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Islander 22 Now Out
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Species Log: The Most Glo...
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Issue #20 - Suspense & De...
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Far Horizons Space PBeM
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Last Post: Fungus
08-22-2021, 05:44 AM
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  How forgiving should an order processor be for a game?
Posted by: ronin - 07-09-2021, 08:51 PM - Forum: PBM Design - Replies (4)

We're running a test run of Far Horizons. For the most part, everyone's orders have processed as intended. There were some surprises (looking at you, "TR1 Ted               100"), but mostly no harm done.

This round, though, a player type "END" instead of "ZZZ" to end a message. The result was that all the remaining commands were skipped. Fortunately, the GM caught that during a test run and the player was able to correct it. But the correction introduced another error - it left out the "END" for the section. If we were running this through the post, pretty much the whole turn would have been lost. In a competitive game, that could be the end for the player.

It seems like the order processor should make corrections where the intent is clear. For example, "RESEARCH 200 ML" and "RESEARCH ML 200" should both apply 200 points of research towards the military tech level. The manual says that the command format is

  | RESEARCH n tech ;; Spend "n" on research in technology "tech"

But the code accepts both.

The order processor can't fix the missing ZZZ because it can never be smart enough to tell whether a line is text or a command. Or, as mentioned in a comment:

  /* Skip MESSAGE text. It may contain a line that starts with "start". */

This comes up because I'm porting that code base to another programming language. I'm trying my darndest not to change the game, but I did add a check for a missing "END" statement. If it finds "START xxxx" and "xxxx" is a valid section name (JUMPS, STRIKES, etc), then it inserts an "END" and continues.

Is that common in other games? Do other games give players who submit their orders early a chance to fix them? I think that in an article in Suspense, one of the Buffalo guys said that part of the fun of PBM was the pressure of getting orders exactly right all the time.

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  More Detailed Plan Views of Locations
Posted by: Roy Pollard - 07-08-2021, 05:01 PM - Forum: The Isles PBM - No Replies

Continuing with my ongoing plan to improve the graphic content of The Isles, I've completed mapping of the major and minor settlements in the Ilanthor region of the game, and I'm now starting to do plan-view representations of places of interest, such as static encounters and places of interest. Attached is an image showing what the Ravine passing through the main town of Ilanthor looks in relation to the houses and other buildings that overlook it. There's going to be about 120 plan views which I'll probably process as players get close to these locations - so forty have been created NOW and the rest will be created over the next six months or so.

Also attached is an image of Dead Mans Fort to show the two differences in scale - the Fort shows the entire settlement while the Ravine image shows a POI within a larger Town.


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  SpeciesLog: The Annelos Fellowship
Posted by: Kerfuffle - 07-06-2021, 03:54 PM - Forum: Far Horizons: The Return - No Replies

Species name: Annelos
Government name: The Annelos Fellowship
Government type: Theocracy


"All shall be cast asunder, not a soul will be retained from my might power, bitter will be your final breath...."
"Derek!! Get off the WormComm, you don't know who'll be listening! Come and finish your salad you silly old man."

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  OT: What's the right level for a rule book?
Posted by: ronin - 06-29-2021, 11:22 PM - Forum: Far Horizons: The Return - Replies (2)

This is a bit off-topic, but I'm looking for opinions on the "right" level of detail for a rule book.

One extreme would be documenting the formulas used to determine outcomes. The other extreme, "if you spend points on research, some things may happen."

An example (from Far Horizons) is conducting research to increase technology levels. The manual casually mentions that you need to spend points equal to the new level squared to increase one level. That's not exactly how it works, though.

Does shining a light on the sausage making apparatus make the game more enjoyable? (Even if it it opens it up to gaming the system.)

Does hiding that and leaving players wondering what they did wrong to gain no levels from research somehow increase the intrigue and interest?

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  Player's perspective after a year of playing
Posted by: Fungus - 06-27-2021, 08:15 PM - Forum: TribeNet - Replies (2)

Imagine a game where players can participate for literally decades, building up a Clan of tribes in a barbarian fantasy world.

These clans can hunt, build, trade, fight and grow. They can farm, sail, mine, ambush other traders and show off artistic skills at the biannual fair. They can explore, scout, spy, brew ale and develop large alliances with other clans. They can build up towns and ports. They can lay siege to their enemy's towns and ports in order to claim the spoils within. They can choose to run or fight the roaming cannibal tribes, or perhaps descend into madness by joining with them and going on to terrorise the land.

TribeNet is that game.

Once a fortnight, players submit orders via email to the GM and receive their results a few days later to learn how they fared. Did the new goldmine produce? Did the enemy overrun our scouting party? Did the attack go our way? Did we lose thousands of goats because we forgot to herd them? Did we discover vast new areas of land to expand and trade? Did the new research complete successfully, opening up new avenues of production and wealth? Did the ship building complete, allowing us to cross the ocean to the new trading opportunities available? Did the harvest come in? Did the refineries produce the metals we needed to build the swords to counter the imminent invasion? Did the hospital get built to reduce the casualties if not? How are the stone wall defences coming along? Will the allies get here in time?

TribeNet is a 4x (explore, exploit, expand, exterminate) open-ended Play By Email (PBeM) game which began in the late 1980s, following in the footsteps of the Play By Mail (PBM) game boom of that decade. The game and its rulebook have been in continual development since the start, supporting new players and old alike. Players may even submit ideas for game enhancements in the form of ‘research’, ensuring the game can continually offer new skills, avenues to explore and other ways to keep the game fresh for long time players.

New players are always welcome and are thoroughly supported by the existing player base. They are given safe spaces to learn and grow and make their way in the land.

Emphasis in the game is on the management of the clan and its constituent tribes. Where to go, what to do, which skills to develop, whether to fight or trade or build, or all of the above. Because you share the world with other players, diplomacy is a part of the game, and this provides some limited opportunity for role-play (but overall, role-play is not a major part of the game).

I have been playing the game for a year now, and have thoroughly enjoyed myself, developing the clan and its capabilities, exploring the terrain and resources and locating nearby tribes to trade with.

Many players use the TribeNet Discord to discuss the finer points of the rules (and hurl insults) and I found this a great forum to learn the ropes in the early days. It has a great community spirit and is often very entertaining. The players also produce a magazine published every two weeks providing further opportunities to share stories, rumours, jokes, tips, and of course, hurl abuse.

TribeNet is a great introduction to Play By Mail, and has managed to attract and keep players entertained for decades! Come and join in the fun! I can completely recommend this game.

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  Islander 21 Now Out
Posted by: Roy Pollard - 06-27-2021, 01:42 PM - Forum: The Isles PBM - No Replies

Our newsletter for The Isles is out - Its a cut-down version of a couple of pages as I'm prioritizing processing turns and updating a number of info sheets and Guides. Turnaround remains less than 7 days while we update Maps, improve forms used for turnsheets and have a general tidy


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  Going Adventuring!
Posted by: Fungus - 06-27-2021, 09:44 AM - Forum: Dungeonworld - No Replies

I saw the game mentioned in Raven's list of postal-friendly games, and decided to check it out (but only email for me, thanks). 

I downloaded the rulebook and was very enthused by it. Very different to anything I'd played before in PBM. I created a free position of a male monk, and a commercial position with a female priest and female rogue. Upon creation, the player is told to wait for the first results when turns are processed, and meanwhile, to consider joining the yahoo email group. Yahoo is dead, with groups.io being the main replacement. But after searching, although I found a few DungeonWorld subgroups (mostly for guilds) in groups.io, there was no main DW group. Hmm. Where does the newbie go to learn more?

I searched the web, and then (yuk) facebook, and found a private DungeonWorld FB group. I asked to join but it was more than 24h later and a couple of nudges to the admins before I was let in. In my view, this isn't ideal - a newly signed up player is enthusiastic and wants to continue that enthusiasm, but the website didn't make it easy to do so! Once in, it is apparent that the FB group is the main place folks hang. Many role-played communications happen there, and the GM is also active on there. I summarised my experience as a new player to the FB group in the hope that it will be easier for the next enthusiastic newbie.

The first turn arrived on processing day, and I began to make sense of the game: the locations my characters were in, the turn format, the online order entry tool, and I did another read of the manual to try and get a more complete understanding. 

Orders were sent, the characters will hopefully go and explore their immediate environs, and ensure they are tooled up for their initial dungeon adventuring!

After the turns were submitted, I added another two characters to add more dimensions to the group: a male enchanter and a female centaur. Time to think about joining some guilds and participating in the hopefully rich roleplay aspects of the game.

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  Saying Hello
Posted by: vickyp - 06-17-2021, 09:24 PM - Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself - Replies (3)

Hi, my name is Victoria and I am a Masters Graduate conducting research, one of my projects is co-authoring a book on games played over various distance related media and the game theory and techniques used. As such I am delving into the world of "play by mail" games and hoping to find others who can supply me with scans of rules, contacts with those who created these games for questions and potentially interviews, reviews of games still being played, and hoping to see where this rabbit hole leads.... maybe wonderland and I am in search of the caterpillar.

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  Long time PBeM'er First Time Far Horizons
Posted by: tiqdreng - 06-17-2021, 03:37 PM - Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself - Replies (5)

Greeting everyone.  I have played PBeMs quite a bit over the years, and when someone introduced me to Far Horizons I was instantly intrigued.  Having mucked around in the code a bit and getting the gmail interfacing working again, I have started a game up with the cohort who introduced it to me.  Right now it is just in the testing phase as only ONE person has any real knowledge of the game at all.

I look forward to gleaning information from this site, and you the reader.  As well as finding new games to try out and expand upon what I currently already play.

Thanks for reading!

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  Species Log: Epillon
Posted by: Talisman - 06-14-2021, 09:27 PM - Forum: Far Horizons: The Return - Replies (1)

Species name: Epillon
Government name: The Society of Epillon
Government type: Oligarchy

Picking up an un-played position and attempting to learn the game...

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