Gemstone IV for Newbies
Gemstone IV is an online multiplayer role-playing game, or MMORPG, created by Simutronics (http://www.play.net). The game was originally played on online service such as America Online and has been around for nearly two decades. It is set in the fantasy realm of Elanthia and the game world spans several continents, hosts a multitude of cities, towns, and regions, and embraces the general atmosphere of a Lord of the Rings setting with elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, trolls, and other similar content. The Adventurer's Guild in each town provides quests for players to gain silver (the in-game monetary unit) and experience (enables you to increase your level), or players can hunt a variety of creatures to advance their character.
Simutronics offers a free 30-day trial to new players, which allows you to get the feel of the game, level your character, explore the cities and regions, and decide whether you want to continue playing. After the trial period, the standard subscription is $14.95 per month. A premium subscription is available that allows you to have more than one character (or you can purchase extra character slots with the standard subscription) and also gives players access to individual housing, which can be customized to the player's liking.
When you first sign up to play, you do need to enter a credit card, but Simutronics does not charge you until the end of your 30-day trial period. You can cancel your trial subscription at any time to prevent being billed. I have been playing Gemstone for over 15 years, and I've never had any problems with the company's billing process.
After signing up, you can then create your character. You can choose from several different races such as Human, Elf (and the Elven subsets like Dark Elf and Half Elf), Giantman, Gnome, Sylvan (Elven), and others. Each different race has its own affect on your character's statistics and abilities. You will also choose a profession for your character from a list that includes Empath (healer), Warrior, Sorcerer, Bard, Cleric (priest), Ranger, and others. After choosing a name, race, and profession, you will then customize your character's appearance with regard to height, hair, eyes, face, and distinguishing features (such as the pointyness of your ears, if you choose an Elven race).
You then move on to allocation of statistic points. Gemstone IV has ten different statistics that effect your player's abilities in things ranging from combat to foraging for herbs and skinning slain creatures for their pelts. These statistics are: Agility (AGI), Aura (AUR), Constitution (CON), Dexterity (DEX), Discipline (DIS), Influence (INF), Logic (LOG), Strength (STR), Wisdom (WIS), and Intuition (INT). The game website has a detailed page providing what each statistic influences, so make sure you read the page carefully before allocating your stat points. You CAN change this in the game if you feel you've allocated the points improperly, but you are only permitted to do it five times, so choose wisely.
Once you've allocated your stats, you will then allocate training points (Physical and Mental) for a variety of skills. These skills range from combat (edged weapon use and armor use, for example) to magical (spell aiming and magic item use), and if you have chosen a spell-casting profession, you will also allocate training points to the spell circles available to you. Many things in the game are directly impacted by your character's statistics and skills, so allocation of training points should be done with some thought put into the process. For example, there are some areas of the game where you need to climb something to get from one location to the next, and if you have a low climbing skill, you will either fail to climb the obstacle of you could become severely injured (or die) while trying to climb.
After you have performed all the character creation steps, you will then go to the game world. You will be 'born' in one of a number of cities based on your character's race. For example, Humans generally come from Wehnimer's Landing, Giantmen come from Icemule, and Elves come from Ta'Vaalor. However, it is my very strong recommendation that if you are not created in Wehnimer's Landing, you immediately pay your debt at the city's collection office (all new players have a debt and just enough silver to pay it) and then find the travel office and get a travel guide to take you to Wehnimer's Landing. The Landing is extremely new-player friendly and low-level friendly with regard to the hunting opportunities in and around the city. It is also laid out in an easy to navigate format, making moving around within the city's walls much easier than in other cities (Solhaven, for example, is a criss-cross of streets on one side and a tic-tac-toe board of streets on the other).
I recommend using the Stormfront Front End to play the game, but if you choose that, you will have to use the Wizard FE first to create your character. Downloading the front end doesn't take long at all (unlike the initial downloads and patches for Runes of Magic, for example), and Stormfront has a clean interface that is easy to navigate and customize to your liking.
After you get to Wehnimer's Landing, you can immediately do several things that will quickly advance you to Level 1. These tasks consist of nothing more than finding and entering various establishments within the city, for which you gain experience. If your character entered the world in another city, you should have noticed when you went to the travel office that a message appeared saying that you "feel a certain sense of accomplishment." When that is displayed, you've gained an amount of absorbed experience.
Experience comes in two ways, absorbed and unabsorbed. Absorbed experience automatically goes into your "learned" experience bar. Unabsorbed experience consists of points gained for doing certain things (like killing a creature) and takes time to become learned experience. You can only have so much unabsorbed experience before you cannot gain any more until you've let some of it absorb into learned experience.
Once in Wehnimer's Landing, find the following locations using the DIR(ection) command and enter each establishment. You will receive a small amount of absorbed (learned) experience for doing so and after following this list, you should have gained enough experience to reach Level 1:
1. Bank, teller's window
2. Aznell's Armory (armor and body protection item NPC merchant)
3. General store (basic items such as backpacks and bags, NPC merchant)
4. Tykel's Arms (weaponry, NPC merchant)
5. Gemcutter's Shop (sell looted gemstones; buy jewelry; NPC merchant)
6. Kilron's Pawnshop (sell unwanted items here; buy items in the backroom)
7. Healer's Tent (get healed by an NPC for a fee)
8. Town Square Central (primary congregation site; player healers offer their services here)
9. Travel Office
10. West Gate (you have to go out the gate to get the experience; to get back in you must have 5 silvers, or you can go north to the North Gate, which is free to enter)
After getting to Level 1, you will then have the chance to allocate the physical and mental training points you've earned toward skills. You will do this each time you gain a level. In the Stormfront FE, you can go to the allocation page by clicking the "Skill Goals" option near the bottom of the FE screen.
Now you are ready to begin earning experience! You can go to the Debt Collection Office in Moot Hall (Town Square East) and ask the clerk about jobs to deliver messages to various locations in the city. This lets you familiarize yourself with the city layout and learn your way around. Or you can to go the Catacombs and hunt rats. Either way, you will then begin earning unabsorbed experience and silver so that you can advance your character. Delivering messages has a cool-down time so you can't do them over and over immediately. Hunting rats can cause you to get injured, in which case you'd want to go to Town Square Central and ask a player Empath to heal you, or you can go to the Healer's Tent and have the NPC healer do it.
If you use player healers, it is customary to offer them a tip (in silvers) for their services, since they generally do not hunt or perform quests, so that they can earn a living, too. While hunting, make sure you SKIN and SEARCH all slain creatures...some of then have pelts or hides that can be sold for silvers at the furrier's shop, and they can also carry coins and other items such as weapons, armor, and speciality or magical items.
The base of players in Gemstone IV isn't into massive numbers like some online RPGs, but you will see and interact with other players constantly. Also, the player base seems to consist of a more mature and intelligent spectrum of individuals and doesn't have much of the "leet speek" and "uber juvenile gamer" due to one reason...the game is text-based. You have to read where you are and type where you want to go and what you want to do. I've been playing Gemstone IV for 15 years or so, and I've played several other online multiplayer games like Everquest and Guild Wars, and I enjoy Gemstone a great deal more because the text-based functionality eliminates a lot of the rampant stupidity you find in other games.
If you decide at some point that you don't like where your character is headed with regard to skills and stats, you can change them at the Inn in town. Find the check in desk and then check in. You have the option to reassign your statistics or completely recreate your character from scratch.
Other players in Gemstone are generally extremely helpful, so if you have questions, ask. Read about the game on the official website and visit the forums. Many players also have their own websites with information about the game and various aspects of it, so be sure to read those sites as well (some are critically outdated and no longer get revised, but there are some that are very helpful).
Here is an example of a location in the game:
[Wehnimer's Travel Office]
The front room consists of a few wooden benches around the perimeter and a small podium near the back. The walls are painted white, though the scant lighting does little to help brighten the room. Behind the clerk's podium is a narrow red curtain, leading south toward the lounge. You also see a half-elven clerk and a hand-painted sign.
Obvious exits: south, out
In that location, you could probably GO CUR(tain) and enter the lounge, interact with the clerk, and read the sign. And you can go SOUTH or OUT to go to a different area. Some locations have hidden objects or entryways to other areas, and you can discover these by SEARCHing the room. Many places also have herbs that you can forage, quite a few of which are medicinal in nature and can be used in the field for healing yourself when an empath isn't around.
And that's the basics for getting started in Gemstone IV. If you do decide to play, good luck and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years. :)