Around the world in eight days: A journey in Wurm Online, part one

Wurm Online is a unique MMO. I can't think of many other games that allow the freedom of Wurm, which may be why I still consider it my favorite online game to this date.

For anyone who hasn't tried the game or heard me yammer on about it on the Massively Speaking podcast, I'll explain the basics. Wurm Online is a sandbox game created to allow players unbelievable freedom. If you've played Minecraft, you have the basic premise of Wurm, but multiply that experience by about 100. In fact, Markus "Notch" Persson was the co-founder and co-creator of Wurm before moving on to Minecraft and world fame.

Wurm Online starts you off as a fairly inanimate and uncustomizable character whose goal is to simply build. Find a spot of unclaimed land, throw down a settlement token, and build to your heart's content. You cut down trees for wood, mine stone for ore, forage and fish for food, and use it all to create the world that lives within your imagination.

Despite the fact that there are open PvP servers with full looting, I opted to roll on the slightly less dangerous PvE server, Freedom. Although I might enjoy the added challenge of open PvP, I kinda like keeping my stuff. It's a thing.

But while I enjoy the game enough to have multiple accounts, I felt that there was so much more to explore than my tiny corner of the world. On one account, I helped create the Massively Village (known as Hindmania, founded by our very own Beau Hindman), but my other account is the one that I wanted to use for true exploration and discovery. That second account started his own settlement and gathered most of his possessions from scratch.

With so much more land to discover, I had the idea one day to travel around the world of Wurm Online while completely living off of the resources I find along the way. I would bring some basic tools, but food and shelter would come from the land. I would meet new people, explore their own creations and learn from the experience.

So I bought a large boat (which was my only real purchase in the game to this point) from another player so I could begin my journey. The purchase itself was exciting, as I couldn't simply head to an auction house and buy the boat with the lowest buyout price. All items in the game are created by and for the players; there are no dev-run cash shops here. I advertised on the general chat channel that I was interested in purchasing a cog, which seemed to be the perfect size for this trip and a long-term vessel I hoped to keep forever. It took several days, but I eventually found a player nearby who had a cog for sale.

I loaded up my ship, kissed the family goodbye, and set sail for the high seas at 6 a.m. on the Day of Awakening in week 2 of the Snake's Starfall, 1012. My launch point was Haitabu-hedeby, on the eastern shore of the mainland. Feel free to follow along on this map as I explain locations throughout my journey.

I wasn't sure whether I would head south or north along the shore, initially, but a strong headwind made my decision easy. I headed south, keeping my eyes open for anything exciting. Since my intention was never to rush this journey, I found myself stopping on the shoreline several times for screenshots or a bit of exploring. A scare with a massive spider early on convinced me to stick to the boat, though. When you die in Wurm, your body and all its possessions stay there while a "cloned" version of you resurrects at your settlement token (or way back at the starting zone, if you don't belong to a village). It wouldn't have been a long run at this point, but getting back to the boat, killing the spider, and reclaiming my possessions wouldn't have been fun. Further into the trip, it'd be even less fun. So I convinced myself to stay in the boat for most of the trip and only explore around NPC guards who could protect me in a pinch.

After a few hours of heading south, I stumbled upon an island in the far southeastern corner of the map. Hermit Island was ironically full of several structures and settlements and was a nice stopping point for the night.

The next day, I pointed the boat back to the mainland shore, this time facing a fierce crosswind that wouldn't allow my large ship to travel more than five km/h. Luckily, there was a large settlement nearby, so I set the anchor and hopped ashore to get my first real look at a large village away from my home area.

At first glance, especially in the dark of night, Novus Minas seemed quiet and orderly. But as soon as I came to shore, a glimpse of troll caught my eye. It wasn't so much the creature itself that I noticed, as its dark green skin provided enough camouflage in the fog, but when my mouse brushed over his figure, the bright red outline indicating hostility made me jump.

Luckily, this beast was caged, as you'll often see along shorelines of major harbors. Players who are mighty enough to capture these creatures showcase them in fenced areas to show off their skills. The troll couldn't escape or reach me, but I could tell by the look in his eyes that he'd rip me apart, given the chance.

As I was admiring the greenskin, one of the village's inhabitants logged in, appearing in local chat. Whykillme welcomed me to the area and offered to feed me and take me on a tour of the village's progress. I happily agreed and followed him up to the main area where a high quality meal was waiting. With food in Wurm, the higher the quality, the more nutritional value you get from it, thus increasing your chance of gaining bonuses to skill gain.

We climbed a steep mountain in the back of the village, which led us up to an incredible lookout point overlooking the sea, the village, and even Hermit Island itself.

I thanked Whykillme for his hospitality and set back out to the sea. I navigated around to Elysian Bay and stopped again at Unified Republic of the Red Star, where I snapped a screenshot of a giant captured unicorn. It wasn't my first time seeing a unicorn in the game, but it was certainly my first time seeing one so large. See, the size of creatures in Wurm is dictated by age and breeding. It takes generations of animal husbandry skill to create such large and powerful creatures.

I took my time visiting other villages within the Elysian Bay region, including Raven's Wood, Tyger Bay, and Saltwater, with its row of player-created merchant booths. I eventually rounded the large Sharfin Peak and headed into another bay known as Birdy Bay.

At the northern end of this bay is a player-created canal, which leads up into the enormous Crystal Lake. Unfortunately, I discovered the biggest drawback to having a large ship: its size! The small canal wasn't large enough to accommodate my cog, so I made a note of the location and vowed to revisit the area with a smaller ship.

The following day, I reached Kinoss Bay, in the southwest corner of the map. This has probably been my favorite area so far, as it plays host to several interesting port villages.

First up: Midgard. This town had a collection of captured creatures right on its shore, acting as a museum of sorts. There was a giant troll, a lava fiend, and the largest goblin I've ever seen. I posed for a few pictures with them and was off again.

Rounding the north side of the bay, I saw a few cities with "Fedria" in the name: Fedria Watchtower, Fedria Coal Factor, Fedria Harbor and good old Fedria itself. I had to stop and see what the fuss with this Fedria was all about, and I'm glad I did. Running inland, I noticed that the entire area was very well-organized. The coal factory, harbor and adjoining forest were all created with efficiency in mind. Fedria itself is probably the largest castle I've ever seen in this game, complete with moat and guard towers on every corner. I wasn't able to enter the castle, but it was just nice to admire.

A bit later I came across Akhenatan, complete with an Egyptianesque pyramid and a six-stall market place. I am a firm believer in supporting the players of Wurm, so I bought a fancy new Large Iron Shield from the town's NPC vendor.

Ironically, it was just after my pleasant experience with Akhenatan that I came across something that represented the bad side of any online game. A small island in the southwest corner of the map lists a city named "Waffles, Pancakes and French Toast," which one would imagine means the owners have a sense of humor. Not so. Across the shoreline of this entire island, and scattered within, were half-built structures all named some variation of "Go away newbies!" Apparently there's some bad blood among players who were here before OneTooFree AB allowed free players to join the Freedom server. If you look at the picture below, you'll notice how the structure is named when you mouse-over it. This was all over the island. Interesting take on xenophobia, eh?

This pleasant milestone marked the halfway point of my trip, believe it or not. Of course, there's so much more to tell and show you, so be sure to check out the exciting second part of my journey tomorrow!

This article was originally published on Massively.