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PBM Chaos logo

Is it that time already, again? It must be, because here I am, just type, type, typing away. I hope that is well on your end, and that life is treating you well, and that thoughts of PBM gaming are stirring in your head and in your heart.

Let me share a quote by Paper Mayhem's editor, David Webber:

"This is our 6th anniversary. Who would know that we would have survived this long when we first appeared as a small newsletter. But knowing the PBM gamer, you are always looking for information about PBM games and there are few outlets to find information in. This is what has kept us going and growing through the years. We hope that your support and thirst for knowledge about PBM continues in the future."

- David C. Webber
Paper Mayhem magazine

Issue #37 - July/August 1989 Issue

Sound familiar? I suspect that the thirst for knowledge about PBM remains intact among PBM gamers, thirty-four years after David Webber penning those words for that old issue of Paper Mayhem. Certainly, his sentiment encapsulated in that handful of words are shared by me, and I regret that my own attempts at crafting digital PBM publications do not rise to the same level of being informative as David's Paper Mayhem.

Undoubtedly, there was simply way more PBM news and PBM hustle and bustle happening, back then. Unlike me, David Webber didn't really take a break from what he perhaps saw as his "PBM duties." And were he still alive today, I don't know what he might think of my own various attempts at PBM stuff. Of course, he might just wonder why I never wrote any PBM articles for Paper Mayhem, as much as I shake and rattle the old PBM word bucket.

I wonder, if David Webber were still going, today, would YOU write in to Paper Mayhem? Be real careful how you answer that, now, because I've definitely got my ear tuned in to what you say. You know full well that I'd love for you to write in to PBM Chaos. Come to think of it, when was the last time that you did?

On the one hand, one challenge associated with this line of "work" is trying to publish something PBM-related that is interesting to read. The grand objective really isn't for me to just see how much that I can write. Its to drum up interest, to help spread the word, to try and motivate and inspire each of you out there reading this to rise to the occasion, that PBM gaming continues to draw interest and drive interest. Yeah, I know. I probably have my moments, for the most part, I fail rather miserably. And perhaps most telling of all, the vast majority of current PBM gamers have never even browsed so much as a single issue of PBM Chaos.

Of course, at the height of every single PBM magazine that ever existed, most PBM gamers of their respective eras never so much as browsed those PBM publications, either.

As I sit here writing this, it's late. Isn't it always? It sure seems that way. But I seem to manage, in spite of the delays (that I am often the author of) that I manage to toss into the equation. Right now, here at 1:15AM, I would very much like to go to bed. But I know that tomorrow, same day but sometime after the sun comes up, I'm sure I will be glad that I didn't. Well, not just yet, anyway.

For some reason, Bob Hope crossed my mind, just now. Care to explain that one?

You know, one thing that I think that would be good, real good, is if I would just compile myself a list of names of various persons whom I know are interested in PBM gaming (whether they're currently playing or not), and then pester them to death every so often, switching their PBM legs until they commit to writing something every so often.

Not the same individuals each and every issue, but every five or ten issues (or more). I figure if I compiled a list of thirty or forty names, that size of a group of people ought to be able to find something to say about PBM gaming. I don't think that it would unduly burden anyone, and it would definitely result in more interesting issues for everyone to enjoy.

Or perhaps I could just start including a list of about five names or so in each issue, sort of as a heads-up to those individuals that their time has come, and they need to jot down just a few sentences about something PBM-related, their pick. Can somebody out there please write in and tell me why this kind of an approach can't work? I think that it could. Surely, especially for individuals who have a long and colorful and glorious and memorable history of playing PBM games, they should be able to remember something about PBM worth mentioning.

The Eldorado of PBM gaming is your memories. And once you die or become incapacitate, those PBM memories are likely gonna be gone forever. Heck, if you can't be bothered to write in to PBM Chaos now and again, who's gonna believe that you took the time and made the effort to write some big PBM biography and history of your PBM exploits?

I figure that it's worth a try. And if your name appears on the PBM roll call, as it might be called, maybe some of your PBM buddies can nudge you into getting off your ass and participating. or should I close shop for good, and open a PBM dentist office, in order to pull teeth. persuading people to write in and share thoughts and memories and ideas pertaining to PBM gaming really shouldn't be akin to pulling PBM teeth.

So, here goes nothing.

For next issue, Issue #25, while I would love to hear from everyone, here's the name of five individuals in the PBM community who need to write me at least three sentences about something PBM related.

PBM Chaos Roll Call For Next Issue (Issue #25)

1. Dave Cooksey

2. Greg Hindman

3. Brendan Weir

4. Pete Flynn

5. Mike Henderson

It doesn't have to be a big ordeal. And if people will participate, they won't be expected to write something every time, and others will enjoy hearing from you. I know that everyone's busy, or that they get busy. I know that time is always in very short supply. But the only way to get things done in PBM is if someone actually makes an effort. What say ye? I think that it's worth a try. If I'm wrong, though, feel free to write in and explain to me at length why you think that I'm wrong.

Did you see what I did there?

If you know any of those five individuals, be sure to remind them that it's their lucky day, and that they've been picked to be a voice for PBM in the next issue. And if they turn out to be "no shows," then next issue will be short everything that they could have said.

It may be that all of them don't even read PBM Chaos. They're certainly free to start, just as they're free to subscribe. That way, they won't miss any future such notifications that appear in issues of PBM Chaos, going forward.

I really don't think that a little bit of participation is gonna kill anybody. Plus, we'll even be able in due time to compile a list, which will give you bragging rights (depending upon where on that list that your name appears).

That's it for now. Until next issue, happy reading and happy PBM gaming!

PBM Wisdom

"What more do you need to be encouraged to start playing PBM? Get involved!"

- Wayne's Play by Mail

Computer + Video Games magazine

August 1987 Issue

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Austerlitz is the premier PBeM Napoleonic Wargame, and has won awards all over Europe and in the UK. The realism is unparalleled, and the accurate representation of the armies of 1808 make this a thrilling simulation of Napoleonic conquest.

PBM Voices in the Aftermath of Issue #23

I've been subscribed to your PBM emails now for, I don't know, a year or two? I honestly don't recall. As a kid, I remember seeing ads for PBM games in Dragon Magazine, Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society, etc. I was always intrigued, but never took the plunge. I played plenty of RPGs as a youngster, too much, probably, and I rarely lacked friends to play with. Occasionally, though, especially in the dead of winter, I would wonder at what PBM was, how it worked, and so forth. Thing is, I couldn't really afford to do it. My dad was a sergeant in the military, so it's not like I got a big allowance. Far from it. Money was tight.

Fast forward to me in my 50s. I think it was in the beginning stages of the pandemic, when I was working from home and we were all locked away. Even the two RPG conventions I love (Garycon and Gameholecon) had to go "virtual", and I thought "I should explore that whole PBM thing, again. A buddy of mine was running a PBEM D&D campaign, which I really enjoyed. So I thought "I'll at least take a look at things and see what, if anything, is still 'out there'." I believe it was about that time I discovered your newsletter, though I can't for the life of me remember where I found it.

Like I said, I've been reading your newsletter for maybe a year or two, maybe more? I forget. But throughout, you've shared your thoughts on PBM and your enthusiasm for it as a hobby. You've shared some of your experiences playing and, pertinent to Issue #23, lots of ads.

Well, it worked. Three weeks ago, I sent in my setup paperwork for Hyborian War. Conan is what got me started on fantasy back in the mid 70s, when I bought my first issue of Savage Sword of Conan. I was fully and happily corrupted and never recovered. So, Hyborian War appeals to me a great deal. You've spoken highly of it, which helped in my research and decision to give it a try. I'm still waiting to hear back, but that's fine, I can be patient. I've been waiting a good forty-odd years to do this, so I'll take my turn when it's my turn.

So, yes, all your writing and ads and beautiful stream-of-conscious ranting and raving has had an effect. At least one person, namely me, will be taking a plunge because of your efforts.

Keep it up. Stay strong. Hang on.


Forrest Aguirre


Man, it was fabulous to receive your e-mail! Truly, it was, for it was very interesting to read. I thank you for it, and I thank you for the kind words. It was motivating to read what you had to say, and I hope that your foray into PBM gaming doesn't turn out to be a letdown.

Make no mistake about it, Hyborian War by Reality Simulations, Inc. (RSI) is a great game. It's not a perfect game, but I've never found nor played a perfect game in any format or medium or genre. It is definitely a very fun game, but do give yourself some time to get used to it. A lot of people in PBM aren't patient with themselves, and if you have questions, just write to me. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find someone who does.

Savage Sword of Conan - boy, those Hyborian War ads on the back of that magazine seem to be how most people who play that game got their start. Plus, too, it was a great magazine, in its own right. I loved that magazine, and I loved Conan Saga, also. Those old black and white Conan magazines were the best!

"Beautiful stream-of-conscious and ranting and raving" is quite the compliment that you pay me. That's high praise, indeed, my friend! Thank you for it, and thank you for writing in, that it can be shared with others.

Sadly, I've never been to a game convention in my entire life. Nope, not a single one. I'd probably drown in all of the interesting stuff that game conventions offer. I really wish that I had attended some of the old PBM conventions, back in the day. But they might as well have been held on the moon, for all that matters, because I was just never inclined to drive several states away, just to attend a "convention." Stupid me, huh?

Thank you, also, for having followed along with our efforts for a year or two, however long exactly that it's been. That I haven't managed to lose you somewhere along the way gives my PBM heart hope. Additionally, thank you, as well, for finally taking the PBM plunge, after forty-odd years. For whatever it might be worth, I think that you made the right decision.

Hyborian War is a lot more fun, if you communicate a lot with other players in the same game. And don't deny yourself the experience of playing in at least one organized game of Hyborian War. Head on over to warbarron.com, to The Road of Kings forum site, to meet the biggest gathering of Hyborian War players on the Internet. Lloyd Barron is the proprietor, there, plus he knows a couple of things about Hyborian War (just a couple, though - don't inflate his ego or his head). You can definitely make a ton of friends, there.

Feel free to write in to PBM Chaos, anytime. Keep me apprised of your journey into play by mail gaming. Welcome to PBM!

Charles Mosteller

My answers to your first paragraph's questions:

So, what do you think?

I think I enjoy reading almost anything about PBM.

Are these PBM Chaos PBM mailings too long? Should I shorten them?

No, they're not too long. You should keep writing to any length that you're happy with.

Should I eliminate them, altogether?


Or do they serve a worthwhile purpose?

Yes, they do - like the Federalist papers, they cause the reader to think and react (or maybe react and then think).

Personally, I enjoy the images.



Know that I appreciate your support, and also, that you were willing to take time out to write in. While some do write in, from time to time, issues of PBM Chaos would be far more interesting, if more readers (preferably, all readers, of course) would emulate your example. It doesn't have to be an article, nor even a page. Just a few sentences would add up fast, if multiple different readers chimed in after each and every issue.

To make it easier on readers of this issue, I went ahead and inserted the questions in between your responses to the questions, in order to make it easier for our readers of this issue to know what, exactly, that you are responding to.

Charles Mosteller

Lady Cassandra Grey - Richard Lockwood's Character

Just remembered a great PBM I played, run by Ruarigh Dale. Some of you might remember him from Saturnalia or Revenge of the Many Legged Tiger Hounds From Outer Space – or whatever it was called.

Anyway, that's by the by.

Ruarigh's game, "The Dreamtime" was great. You started off in this dystopian city, at some point in the future, and could then travel to all kinds of different worlds. (See also: Further into Fantasy. More on that later)

I played a vapid socialite, by the name of Lady Cassandra Grey, who regularly contributed celebrity gossip to the Dreamtime News – the regular in-game newsletter.

She was also a complete bitch, would kill anyone who got in her way, but hey, she was just a good time girl! I've finally managed to get AI to generate a picture of her that I'm happy with.

Richard Lockwood


Perhaps you were referring to Revenge Of The Many Legged Man Eating Mutant Tiger Hounds From Outer Space from Alchemist's Guild.

Charles Mosteller

Daemonrift 3 image ad for Madhouse UK
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TAKAMO is a strategic level game of interstellar exploration, expansion and conquest. The game is set in an evolving three-dimensional galaxy, the scope of which you are not likely to encounter in any other game. Each player takes control of an emerging star-going civilization with immense potential and even greater dangers. The number of possible opponents and allies is virtually limitless.

Takamo Player Types

Independent Civilization BuilderCyberneticNomadMining Corporation
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         Green Sun: Rise & Fall

The science fiction game of race expansion and exploration has completed its playtest phase and is looking for players to join the game.

Design your own race, explore your home system and then the stars, encounter aliens, ancient artefacts and hopefully a friendly player or two. It is not computer moderated, there is a human GM, with roleplay embraced and encouraged.

Turns consist of a preset number of actions and are submitted over the month long turn, though it is up to the player to decide if they will use their orders in one go, or spread them out over as many mini-turns as they can squeeze in.

If you are interested in hearing more, follow the link to the Green Sun page https://discord.gg/raUuVYahq3 to download the rules and Race Generation document. If you have any questions, DM me.

Trachyte (0378)

World War II PBM Games
Battle PlanVictory! The Battle for Europe
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Due to player drop out we have a couple of positions up for grabs in our Far Horizons 23 game. If there's anyone interested in taking these on, feel free to message me at: [email protected]

You can also check out the website at: farhorizons23.net

- GMsShadow — 11/16/2023

Far Horizons GM

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What's happening in my Alamaze games?
Charles Mosteller

NOTE: It should be remembered and kept in mind at all times that turns for games of Alamaze routinely process faster than issues of PBM Chaos get published, and so my accounts of what is happening in the games of Alamaze that I play in tend to mean that you, the readers of PBM Chaos, do not learn all that is going on in these particular games of Alamaze, on a turn-by-turn basis. Instead, you only gain a scattered overview of various things that are transpiring in the Alamaze realms under my command on certain turns.

Game 5684 (Underworld)

This game started out well enough, and quickly descended into war against the Elementalist, who eventually was defeated with the aid of the Lycan kingdom. Currently, we are headed into Turn #38 of what will likely be a 40 turn game. So, this one is almost over and done with.

Me? I'm mostly just piddling about. No real grand scheme lies waiting in the works for my kingdom. Did I mention that I just nuked another Halfling village, though?

Yes, those annoying little cockroach Halflings. They really are scoundrels. Vermin, some call them. But calling down meteor strikes with wizards and their dire magics always manages to put a smile on my face.

The big action in this game of Alamaze has nothing to do with me or my kingdom, though. The mighty Sorcerer kingdom is at war with the Halflings, the Dark Elven, and now the Ancient Ones, as well. And my gut feeling is that the Sorcerer is up against a wall. There's really not much that I can do to be of aid to his cause in these waning hours of this epoch, as most of my kingdom's agents and fanatics reside far to the East and to the North, attending to "other matters."

My covert operatives move a maximum of just seven areas in any given turn. Thus, the distance between where most of them are and where they need to be is simply too vast, and there's just too little time remaining in this game for them to be brought to bear. But that didn't prevent me from assassinating an arrogant and intruding prince of the Ancient Ones, this turn, in the region of The Untamed Lands, which has heretofore been under the sway of the mighty Sorcerer.

But even a timely blade from an Underworld agent will be too little, too late, at this stage of the game. Oh, sure, the Ancient Ones can now seek revenge against my kingdom, but with just three turns left to be processed in this epoch, I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it. That kingdom is, after all, actively engaged in open war against one of my kingdom's declared allies. Besides, that prince was trespassing and up to no good.

The Ancient Ones don't care about my kingdom's excuses, I'm sure. But then again, I don't care about their kingdom's excuses, either. Alamaze is a game of war, after all, and such things have a way of just coming about, unplanned though they may be.

The Lizard king in this game satisfied a curiosity that I had about his kingdom, by posting in the Alamaze forum, recently, so I don't foresee any action directed against that realm by my kingdom's forces between now and the end of the game.

One of the things about Alamaze in general that I have learned, since I quit worrying about having to read a thick ass rulebook, and just started playing the game, is that an awful lot of my game play in the early-to-mid stages of the game was of the piddling variety. No real sense of purpose or strategy. Rather, just me milling about as a player, lost in mundane player thoughts, while not really burrowing into the mindset of the kingdoms that I am playing.

Part of that goes with the necessary process of learning how to play Alamaze. But had I been more focused and more concerned and more methodical than what I turned out to be in multiple different games of Alamaze, what a rather substantial difference it would have undoubtedly made to what my kingdoms' viable options would have been at later stages of those very same games. Live and learn, though, eh?

But that, too, is a part of the overall learning process.

Game 5703 (Demon Princes)

Once again, we return to my favorite Alamaze channel, Game 5703, where I preside as a player over the kingdom of the Demon Princes, my first time playing this kingdom. Currently, I am playing in three different games of Alamaze as the Demon Princes. One would think that, at some point, my opening gambits for the Demon Princes would improve. But alas, much to my eternal chagrin, 'tis not so!

The Giants in Game 5703 have begun to step up their game. I have no real way, at present, to deal with their vastly superior military forces which march about, to and fro, conquering population centers that were quite content residing under my rule. I can tell you this, the Giants' military, aided by high evil wizards and more warlords than you can shake a stick at, is not to be taken lightly.

That said, it's not my function to kiss these mangy Giants' asses. They can go to hell, for all that I care. Better yet, I'll bring Hell to them! I am the Demon Princes, after all.

Turn #31 saw me gain control of just one village, but my kingdom ended up losing one village and two towns (Yikes!) in the same span of time. And that's not good, not good at all.

But such is war in the realm of Alamaze.

If the game's new owner had done a better job of teaching me the finer points of playing Alamaze, then I probably could have dealt with these giants, already. But that might have cut into his pipe smoking time, and we can't have that, now can we? So, I'm gonna go ahead and lay my failures in this game of Alamaze, of which there have been many, squarely at John Mulholland's hairy feet.

Hey, the blame has to lie somewhere, right?

Having previously lost control of my kingdom's capital to the Giants, I now have several political emissaries on site, there, in a forthcoming bid to try and reassert control of that minor city in the region of Mythgar. But will they prove sufficient to get the job done, I wonder? In Alamaze, doubt frequently plagues the mind, a testimony to Alamaze's better qualities as a wargame.

And icing on the cake of insult, those blasted Giants have used one of their high level wizards to teleport their most powerful military group magically all of the way back over to the region of Nyvaria, where now it stands prepared to conquer anew the major city of Bronze Canyon, which I only just recently usurped control of from the Giants with my Demon Prince characters. Pah!

With these confounded Giants, it's always something. They're always sticking their fat noses in my business - probably looking for Twinkies, if I had to venture a guess. What they need is to go on a diet, as they're way too big and powerful, even still, after all these many turns of my forces crawling up their asses.

My kingdom has its good moments and its strong points, though. For instance, on this most recent of turns, I dispatched aid to my Atlantean allies in the form of 100,000 food and 100,000 gold. Hey, that's nothing to sneeze at!

I sure as hell don't see the Giants dispatching such a hefty amount of resources to other kingdoms, while simultaneously fighting my kingdom. And trust me, I'd definitely know about it, if they did - because the game gives indications, publicly, of large transactions of that nature, where food or gold or Mithril are concerned.

This Giants player, the renown Glowamane, likely feels that he has turned the corner, and now has seized the upper hand in this, our war. However, I'm not done with him, yet. It may not look like I'm learning anything, as I go along, but be assured, the wheels in my mind are turning more and more rapidly, as we go along.

Now, whether they're turning fast enough or not, remains to be seen. Both in the early and mid stages of the game, experienced veterans of many Alamaze wars, of which Glowamane is one, tend to be much better than players with less experience at dotting their i's and crossing their t's. For such naturally goes hand-in-hand with the acquisition and accumulation of experience. Verily, experience is its own reward, and that is certainly the case in Alamaze.

This game has nine more turns left in it. But is that enough time for me to do what all that I need to do, in order to visit defeat upon this Giants player? Maybe, maybe not. I don't even care about Alamaze's scoring mechanism. To me, there are better ways to determine who prevails in war than a bunch of silly numbers.

Game 5705 (Warlock)

Holy hell! Talk about how a game going from boring to interesting. As we head into Turn #29, I readily acknowledge that for most of this game, I piddled around. I wasted time. I didn't grow what should have been my kingdom's core strengths. And now, by this late stage of the game, it definitely shows.

Thankfully, though, the nefarious and devious Wookie Panz, aka player Dan "Handsome Man" Warncke, has taken me under his wing, and is furiously mentoring me (or at least, he's trying to, but I'm not always a good and cooperative Padawan), and both of our kingdoms are now locked in mortal combat with the accursed Underworld kingdom - probably the most powerful kingdom in this game.

But thus far, both of our kingdoms remain intact. In fact, way down in the region of the Untamed Lands, we actually seem to have gained both momentum and the upper hand. Surely, the Alamaze veteran, DuPont, curses us openly, for the numerous misfortunes that have struck his kingdom in that region.

But ever the cat to our mice, DuPont is no fool. No doubt, he busies himself scheming and calculating, as he prepares to visit annihilation upon us both.

But can he pull it off? Is time on his side? Can he gain control of five regions, and declare victory? Once already, he's bungled it, declaring victory when victory yet eluded him. How impetuous! How utterly foolish!

They say that the victors write history - but where this game of Alamaze is concerned, history is still in the process of unfolding.

If I had to venture an uneducated guess, though, I'd say that DuPont's chances of claiming victory in this game are at least as good as his chances of not claiming victory, when all is said and done.

If it weren't for the timely and sound advice that Wookie Panz showers upon me, though, my kingdom's goose in this game would have likely already been cooked by now.

But truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, which probably helps to explain why my kingdom is still standing, in spite of now being locked into a war against DuPont's expertly-played Underworld.

Game 5728 (Demon Princes)

This is another of those Alamaze games where my growing experience has, thus far at least, not seen fit to translate itself into me gaining early control of a region. I can't help but to feel doomed, or perhaps just a bit cursed, by my own seeming inability to learn from certain lessons that are, when viewed with any degree of objectivity, crystal clear, in hindsight.

Now, I don't think that I'm doing terrible in this game, a game which has only seen a mere five turns processed, thus far, but I can certainly discern that my kingdom could have gotten off to an even better start, had I actually used the brain that God blessed me with.

But in the playing of games, especially wargames, common sense and the obvious are strangers to players who take it upon themselves to chart a course through the uncharted waters of their own imaginations. What you desire to do may invariably seem to be a good idea, at the time, but hindsight always being twenty-twenty, the opportunities for learning - for teachable moments - tend to be plentiful

With the dropping of the Dark Elven player in the region of Nyvaria, this yields the automatic benefit of reducing some immediate pressure upon me to try and navigate my way past a potentially-hostile neighboring kingdom. But players in wargames being inherently greedy, this reprieve will no doubt prove to be of a fleeting variety. With five turns in and my kingdom still not controlling a region, I really do need to get my act together, as a player and fast!

In this same amount of time, the Free Traders have already laid claim to not one, but to two different regions - Stormgate and Triumvia. And three other kingdoms - the Red Dragon, the Pirates, and the Giants - have already succeeded in laying claim to their starting regions, as well. And here I am, with a really cool-sounding kingdom at my disposal, the Demon Princes, and if all that you go by is a quick glance at the game map, it has all of the appearances of me still not knowing what the hell that I am doing.

I am very hopeful that I will be able to gain control of my home region on the very next turn. I'm definitely running behind schedule, compared to various Alamaze players in this game who routinely play at a very elevated level (compared to my own sleepy pace). But the Giants player in Game 5703 might could caution these experienced players against underestimating me. I'm still a long way short of being the best Alamaze player (or even one of the better Alamaze players), but at various different points along the way on my journey over the last few months to learn how to play Alamaze, I have succeeded in refining my grasp of the game.

Even on the military end of the game, I count myself a far more knowledgeable player than I was, even a month ago. Be that as it may, I'm still woefully lacking, when it comes to the implementation and execution of military campaigns in Alamaze. I'm still greatly lacking in the art of "seeing the big picture," and my playing style that was developed and refined over years and decades of playing Hyborian War is often given priority over the acquisition and mastery of Alamaze-specific tactics and strategies.

My own first-hand experience over the last several months has taught me well that even the best and most experienced of Alamaze players make mistakes, from time to time. They drop the ball. They do things, or they fail to do things, that boggle my mind, and in a bad way. Even the great Wookie Panz recently confessed to me one of his own mistakes that came about in a game that he and I are playing in, together. And the moral of this story is that none of these individuals are Alamaze gods. They are all beatable, even if more times than not, they will beat the crap out of your kingdom, rather than your kingdom ending up crushing a kingdom helmed by them. but rest assured, mistakes and oversights on their part are not a rarity.

With both a minor city and a town possibly coming under the sway of my Demon Princes kingdom in the coming turn, my kingdom's economy could gain a very useful boost. But anytime that you're behind the Alamaze 8-Ball is potentially a very dangerous position to find yourself in.

Gaining control of your home region in Alamaze kind of reminds me, in a way, of a kingdom in Hyborian War gaining control of their imperial goals. The rules of Hyborian War clearly state, and I quote, "Achievement of your imperial goals simply benchmarks your passage from a kingdom to a true empire (let the rest of the world beware!) and provides you with a reward for your progress."

Similarly, in Alamaze, the rules clearly state, "The control of regions is critical to victory and winning the game. When a kingdom gains control of a region, several significant benefits accrue." It's a sign, an indicator if you will, of a kingdom's rise to power, of its coming of age. By comparison, going after your imperial goals in Hyborian War tends to lead to direct military conflict more often than going after control of your first region in Alamaze does, all things considered.

But in Alamaze, there are no peace treaties available to save your ass. Ironically, the peace treaty in Hyborian War is one of the most widely reviled parts of that game, by an abundance of experienced Hyborian War players, even though peace treaties in Hyborian War are actually one of the best game design elements to be found in a PBM game, anywhere, by any name. In Hyborian War, it is the chosen method of implementation that is what actually lies at the very heart of why so many Hyborian War players have grown disenchanted and frustrated over time. The acquisition of more and more experience has taught many of them to literally despise resorts by other players to peace treaties. It is the underlying flaw in the chosen approach to implementing peace treaties in Hyborian War that continues to give rise to players' ire, and not that peace treaties exist in that PBM game, at all.

In due time, war will no doubt find my kingdom in Game 5728. And to be certain, my Demon Princes may be slow, but they never sleep. I am confident that my experience acquired from playing this same kingdom in Game 5703, and my extended and ongoing war with the Giants in that game, will ultimately serve me well in this game as the Demon Princes (knock on wood).

Game 5736 (Demon Princes)

One of the things that I will say about Alamaze is that, whether things are going good for your kingdom or not, the game is frequently interesting.

Case in point, the Lizard kingdom, which neighbors my Demon Princes' starting home region in this game, sent me an e-mail which said, "Do you want to tax your pop center this turn in Mythgar and I’ll do the same in your region?"

After exchanging a few e-mails with the Lizards player, I inquired as to whether he had a preference for war or peace between our two kingdoms. His stated preference was peace.

Which was fine and dandy by me, even though my initial inclination had been to go to war against the Lizards, but as a player, I try to be flexible. With twelve players in this particular game of Alamaze, there's plenty of other kingdoms that I can go to war against.

Of course, the following turn, strange twists of fate transpired. Again, games of Alamaze are frequently interesting.

The final two areas in my home region of The Untamed Lands were scouted, revealing that there were no Lizard population center in this region. As far as I know, while some Alamaze kingdoms do start the game with hidden population centers, I'm not aware that those starting hidden population centers start in regions other than where the bulk of their kingdom's starting assets are located. So, was the Lizard player being straight-forward with me? Hmmm. . .

Maybe he was just trying to be slick. Perhaps he was only trying to be clever, and persuade me to tax my population center that started in his home region, which would then result in that population center rebelling against my kingdom's control, thereby becoming neutral. So, now I am left wondering whether the Lizards actually prefer peace or not, but fate decreed that more important matters seize my attention, instead.

The confounded Fairy Folk decided, for some inexplicable reason, to seize control of my kingdom's starting village of Neptune located in area NS in the region of Nyvaria, which lies North of my home region of The Untamed Lands.

Surely, whatever fool commands this kingdom has taken leave of their senses!

Oh, to be certain, by this point in time of my progress of learning how to play Alamaze, I full well grasp and have long since come to terms with how numerous experienced players of Alamaze have fallen into the bad and sloppy habit of just assuming that their kingdom(s) are inherently "due" control of the population centers that other kingdoms start the game in control of in their home regions.

It may well be that the Fairy Folk weren't looking for a war with my Demon Princes kingdom, and especially this early in the game (at this point, we have only gone through four turns). But in other games of Alamaze, I have already made clear in forum postings that I've made in the Alamaze forum that I do not view other kingdoms and other players to have a legitimate claim upon population centers that I start epochs of Alamaze in control of. Such foolish antics will be met with disapproval and war. Just ask the Elementalist in game 5684.

So, whether the Fairy Folk were seeking war or whether they were only engaged in a sloppy habit, war is now the outcome of their decision-making process. In light of the fact that the Fairy Folk had already managed to find themselves at war against the Cimmerians (played by the infamous player, DuPont), they really should have done their homework to fully ensure, to the degree possible, what my own kingdom's reaction would most likely be, if they proceeded to carry out their dastardly scheme to use a political emissary to usurp control of my village from me.

Sometimes, though, players just do whatever they want to do, consequences be damned.

Is my kingdom fully prepared, already, to undertake a war against another kingdom? Nope! But then again, are the Fairy Folk already fully prepared to undertake a war against the Demon Princes, and especially with the Cimmerians already breathing down their kingdom's neck? I seriously doubt it.

Thus far, I have developed a tendency to play Alamaze in a way that's fairly similar to how I play Hyborian War. By that, I mean that a great bit of what I undertake to do in Alamaze is reactive in nature. In other words, my kingdom reacts to what other kingdoms and their respective players choose to do.

If these kingdoms were real entities, would the kingdom of the Fairy Folk be so quick to incur the wrath of a kingdom called the Demon Princes? Somehow, I doubt that they would be so eager and willing to scratch their greedy itches. Demon Princes would, I think, be very likely to cut the fingers off of kingdoms that chose to casually scratch their greedy itches at the Demon Princes' expense.

That a given Alamaze player is an experienced player does not cause me to flinch, at all. Even if I don't win, the very nature of war in Alamaze, and especially early wars, is that that I can probably help to ensure that they can't win the game, either. After all, wars tend to burn through resources, and they can often distract from concentrating on other things that could help to ensure that they can claim victory, after all of the game's turns are over and done with.

All things considered, I don't really know all that much about the specifics of my newly volunteered enemy, the Fairy Folk, but I've got a feeling in my gut, now, that I'm about to learn what makes these bumbling fairies tick.

My village of Neptune was stolen in brazen fashion from me. Now, I fully intend to reclaim it, come what may!

And the Lizards? Oh, to be certain, I shall be keeping an eye on the Lizards. But who knows? Peace between our kingdoms may yet prevail and become the norm for our kingdoms' relationship. Time will tell.

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HYBORlAN WAR is a Play-By-Mail game of battle, intrigue, and diplomacy set in the unmatchable Hyborian Age of Conan. You will rule one of over 30 different Kingdoms re-created from the Conan legend. Each land is unique with its own armies, leaders, trade, culture and imperial ambitions (see pages 2-4). You will command Nobles, Generals, Wizards, Heroes, Spies and Priests who in turn will govern provinces, lead armies, cast magics, set forth to high adventures, spy far off lands, and call upon the gods as you decree. Raids, invasions, assassinations, diplomatic delegations, intrigue, treaties, counter-spying, prophecy, and much, much more will be the tools you will use to rule and advance your chosen realm.

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PBMville Characters & Locations
The Living

Mississippi Dave Bastard

Player: Richard Lockwood

Health: GOOD

Last Location = A whorehouse.

Assignment Last Turn: Entering PBMville.

Current Location: 3

In the Wild West, you wouldn't think it, but bad news spreads quicker than wildfire. The older brother of Mississippi Jane Deadshot, news of her death hit him hard. He could barely visit the ladies of the evening, so he climb in the saddle, and rode hard, until he arrived in PBMville. He was dog tired, and butt ugly, and he had a temper like a rabid raccoon. But had he rose all this way for nothing?

Corbin "Crooked" Calloway

Player: Stefan Graf

Health: GOOD

Last Location = The saloon.

Assignment Last Turn: Entering PBMville.

Current Location: 1

From the hidden alleyways of the bustling western towns to the sun-scorched prairies, Corbin "Crooked" Calloway leaves an indelible mark of mischief and mayhem. His boots, tattered and mismatched, tread tales of countless misadventures. A once-white hat, now grayed and bent out of shape, sits atop a wild mess of hair, shadowing eyes that gleam with cunning and a grin that hints at secrets untold. Stains of tobacco and old wine mar his shirt, each spot a souvenir from a night of revelry or a deal gone awry. Corbin's laughter, coarse and unpredictable, often rings out just before trouble strikes. In a landscape where every person has a story, Corbin "Crooked" Calloway is the enigma everyone thinks they know, but few truly understand.

Doc Dudley Feelpain

Player: NPC

Health: GOOD

Last Location = 20

Assignment Last Turn: MOVE to 20.

Current Location: 20

NOTE: Doc Dudley Feelpain gets one order slot per turn.

NOTE: Doctors can occupy any location that the wounded are at. Wounds are treated at the END of a turn. Doctors will always give PRIORITY to treating wounded law enforcement officers over treating outlaws and those disturbing the peace.

Rushing to save a life, Doc Feelpain managed to reach Frank "Nine Fingers" Chambers, and started working to stop the bleeding. Frank complained that the town doctor was slow as hell, and that he ought to just shoot him, for taking his sweet ass time. But Dudley Feelpain just ignored the old fool, and kept on until he got the bullet out. By all appearances Nine Fingers just might also have nine lives. He'd live.


Frank "Nine Fingers" Chambers

Player: Barry Robertson


$500 REWARD for killing Sheriff "Wild Bill" Hickok

Health: GOOD

Last Location = 20

Assignment Last Turn: SHOOT Big Bad Black Bob in 20.

Current Location: 20

People Killed: 1

Frank Chambers set his eye on Big Bad Black Bob. But his eyesight wasn't what it used to be, especially with the sun beating down on him like it was. POW! Nine Fingers missed, leaving Frank Chambers cussing up a storm.

Sharpshooter Archibald Tyrrell

Player: Darrell Lias

Health: GOOD

Last Location = 8

Assignment Last Turn: SHOOT Deputy Winslow Kinkaid in 13.

Current Location: 8

Archibald Tyrrell, also known as Sharpshooter, was determined to nail this deputy. he was getting on Archibald's nerves, now. Steady. Steady. BAM! But despite his attempts to steady his gun arm, Sharpshooter Archibald Tyrrell still managed to miss, dagnabbit!

Deputy Farkus Gurdeen

Player: NPC

Health: GOOD

Last Location = 22

Assignment Last Turn: MOVE to 12.

Current Location: 12

NOTE: Deputy Farkus Gurdeen gets one order slot per turn.

Big Bad Black Bob

Player: NPC

Health: GOOD

Last Location = 20

Assignment Last Turn: MOVE to 30.

Current Location: 30

Deputy Winslow Kinkaid

Player: NPC

Health: GOOD

Last Location = 13

Assignment Last Turn: MOVE to 14.

Current Location: 14

NOTE: Deputy Winslow Kinkaid gets one order slot per turn.


Rowdy Slim McGraw

Player: Casey Link




Last Location = 8

Assignment Last Turn: Fainted from the heat. Missed the turn!

Current Location: 8

People Killed: 2


Brendan "The Dirge" Weir



Player: Brendan Weir

Health: GOOD

Last Location = 17

Assignment Last Turn: SHOOT at Frank "Nine Fingers" Chambers in 19.

Current Location: 17

People Killed: 2

Possession: Ace of Spades [1 Use Only] [Averts Death]

Taking a wild, The Dirge took aim at old Frank "Nine Fingers" Chambers. He wanted this kill, and Frank Chambers was meant for killing. He was just a nasty, greasy hombre, and Brendan Weir had already sized him up for an early grave. BANG! But sizing ain't shooting, sizing ain't aiming, sizing ain't hitting the target. Why even bother to take the shot, if all that you're gonna do is miss?

NOTE: This phase of PBMville now draws to an end. A new town map now comes into effect. Character starting locations on this new map will be listed below.

PBMville Event - New Town Map!

The Second PBMville Town Map

The PBMville Narrator

Starting with Issue #25 (the very next issue), a new PBMville town map will be in play, and the previous town map will be disregarded. This new town map is on display, above. If you click on it, it the image link should take you to a bigger version of the map.

Any player's character that survives this turn, Turn #24, will be randomly placed on the main street of the new PBMville town map. A random number generator will be used to determine your character's placement on this new town map.

With this event, each character will start with one six-shooter revolver, complete with six bullets in it. Each played character will be able to fire up to six shots in the same turn. Remember, each shot fired may hit or miss! So, choose your intended targets very carefully.

You, the player, gets to decide how many of your six bullets that you will fire, and at whom. I will be processing each fire bullet in phases, with six phases maximum in any given turn. It is quite possible that your character will get shot - and die - in between phases, and if that happens, then not all of your shots will end up getting fired.

On this new PBMville town map, this will be one grand gunfight between all players, simultaneously. Survivors will proceed to the next turn. The dead will be buried.

At the end of the shooting phases, a random number generator will then be used to determine your character's starting location for the following turn. The closer that you are to your intended target, the better your chances of hitting them.

At the end of each turn, characters will automatically reload their revolvers, in preparation for the next turn - assuming that they don't die in the meantime.

If players have questions, they need to e-mail me.

Character starting locations for the new map, for next turn's action:

Mississippi Dave Bastard
Player: Richard Lockwood
Health: GOOD
New Map Starting Location: 13

Corbin "Crooked" Calloway

Player: Stefan Graf
Health: GOOD
New Map Starting Location: 21

Frank "Nine Fingers" Chambers
Player: Barry Robertson

$500 REWARD for killing Sheriff "Wild Bill" Hickok
Health: GOOD
New Map Starting Location: 27
People Killed: 1

Sharpshooter Archibald Tyrrell

Player: Darrell Lias
Health: GOOD
New Map Starting Location: 7

Rowdy Slim McGraw
Player: Casey Link

New Map Starting Location: 24
People Killed: 2


Brendan "The Dirge" Weir

Player: Brendan Weir
Health: GOOD
New Map Starting Location: 29
People Killed: 2
Possession: Ace of Spades [1 Use Only] [Averts Death]

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Out of the blue, I fired off an e-mail to Bob McLain, today. It wasn't long before a reply found its way into my e-mail in-box. The last of his dog's sand fell through the Hourglass of Time, signalling to Bella that her moment of departure had arrived. The dread scourge, cancer, cut Bella's life short, depriving Bob of his canine companion, and giving rise to a river of grief. Dogs didn't earn the lofty title of man's best friend for no reason at all, you know.

Death, of course, is a cruelty all its own. At least, it seems to be, especially when the news of it hits us like a hammer. It is visceral, and it rips our heart apart from the inside out. The shock of it is overwhelming. The permanence of it is like poison. To us, death is wholly at odds with life, and we cannot help but to find it repugnant and hostile, for it lays claim to those that we love, to those whom imbue our lives with irreplaceable joys and unforgettable memories.

To view death as a mercy all its own, a mercy in a category all by itself, then, can strike some as utterly insane. But if cancer is anything, it is suffering in manifest form, suffering in the rawest, most physical terms. It is an all-devouring beast that is bent upon utter destruction, upon the complete decimation of precious lives.

I've never met Bella, but I can't help but to feel sad. I know what it is to have a dog, but for me, it's been almost forty years since I last petted a dog that I called my own. In recent months, my mind has drifted to thinking about maybe getting a dog, again. It sure seems long overdue.

But in Bob McLain's case, Bella has been a true constant of his life. And now, the certainty and assurance that she brought to Bob's life is missing. It hardly seems right. It hardly seems just. And certainly, what did Bella do to deserve a fate such as this?

But death doesn't visit only those that deserve to die. It doesn't know how to distinguish. It never, ever discriminates. It comes for all of us, for all living creatures, each in our own time, each in our own way.

I suspect that Bob McLain's loving memories of Bella will gradually nudge a portion of his immense sadness aside. One of the challenges of life is figuring out how to strike some sort of balance between the good and the bad, between the happy and the sad. For each person, the amount of time that it takes to get your head back above the flowing waters of grief varies. It varies widely, as befits the uniqueness and individuality of each loved one that departs us, be they canine or otherwise.

Sometimes in life, it can feel as if we have one foot in this world, and our other foot in the next. Death has a way of making us reevaluate what life is, what it means to us, what its continuing value shall be. In due time, it comes for us all, including our most beloved of pets. Loyal and loving four-legged companions are worth more than their weight in gold. They often seem to understand us, even when our fellow human beings do not.

Bella was a nine year old German Shepherd. She was Bob McLain's constant companion. No more will he be able to look into her eyes. Truly, she is missed more than any words could ever say. Life will no doubt be lonelier without her, which unsurprisingly, is exactly as it should be. Her absence should mean something of unparalleled significance. It is love, and love only, that can give Bella her proper due.

My deepest and most sincere of condolences unto Bob McLain on the occasion of his beloved Bella's passing. God be with him, and may He see Bob through this ordeal of grief that has been visited upon him.

Charles Mosteller

Editor of PBM Chaos

PBM Chaos can be contacted at

[email protected]

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