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  Beast decries the death of play by mail
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-18-2011, 05:10 AM - Forum: News & Announcements - Replies (4)

Over on The Road of Kings, site user Beast has posted a thread titled, "… the death of PBM/PBEM …"

In order to read the posting that he made, you will probably need to register on that site. Just tell them that GrimFinger sent you.

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  Briny en Garde!
Posted by: Toppers - 02-14-2011, 05:03 PM - Forum: Games - Replies (6)

Ok I am thinking of reviving or should I say refloating this game. Looking for any one who might want to be the GM or main moderator, we have a webmaster(me) and some good script/editorial writers, just need some one to crunch those numbers for us.

Any one interested contact me at webmaster@brinyengarde.co.uk


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  Invasion of the Play-By-Mail hobby is imminent!
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-13-2011, 09:33 AM - Forum: Editorials - Replies (3)

So, what do I think about play by mail gaming, and how things panned out for the hobby?

Oh, like most anyone else who has an opinion on the subject, I tend to be of many minds. I have many different opinions about it, all simultaneously. From time to time, I like to share a particular thought or three on the subject with others who, while they may or may not share my opinion being voiced at the time, nonetheless retain at least an interest in the subject matter being discussed.

Sometimes, I talk about what I label the Old Guard of PBM. Sometimes, they catch Hell. At other times, they still catch Hell. But, such should not be wrongly equated with me hating the Old Guard. Heck, many times, no one more so than myself would enjoy hearing from them sharing tidbits and morsels about the good old days, or hearing them expounding upon their companies' respective role on the hobby. Even hearing why they seem to have lost interest in the hobby to which they are linked would be a nice change of pace from the omnipresent silence that seems to emanate without end from numerous Old Guard PBM companies and moderators.

My role in the whole not-so-sordid affair is pretty much whatever I choose for it to be, I suppose. Of late, I am inclined to think that the role for this website to play is that of a facilitator. If people want to discuss the hobby of play by mail gaming, then that's fine. If, however, they don't want to discuss it, preferring silence to participation, then you know what? That's fine, too. I can still carve out a niche for this website, I believe, no matter what course that others - either singularly or collectively - may chart.

It's ironic, I think, how much that things are still pretty much the same, as they were back in the days when David Webber was still the editor of Paper Mayhem magazine. He had trouble getting people to contribute and write about the hobby. It's no different now, in that regard.

David couldn't save the hobby from itself, as things turned out. He did put forth effort. He tried different things. He made a positive difference, overall, I think. Even still, look at how things turned out.

So, as David Webber did his thing, likewise, I'm going to continue doing my thing. What that "thing" is may evolve over time, or it may even dissipate in a wisp of smoke, but I'm not going to worry about any of that.

If you want to contribute, then contribute. If you don't, then don't. Sure, I would like to hear from you, as others would, also, no doubt. But, regardless, I am going to take things at a pace that is leisurely to myself.

The site is PlayByMail.Net - and we're here to stay.

For a while.

At least.

Unless I'm wrong, of course.

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  Hyborian War [Reality Simulations, Inc.]
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-13-2011, 08:29 AM - Forum: Hyborian War - Replies (6)

[Image: HyborianWarWallMap%28400w%29.png]
Hyborian War
Company: Reality Simulations, Inc.
Contact the Company

Now you can live the most powerful legend of them all. HYBORlAN WAR™ is a Play-By-Mail game where you control the destiny of the Hyborian Age of Conan. Aquilonia with her Black Dragon knights, slumbering Stygia gathering her wizards, the fantastically helmed armies of Kambulja in the east. Any one of these kingdoms is yours to rule, or choose from over thirty others -- unique and authentically recreated from the Conan series.

The absolute gripping power of this world can be yours. Send forth your lords and generals to lead the armies of invasion. Send forth your heroes to adventure, your spies to kidnap nobles, steal secrets, and assassinate your enemies! Decree the policies of your land, giving your subjects good government or bad. Call upon your priests to speak the wisdom of prophecy and council. Command the sorcerous incantations of wizards. Indeed, the tide of war may turn upon their arcane magics. Rule and Conquer! It is an age of empire and the jeweled thrones of the earth await you.

AQUILONIA (Large Kingdom) -- Symbol of might in the Hyborian Age, Aquilonia with her legendary armies of Bossonian archers, Gunderland pikemen and Poitanian knights, wields indisputably the supreme military power of the Western world. More than any other Kingdom, however, Aquilonia lies surrounded by grim and unrelenting enemies. A long series of defensive wars for survival must inevitably be fought (and won) ere Aquilonia may seek empire beyond her borders.

AMAZONIA (Small Kingdom) -- The female warriors of Gamburu are unmatched in the Southern world. Their fleet footed warriors are rightly feared for their ferocity and for their prowess with both the Javelin and their bronze bladed shortswords. A dream of empire calls them to seek dominion over the vast interior grasslands and the endless, forgotten jungles beyond.

ARGOS (Medium Kingdom) -- The major sea power of the Hyborian Age, proud Argos sweeps the western sea from Vanaheim to the Black Kingdoms. Wealthy beyond its size. Argos seldom lacks for funds either to war or to weave far reaching webs of intrigue as the situation dictates. Natural enemy of Zingara and secret supporters of the Barachan pirates, the Argosseans may very possibly prove the ultimate rulers of the Hyborian Age.

ASGARD (Medium Kingdom) -- Blonde reavers of the icy north, the mailed warriors of the Aesir are held in check only by their equally ferocious kin the Vanir to the west, the grim Cimmerians southward, and by arcane Hyperborea to the east. Loosely organized, the clans await their forging to a cause, or a great captain of men, to spur them over the ice towards bright and bloody conquest!

BORDER KINGDOM (Small Kingdom) -- On the fringes of the great Salt Marsh within the Border Kingdom, a new power is quickly developing. Strengthened by a surprising volume of trade (which travels northward to avoid high Nemedian Tariffs) and by a harsh but brilliant leadership composed mostly of exiled Aquilonian and Nemedian families, the young border Kingdom lies poised on the brink of empire ... IF only the fledgling Kingdom can stave off the early territorial appetites of its larger neighbors.

BRYTHUNIA (Medium Kingdom) -- The land of plains and horse, the Brythunians have become a culture of hunters and farmers, ranging their wide, flat lands ahorse and unfettered. The Brythunian army carries forward this heritage with a large contingent of disciplined cavalry regiments. Split and scattered into small, widely dispersed fiefdoms, Brythunia awaits only a powerful leader to weld it together and send its riders thundering out of the plains and onto the road of empire.

CIMMERIA (Medium Kingdom) -- Grim. Moody. Grey skied. The land of Crom amid hills and mountains. A warrior race, the Cimmerians are descendants of ancient Atlantis and only slowly coming again into the ways of civilization after contact with the Hyborian Kingdoms. In battle the Cimmerians are unmatched in the darkly wooded hills of their homeland and few are the invading Aquilonian, Pictish, or Northeim warriors who return from that grey land! A legacy of hatred runs strong amongst Cimmerians for their long time enemies, the Picts.

CORINTHIA (Medium Kingdom) -- Secure behind high mountain passes lie the city states of Corinthia. Notable for their highly disciplined battle phalanxes and fearsome weaponry (halberd and pike), the Corinthians swiftly move towards unity as a Kingdom. A great general is all that Corinthia needs to lead their heavily armoured pikemen down upon a surprised Hyborian world.

DARFAR (Small Kingdom) -- The sharply filed teeth of the Darfar savages haunt the dreams of even the boldest warriors who have faced them in screaming battle. Actually composed of a various mix of tribes, the Ghanatan and the northern Tibu tribes foremost amongst them. Darfar gains its name from the scattered cannibalistic grassland tribes which most often provide the drive and leadership for empire.

HYPERBOREA (Large Kingdom) -- Cold and heartless, Hyperborea is ruled by grim, gaunt, albino nobles and by the sorcerously powerful witch- women. Safe within their high stone keeps on the snowy Hyperborean plain, the Hyperboreans wield power far beyond their meager resources and small army. Fortress of arcane power in the north, Hyperborea is a spiteful foe to Aquilonia and quite possibly the most dangerous Kingdom of the Hyborian Age.

HYRKANIA (Medium Kingdom) -- Savage horse tribes of the interior steppes, uncivilized in all by the arts of war at which they excel, the Hyrkanians move upon a shifting sea of unrest as turbulent as the fiery ponies upon which they ride. The Hyrkanian tribes war constantly amongst them- selves but when united under a great chief they destroy armies as swiftly as their horse-archers can race across the endless flatlands which encompass them. Trained from childhood in horse and bow, the Hyrkanian cavalry has been called with good reason the finest horse- archers in the world.

IRANISTAN (Medium Kingdom) -- The golden land south of the Ilbars mountains is widely, albeit sparsely inhabited. Ancient and rich, Iranistan uses the Kossaks and the Ilbars hillmen as border defenses to turn back the swift horse-archers of their long standing foes in Turan and Hyrkania. When forced to do battle the well trained Iranistani army is as good as any in the world of Hyboria.

JUMA'S KlNGDOM (Small Kingdom) -- The warriors of Kulalo receive archer training in the Turanian fashion and thus stand out as the finest archers in any of the Black Kingdoms. Juma's Kingdom is relatively unbeleaguered in early years and can look to the north and south coastlines for easy expansion. The black corsairs of the Southern Isles have become natural enemies over many a skirmish and raid. Under skillful control, Juma's Kingdom can quickly emerge as a major power in the southern world.

KAMBULJA (Medium Kingdom) -- Ruled by the god-king of the scarlet circle, deep in jungle girdled Angkhor crouches the hungry Kingdom of Kambulja. The Kambuljans are forever locked in war with neighbouring Khitai whose great wizards, the god-kings also contest on an arcane level. The Kambuljan host fields huge mammoths trained and relied upon to smash the formations of the Khitai in battle.

KESHAN (Medium Kingdom) -- A Kingdom of barbaric splendor, the Keshans are well led by nobles and religious leaders who claim descent from the great people of Alkmeenon. Keshan also has a well drilled army patterned after the Stygian military organization. While Stygian troops often raid into northern Keshan, Punt is Keshan's long standing and hereditary enemy. Keshan lies poised in the midst of a power vacuum and, if well controlled, may emerge as a major power of the Hyborian Age.

KHAURAN (Medium Kingdom) -- Rich in fertile meadowlands and at the center of trade in the Hyborian world, Khauran is a Kingdom of abundant wealth. Khauran is well ruled by nobles of Kothic descent and lacks not for wizards and powers arcane. The Khauranian nobles disdain the use of horse but hire mercenary cavalry troops as needed. Khauran begins the epoch in strong alliance with both Koth and Khoraja.

KHITAI (Large Kingdom) -- The ancient empire, stronghold of the world's greatest wizards and masters of the eastern world, Khitai has a powerful army and a sound leadership based in Paikang, Shu-Chen and Ruo-Chen. Khitai is forever at war with Kambulja to the south whose god-kings vie with them for supremacy in the arcane mysteries of the scarlet circle.

KHORAJA (Small Kingdom) -- Blessed with excellent leadership, a highly diverse and well trained army, a fertile land, and a location central to the rich southern and eastern trade routes, Khoraja is powerful beyond its tiny size. Wizards and priests capable of calling upon unearthly aid are not unknown in Khoraja. Situated over the fractured eastern Shemish Kingdoms, Khoraja stands at the gates of empire IF through wisdom and cunning Shem, Stygia, and Turan can be held at bay. As the epoch begins, Koth and Khauran stand firmly allied with Khoraja.

KOSALA (Medium Kingdom) -- The Kosalans are an ancient race, decadent but not grown soft. They are devoted to the worship of the god Yajur and their armies are an arm of their religious organization. The Kosalans are aided by ancient magics and a fanatical if untrained populace ever willing to fight and die in battle. Kosala from of old is tied with Vendhya through intermarriage and treaty and can expect no invasions from that quarter.

KOTH (Large Kingdom) -- Pride of the Hyborian south, Koth is known for its armour making skill and adventurous people. The Kothic army is powerful and balanced enough to fight against any army of the Hyborian Age. Both Khauran and Khoraja have formed cultural and economic ties which bind Koth into firm alliance with them during the early years of the epoch.

KUSAN (Small Kingdom) -- The westernmost Khitan Kingdom, culturally advanced Kusan relies upon her excellent ambassadors and diplomats (easily the most adept politicians of the age) at least as much as upon her armies. Considered the most challenging position to rule, Kusan must expand its tiny size in the dwindling vacuum between great Khitai in the east and the Hyrkanian hordes to the west.

KUSH (Medium Kingdom) -- The semi-civilized Black Kingdom of most common knowledge among people of the Hyborian nations is Kush. Proud Kush is seldom raided, the Stygians usually preferring to take their slaves from weaker Darfar or Keshan. Kush in Conan's time is a Kingdom teetering on the road to empire ... or ruin. Good Kings must be fostered lest poor leadership allow the Kingdom to fall into unrest and rebellion.

NEMEDIA (Large Kingdom) -- Nemedia, the central pillar of Hyborian culture and civilization stands ever in defiance to their habitual foes, mighty Aquilonia. The gleaming Nemedian knights are rightly proud for their army which is as diverse as it is deadly. Nemedia may well extend an empire without limit ... IF they can stop the hosts of Aquilonia.

OPHIR (Medium Kingdom) -- A Kingdom of great beauty with gilded knights and high towered cities, Ophir is protected by natural boundaries of mountain and river on all sides but to the south which the Ophirians have well fortified. The Ophirian army is provided for with all that wealth can purchase including the finest training, weapons, and arms as well as being additionally strengthened by mercenary archers from Shem. Unassuming Ophir is powerful enough to begin the red road to empire but small enough to avoid threatening the larger Kingdoms.

PICTLAND (Medium Kingdom) -- Savage, warlike brutish, persistently resistant to civilizing influences, the Picts inhabit the Primal forest of the Pictish Wilderness. Constantly warring amongst themselves, the Picts must find a leader strong enough to unite the tribes and hurl their vast hordes upon the path of empire.

PUNT (Small Kingdom) -- The barbaric splendor of the Kingdom which is Punt is based upon the bright yellow gold washed down off the central hills. Hereditary enemies of Keshan, Punt must also mistrust the growing power of Zembabwei. If these two foes can be kept at bay, and if a trade route can be established to the gold hungry markets of the Hyborian world, then Punt may well emerge as supreme among the Black Kingdoms.

SHEM (Medium Kingdom) -- The city states of Shem lie between the ambitions of Koth and the malignant arcane power of Stygia. The western Shemish states form a loose knit nation with Asgalun as their tiller head. The eastern Shemish states stand in alliance with each other and also with western Shem creating a friendly eastern border. The Shemish Asshuri and the famous Shemish archers make Shem's armies very strong. Through mercenary service in over a dozen Kingdoms of the western world the Shemish generals have learned well the art of war.

STYGIA (Large Kingdom) -- Slumbering in her desert retreats, protected behind the mighty and brooding Styx river, lies Stygia. The Stygian army is never without the backing of wizards well versed in black battle magics, most often of the priesthood of Set. The ancient culture of Stygia is in decline, revolving in malignance about itself but it is also the source of a great and evil sorcerous knowledge which may yet gain mastery over the western world.

TOMBALKU (Small Kingdom) -- The vibrant clashing Tombalku culture provides a springboard of energy for expansionist desires. Unless controlled, the white-black conflict in Tombalku may rip the small but powerful Kingdom in two. However, if united and working together, the Tombalku riders, Black spearmen, and White lancers may roll back their bordering nations in a surging red tide!

TURAN (Large Kingdom) -- Gleaming mailed and silken clad riders, masters of the Vilayet Sea, Turan revels in sweeping the barely contested wastelands to the west and south. Turan, however, must bear the plague of a thousand frustrations arising from the seemingly indomitable and ever resurgent Kossaks, Zuagirs, and Vilayet pirates. Perpetually battling raiders and quelling revolts from a hundred pinpricking sources, the rulers of Turan must pass their reign in unceasing watchfulness. Turan is a natural enemy to Iranistan and Vendhya but at the beginning of the epoch stands in loose alliance with Hyrkania.

UTTARA KURU (Medium Kingdom) -- Dismissed as a myth in most regions of the world, Uttara Kuru is a land of ancient magics, misty mountains, dense coastal forest, and the strange, haunting architecture of Uttara Kuru City. The people of this Kingdom are fanatically loyal in defense of their homeland. Ancient enemy of great Vendhya, the people of Uttara Kuru must seek empire to the north and east.

VANAHEIM (Medium Kingdom) -- The red haired Vanir are isolated in the northwest and their mailed swordsmen perforce must vent their warlike natures on their Asgardian kin to the east, the savage Picts to the south, or less often upon grim Cimmeria to the southeast. Many a hero of the Hyborian Age was of the Vanir and warriors of Vanaheim are known to be utterly fearless in combat.

VENDHYA (Large Kingdom) -- Vendhya is an ancient and proud Kingdom, ruled by the Kashatriyan warrior caste and has wizards adept with their own peculiar range of magics. Vendhya is pent up in the north by the savage and virtually unconquerable Ghulistan tribesmen. To the west lies Kosala, made unassailable by the well forged intermarriages between the two Kingdoms. To the east broods Uttara Kuru whose silver tongued diplomats and arrogant wizards have long held the weight of Vendhya at bay. As the huge Vendhyan host continues to swell in size, like a bubble it must burst forth into empire and the day of Vendhyan glory.

ZAMORA (Medium Kingdom) -- Zamora is a land of spider haunted towers and master thieves. The Zamoran army is adequate (Conan called them poltroons), but it is their spies and long lived wizards upon which Zamora relies. What King not departed from his sanity will risk the intrigues of Zamora or worse yet her assassins? Zamora may indeed follow a shadowy path to world mastery with the aid of spells long forgotten and knives which strike swiftly in the dark!

ZEMBABWEI (Medium Kingdom) -- A growing power in the southlands, vital Zembabwei is well led and armed. The Zembabwei command great flying reptiles found only in Zembabwei heartland. These soaring winged mounts strike terror into the hearts of all who behold them. The Zembabwei age of power has just dawned in the days of Conan.
ZINGARA (Medium Kingdom) -- The most powerful sea raiders next to their Argossean rivals, the Zingarans are active supporters of the Zingaran buccaneers (pirates by any other name). Zingara is a proud and rich land, though often torn by civil strife and bitter feuds between powerful members of its nobility. A strong succession of kings and carefully calculated expansion could easily see Zingara as master of the western world -- land and sea.

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Posted by: shimeril - 02-13-2011, 03:41 AM - Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself - Replies (3)

I vaguely remember doing this before... Smile

Have more nicknames than I care to remember but the most infamous have been Axe, Thor, Midnight, The Adelaide Assassin and Qadir. I've been in PBM since 1984 in Australia with Kevin Flynn's Australian Wizard. Peter Catling's Roma Games and Peter Read's Dynamic Games mostly. Now I'm reduced to online cricket management games, Olympia Game 3 and I'm still planning on running Roma Games' excellent Dino Wars in house for my wife and kids to play (whenever I find the time).

I produced the Medokh Murmurs newsletter for Keys of Medokh in Australia, wrote articles for Oz PBM newsletters, Breakout magazine and was for a short period of time Associate Ed of Australian Flagship. I still have my PBM Bastard of the Year trophy from 1995's Flagship Awards ceremony in Canberra (which a certain John Tindall was at I should add) on my computer desk as well as trophies for win at face-to-face Trolls Bottom - much more fun than via the post or email.

Played lots and lots of different PBM's - that's for another time perhaps.

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Smile Walter
Posted by: walter - 02-12-2011, 09:34 AM - Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself - Replies (6)

Okay, thanks to Grim playbymail has a new forum. Thanks for that!

I am Walter, 38 years old, living in Leidschendam, The Netherlands with my wife and daughter.
Started my first pbm game in 1986 with a Dutch firm called Fantasia Arena. The game was named Vorcon Wars. Played two turns of Vorcon Wars but the game folded due to I was the only one playing the game!!!

Then I started playing with the Pbm Express:
I played games like Knights of Avalon, Gladius et Pilum, Legends, Continental Rails, Supernova II.

I liked playbymail because of the diplomacy there was in that time. People were calling me with name like "Harige Harrie" or "Haddock" :-)
I had a phonebill, well, I can imagine my parents where angry...

Currently playing in a Legends Game, Harlequin games.. Not playing that many pbm games anymore.

I keep dreaming of my own game called Gliese 5. Not sure if it will ever finish but it is fun to prepare a game like this. Completely handmoderated of course because I dont have ANY programming skills at all.

Enough for now.
Again thanks for this website Grim.

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  The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Join the London en Garde! Yahoo Group
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-11-2011, 03:36 PM - Forum: Editorials - Replies (3)

I decided, this morning, that I would try to join the Yahoo group for London en Garde! Oh, what a simple undertaking.

Wrong! The problem, of course, lies with Yahoo, and not with that particular group on Yahoo. Being on a slow dial-up account to access the Internet with only exacerbates the problem.

Yahoo likes to create a primary e-mail address for people who sign up for their discussion groups, and they like for it to be a Yahoo e-mail address. Except, I have no intention of using the new e-mail address in question.

I go into the account settings to change it, and Yahoo further complicates things by requiring that I verify my alternate e-mail address that I listed, when I signed up, before I can make the change to use my alternate e-mail address as the contact address. Clicking the Verify Now button does nothing.

Of course. Much time wasted trying to sort through Yahoo's self-inflicted headache. I only wanted to check that discussion group out. They have it set up to not display messages in that group to non-members of the group. That's not a Yahoo issue. That's a group issue.

And people wonder why more people don't play their favored game of choice.

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  The Difficulties of Casting a Summoning Spell
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-11-2011, 02:22 PM - Forum: News & Announcements - No Replies

Last night, I tried to sift through an old corrupted database file, to try and recover at least a few of the site's former users' e-mail addresses. I managed to find about a dozen, although one or two I wasn't sure if they were registered users e-mail addresses, or e-mail addresses that were perhaps posted in a forum forum posting, such as one for Agema.

Regardless, I went ahead and sent out an invitation, of sorts, to try and invite people back. I noticed that we got a couple of them back, already. I don't know if we will get back a few of those who posted at length in a few former forum postings or not. It's a lot like looking for needles in a haystack, trying to sort through the mountain of gibberish that is the corrupted database file.

But, I thought that it was at least worth a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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  How Nikola Tesla Saved Play By Mail
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-10-2011, 11:43 PM - Forum: Editorials - No Replies

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

- Thomas Edison

He didn't. Or, at least, he hasn't. Not yet, anyway. But, he will.

Nikola Tesla was an inventor, a mechanical engineer, and an electrical engineer. He was also something more. Much more. Nikola Tesla was also a visionary.

In the War of Currents, Nikola Tesla squared off against famed inventor Thomas Edison. Direct current or alternating current? Which would prevail?

Both alternating current and direct current survived and are still with us, of course, but AC prevailed over DC in that particular stage of the conflict. As human civilization continues to move forward into the future, and as nano-technology becomes more prevalent, we may find that the battle between Edison's and Tesla's competing visions is far from over.

What does any of this have to do with play by mail, you might ask? Everything, my dear Watson. Everything!

To save play by mail, we could use a few more Thomas Edisons. To bring about a resurgence of interest in PBM, we could use more of the likes of Nikola Tesla.

We need both perspiration and inspiration. We need vision. We need activity. We need action! In the later stages of his life, Nikola Tesla was regarded by some as a mad scientist. Well, to be honest with you, play by mail could stand to do with a few more mad scientists. That's right - we need both visionaries and mad scientists. Both the bold and the meek should apply, because play by mail is hiring.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if PBM was hiring, again? It used to be an industry on an upswing, continually adding more and more jobs to the delight of the PBM gaming communities that sprang up in the aftermath of play by mail's genesis moment.

Nikola Tesla had a vision of free power, of free electricity for the masses. Of course, he also envisioned death rays. Suffice it to say that Nikola Tesla was not one trick pony. He was not a one idea man.

There are those that are still with us, that still walk in our midst, who have long dreamed of creating and running their own play by mail game. Are you one of those people? Are you one of those visionaries? Are you the Nikola Tesla of PBM?

There are also those who could walk in our midst - and may well yet walk in our midst, and who hold the key to some great play by mail games of the future. Where are these Nikola Teslas of the PBM universe? You are needed now. Please identify yourselves - and hurry up and bless us with PBM games the likes of which mankind has never before laid eyes upon.

Are there challenges and obstacles ahead of us, before we are led hand-in-hand into the Promised Land of play by mail? Sure. But, are these challenges any greater than the challenges that men such as the likes of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla faced over the course of their respective lives? I don't think so.

Maybe you are inclined to think that play by mail is a dying profession, and that pigs will fly before PBM digs itself out of its own grave. And maybe you are right. But, it wasn't all that very long ago that a man named Rick Loomis made a buffalo fly. And if we can have a Flying Buffalo, then what says that we can't have pigs that fly, too?

You know what else? That buffalo of Rick Loomis' has been flying non-stop for forty years, now. That's four decades! If something as big and as aerodynamically unstable as a buffalo can be made to fly for forty years, with no end in sight, then there's no telling how long a pig will fly, if we can only figure out how to launch the damned thing.

Ever heard of Planet of the Apes? Do you know how apes can come to rule a planet? I'll tell you how. It's all due to someone, somewhere having something called imagination.

The last time that I checked, imagination ain't dead, buddy! Now, either get the Hell out of the way, or help me to catch a few pigs to launch out of the nearest play by mail cannon that you can find.

At worst, we fail. Bacon, anyone??

NOTE: Originally posted in 2010 on the old PlayByMail.Net forums.

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  Play By Mail: Doomed to extinction or ripe for reinvigoration?
Posted by: GrimFinger - 02-10-2011, 11:37 PM - Forum: Editorials - No Replies

In order for there to be a resurgence in play by mail gaming, I really do think that it is going to require the infusion of a new generation of PBM game moderators. I have grave doubts that the remaining members of PBM's Old Guard are motivated enough or interested enough to get the hobby back on track.

Now, if interest in play by mail gaming just suddenly exploded overnight, I certainly do think that Old Guard PBM companies would be well situated to take advantage of such a surge in interest. But, I just don't think that those Old Guard companies, themselves, will be the spark behind such a resurgence.

It may well be that the play by mail genre of gaming will not ever experience a significant resurgence of players, PBM companies, and play by mail games. If that is what is to be, then that is what is to be. Period. Of course, there is no way to know, for absolute certain, that that is the case. If you are a betting man, then the safe money is that it won't happen.

But, the beauty of people becoming involved in a given situation is that, although not always, quite often they can make a considerable difference. In order for gamers to play PBM games, then there has to exist PBM games for them to play.

A number of avid players from the old days of PBM have probably passed on, by now. Fortunately, I am not one of them. Not yet, anyway. There's still quite a few people form the old days when PBM was at its apex, and they are still involved in playing PBM games. Hyborian War is an example of an old school PBM game where, if you want to play, at all, then you still must play it via the postal service.

And, there are also people who are still joining the ranks of play by mail gaming for the first time. Once such fellow created an account on another website of mine, just today, in fact. He remembered seeing the old Hyborian War ads in some of the old black and white Conan magazines, and he somehow or other ended up came back into contact with info about Hyborian War, and is now looking to join a game of Hyborian war for the very first time.

Flagship magazine has been around a long time. Carol Mulholland, the current editor of Flagship magazine, tries to keep covering things, and as far as I know, she has never become disinterested in covering play by mail games and play by mail company news. Often times, there's simply no news, or no one bothers to share what little news that there is with her.

But, also, Flagship magazine is oriented more towards the PBM gaming scene in Great Britain and Europe, than the PBM gaming scene in the United States. When a new domain name was chosen for a new website for Flagship magazine, the domain name selected was FlagshipMagazine.Co.Uk. Note the end designation of that URL address, which are the letters UK.

In all fairness, when Paper Mayhem was being published, its primary coverage was the American PBM gaming scene, with some coverage of the Canadian PBM gaming scene. The United Kingdom and European PBM scenes received far less coverage, which worked well for Flagship magazine, I'm certain. But, those two magazines were largely a reflection of geographic realities and fund limitations.

Then-editor David Webber of Paper Mayhem sought input in the form of letters from his magazine's readership on more than one occasion. This is a lot like the situation that Carol Mulholland faces now. But, one simple reality of life is that most people who read or subscribe to a given magazine will likely never write a letter to said magazine.

There are Old Guard PBM companies that would, I suspect, embrace a new paper format PBM magazine that focused primarily upon the American and Canadian PBM gaming scenes. But, just as most American PBM companies have transitioned to the electronic medium to effectuate cost savings, a new PBM magazine would benefit from the advantages that the electronic medium conveys.

Much of what David Webber and Paper Mayhem published in the old days has transitioned to the electronic medium, since that magazine's passing from publication. Having ceased publication, Paper's Mayhem's subscriber base and its readership base (not necessarily one and the same thing) filled the void in other ways. Those who had lost interest in play by mail while Paper Mayhem was still in publication, and who returned after Paper Mayhem's shut down, had little choice but to pursue other options.

One of the core functions that Paper Mayhem served, back in the old days when PBM was king to a large number of gamers, when new PBM companies and new PBM games regularly appeared on the PBM gaming scene, was that of facilitator. Paper Mayhem facilitated getting the prospective PBM player connected with the PBM game moderators and PBM companies that had the PBM games that needed players to fill their ranks.

In this day and age, who is investing in the play by mail genre of gaming? Is anyone? Or has all of the investment, what relatively little that there is, shifted to the electronic medium?

Because there is no real investment in PBM going on, right now (at least, not that I am aware of), and because no major company, PBM or otherwise, is taking the lead on revitalizing the PBM industry, I think that any real resurgence of PBM gaming will require individual innovators to make things happen to any notable degree.

By and large, the Old Guard PBM companies still know how to program and to run play by mail games, but realistically speaking, they have all but abandoned postal gaming as a viable medium of gaming for their respective companies' business models.

Can new play by mail companies come into existence, in the current day and age, and be sustainable operations that generate a profit? I think so, but the real problem lies more with connecting potential players with such company and its games. I think that there must - of necessity - be something there to fill that void, a new facilitator, if you will.

In PBM's glory days of old, one thing that prospective PBM players had was a lot of PBM games and a lot of PBM companies to choose from. If you don't have that range of choice, then common sense dictates that your likely player base will be much smaller than might be the case, if there is a large body of PBM games and PBM companies filling the PBM genre with vitality and energy and presence. After all, who wants crappy choices, either for gaming or for anything else in life?

One of the greatest challenges facing any new PBM gaming focused magazine is what to print. In order to exist - and to thrive, such a new PBM magazine will have to address that challenge. As an example to help illustrate the point, what would such a magazine provide to a new PBM readership that those very same readers couldn't find elsewhere, where play by mail news and happenings is concerned. Are magazines such as Paper Mayhem and Flagship still relevant to PBM gamers?

I think that they are. Or, perhaps I should say, I think that they should be, and that they could be. Paper Mayhem currently lies dormant, and Flagship has a whole host of problems that I think that it needs to sort through, in order to be a viable facilitator for the play by mail industry and PBM gaming community of players.

Flagship hasn't sunk. Not yet, anyway. But, it is listing terribly. Granted, that's just my opinion of one, but it is my opinion, nonetheless. Continually missing publication deadlines, regardless of why, only worsens things - both for Flagship's readership and for Flagship, itself.

Realistically speaking, though, how are Carol and Flagship supposed to resuscitate a play by mail industry which has emaciated itself, and which won't even invest in itself, anymore? Such an industry is more in need of hospice, than a facilitator, wouldn't you say?

The primary reason that I can think of for someone - anyone - to invest in the play by mail genre of gaming is that it can be a lot of fun. Whether you are a PBM player, a PBM moderator, a PBM company, or a PBM magazine personality, shouldn't your primary, over-arching interest in it all be to have fun?

Recognizing that key fact is fundamental, I think, to reinvigorating the PBM industry - no matter what angle or perspective that you approach it from.

NOTE: Originally posted in 2010 on the old PlayByMail.Net forums.

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