After you create your first character, you will be thrust into the living world, beginning somewhere in the Morenth Library. This is the only safe haven in the game in which you cannot be attacked; once you leave its halls, nothing protects you but your wits until you return. However, so long as you are comfortably ensconced in its warm stone, nothing can harm you in any way (except hunger and thirst, but more on that later). First things first, take a look at the bottom left corner of your screen. These icons will deplete over time as the resources within them are expended. From left to right, you have your Health, Mind, Stamina, Hunger, and Thirst.
The most important thing for you as a new character is to keep an eye on your Hunger and Thirst (represented by the leaf and droplet respectively). When either of these icons is emptied completely, you will suffer severe penalties to your skills that will make doing anything, including scrounging for food to refill them, considerably more difficult. Your HP will also slowly decrease. You are given a grace period on new characters to explore before your hunger and thirst begin to deplete, so you may want to spend that time wandering and meeting people. Hunger and thirst also deplete much more slowly while asleep, so take advantage of that.
Note that in this case our new character has spawned next to the Imperial Crystal, which is on the furthest east side of the Library. This crystal will passively restore your hunger and thirst over time, so it's a good place to hang out or sleep in order to keep yourself topped up. Just note that this source of satiation is not infinite! Eventually the crystal will stop affecting you and you'll have to come back later to benefit from it again. So you will still need to find sources of actual food.
Mind and Stamina are represented by the gray eye and yellow lightning bolt, and HP by the red heart. When HP is depleted, your character will be knocked out temporarily. This renders you vulnerable to being looted! You will remain unconscious until you have regenerated at least 1 HP, and then you can use the Sleep action to get back up. When you run out of Mind or Stamina, you won't be able to perform actions that use those resources. They will regenerate passively over time, at an accelerated rate when you are rested.
You can get rested by sleeping. As you can see, this character is currently surrounded by the red cubbyholes in the walls that can be used as beds. Sleeping there will allow you to quickly regenerate, and if you sleep for two (real time) minutes, you will gain the Rested effect, which will allow you to regenerate as though you were sleeping, no matter what you're doing, until it runs out! As you can imagine this is very useful, so probably the best first thing to do is get rested. Let's walk onto one of the beds and sleep.
To move around the game world, you can use either WASD or the arrow keys according to your preference. Use the Enter or Return key to open the dialogue box, whereupon you can dismiss it again with Enter or send any speech you've typed in. You can also act out your character doing things with the : (colon) key, typing in whatever your character does the same way as you would use the dialogue box. Finally, the ( (open parentheses) key will allow you to type Out Of Character messages the same way, though your fellow players would probably appreciate if you kept that to a minimum! On Linux the above hotkeys for emotes and OOC don't function properly at the moment, but you can still use emotes and OOC by typing the characters into the regular chat box.
Along the top of your screen you will see a line of hotkeys for actions. By default, the Sleep action is bound to the first one (F1). You can hover over them to see what they are; the rest will be explained later. Let's take a nap!
As you can see, we received a message informing us that we are now rested (here viewed in the message backlog by pressing T). We can click on our character (or press C) to bring up the character screen, and then click on the Effects tab, to verify that this is the case. We can also hover over the Rested effect to get a description. If the effect runs out, you can always come back to the Library and sleep for a little while longer.
The other two effects you will note on your character are fresh-spawn effects which will keep you from getting hungry or thirsty for a while while you explore the game. Speaking of which, now that we're rested, let's start taking a look around the Library, shall we? Wandering around will probably reveal some immediate objects of interest to you: First, the hallways are lined with bookshelves. Two, other players have piled some books on the floor in the aisles.
Books are the primary means by which your character learns skills. If you want to learn a skill, you will need to find the appropriate book and read it, which will expend Skill Points (you can view yours in the Skills tab of the character menu) to level up the skill. Now, the community has laid out a number of books for each skill to enable you to start learning right away. As you may recall, we created Fortune to be a Scrounger, so we're going to look for one of those scrounging books.
You will notice the piles are sorted into stacks of different types of books. These types represent the range of levels in a skill you can learn with that book. As a new player, you will mostly be looking for skill books for Novices. You can distinguish visually them by their lack of bookmark, and look at the book to see what levels it allows you to learn the skill within. Right-click on the stack of books to pick up one for Novices.
Ah, and how convenient! We've spent long enough wandering around that we have gained an interval. Intervals are the time periods after which you gain more skill points. You can think of them as level ups, but all you need to do to earn them is play the game. If Fortune uses up all their skill points, that's it. They can't learn any new skills until they reach their next interval. So don't go around grabbing every skillbook you can find off the ground and reading it, because you cannot get the skill points back (except by asking a GM) and you might want to spend them on something else later.
Getting our first interval gives us 20 more skill points to spend (enjoy it while it lasts; they will start giving less as time goes on), but also means that we will start getting hungry and thirsty again, so we'll need to watch out for that. Let's open our inventory with I, and then we can right-click on the book and Learn from it. Because Fortune has a lot of Luck, they are able to learn the Luck-based skill Scrounging at an accelerated rate. We can learn three levels at one time! Why does this matter? Well...
Skills must be practiced each time they are learned before you can learn them again. As you become better at the skill, the number of times you'll need to practice will also increase. Likewise, the number of levels you can skip each time you learn will decrease. So, in order to become better at Scrounging, we'll need to get out there and scrounge. We can also use this to answer a question you may have: how do I find the books I need if they aren't already present in the Library? Well, all the books present were found by players scrounging, so you'll need to do the same.
First, pay attention to the gray icon on your action bar (F3 by default). If you hover over it, it will say Passive Scrounging. This is the best way to find things when your Scrounging, Luck, or Perception are very low. When you turn it on, while you walk around, if you pass by something you can scrounge, you will get a chance to reveal it.
Just a few short steps away, we have found something! This sparkling object is called a scrounging spot, and we can see that it contains a book for us. By using the actual Scrounging action (F2 by default), we can grab it and put it in our inventory. Sometimes, the spot will disappear completely; this means that the spot was depleted and can no longer be scrounged from. Sometimes, it will just fade out and stop sparkling; this means that other people can still scrounge from that spot, but not you. If you tell them where to look, even people with no Scrounging skill at all can still get stuff from spots you have found!
As you can see, we pulled Gray Magic for Novices from that spot. The polite thing to do, since we don't need this book, would be to go put it away in the correct pile. Finally, you will also notice that we received a message informing us that we've practiced Scrounging enough to level it up again. So let's grab our skill book and do just that, bringing it up to 6. Then let's keep exploring. Don't forget to turn off Passive Scrounging when you are not using it, or you'll find yourself constantly very low on Mind!
Near the entrance of the Library you will find some counters, which are likely loaded with items. These items are donations by other players, and they are free for you to take, but only for personal use. You should use them to practice your skills, or feed or clothe yourself, but please don't take things that other people could use to trade or sell. That's just greedy! Remember that items in the Library are for everyone, and take only what you need.
With that settled, it might be time for you to take your first baby steps out of the Library. Don't be too scared; while other players can harm you here, they cannot do so without first signaling their hostile intent, which you can recognize by the red animation playing over their character. Plus, other players are bound by the Code of Conduct to roleplay with you before they attack you, so they won't grief you. And since your pockets are empty, you're not exactly an attractive target anyway.
Don't bother trying to attack people while you are just starting out, even if they attack you first. Without skills and equipment, your chances of coming out on top against an experienced, armed critter are slim to none. If someone threatens you, scamper on back to the Library. But chances are people will be very glad to see you, because you represent something very important to them: an opportunity! As a new player, you will likely find that everyone wants to befriend you (especially if you have or plan to have useful skills), so that they can recruit you to do work for them.
Oh no, it's raining outside! Inclement weather will cause you to suffer from exposure. This isn't a danger to your health, but it will cause you to move and regenerate more slowly unless you are insulated against it. You're safe from the rain indoors, but unless you like hanging out in the Library you should try and find sources of clothing, which will protect you from exposure. You can also warm yourself by the side of a fire (created with a firestarting kit, and fueled by dragging logs and bark from your inventory on top of it). That will give you the Warm effect, which provides temporary protection against exposure. Inclement weather also limits visibility, but there's nothing you can do about that.
Once the rain passes or you're properly protected from the elements, start looking for people to interact with. Other characters are the core of this game; don't expect to play it solo! You should be actively looking for people to meet. If you can, find people who are good at Scrounging, and ask them to take you with them on a scrounging trip. They will be much better at finding the spots than you, and then they can tell you where to scrounge to get some resources to use or sell!
Other players can also apprentice you in skills that they are good at, and teach them to you without the use of a book, up to level 15, by demonstrating the use of the skill. If you want to learn how to fight, why not find another fighter and ask them to spar? If they demonstrate their technique to you, you can learn something from them, and practice your own skills in the process. It's a great way to form relationships! Oh, and one more thing you should know...
New skills will be added to your action bar automatically if you have room, but if you want to customize your hotkeys, press Escape to open the options menu, and click on Action Bar to see the list of actions that are available. For example, languages that you know are currently stored here; if you want to speak your native language, you'll need to assign it to the action bar, and if you want to go back to speaking Common, you'll need to assign that too! Use this menu to rearrange your actions to your liking.
That should be everything you need to know to get started in the game; you can learn the rest as you go. Feel free to take a quick look at the controls guide to see what you can do with the keyboard. Encountered a bug? Post about it on the forums.