The Friendly Guide to Pyramid Chat

by Bob Portnell

Art by Dan Smith

Updated April 2004

The Friendly Guide to Pyramid Chat

One of the less-used benefits of a subscription to Pyramid or JTAS is access to the Pyramid Chat MOO. Apart from being a fun hangout for like-minded gamers and the official venue for company chats, the Pyramid Chat MOO also features several complete and functional "game rooms," allowing you to bring your tabletop game experience online. While the pace of give-and-take is somewhat slower . . . face it, most of us can't type nearly as fast as we talk! . . . the experience is usually at least as good as any conventional in-person game session.

However, many people find the array of commands and locales within the MOO intimidating. Thus, this guide provides clear listing and explanation of the most common commands (or "verbs") a visitor to Pyramid Chat will need, as well as a survey of the game room tools. It is derived from online helps provided by Steve Jackson Games and by the developers of the underlying LambdaMOO software. This is nowhere near a complete listing of actions, but it will do for most casual purposes.

Setting Up

You must be a current subscriber of Pyramid or JTAS to log in. If you are using a MOO/MUD client software, you'll need to know that the Pyramid chat server is located at If you don't want the extra client software (links can be found at, you can use the link to the Java client found on those pages. Naturally, your browser needs to be Java-enabled.

However you choose to connect, the first thing you have to give is the connect command:

 connect [username] [password] 

(Note that I'm leaving an implied "return" at the end of these command lines.) This is the same username and password you use to login to the magazine. Once logged in, you will be deposited into the Pyramid Lobby. This is where casual chat is on-going, and there are often interesting people about with whom you might converse.


The Chat Areas give several options for how you "appear" to others. By default, your "player name" is the same as the username you used to log into Pyramid. Your username never changes unless you make special arrangements with the webmasters to change it. However, your player name can be changed any number of ways.

 @rename me to [newname] 

changes your "player name" throughout the entire MOO. It's permanent until changed again, but does not affect the username/password you used to log in.

 @desc me as " . . . ." 

changes the description which others see when they "look" at you.


lets you see the description of the room you are in, the topic for the room, and who and what are in the room with you.

 look [name] 

lets you see the description of the person named.

 look [object] 

lets you see additional info about some object in the room.

 @doing me is " . . . ." 

lets you customize some information in the 'who' display (below).


lets you see who is currently logged into the MOO, for how long they've been logged in, how long it's been since they last typed something, which room they are in, and what they're doing.


Several customized verbs have been built into your MOO user identity. You can view your current settings for interacting with these verbs by typing @messages me. You can change an individual message by typing verbname me is "[message]". Notice that the MOO automatically prefixes your player name on the @messages, except for the @connect and @disconnect messages. You have added flexibility for these two messages; you can write your name anywhere in the message. This is all relatively advanced, and many visitors never bother with changing their default @messages.

 plan [username] 

Lets you see any messages that user might have left about his plans, schedule or expected routine. Type help plan for more on this feature and how to set your own plan.


disconnects you. Bye-bye!

Exploring the Pyramid

The Lobby is the heart of informal discussion in the Pyramid Chat; the Auditorium (see below) is the center of formal events; and the third floor game room host online play. Beyond that there are many, rooms within the Pyramid (and even a few sights to be seen outside). Steven Ehrbar is the current keeper of the Unofficial Map; while most of the spaces are open for anyone to enter, please exercise discretion and courtesy when entering spaces identified as personal offices. Areas of special interest:

The Pinnacle: The twenty-third level of the Pyramid features an unparalled view of the surrounding Metaverse. It is also restricted to Pyramid subscribers only; JTAS subscribers cannot enter.

Brubek's: This restaurant is familiar throughout the Third Imperium for its beer, onion rings, and for being familiar throughout the Third Imperium. Pyramid subscribers cannot enter here.

Programming: Once nominally the hub for managing the chat area programming, this room is now the de facto retreat for Steve Jackson Games staff. Only staff members have access to this space.

The Dungeon: Once the privacy area for a now-retired Steve Jackson Games e-zine, this foul chamber is now open for all to inspect.

Basic Communication

Face it: For one reason or another, you're here to chat. These are the commands you will use most. They work in any room in the chat MOO.

 say [text message] 
 "[text message] 

causes "text message" to be displayed to the room, preceded by "YourName says,"

For example, if I typed

 say Hello, Everyone! 

the room display would add the new line

 BobP says, "Hello, Everyone!" 

Notice that it adds a closing quote to the end of every Say message. Also, you would see

 You say, "Hello, Everyone!" 

Typing a double-quote as the first character means the same thing as writing the say verb.

 directed say == ' [player] [text message] 

This variation adds direction to the message, but it's still displayed to everyone in the room. If I typed

 'James Hello, James 

the room display would show

 BobP [to James]: Hello, James 

Notice this adds no quotation marks, and that it only works if that player is actually in the same room with you. The single open-quote is in the upper left of the PC keyboard.

 whisper [text message] to [player] 
 w [text message] to [player]

This sends a message to the player you specify, but does not tell the rest of the room about it. Very handy for communicating privately with fellow players or the game master. If James typed

 whisper Hello, Bob to BobP 

I would see

 James whispers "Hello, Bob" to you. 

And no one else in the room would see this. The program will add quotation marks around your message.

 page [player]= [text message] 
 p [player]=[text message] 

This does much the same thing as whisper, except your message can be sent from one room to another. The recipient will see a message reporting the sender's name and location, followed by the actual message. The program will add quotation marks around your message.

That covers what you can say and how to say it. How about what you do?

 emote [action] 
 : [action] 

This prefixes your "action" with your player name. For example, if I typed

 emote waves to the assembled, then draws a gun and opens fire. 

the room would see

 BobP waves to the assembled, then draws a gun and opens fire. 

Notice the colon is the shorthand symbol for the emote command. Also, this command will always put a space between your name and the action. For other actions, use

 emote: [action] 
 :: [action] 

This works just like emote, except it omits the space after the player's name. If I type

 : 's eyes fill with tears of shame at what he's done. 

the room sees:

 BobP 's eyes fill with tears of shame at what he's done.

But if I type

 :: 's eyes fill with tears of shame at what he's done. 

the room sees:

 BobP's eyes fill with tears of shame at what he's done. 
 whisper :[message] to [player]
 w ::[message] to [player]
 p [player]= :[message]
 p [player]= ::[message]

These variations of whisper and page let you send emotes privately within the room (w) or from room to room (p). The recipient sees a whispered emote prefixed with "You sense . . ." followed by the normal output form of the emote; paged emotes are prefixed with "From afar, . . ." Single colons still have the space after your name; double colons omit this, just as with public emotes. Finally, the page shortcut form must be used; "page [player] :[message]" will not work.

* * *

 think [text message] 

This is great fun for asides and speculations, in a "you say it, you do it" environment. They can't police what you think, right? So if I type:

 think This is stupid. 

the room sees

 BobP . o O (This is stupid.) 

Notice the program adds the thought bubbles and the parentheses. If you wish to keep your thoughts private, don't use this command!

 @emit [text message] 

This is the generic display command. It will repeat to the room display exactly the text message. If I type

 @emit The dragon eats James. 

The room sees:

 The dragon eats James. 

Since there's no attribution of who made this statement, it can contribute to confusion. For this reason, use the @emit command sparingly and only for very good reason.

Auditorium Manners

Official chats are conducted in the Auditorium on the second floor of the Pyramid. Find your way there from the Pyramid Lobby by typing stairs or up; from anywhere else in the Pyramid, find your way to the Elevator and seek the second floor.

The Auditorium rules and documentation are posted in that room; type rules to see how moderated chats are conducted and how your conversations are affected when you are in the Auditorium.

Game Room Action

On the other hand, if you want to get right at the gaming business at hand, the dedicated game rooms in the Pyramid are on the third floor. From the Pyramid Lobby type


which will bring you to the third floor Game Rooms Lobby. From here, type the name of the game room you wish to enter. There are two multipurpose game rooms (the Game Commons and the Holodeck) and three GURPS-optimized rooms (the Green, Red and Blue rooms.)

The multipurpose game rooms have a fully hierarchical menu system; type help here to see the top level of the menu guide. In the GURPS rooms, help here gives you the entire set of helps for those rooms.

There are several versatile commands to assist gamemaster and players. In general, these only work in game rooms, although "roll" has been switched on for the entire chat area. And some of them only work if you are in a game room and have declared a "localname". Let's take a look at the basics of online play in the Pyramid.

 @localname me as [newname] 
 @ln me as [newname] 

changes your "player name" in the game room only. Your regular player name is still visible on the "who" directory. This is your character's name, basically.

 @localdesc me as ". . . ." 
 @ld me as ". . . ." 

changes the description which others see when they "look" at your localname. Your game character's description, in other words.


The local names and descriptions you create stay in the room where they are created . . . forever. Even after you've logged off. Even if you cancel your subscription, perish the thought. So, as a matter of courtesy and tidiness, please use this command to clear your local names and descriptions at the end of your game sessions.


tells you who is currently identified as the game master of the game room.

Here are two special commands for gamemasters use in game rooms:

 @setgm me 
 @setgm [player] 

Identifies yourself (or a player) as the GM. This shows when someone looks for the GM. Also, the GM sees every die roll made in the room and who made it. Notice that only someone /in/ the room can be made GM, but if the GM leaves the room . . . he /still/ sees what you're rolling.


The SJ Games rooms are set up to accommodate a simple mapping procedure, allowing the gamemaster to create, modify and save maps of a simple square grid. The details of these functions are beyond the scope of this document; interested game masters should refer to the Short GURPS Help Note in the Pyramid Game Lobby.

Dice Rolling


The basic command; shows the room you rolled the default dice, and the result. The default dice in the GURPS rooms are 3d6; in the multipurpose rooms, the default is set by the game master using verbs described in the "help setup" screen.

Example: In the Red Room, I type--


The Room sees:

 BobP rolls 3d6, and gets a 10. 

You will see something slightly different, as would the game master. There are other permutations for using the roll command; see help roll for full details.


This command rolls three separate six-sided dice, identifying the last as a "check die." Fans of In Nomine will recognize this as the infamous "d666." Note that everyone in the room sees the actions of this command; if you require privacy, you'll need to roll the success dice and the check die separately as private rolls.

The multipurpose game rooms include preprogramed rollers for many popular games and game systems; see the help dice in those rooms for a complete list.

The following commands from the GURPS rooms are predesigned to make 3d6 rolls, naturally.

 skill [t] 

Rolls 3d6 and compares to the target value, shows result to room. Identical to "roll t on 3".

 skill [t] [l] 

Rolls 3d6 and compares to the target value. Shows you and the GM the target, the roll, and whether or not you succeeded in your roll against the [l] labeled trait. Shows the room that your rolled against your [l] and whether you succeeded or no.

 qc [t1] [t2] 

A very handy tool for the game master. This does a quick contest on the two trait values listed.

And there you have it! Print this, keep it handy for a while . . . these will all become second nature in short order and you won't need this reference. Enjoy! And say "Hi!" to me when you visit; I'm here a lot more than I should be.

* * *

(Special thanks to Craig Roth, JHG Hendriks, Chat Coordinator Matt Doubles and the rest of the PyraMOO Regulars for their help.)

Article publication date: October 6, 2000

Copyright © 2000 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to