Fundamentally, Farwoods is a game that believes in community. It's a game about organic stories; your characters are not prescribed protagonists in a preordained fantasy archetype, but rather ordinary people in a huge living world run by its players, full of wonder and intrigue. It's a game founded on asymmetrical experiences, where dozens of stories might be unfolding across the world at once, which you might hear about through gossip or not at all. It's an adventure roleplaying game that provides a social sandbox within the framework of the mechanics and lore, where rather than following the rails laid out by a "theme park" story, you are rewarded for creativity, ambition, and flexibility.
You'll be jumping into a world with a rich history for you to learn about, all of which was written by the deeds of other players, and which you will almost immediately become a part of. Every role in the game must be filled by a player. Will your character be a scrounger, roaming the world to gather crucial food and crafting resources? Or maybe a shopkeep, carving out a slice of the forest to peddle your goods and services to others? Perhaps you're attracted to the riches that come with mining, gathering up rock and cracking it to unearth valuable metals and gems. You might like to let others do all that work for you, and play a bandit, shaking down travelers and shops to line your pockets -- every story needs a villain, after all. Maybe you'd like to found a postal office, or a guild, or a cult, or a commune, or a gang, or a town!
Whatever you do, you won't be doing it alone. Other players will be bringing their own colorful characters to the table, and you'll need to work with them or against them to get anything done. Farwoods isn't a solo experience; bring your friends or make some here, but either way you'll be reliant on others. Other players need to gather your resources, build your furniture, tailor your clothes, cook your food, mine your ore, fuel your furnaces, smith your weapons, and fight your battles. It's not possible for you to do all of these things; or even most of them. And there will be language barriers, verbal sparring, hold-ups, shake-downs, pledges of loyalty, and grudges along the way.
Farwoods doesn't believe in pigeonholing; there are no classes, and you are free to build whatever character concept you want from the game's many skills. It also doesn't believe in grinding; there's no levels or XP, and you are awarded skill points on a set schedule simply for being logged in and playing the game. Exploring the map, gathering resources, sparring and fighting, and kicking back in the tavern to meet new people are all equally valid ways of progressing your character. And when people swap stories around a table, you'll know that those stories are real, and you could have been a part of them... and still might.
From a technical standpoint, Farwoods is a graphical MUD, an old-school online RPG inspired by Redwall and Watership Down, set in a living world run entirely by its players. This is a roleplay-enforced game which focuses heavily on the storybook narrative created organically by the community. There are no NPCs -- everyone you meet is another player, filling a niche in the game's economy. Players self-specialize into scavengers, shopkeeps, guides, crafters, bandits, blacksmiths, mages, pickpockets, scribes, and more by choosing the stats and traits that will allow them to excel at some of the game's skills. You can have as many characters as you like.
There is no grinding required to advance your character. You are awarded intervals simply for being online, which provide you with additional skill points. You can spend your skill points to learn skills with skill books, which can be acquired through scrounging or from other players with the Literacy skill. This system rewards characters for interacting with each other and roleplaying rather than tying advancement to mechanical play.
Characters can make their mark on the world by placing burrows, which create permanent underground areas linked to the overworld that can be customized to the player's content, and then opened to the public. Burrows can be used for homes, shops, inns, faction bases, and anything else one's imagination can come up with. Burrows are earned on a character's 10th interval, after about a day of in-game time.
Farwoods is currently in open alpha. Most features are implemented, though not all, and the primary focus is on expanding the game world and adding additional content, improving gameplay and user experience, and replacing temporary graphics with permanent ones. There are also likely a lot of bugs to be found and fixed still that you might run into. If you're reading this, you're invited to download the game and join our community! Playtesting events are organized through Discord, but the server is always up.