one word long, costing the Dragons who downloaded said messages a pretty penny.
Since then, 'anadaking' has come to refer to the odious pastime of spamming a newsgroup out of sheer boredom. The word is fairly close to a swear word, and anyone doing it these days would have half of Usenet screaming for their head.
If you're accused of anadaking, it's best to take it up in e-mail with your accuser. Do NOT be arrogant or rude; ask what they're referring to, listen to their explanation, and think about how you might avoid the situation in the future.
Q: What is a ranzer?
A: Around mid to late 1996, a strange character named Ranzer began trolling the group. Occasionally you will still hear a graybeard make a Ranzer reference, especially on a Cinnabon's thread (there's a dartboard with his picture on it on the wall in the Bar).
Q: Who is Critical Bill?
A: Critical Bill is a very selective troll who prowls the Ultima Online discussion threads. He shows more intelligence than most trolls, posting initially intelligent messages ... but, if someone disagrees with him, he begins hurling insults. He shows open contempt for the Ultima Dragons, and seems to enjoy making people angry.
Q: What is a plonk? What is a splut?
A: Generally you will hear a 'plonk' immediately after someone anadaks, aarons or ranzers. That is the sound of someone being dropped into a killfile. Being plonked is very, very bad.
A 'splut' is completely different. 'Splut' is merely the sound of someone being hit with a cream pie, and is usually heard immediately after the spluttee has made an extremely vile pun. Roughly speaking, being splutted is similar to being told "That was a really bad joke. Tell us another.".
Q: What is DejaNews debating?
A: DejaNews debating is the tactic of refuting someone's arguments by: 1) showing that they didn't always feel the same way, 2) have contradicted themselves in the past, or 3) have embarrassed themselves in the past in any way whatsoever. It got its name because DejaNews is usually used to find the statements being quoted.
DejaNews debating is an ad hominem attack, and therefore a fallacy of relevance -- showing that your opponent is imperfect does not prove that your argument is correct. Whether DejaNews debating is a good or a bad thing depends on who you ask.
Q: What is an emulator?
A: An emulator is a computer program that allows one system to act like, or "emulate," another, and run that system's programs. For example, an emulator might allow a Macintosh to run MS-DOS software, or allow a Windows machine to run Atari 5200 games. Strictly speaking, an emulator is legal, as long as you own both the system being emulated AND an original copy of every program you emulate. In practice, however, most emulators are used by pirates, and you can obtain huge amounts of pirated emulator software on the World Wide Web.
If you want an emulator, go to a search engine (such as http://www.webcrawler.com/) and search for the word "emulator". You'll find more than enough sites offering them. Because so many of those who use emulators are pirates, many Dragons refuse to help people locate them, and few Dragons would respond to a public request for such information.
This page was last updated October 25, 1997.
R. Serena Wakefield