The Iron Realms games are quite controversial. I’ve never played one myself, even though they seem like a lot of fun.
One reason is that they have the image of being pay-to-win. The second reason however is a much more important barrier for me, namely that if you want to be at least a bit competitive in combat, you need to have a “system”, which is basically a whole bunch of triggers and scripts that cure afflictions automatically and help you fight, because everything just happens too fast for a normal person to read and react to.
Now you could try to create your own system, with some basic knowledge of scripting and coding, but it’s a neverending task. Some players have worked on their systems for hundreds and even thousands of hours. There are people who make their systems available for other players to download, but if you want to get a good one, you’ll have to pay for it.
Ultimately, it’s not that expensive to buy a good system from another player, and it even could be fun to start writing you own, but that’s not the point. It’s a matter of principle. If developers don’t even bother to make the game accessible enough to play without a 3rd-party-system, I don’t think the game deserves to be played - no matter how awesome the gameplay, lore and roleplaying is.
In a time where text-based games are dying, accessibility is more important than ever. No MUD can afford to miss out on players because the entry barrier is just to high. There’s quite some discussion on the Iron Realms forums about whether combat should be made easier in order to attract more new players, and I think this would be a great move.