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Like I've said so many times before - Never say never!

It's not called PBM Chaos for nothing, you know. I no sooner draw things to an abrupt close, than the Mad Scientist of PBM returns from long absence from the PBM realm. Was it Fate? Destiny? Or mere damned coincidence?

The PlayByMail Discord and the Play By Mail Facebook page have both been turned over to others. Their fate - and their care - are now in other - hopefully better - hands. But it matters not, because there is always a lot to be done, and never enough time to do it all. This is not some bygone PBM era of casual indifference, for this is the Era of Chaos, an era when all is possible.

In play by mail gaming, individuals have always come and gone at will. And such it is with me. I come and I go at will, requiring the invitation or leave of no man. I promise no tomorrow. I guarantee nothing. My desire to continue PBM activities manifests and departs at will. For such is the inherent nature of chaos, and chaos is the father of uncertainty.

In play by mail gaming, whether of the old school postal variety, or of the new school of digital lineal descendants, certainty is always craved - a certainty of the continued existence of our hobby, a certainty that it will not die off completely and leave us in a void where once there thrived great life and competition.

But it is not my role nor my duty to be the guardian of such mundane certainty.

For the future of PBM gaming, if it is to be anything at all, it must be a universe of possibilities, and possibilities are not certainties. If PBM gaming wants new turn-based games, then it must create them. If it doesn't desire to be a constant churning of the same old shit, then something new must come into existence, and chaos must reign - even if only briefly!

If you only want to wallow in yesteryear, then have at it. If you are wholly content with mere nostalgia, then rest at peace. But if you want a better, a different, a more robust PBM gaming realm of new possibilities, then come with me. For even a few steps in a new direction will bring you closer to that than remaining eternally mired within a dead-spirited bog of no progress, no energy, no hope nothingness. Feel free to believe otherwise. Feel free to languish with the dead and the dying.

The original Suspense & Decision magazine was never promised. Nor was PBM Unearthed. Nor was PBM Chaos, itself, Instead, they simply came to be. They sprouted into existence where they did not exist, before. Each, in their on time, was new - as with the way of all things in PBM.

You don't like PBM magazines to die. Yet, do you breathe life into them, when they are here with you in the moment? The moment is all you have, all you have ever had, all you will ever have. If you squander that - the moment - then you have nothing. Therefore, let the wise hear and take heed!

If you have a PBM game to offer to the masses to play, then promote it. If not here, then elsewhere. If you don't want to, if you don't care, then so be it! My place, my duty, my responsibility is to do my own thing, where play by mail gaming is concerned. I don't know how to do your thing. Your thing was given unto you for a reason, for a purpose. That which is yours is not given unto me. They are very distinct and different things, and you and I are very distinct and different individuals.

When I take it upon myself to advertise and promote Hyborian War, it is because of my deep and abiding love for that game. When I seek to promote and advertise Middle-earth PBM, it is because I find the lore associated with that game to be nothing short of enchanting, and because its existence and its legacy are overseen by the likes of Clint Oldridge and John Davis, to name a couple, and I genuinely feel and sense and know and realize that they give a damn about its future - the future of it and all of its variants and modules. They don't go about making excuses. To the contrary, and thankfully so, they invest time and energy and effort and a certain degree of passion into Middle-earth PBM. A greater cause is self-evident in their handiwork. They make that segment of PBM gaming live and palpable (to me, even if not to you).

And forgive me for daring to sing the praises, anew, of Steve Tierney and Madhouse UK. For he has not given up on his segments of the PBM realm. He's always tinkering with this or with that. He responds to his gamers of his PBM games, even if they may not always like whatever a given particular response of his to them may be. His games have life, and are full of the flavor of life, because he has not abandoned his post in his segments of the PBM realm at large.

If you do not have time, if you cannot find time or make time, for your own PBM games, then your PBM games' time is effectively already over, even if you haven't come to that realization, yet. Excuses do not make effective fertilizer. Even pure manure, even pure and unadulterated bullshit, is a better fertilizer for growth than excuses.

From death, life, and from life, death.

One day, you will die, I will die, we will all die. PBM is likely to outlive every last one of us. PBM gaming ever remains a very big part of me, of my personal interests, of my passion and my pleasure, and my penchant for the eclectic.

Going forward, I will give voice to my own thoughts, to my own imaginings, as they relate to PBM. To your thoughts, to your imaginings on the same, I leave to you. Either rise to the occasion, or fall forgotten into oblivion. If you lack the wherewithal to never pen words of your own, where your favorite PBM game is concerned, then stand prepared to starve for word of it. If it's not worth you writing about it, then perhaps it's not worth hearing about, at all.

Welcome back to this harsh new reality.
Welcome back to PBM Chaos!

Charles Mosteller

Editor of PBM Chaos

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The Mad Scientist of PBM Returns!

I would be remiss to let it go unannounced that Mark Wardell, whom I long ago first referred to as the Mad Scientist of PBM, contacted me out of the blue quite unexpectedly, recently - after I had interred PBM Chaos into its grave, with the conclusion of Issue #34.

But it did my PBM heart a world of good to encounter the first of what evolved into several different e-mails from Mark beginning on April 22nd, 2024. Already, the Mad Scientist of PBM has begun posting, anew, over on the old PBM forum. See here, here, and here.

Game Systems International

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All Games Starting Soon

The following games are currently accepting setups, and due to start soon. Click on any of the links below full details or to sign up.

Champions of Middle-earth

Try a game of our two or four player module, now with rebalanced NPCs, or sign up for our next tournament (just two places left!).

Game 980: 1650

Pre-aligned neutrals to ensure a balanced game.
Randomised artifact IDs
Up to 2 nations per player.
One champion character per nation.
21/24 nations available

Game 981: 1650 Gunboat

3 nations per player.
Randomised artifact IDs
One champion character per nation.
6 rewards per nation.
Shared results.
7/8 positions available

Game 263: 2950

3 nations per player.
Randomised artifacts.
One nation free as long as you have three nations in play!
4/8 positions available

Game 265: 2950 Gunboat
3 nations per player.
Rewards to spend on your starting nations
Randomised artifacts.
No shared turns.
One nation free as long as you have three nations in play!
8/8 positions available

Game 635: Kin-strife 3 nation Gunboat

3 nations per player.
New combos: Loyalists: 2/5/21and 3/4/6, vs. Usurpers 11/14/15 and 12/13/16.
Boosted setups - 30% extra points for nation 1, 15% extra points for nation 2.
Shared turns.
One nation free as long as you have three nations in play!
1/4 positions available

Game 637: Kin-strife All vs All
2 nations per player
Bidding system for nations
3/6 position available

Game 638: Kin-strife
Up to 2 nations per player.
No neutrals.
14/14 positions available

Game 423: Fourth Age Gunboat

3 nations per player
Shared results among team
3/8 positions available

Game 426: Fourth Age
Up to 2 nations per player
Increased population centre limit
23/24 nations available

(Is a game you'd like to play not starting soon? Then get in touch, and if there is enough interest we'll set it up!)

Grudge Games
Do you have a group of friends who want to play on a team together? Then get in touch, and we’ll find you opposition.

Or if you really want a challenge, why not play an entire side on your own – discounts available!

We've Moved!

We have completed our move from middleearthgames.com to gamesystems.com (the name of our company).

So please can you use our new email address to contact us:

[email protected]

And visit our website in its new location here:


Turns and reminders are now being sent out from [email protected]. But some players have reported finding our emails in their spam folders. So please check, and if this is happening to you, then mark our emails as not spam/update filters/add us to your whitelist as appropriate to your software.

* All content and images copyright (c) GSI.

Image ad for th Mad Scientist of PBM - Mark Wardell

The Mad Scientist

Hello, my name is Mark Wardell. I've been a recovering PBM gamer for three years, seven months, twenty-seven days. Recently, while mowing my back lawn with my Worx Nitro 80V 21” mower, I found myself thinking, "Self, if I really wanted to, I could have my PBM game, Galactic Empires, running pretty quickly." Then I thought I was an idiot, realizing by the end of the year is more reasonable. Of course, then I just thought I was an idiot.

Many of you, maybe most, perhaps even all, are wondering who does this guy think he is?

I first became a PBM gamer back in the early 1980s. The first purely PBM game I was exposed to was Galactic Empires, your classic 4X space opera. To this day, I couldn't tell you what took me from the "what the heck?" moment when the GM of the game mailed me a flyer to the "I loved the game so much I bought the rights to it."

I was a PBM gamer who belonged to a wargame club in the 1980s. Soon after I started talking about Galactic Empires, half the club was playing it with me. They played because they were gamers, and playing something like this both with and against players around the country was a unique experience for each of us.

While a PBM gamer, I somehow acquired a mid-sized collection of Paper Mayhem magazines. With it came a truly remarkable prize: a large number of rules for more PBM games than I ever knew existed. Intriguing... what to do with this collection?

As a PBM gamer, games like Galactic Empires, Terra II, Galactic Pioneers(likely a misspelling of "Poisoners"), Death by Starlight,and Robalgon (spelling uncertain) are still among the best gaming experiences I've ever had. And that thought is coming from someone who plays many other games like Advanced Squad Leader, Replay Baseball, and has a level 70 Mage (and more alts than I care to count) in World of Warcraft.

Being a PBM GM for Galactic Empires taught me the challenges of running a game. A good GM can make it seem effortless, which makes the experience of playing the game just that much better.

I'm still a PBM GM, and Galactic Empires will in fact be up and running again by the end of 2024. More than that, after GE is once again going, there are other plans that were reborn while mowing the lawn, one spring morning.

So,who does this guy think he is? I'm a PBM gamer and GM. You can call me The Mad Scientist, and I’m back.

Image ad for Madhouse UK
PBM Quote

"Odyssey offers more than any other fantasy play-by-mail game I have played. I can compare Odyssey to Hyborian War, Alamaze, Middle Earth, Olympia, Suzerainty, and legends in the fantasy genre, but I consider Odyssey to be vastly superior to any of them."

Douglas W. Bierbower
Paper Mayhem magazine - Issue #76 - January/February 1996 Issue

Article titled Odyssey

The PBM Maze image ad

Players dropping like flies!

Well, not maybe like flies, but two players did choose to drop out and not continue playing, this time around.

But for all of the other maze rats, the PBM Maze remains a fact of life.

Will they survive it? Can they endure? Or will despair befall them?
Player Jef Tonelli has gained an increase in maze vision!
Players Trachyte and Peter H. have dropped out of play in the PBM Maze.

Neither of them will ever escape from the maze!

Lubos Comor and Jim Smith missed the turn. Both of them were e-mailed a final call for turn orders, you know. Sympathy is not a strong suit of The PBM Maze. Oops! Life bars are dropping!

As the PBM Maze winds on, the maze winds down.

Or does it?

Say, didn't I read something somewhere before about a Minotaur?!

Players In The PBM Maze

1 - Stefan

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Starting Position - 1

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Ending Position - 1

2 - Lubos Comor

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Starting Position - 2

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Ending Position - 2

3 - Trachyte

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Starting Position - 3

Trachyte has dropped out of

the game!

Ending Position - 3

4 - Jim Smith

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Starting Position - 4

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Ending Position - 4

5 - Undeadlord

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Starting Position - 5

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Ending Position - 5

6 - java

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Starting Position - 6

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Ending Position - 6

7 - Jef Tonelli

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Starting Position - 7

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Ending Position - 7

8 - mdhender

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Starting Position - 8

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Ending Position - 8

9 - Peter H.

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Starting Position - 9

Peter H.

has dropped out of

the game!

Ending Position - 9

10 - Richard Lockwood

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Starting Position - 10

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Ending Position - 10

1989: Dawn of Freedom image ad for GMT games

* Twilight Struggle-like CDG on the Revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989.

Alamaze image ad for Old Man Games
Alamaze image ad for the Alamaze Game Queue
Takamo image ad
Star Fleet Warlord image ad for Franz Games.

Star Fleet Warlord is a play-by-email science fiction game.

© 2016 Franz Games

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PBM Interview with Richard Lockwood

How did you get your start in Play By Mail gaming?

I started in 1985, with a chance meeting with three fellas at a bus stop, who were also heading into Newcastle University Student Union for the first Science Fiction meeting of the year. We got chatting, and a couple of them played the same PBM game – Saturnalia. I’d seen PBM advertised in the small ads of Games Workshop’s “White Dwarf” magazine, but never really understood how postal role playing could work, but once I had it explained, I was hooked.

I think I signed up and wrote a cheque the next day. After that, I signed up to AEs – another role playing game and never looked back.

Ruarigh, Dave and Steve are still, almost 40 years later, three of my closest friends, although we don’t get to see each other that often these days.

Where did the core concept for this game's mechanics originate?

I played a wargame back in about 1992/3 when I moved down to London for work. Crisis! A fairly simple wargame, loosely based on the classic boardgame Risk. I always enjoyed it, and have looked around for the source code for quite a while. I believe Colin Kilburn still has it, and isn’t interested in restarting it. (If you’re reading this Colin, I hope I’m not misrepresenting you!)

So, as I’ve been off work ill for the last year or so, I figured my coding chops had got a little rusty, so I thought I’d come up with a project to keep me busy now I’m back looking for work. As I’ve got back into PBM over the last few years, a Crisis! Inspired wargame seemed to be a good plan.

Where did the inspiration for the title of your forthcoming new game, Nukes 'n' Bees come from?

I have a hypothesis that most forms of entertainment can be improved with the addition of killer bees. The evening news for one – a few bees flying round the studio’ would be great. And definitely the mindless quiz show (don’t know if it ever made it to the US) “Deal or no Deal”. My version would take place in a plexiglass box, with only Noel Edmonds in it, and 24 boxes. Each box would contain a sum of money, but one of them would contain a swarm of angry killer bees. The contestant opens them up one by one, and Noel Edmonds desperately hopes that the box left closed at the end is the one with the bees in.

Will the game be about using nuclear weapons against bees?

No. That would be silly.

How many different kinds of bees and nukes will be in the game?

To start off, just ICBMs and killer bees. However, I’m deliberately trying to make the game extensible with the addition of extra troop types, resource types etc, so other kinds of bees are a possibility. I’ll probably draw the line at wasps though. No-one wants a game about wasps.

Is the game gonna be a war game, or something else?

Oh, definitely a wargame. The plan is for players to email (to start with – I may eventually build a web front end from which players can upload their turns) in text files with simple orders, and the whole game be automated.

How complex or how simple will Nukes 'n' Bees be?

Hopefully very simple. The sort of game that only takes a few minutes to come up with your orders, but as long as you want interacting with other players (outside the game, via email or other means – up to you).

You've been hanging around PBM gaming for a long while. How long have you been hanging around this kind of gaming, and what about it retains your interest in it after such a long duration of involvement?

Thinking about it, before even that fateful meeting at the bus stop, I’d played a PBM-style game at my local games club, when I was about 16. That was just over one afternoon, you wrote your orders down, gave them to the GM, he processed them while you were all doing something else, then every half hour or so you all got back round a table to see the results of the moves.

I can’t remember the name of the GM, or the game – it was a simple wargame though – but it was great fun, and social. When people first hear about PBM, they think it’s a really solitary hobby, but certainly in the UK in the 1980s and 90s, it was anything but. Regular pub meets and conventions. I met some of my best friends through either playing or GMing PBM games.

That scene sort of died off in the late 1990s, although I played a couple of PBeMs in the early days of the internet.

I always retained an interest though – and kept in touch with a fair few people, some almost daily, in person, or through early social media sites and bulletin boards, then later, Facebook.

The last couple of years I’ve really got back into the hobby – it’s been very good for my mental health, and I’m enjoying it as much as ever. I don’t play a lot of games; The Isles and a couple of the games that have started through your publications – Sea of Nyx and the PBM Maze, but I’ve played a couple of others that have folded for various reasons. I’m not really a big wargamer, hence the reason Nukes ‘n’ Bees will be simple enough for my little brain to comprehend.

You used to write articles about PBM gaming. What happened, and will you be returning to that in the foreseeable future?

Most of my articles were about various social aspects of PBM – conventions etc. I think I just ran out of amusing anecdotes! I’d like to write a regular piece about The Isles, but Roy’s dealing with real-life stuff at the moment, so the game seems to be on hold.

What PBM company or PBM GM do you think best embodies the future of play by mail gaming, and why do you think that?

Ooh, I really don’t know. I’m probably not the person to ask, given that I don’t play a great deal of the bigger, more complex, company run games. However Roy (Pollard) of The Isles runs an excellent SCHMRPG, and it really feels like I’m back in those glory days of British PBM. He also puts so much effort into making it a visually attractive game – I can’t believe he can do it for free (I did send him a few bottles of nice beer a while ago as a thank you though!).

I remember this kind of question being asked at the GM Panel at just about every PBM Convention, and most of the ideas and suggestions at the time were somewhat impractical or expensive. (Better maps, colour rulebooks, nicer artwork etc). With most stuff being online now, that kind of enhancement is easier to achieve – and Roy’s used the tools available to great effect. I’m impressed he’s managed to carry the game on, on and off, since (I think) the late 1980s!

I do read and try and follow the game playthroughs and updates in the likes of PBM Chaos and PBM Unearthed – there are some like Hyborian War that look fascinating, but I know I personally just wouldn’t find the time to do them justice.

Right, now, whose round is it?

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Of Mad Scientists, Champions, and Horn-Blowers

Charles Mosteller

I am constantly torn. To be pulled, eternally (well, at least as eternally as any mortal can be), in opposite directions, simultaneously and without end. Lesser men might refer to such a fate as destiny. And were it not that I subject myself to such quite willingly, I might be inclined to agree.

There is an old saying that goes something like this. Shit or get off the pot. Think about that for a second. It is an admonishment to make your mind up. Simultaneously, it is an encouragement to be decisive. Yet, taken literally, I would ask you how many different times in life do you shit, then get off the pot (commode, chamber pot, toilet, hole in the ground, etc.)? And so this very same phrase also manifests itself as a cycle that we are doomed to repeat - until, at least, we depart this world of life in physical form for whatever ultimately lies beyond.

But what does any of this have to do with PBM, you might ask?

Everything. It has everything to do with play by mail gaming, as well as everything to do with everything that relates to trying to provide some degree of coverage or discussion of PBM. It simply does.

To hell with this! I'm done with this. Oh, look! Is that the Mad Scientist of PBM come 'round, again? It's a vicious cycle, though the names and the faces and the games and the places do change a bit, from time to time. Yet, where do my loyalties ultimately lie?

Well, the same as with many of you out there forcing yourself to read this tripe - they lie many places, and for a great many different reasons. Simultaneously? Yes, simultaneously. For life - and PBM - are rather complex, and the complexity of both continuously put the squeeze on our inherent desire for simplicity.

I might be a PBM scoundrel of the very worst sort, but let it not be said that I missed the return of the Mad Scientist of PBM to PBM gaming. Whether he stays or whether he later chooses to flee, anew, is truly neither here nor there for me. His timing is immaculate, wouldn't you say?

Some forum posts. A flurry of e-mails exchanged. Even an appeal for help with a problem that is smaller than a speck. It doesn't really take a lot to rouse me from my self-imposed states of slumber, whether they be of recent vintage or ancient in origin.

The Great Battle of Good and Evil, which in play by mail gaming takes the non-stop form of continue pushing forward or risk getting swallowed up by the passage of time, cares not for our excuses. It simply is, and we are all but mere pawns in the grand scheme of things.

Tell me this, 'O wizened One. How many ordinary and uninspired PBM men is one mad scientist worth? To me, that particular one is worth more than you can probably imagine.

But on to other things, for in the Realm of PBM, there are always an infinite number of things that warrant attending to.

From time to time, people want to know what's wrong with PBM. What's the matter with it? What's its problem? Why can't PBM gaming simply get its shit together? Does nobody care? Does no one even give a fuck?

You tell me.

You tell me, and then we'll both know. This morning, as darkness flirted with a new day, I found myself visiting - and browsing - a couple of different websites in particular. They are the blog called The World of Xoth and another blog called Age of Dusk. Neither are perfect, but both are good. Damned good! Better than anything that I've ever done.

And by that, I mean that they are both very good at what they do, at what they purport to do, at what they seek to do, at what they strive to do. And on this particular morning of May 1st, 2024, they both remind me of just how disorganized that the play by mail gaming scene really and truly is.

For these are masters of their craft. Individually and collectively, they ring the great bell in my head, sounding the knell that makes me think, that makes me ponder, that stirs some beast that lives deep within me. Why can't PBM be as organized? Why can't it conduct itself with such precision? Why hasn't PBM learned, yet, what both of these proprietors learned long ago, what they both just seem to instinctively realize?

PBM gaming is awash, awash I say, with information. Even after all of these years of me tinkering at the edges of it all, it remains as bad and as utterly disorganized as it's always been. Make no mistake, my PBM friends and enemies, chaos is, indeed, the true natural state of play by mail gaming. It likely always has been. It likely always will be.

And along with all of that disorganization and lack of attention to detail, PBM is all the poorer for it, today. People don't understand it. They fail to grasp it. Their appreciation, as a whole, for PBM gaming's nuance and depth and variety remains lacking. Decades after its origin, the vast bulk of the gaming public at large still remains utterly oblivious to PBM. Utterly, I say!

I'm sure that many people out there scattered across the Great Realm of PBM don't like my approach to things. My chosen approach, I suspect, rubs them the wrong way. They're certain that there's much better ways of doing things. Then do them! Get off your asses, both individually and collectively, and do them. Do things as they should be done. Do things as they need to be done. What are you, after all? A bunch of old PBM hens? Tell me, 'O clucking Ones - what have you done lately that raises PBM like a beacon of gaming light to all men (and women, and children, and cats)? Well, maybe not cats.

To hell with all of it! To hell with it, I say! For this is the rock upon which I bash my ever-lovin'-PBM-head. You don't have to like it. You certainly don't have to understand it. That's not the PBM cross that is yours to bear.

Promoting PBM gaming is a god-awful, thankless task. It will wear a man down. It will grind his bones to dust. Advertising PBM games is only marginally better. In neither of these fields of endeavor do I possess any expertise, inherent or acquired. I try, I fail. I try, again, and again, I fail. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Ad infinitum, I should have added.

In fact, writing about play by mail gaming is the only thing, arguably, that I'm any good, at all, at - and even that is highly debatable. But it is something that I love, something that I love to do, something that I have some modicum of passion for. What about you? What do you have a passion for?

Maybe your PBM passion lies in playing PBM games. Perhaps your passion, your true PBM passion, is to be a PBM GM. Or could it be that your sole, remaining passion that is PBM-related is that you're simply nostalgic for PBM gaming of yesteryear? Maybe time has passed you by, and what PBM is, now, what PBM has evolved (or regressed) to become simply doesn't capture or eye nor call to your heart, like PBM in ye days of olde used to. Perhaps, through no real fault of your own, you can no longer hear PBM's siren call.

Trying to persuade, trying to motivate, trying to get through to others, that's always rough (though, sometimes, rewarding) terrain to navigate. When I first encountered mention of play by mail gaming, all that it took was but a single black and white print advertisement.

Over and over and over, again.

Month after month after month, I would see that ad. It would catch my eye. I would read. How many times did I read that same damned ad, over and over and over, again, before I ever took the bait? How many times did that one PBM ad tease my eyes? How many times did it tempt me? How many times did it have to work it's magic, before I yielded my natural resistance and crossed the Rubicon from the Realm of the Ordinary to the Realm of Play By Mail?

That one ad just kept on hammering away at my eyeballs. It was unrelenting, showing up like clockwork on magazine shelves in stores all around the local area. How much better off I might have been, had I simply not allowed the temptation of giving play by mail gaming a try. But in inestimable ways, say what you may, PBM gaming has enriched my life. Not financially, but internally. Within me, it lit a flame - a flame that has been burning ever since!

And so I write. The writing part came much, much later, though. Which is why you won't find any articles authored by me gracing the pages of Paper Mayhem, Flagship, The Nuts & Bolts Of Gaming, American Gamer, Gaming Universal, nor any other PBM magazine of record from back in the day.

Wayne "Smitty" Smith, my dear and old-as-dirt PBM friend, that man is a true, blue PBM patriot. He plays PBM games (certain PBM games, anyway) like there's no tomorrow. Where playing PBM games is concerned, Wayne Smith is truly a giant among men, a veritable titan that strides over the play by mail battlefields where he plies his PBM warmongering skills, par excellence. Wayne Smith, you see, is old school. He's always been old (obviously), but he's still old school, where PBM gaming is concerned.

All of that PBM gaming that he does, it helps keep him out of his wife's hair. While he's filling out turn orders and reading turn results, he's not getting on his wife's nerves, even if he gets on mine. Duel2 and Hyborian War - Wayne Smith is one of RSI's PBM sugar daddies. Here, take my money!

I like giving Wayne a hard time, and not just because he deserves a hard time. And not just because he craves a hard time. But rather, because old Smitty is a man whom I greatly admire, even if his letter-writing skills have grown rusty and have never been anything to brag about. Right, Wayne?

He commands my respect, both on a personal level, and on the level of being a genuine PBM gamer of the first magnitude. He's of a caliber, as a play by mail gamer, that most of us can never even imagine, much less aspire to the level that he has long been accustomed to. If only his golf skills were on par with his PBM skills. Alas, 'twas never meant to be!

Hither came the Mad Scientist of PBM. Hither came Mark Wardell. The hour of his return to PBM was unexpected. Like a thief in the night, the Mad Scientist of PBM came. But will he last?

That is but one of countless unknowns that populate the PBM gaming scene. My hope is that he will last, that he will cement his presence amongst the PBM population, once more, and that he will give voice to the PBM beast that dwells within him (which is an entirely different PBM beast than the one that lives within me).

Once upon many decades ago, PBM gaming's ranks surged with champions of every sort - champions of the cause! They lived, breathed, and slept PBM. What great sin did we commit, as an enclave of PBM gamers, to see our ranks thinned to become a pale imitation of their former greatness?

PBM magazines of old were PBM's horn-bearers. They blared long and loud. But while the noise that those old PBM magazines made wasn't music, when I read and browse them, now, all these many years and decades after the fact, the noise that they made is as music to my PBM-loving ears of today.

Only recently did I depart the PBM battlefield, anew, and it wasn't the first time that I have departed. Be that as it may, the Horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the Deep, one last time!

For the Horn of PBM, there is neverlast time!

Which factors heavily into my own grappling with the PBM bear. It just plain tires you out. Then, too, when I factor in all of the various flavors of complacency apples that others routinely toss into the basket, as well as the lackluster effort with which they toss said fruit, my appetite hungers for something far more substantial.

The good LORD willing, I am hopeful that I will craft and put into motion an actual old-fashioned PBM game of a fairly small scale between now and the coming months that remain un-burned through for the PBM year 2024. What I'm gonna aim for is a little PBM treat for some hand-selected inmates. It won't be a business undertaking, but a hobby venture. Hopefully, a little something for them to look forward to, and something definitely manageable on my end. Computer moderation! I don't exactly see computer moderation churning out new PBM games, you know. So, I will go the hand moderation route, and deliberately so.

Free for the inmates, but they'll have to foot the cost of a postage stamp to send their turn orders in to me. Inmates tend to perennially low on funds (ain't we all?), so one primary aim is for it to be as inexpensive as possible (not all inmates have access to e-mail, you know - or did you?). In prison, 'tis hope that is often the commodity that is in the shortest supply.

For turn results, I am aiming for no more than three to four sheets of paper, to help ensure that outgoing postage costs are minimized. Yeah, I'm not getting one of those postal scales, though that might actually lower the postage price a tad further for outgoing turn results. Overseas changes the postage costs dramatically, so this will be a purely American PBM affair. For even PBM gaming is subject to limitations imposed by reality in this physical dimension.

It's just something that I want to do. Call me an anachronism and be done with it, already, why don't ya? At worst, it fails. So, what else is new in PBM?

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The Weatherhead Conundrum
Charles Mosteller

Today is Saturday, May 4th, 2024, as I manage to get back to working on this issue of PBM Chaos. In all likelihood, this issue will publish sometime later on today, by my best estimate at this 8:29AM EST moment.

Since I no longer use the PlayByMail Discord, and since I no longer create new postings over at the Play By Mail Facebook page, two of my former top sources to gather PBM feedback from have effectively suddenly dried up as a source for much in the way of PBM items of interest. So, what now, going forward?

New sources will have to be discovered or invented, I'd imagine. But it's not something that I am going to fret over, especially since both of those former sources didn't exist, previously, before I created them and put them in motion.

Much of what I do is talk about PBM, anyway, so my ability to do that is not greatly impaired. One thing that PBM is in need of, currently, is an increase in competition. Who knows? Maybe one thing that I can start doing, going forward, is to begin competing with myself.

Yeah, it might sound crazy, but so did a lot of things, once upon a PBM scene ago. Maybe I'll haul PBM Unearthed out of the crypt where it currently lies interred. And on top of that, just keep pushing issues of PBM Chaos out the door, as well. By my way of thinking, they would both have to differ from one another, somehow, so maybe I can figure something out.

Granted, at first glance, that seems like a rather counterintuitive way to approach things. But some would have said that publishing a PBM publication as fast as I have, with both PBM Unearthed and then PBM Chaos, was at odds with how PBM magazines had been published in the past. So, maybe there's something to be said for counterintuitive approaches, at times.

But will that work, here? Who knows? It has been my first-hand experience over however many years that it's been that what works is when people actually do things. That's how every PBM magazine that ever saw the light of day came into existence, after all. Nowadays, we've got it pretty easy, in many ways - which begs the question why there's not more PBM publications in existence, now, rather than less?

I have decided to coin the phrase of the Weatherhead Conundrum. In other ways, whenever Richard Weatherhead doesn't have new stuff to read about PBM gaming, it's quite the conundrum for him. That strikes me as a respectable rule of thumb to incorporate into my thinking.

More than probably just about anything else, perhaps it has simply been my willingness to talk about PBM gaming that has served as the impetus for me to continue talking about PBM all the more. Maybe it is really just that simple. Perhaps we overcomplicate things.

At a bare minimum, I do think that a nugget of truth inheres in that outlook.

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