Re: {Newbie} Possible Bug or Hacker?

From: Mo McKinlay (
Date: 11/09/98

I've just re-read the original problem, and the evidence seems to point
more towards some kind of pfile-corruption over anything else. The email
doesn't say how many levels there are on this MUD, but I'm assuming that
either level 41 is an Immortal level or that it doesn't actually exist (I
could be very wrong there, of course).

Also, pfile-corruption would explain the sudden crash after a character
with a strange name appears on the MUD - the database code gets into a
muddle when it realises that a player with that name doesn't exist, never
has existed, and shouldn't exist, despite the fact there's a char_data
struct for it. It could well be that some of the pointers from char_data
became invalid, or even that the problem lies somehow in the char_file_u
or the store_to_char() function. These are the places I'd be looking at.

What you may want to do is look carefully at your logs and find out what
site the connection came from (if it doesn't list it as garbage). If
you're in luck, it'll be one of your existing players and you'll be able
to find out exactly what happened at their end.

A typical case of a pfile [entry] being corrupt could result in:

- Garbaged logs involving that descriptor or char.

- The char may or may not get past the initial menu. If they do, they'd
often find that a random set of flags have been set on them (invisibility,
holylight, blind, and so on).

- The char ends up in an odd room, or a room which doesn't exist at all
(which could under the right circumstances cause the MUD to crash in

- A player, or group of players, (or in bad cases all the players)
discover abnormalities with their player data when they next connect.

I don't really know enough to be able to tell you what the problem _is_,
but I can make some (reasonably) educated guesses - of course, I could be
completely wrong and it all turns out to be a strcpy() where there should
be a strncpy(). :)


Mo McKinlay
Development and Support Manager
IDSS Department
2 North Place
T: +44 (0) 161 476 1300 x224
F: +44 (0) 161 476 1311

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