͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ 
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First things first. My apologies for all of that bright yellow in Issue #35. My intent was to put a bright yellow box just around the e-mail contact information at the very end of last issue. I should have gave the entire thing one more look see, but that was to be the final touch on that issue. We all saw how it turned out. As always, chaos reigns in PBM Chaos - intended or not!

Work on this issue of PBM Chaos actually began very shortly after I published Issue #35, so hopefully, there won't be a long delay before this issue makes its way to you. Not sure, yet, what all that I am going to stuff into it, but I'll either find something or make something, same as always.

Separate and apart from that, it is my hope to soon begin dredging up Issue #30 of PBM Unearthed. As with the other issues in the PBM Unearthed series, Issue #30 will be published in PDF format. Why do both PBM Unearthed and PBM Chaos? Well, why not, I would ask, instead? Let's just see how it goes, and whether it proves feasible for me to publish both. It will be interesting (at least, from my perspective, it will be interesting to me, even if to no one else) to see if and how I compete with myself. As always, the worst thing that will likely happen is that it ends up failing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Quality over quantity, some might say. And there's also likely a segment of our readership which prefers quantity, no matter what - and who might be willing to risk a ding in the quality, if it will help to ensure a steady flow of PBM-related material. As we live in an imperfect world, we also live in an imperfect PBM world. People are always invited to submit PBM articles and such, but were I to always wait to publish a new issue, to be in thrall to others and utterly dependent upon their whims which would dictate whether they would actually send something in for publication or not, then that would likely be a standing death sentence.

When others send stuff in for publication, things can progress more quickly. But in the event that nothing gets submitted, what then? The PBM show still has to go on, doesn't it? It's easier to just rely upon the material that I create, and anything above and beyond that from others is simply icing on the cake.

One of my own focal points, going forward, will be to try and better highlight various PBM stuff from the past. In this issue, in fact, there's a PBM Look Back for Issue #15 of Paper Mayhem magazine included, along with some tidbits about the old PBM game called The Weapon.


Since the editorials that I write for issues of PBM Chaos are often, though not always, accomplished over a span of multiple days, I decided to change things up for this issue, and post the actual dates that each segment of this editorial was crafted. Granted, it's not a change that is exactly Earth-shattering in nature, but it is a bid to try and find a better path forward (even if it ends up being in mere increments, instead of vast swaths of change being implemented all in one fell swoop). Sometimes in life, even progress creeps along.

Maybe the fact that there's even an issue #36, as well as the fact that there turned out to be an Issue #35, genuinely qualifies as progress of some kind. yeah, I know that most everyone who follows along with each issue of PBM Chaos would really prefer that I incorporate articles and such from others - but that requires that others must actually bother to submit stuff for me to include.

I mention it, from time to time, because that is one mechanism to remind people with, but simultaneously, I don't really enjoy riding people's asses about submitting stuff (unless your name is Richard Weatherhead, Richard Lockwood, or any of the other countless Richards that still lurk the PBM scene of the modern era). Somebody has to catch the barbs on the PBM pitchfork, you know.

If you are one of the few PBM denizens that miss my newly self-inflicted absence from either the PlayByMail Discord or the Play By Mail Facebook page, much less both, then you might be interested to learn that I have begun posting more frequently over on the PBM Unearthed Facebook page. Don't be shy! Just head on over there, as time and opportunity allow, and you can catch up on whatever I've been posting, recently, which you may have unknowingly been oblivious to.

In case you might be wondering, I am listening to Waylon Jennings sing Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way as I write these words to you, to the all of you who still tag along on my journey through the literary side of play by mail gaming (aka the publishing of this digital PBM publication).

In his Where We're Heading editorial in Issue #15 of Paper Mayhem magazine, editor David Webber talks about survey cards. There were 29 different PBM companies and 35 different PBM games that were voted on. There was a tie for Best PBM Game (Starweb and Beyond the Quadra Zone), another tie for Best PBM Moderator (Rick Loomis and Mike Williams), and the Best PBM Company award went to Flying Buffalo, Inc. No tie on that last category of voting.

Just beneath that editorial on Page #5 of that issue of Paper Mayhem, there was a half-page PBM ad for Hyborian War. Accordingly, I've included a Hyborian War PBM ad in this issue of PBM Chaos. You can find it located right after this editorial. It's one of a more recent set of new PBM ads that I crafted or helped to craft in recent years.

I love Hyborian War, and likely always will. It still has a lot going for it, as a play by mail game. If you haven't yet given it a try, then what are you waiting for? Just contact RSI, and get yourself set up with a player account. If you want to get started the quickest, then my suggestion and advice is that you either sign up for an organized game of Hyborian War over on Lloyd Barron's Road of Kings forum site, or just tell Reality Simulations to add you into a game that's already started as a standby player, if there are any openings available.

I played the kingdom of Shem, after coming in as a standby player around Turn #6 in Hyborian War game number HW-955 (if memory serves me correctly). It was a long, hard slog, but Shem was still actively played by yours truly when the game drew to an end. Just two provinces were all that I controlled, by that point in time, but both of my provinces had almost sixty troops in each provincial army. Shem's capital in that game of Hyborian War never fell to any of the hostile forces that assailed my lands and my peoples. Trust me - long, hard fought struggles in Hyborian War are far more fun, and far and away more memorable, than actually winning a game of Hyborian War. Victory lays easy on the mind, but trying against the odds to just survive - that awakens the soul and sates the thirst!

All things considered, I think that Issue #15 of Paper Mayhem is an excellent example of a play by mail gaming magazine. It's got a thick paper cover, and it's not a smooth finish, like many of its later issues (I liked them, also, but this thick cover is from an earlier period in Paper Mayhem's development and evolution.

Rich Buda (whom I now know as Rick Buda, who can be found on Facebook, by the way), who used to be the editor of NABOG (the Nuts & Bolts Of Gaming), has a lengthy letter in Paper Mayhem Issue #15. This bolsters the issue's meaty articles, helping to imbue it with real literary substance. Packed with a slew of PBM advertisements, this issue of Paper Mayhem really has a lot going for it. The current state of the PBM industry simply isn't capable of facilitating the creation of something akin to Paper Mayhem's Issue #15, today. There's not enough commercial PBM companies, and there's certainly no real pulse or heart beat within today's PBM companies that remain to even remotely approach an advertising effort on par with what that issue of Paper Mayhem visibly demonstrated was achievable back in the PBM year of 1985.

I've spent years talking to the PBM wind, so there's not likely to be anything that I can say which will spur the PBM industry of today to action. Play By Mail is not really the star that today's PBM firms guide their gaming ship of state by. It's a sad state of affairs, certainly, but change being what change is, it was likely inevitable that the PBM industry drifted largely away from the postal gaming medium, to instead try to take a gamble on one or more of the newer online digital possibilities.

E-mail, web interfaces, client software - I'm sure that there are others that I have left out, as I busily type these words. Which existing PBM companies are currently experiencing exponential growth, or anything even remotely resembling that?

In the olden days of ye olde PBM gaming, hearts were in it. PBM luminaries were fully invested in the success play by mail gaming. Today, all these many years later, kids and grandkids and all kinds of other interests and hobbies continue to erode the cutting edge of the PBM Old Guard's interest in pushing the envelope on the PBM front. That's life.

There's probably not a defense from life and its infinite possibilities and distractions that it throws our way. Mumble, grumble, bitch, and complain. Go ahead. Maybe it will make you feel better. Maybe it will relieve some stress, or eradicate some dissatisfaction with what now seeks to pass itself off as the PBM gaming equivalent of today. Deal with it!

One of my ways of dealing with it is by writing about it. In the old days, PBM companies and GMs didn't typically have a problem being paid tribute to. So, why should they have a problem with the remnants of a once great and inspiring industry being paid tribute to, in the here and now of the modern world?

A watered down gaming medium that hardly ever creates new games from scratch. Just milk the old PBM cows to death, and be done with it, already. Of course, in fairness, how many tens of thousands of complaints have PBM GMs and PBM companies dealt with over the years and over the decades? Enough, already! Sheesh!

Two sides to every coin.

Me? To publish a modern day quasi-equivalent of a PBM publication, I have to write about something. The tide is always coming in and going out. Just as PBM game shave due dates for turn orders to get sent in by, likewise, at some point I have to cut bait and publish each new issue of PBM Chaos (or whatever my digital PBM publication flavor of the day is), even though PBM Chaos doesn't ever have an actual hard publication deadline.

Just whatever, I guess that you could call it. Which is an awful lot like what the PBM industry tends to give the gaming public, these days. If you don't like it, just play something else. Well, to a very large degree, that's what the once growing like crazy PBM gaming public chose to do. Of those that are still with us and not passed on, something else seemed to be the most appealing thing on the gaming menu.

How's that working out, so far? Has it impacted the profit margins, any? Better yet, has it impacted growth projections, any?

Nobody has any time, but everybody (or nearly so, it seems) wants all kinds of things done. PBM companies and GMs don't have time to make new PBM games. Likewise, PBM players don't have time to write articles praising the old dinosaurs of the PBM herd. Touché! What's good for the PBM geese is definitely good for the PBM ganders. Nothing quite like being caught in cycles of gloom and doom, eh?

You know that things have gotten pretty darned bad in PBM circles, when the notorious Richard "Claims To Like Ale" Lockwood takes it upon himself to begin making an attempt at programming a PBM game of his own. Nukes 'n' Bees. Whoever heard of such a thing?

None of my beeswax, you might say. I can hear Richard chuckling at that one. But does Lockwood have what it takes, this secret agent of PBM gaming chap that he is? Will he save the day? Will this new game of his be fun to play? Oh, I certainly hope so! With Sea of Nyx currently in dry dock, it's the only thing that saved Lockwood's wooden tub that he tried to pass off as a pirate ship from being sent straight to Davy Jones' locker. It's pretty darned sad, though, when all that stands between your motley pirate crew and a watery abyss is a GM's commitment to his own game's improvement. Aye!

Curse Lockwood's luck!

But there has to be a time for improvement, and sometimes, that requires a wee bit of patience on PBM gamers' part. It's not as though the many different species of artificial intelligence have yet arrived on the scene to fix what ails PBM for us, you know. Most, they just wait in the wings, waiting for us to get out of their way, but we're too busy fearing them in order to make full and proper use of them.

Yet, artificial intelligence may yet be the end of us all, but on a bright note, maybe A.I. is exactly what's needed to light a little fire under the PBM industry's ass. If only things were that simple.

This issue of PBM Chaos also heralds the beginning of what will hopefully prove to be a long and enduring series of player articles and feedback to questions about the game called Hyborian War. I have dubbed this the Hyborian War Question Series, and it will feature Hyborian War players providing feedback to questions, scenarios, and hypotheticals that I pose to them. Since what is posed to one individual may vary widely to that which gets posed to other individuals, this should prove to be a fairly interesting PBM-related series. be sure to write in and let me know what you think, though, once you have read a few of them.

This issue's editorial has wound on for a bit, now. But I wanted to give you your money's worth, this time around. You may not get so lucky in the future.

Happy reading and happy gaming to the whole lot of you!

Charles Mosteller
Editor of PBM Chaos


"As always, the first thing I look for in each issue of PBM Chaos is The Maze. 

That little bit of endorphin rush, something like digging to the bottom of the cereal box to nab the prize. The articles have to wait until I have a comfy chair and a nice cup of tea."

- Michael Henderson

E-mail Feedback


Hyborian War image ad for Reality Simulations, Inc.
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Forgotten Realms: War of the Avatars

It's not "brand new" news, but it's definitely news to me.

ROKer Kulalo
started a Forgotten Realms game (run by Reality Simulations, Inc.) a few months back, and created a discussion thread for it titled Forgotten Realms Walk Through. To browse it or read it, you will need to register a forum user account on the Road of Kings forum site, first, if you don't have one, already. There's no charge associated with doing that, though.

This discussion thread seems to have succeeded in gaining numerous other ROKers' attention, since it was first created. Definitely check it out, when you get a chance!

* Forgotten Realms is a Play-By-Mail game run by Reality Simulations, Inc.

Hyborian War

In conjunction with numerous different Hyborian War players, some of which have extensive experience playing this game from Reality Simulation, Inc. (RSI), this issue of PBM Chaos marks the start of the Hyborian War Question Series.

This series of questions, scenarios, and hypotheticals about or pertaining to Hyborian War is intended as a long term project, and seek to help "spread the word" about Hyborian War, and to entertain and inform while doing so.

A wide range of player feedback, insight, and wisdom about Hyborian War that runs the gamut of fact and possibilities is envisioned. Readers' feedback on this series is encouraged, so be sure to write in, that participating Hyborian War players who make this series possible will find additional incentive to continue participating, making it a win-win for everyone.

* Forgotten Realms is a Play-By-Mail game run by Reality Simulations, Inc.

Game Systems International

Middle-earth PBM image ad for Game Systems International

All Games Starting Soon

Information below comes from the Middle-earth PBM newsletter.

The followig games are currently accepting setups, and due to start soon.

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.
19/24 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 982: 1650 All vs All

3 nations per player.
Randomised artifact IDs.
Drafting system for nations.
7/11 or 5/8 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

Tine's Irregulars are looking for opposition in 1650.

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!

Contact GSI:
[email protected]

GSI Website:


* All content and images copyright (c) GSI.

* Middle-earth PBM is a Play-By-Mail game run by Game Systems International.

The Road of Kings

Games of Hyborian War Forming

King of Games 16: Slow Speed

Players Signed Up:

1. wfrankenhoff

2. The Consortium

3. Full Metal and Xerxes

4. Qannibal

5. Thulsadoom

6. Grit

7. * Possibly Ravenous

Go here for details.

HW042 - Total Privacy Game
CURRENT COUNTER: 34 PLAYERS (as of 9 May, 2024)

Go here for details.

Ravenous and Grit’s 3 man “KOG” evil battle of anything goes!!!

Go here for details.

Big Daddy's Traditional Allies and Enemies Game!!!
Players Signed Up:
1: BigDaddy (Last Pick!)
2: @Tempus
3: @JWS
4: @JBad
5: @Thulsadoom
6: @Majik
7: @Manatee
8: @Truerelic
9: @Elijah13
10: @GRIT
11: @Bhandarkar
12: @Harkonnen
13: @Zaknafein
14: @wfrankenhoff
15: @acrid

Go here for details.

AlwaysFPS Random Team Game
Players Signed Up:
1) @AlwaysFPS
2) @GRIT
3) @Heyhay
4) @JWS
5) @Thirteen
6) @Hrafn the Skald
7) @Tempus
8) @Thulsadoom

Go here for details.

Big Daddy’s Reggie Org Game #1
Players Signed Up:
1. @JWS
2. @Majik
3. @Blixkrieg
4. @BigDaddy Last Pick
5. @jbyogi
6. @Tempus
7. @Hrafn the Skald
8. @TheOscrat
9. @Rat the Mad
10. @Loki
11. @coachcfb1
12. @Blixkrieg
13. @Ahmose Nine
14. @acrid
15. @wfrankenhoff
16. @palgolak
17. @JBad Extra Chance
18. @Thirteen
19. @BobaFlexx
20. @LucaSkywalker - Extra Chance
21. @Bhandarkar
22. @Pariah
23. @HandofSet
24. @Truerelic
25. Jason Willcox - Extra Chance


Go here for details.

JWS Organized Game - Slow - Traditional Enemies
Players Signed Up:
1. @JWS
2. @coachcfb1
3. @Hammer
4. @Joel
5. @Sloane
6. @The Consortium

Go here for details.

Alamaze image ad for Old Man Games, LLC
Alamaze Games Currently Filling
Game # Turn Interval Players Signed Up Players Still Needed
2 weeks
5752 72 Hours 0 12
5773 48 Hours 11 1
Click here to create your own Alamaze player account!
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Click on the link below!

Click on the link above!

Forgotten Realms: War of the Avatars image ad for Reality Simulations, Inc.

Forgotten Realms Walk Through

ROKer Kulalo

Turn 7:

I continue to make slow progress. @Qannibal said he had 1 town and 5 villages on turn 4- as of turn 7 I have 3 towns, 2 villages, and 3 settlements so we're on a similar pace.

Turn 7 highlights- the second city was taken (not by me) with no losses so he must have a pretty impressive army. 3 more leaders died (2 by other players)

- On turn 7 half of the map (2708 hexes of 5000) now owned by player realms

First Army (Arch mage, human Skirmishers, human archers, human Heavy Infantry, human Light Cavalry, Javelins of Lightning, Cloaks of Protection)

- Battle 1 (won): Re-attacked the Mongrel town that defeated me last turn, this turn I won- killed 2 defenders with no losses. Both kills happened during the Magic round, so score one (or two) for the Arch-Mage..

- Battle 2 (won): Chased down the Death Knight who destroyed my Bugbear army last turn. During the Magic round, his Death Knight and Goblin Infantry "Faltered" but survived the battle, I killed his Half Orc Outcasts. He was able to withdraw with only one unit lost...


- Captured another town.

- My Primary army feels balanced and is winning but it still seems understrength; I am trying to raise troops to bolster my defenses as well as attack forces. (1 Arch-Mage, 1 Archer, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Heavy Infantry, 1 Light Cavalry, 1 Javelins of Lightning, 1 Cloak of Protection)




- Battles still seem a bit random. Last turn the Mongrelman town defeated me, this turn I won with no losses fighting with the same exact troops.

- Starting to see a lot more scouts in my territory, not sure if they are looking for targets or just looking...

- Gold production is increasing via conquest and investing. I'm experimenting with continuous conscripting in one of my Settlements to see what happens when your gold production there goes to zero. Right now it's gold production is 2.

Question: I only have one strong army at the moment. I have been focused on trying to take out this Death Knight in my territory and regain some lost items; however, there is also a Ghoul Town that I need to attack. Right now I am leaning towards taking out then Knight then marching on the town, but it is a tempting target. Thoughts???

On Turn 0 (Assume 150 of 600 communities were owned by players [3 per player])

On Turn 1 184 of 600 communities were owned by players (54 Towns, 44 Villages, 86 Settlements) - 34 'conquered'

On Turn 2 225 of 600 owned (68 Towns, 58 Villages, 96 Settlements, 2 Lairs, 1 Dungeon) - 41 'conquered'

On Turn 3 256 of 600 owned (80 Towns, 69 Villages, 104 Settlements, 2 Lairs, 1 Dungeon) - 29 'conquered'

On Turn 4 277 of 600 owned (87 Towns, 76 Villages, 110 Settlements, 3 Lairs, 1 Dungeon) - 21 'conquered'

On Turn 5 303 of 600 owned (95 Towns, 85 Villages, 115 Settlements, 4 Lairs, 3 Dungeon, 1 Ruin) - 26 'conquered'

On Turn 6 331 of 600 owned (1 City, 103 Towns, 94 Villages, 122 Settlements, 5 Lairs, 5 Dungeon, 1 Ruin) - 28 'conquered'

On Turn 7 360 of 600 owned (2 City, 110 Towns, 104 Villages, 132 Settlements, 5 Lairs, 6 Dungeon, 1 Ruin) - 29 'conquered'

Turn 1 900 of 5000 hexes owned

Turn 2 1384 hexes owned (+484)

Turn 3 1732 hexes owned (+348)

Turn 4 2058 hexes owned (+286)

Turn 5 2299 hexes owned (+241)

Turn 6 2497 hexes owned (+198)

Turn 7 2708 hexes owned (+211)

Editor's Note: ROKer Kulalo undertook on November 17th, 2023 to begin sharing with the Hyborian War player horde that gathers on Lloyd Barron's Road of Kings forum site his new PBM gaming adventure into RSI's Forgotten Realms: War of the Avatars game. It is with great pleasure that I share with all of you his latest turn installment from that game - his results for Turn #7, above.

If you want to start back at the beginning of this game, then to head to the specific discussion thread on the Road of Kings, which is titled Forgotten Realms Walk Through. It makes for an interesting read, especially if you've never played the game, before. Since he started posting in this discussion thread, others have taken the PBM plunge or begun expressing interest in giving the game a try, also. See for yourself what this new-found excitement for this PBM game is all about.

ROKer Kulalo has also created a separate discussion thread, there, titled Forgotten Realms Lessons Learned, which is his bid to provide new and experienced players of the game with what he feels are crystal clear lessons that he's learned.

* ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, AD&D, FORGOTTEN REALMS, and the FORGOTTEN REALMS Logo are trademarks of TSR, Inc. © 1995 TSR, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by Reality Simulations, Inc. under license from TSR, Inc. PBM game design (c) 1995 Reality Simulations, Inc.

Hyborian War image ad for Reality Simulations, Inc.

* HYBORlAN WAR is owned and operated by Reality Simulations, Inc. ©1985,2006, 2024 Reality Simulations, Inc.

Hyborian War Question Series - Episode 1
ROKer Kulalo

Q. Explain how you decide what kingdom that you want to play next for a game of Hyborian War. Run us through from start to finish, how you look at it, what you think about, what sort of considerations come into play for you, when you are about to play in a new game of Hyborian War that's just about to start. Help others to see and grasp and understand what different kinds of things and worries run through your mind, and how you go about reconciling the different strengths and weaknesses and advantages and disadvantages of the different Hyborian War kingdoms available to choose from.

1 - What kingdom haven't I played, before? I have run some kingdoms more than once, but I haven't run every kingdom, so the first thing I look at is trying a new position. There are a couple of kingdoms that 'once was enough,' and some where I either want to redeem a poor performance or I just had a blast playing. (I enjoy playing Juma's Kingdom for example, but it certainly isn't a dynamic kingdom or position).

2 - Kingdom size. I have a limited budget, so I tend to play Small/Medium kingdoms, mostly. It also varies with the number of games I'm in - fewer games means larger kingdoms. Usually, I prefer to play more games with smaller kingdoms, but it is fun to play one of the "big guys," and a large kingdom definitely has a different feel than the Small/Medium.

3 - Location, location, location. When I was new to the game, I concentrated on the Southwest, then moved to the South, then the East, saving the Northwest for last, as I viewed it as "tougher" - more neighbors, less NPKs (non-player kingdoms) for easy expansion, etc. As we know, some kingdoms just have a harder time due to geography - BRYTHUNIA, SHEM, KOTH to name a couple. Sometimes, you want to start out in a "safe" position with lots of NPKs, and sometimes, you just want to get in and mix it up with other players, depends on my mood at the time.

4 - Friends and allies. If I'm playing a friends game or some Organized Games, then I'll look to coordinate selecting kingdoms that can mutually support each other. This is a rarity, though, and doesn't factor into most games. However, my first ever game was with a friend who introduced me to HW, we ended up playing OPHIR/CORINTHIA, which was nice because I had someone close to help me figure things out.

5 - Unique troops / strategies. At some point, I still want to play with Zembabwe's flying lizards. Recently, I tried my first Barbarian kingdom. Before that, I tried my first naval kingdom (Zingara). This also includes the court mix - do I want a lot of magic, a big assassins league or thieves guild? That really relies on my mood at the time, and what type of game I want - how much court action, etc.

6 - Victory Conditions. Is it a treasury kingdom, do I have to conquer lots of provinces, do I have to 'protect' provinces, etc? All of these are a chance for me to decide what type of game I want to play for that particular iteration. If I just want to war, then I look for # of provinces kingdoms; if I want to play a more paced game, then I look at a treasury kingdom.

I think that sums it up pretty well - hope it helps. For newer players, I would tend to advise them to avoid the Northwest and avoid naval kingdoms. I would also steer them to Regular games, especially a friends game, though some Organized formats (i.e. traditional enemies) would be OK for a newer player.

* ROKer Kulalo can be found on the Road of Kings forum site. An ROKer is one who is a registered member of this forum site. There is no cost associated with becoming a registered forum user, and registering at the Road of Kings will open a world of past and current Hyborian War related postings to you for your extended reading pleasure.

Rome Is Burning image ad for Agema

The Weapon

An old PBM game by the PBM company called 4 Sight.

Advertised Aspects of The Weapon

* Computer Moderated.
* Multi-player.
* Space exploration.
* Combat.
* Diplomacy.
* Design planetary defenses.
* Conduct trade.
* Invade worlds.
* Ship to ship combat.

* Easy to learn.

* Satisfyingly complex.

* Thoroughly play-tested.

* Fill-in-the-blank turn sheets.

*Custom design starships.

Game Designer & Programmer

Dan Ealy designed The Weapon to run on the Apple II.

Mark Brown programmed The Weapon.

Other Known Facts of The Weapon

* A game for up to 15 players.

* Squadrons of starships.

*Mapped out as a 20x20 grid of hexes.

*Hexes may be empty, dangerously cloudy, or occupied by worlds.

* Games last for between 15 and 30

PBM Companies that ran The Weapon

4 Sight
Fantastic Simulations
Harrow Postal Games
Verein der Feunde

Reviews of The Weapon

Wikipedia Entry for The Weapon

PBM  Look Back

Paper Mayhem
Issue #15

November & December Issue 1985


Where We're Heading

David Webber


Rich Buda

Materials editor

Bud Link

Larry Rodin


Landlords - A Review

Michael Horn

Warp Force Empires Playtest Game Two: A Multi-Player Narrative

Robert Bailey, Dave Amos, and Louis Pace

Playtesting "Warp Force Empires"

Louis Pace

Lingbod (Xeno)/WFE/II

Dave Amos

A View From Almost The Top

Robert (Bob) Bailey

Paths To Glory: A Revolution in PBM Game Design

Part III - Armies, Navies, & Logistics: Their Organization & Campaigns

Bud Link

An Historic Review Of Power

John W. Kelly, Jr.


A Searcher's Viewpoint

Lee Gray

Defensive Measures: Tribes Of Crane

Dan Menefee


Mars Fyre

J.T. Lowell

Gameline - News And Items

Adventure Systems

C-Mind Enterprises

Clemens And Associates

Frontier Games

Intergalactic Games

Quest Computer Services

Schubel & Son

Superior Simulations

PBM Activity Corner

Clemens & Associates

Universe II

Terra II

Conquest Of Insula II

Intergalactic Games

Galaxy: Alpha

Quadrant One

Alpha-Zeta Sectors

Quadrant Two

Eta-Mu Mega Sectors

Schubel & Son

Crane I

Operation Rising Sun

Crane II

Battle Of the Rawan Harbor

Crane III

Fire At Midas

StarMaster II

Horizons End!

PBM Advertisements


Adventure Systems

The Weapon

4 Sight

Hyborian War

Reality Simulations, Inc.


Rick Barr

First World

White Lion Enterprises



Beyond The Quadra Zone

Quest Games

Galactic Power

Vigard Simulations


Galactic Simulations

Dawn Of The Ancients

Game Systems, Inc.


Diverse Talents, Inc.


Midnight Games


The Game Anvil

KTH presents The PBM Experience

The King's Birthday

Galaxy Conflict

Time Patrol

CWA Wrestling


Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

Entertainment Concepts, Inc.

Gateway To The Stars

Total Simulations, Inc.

Mobius I

Mobius Games

Ad Astra

Superior Simulations

Galactic Empires & Caravans Of Pan Geos

Galactic Empires

Paths To Glory

Triumph Game Systems


Tudor Games


Advent Games

Galactic Prisoners

Grandel, Inc.


KSK Concepts

Dukes Of Hell & Star King

Software Doctors

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Paper Mayhem - Issue #15
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Enter the Minotaur!

With a thunderous roar, the Minotaur has entered the PBM Maze! Its presence can now be both heard and sensed. Things just got a lot more dangerous. Take heed! Fly, you fools!

Maze rats should beware the coming of the Minotaur!

The Minotaur roars! It has spotted player Lubos Comor, for the Minotaur can see through the walls of the PBM maze. Woe unto poor Lubos Comor!
Lubos Comor missed the turn. Lubos Comor's life bar suffers a drop in health. Missing turns is dangerous to one's life, in the PBM maze. Take heed and beware!

Lubos Comor has drowned in the PBM Maze! Long may he be remembered and rest in peace.

Jef Tonelli missed the turn. Jef Tonelli's life bar suffers a drop in health. Missing turns is dangerous to one's life, in the PBM maze, whether you have extended maze vision or not. May others learn from Jef Tonelli's misfortune and bad ways!

Stefan appears to be close to getting surrounded by water on all sides, as the water continues to flood into the PBM Maze. Will Stefan survive? Or is he destined to meet his own doom within the maze's passageways?

Jim Smith missed the turn. As might be expected, Jim Smith's life bar has suffered a drop in health. Missing turns is always dangerous to one's life. But will Jim learn before it's too late?

Jim Smith is drowning! Better hurry, Jim. You've picked a real bad spot to take a break. I hope that you're thirsty, because that's an awful lot of water to drink your way out of.
Looks like Undeadlord has run smack dab into a dead end. How delightful!

And is that water that I now see? Tsk...tsk...tsk...

Better haul ass, Undeadlord.
And what is player java up to, I wonder?

It appears that a "thing" in the PBM maze is within easy walking distance for java.

But will he head for it? Or will he head off in a different direction?

Decisions can be crucial. . .in the PBM Maze!

Player mhender interacts with a "thing" in the Maze.

Nothing "appears" to happen. Silly Michael!

And what of little Richard Lockwood?

Richard chose to pass right by a "thing" in the PBM maze, last turn. Could it be that he's finally made a good decision?

Or is Lockwood destined to wander this maze, forever?

Ever wonder just how fast that a Minotaur can move?

Do you suppose that this motley looking bunch of maze rats can outrun it?

Well, at least Lubos Comor doesn't have to worry any longer about the Minotaur coming after him.

But. . .that means that it's gonna. . .come after someone else.

Oh, sheesh! Things are about to get real hot down in The PBM Maze!

PBM Maze Factoid: Player map segments are not always centered, exactly, on their respective player numbers. Why is this?

Well, it's actually so that I can shift things slightly, to sometimes enable me to better facilitate player movement. It's not used to intentionally screw the players over.

The Maze Narrator Speaks: I realize that players of The PBM Maze likely grow a bit bored, from time to time. I can't say as I really blame any of you for that. I probably would, too, if I were in your shoes.

At first, the Maze doesn't really seem all that exciting or dangerous. Not sure, really, if it is ever exciting, but it can get a bit dangerous, from time to time. I grasp that you're all in a Maze, and in the beginning, you don't really know what any of the "things" in the Maze do - whether good or bad or otherwise.

And, yes, I am well aware that movement tends to be slow and tedious (for most of you). Hey, how about that one player who recently gained extended maze vision, and then ended up missing his very next turn. I wonder how the rest of you feel about that missed opportunity?

From my perspective as one who also doubles as the GM for The PBM maze, it's always interesting to observe the various choices that players make, from turn to turn. I would encourage players to think. Think, think, think!

Why do I say this? Because some players are missing opportunities, from time to time. Not that I care if you get lost and stay lost forever in the Maze, or if your character dies in the Maze. But not thinking may well be the biggest danger of all!

Tune in next time, same Maze Time, same Maze Channel!

1 - Stefan

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Starting Position - 1

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Ending Position - 1

4 - Jim Smith

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Starting Position - 4

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Ending Position - 4

6 - java

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Starting Position - 6

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Ending Position - 6

8 - mhender

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Starting Position - 8

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Ending Position - 8

2 - Lubos Comor

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Starting Position - 2

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Ending Position - 2

5 - Undeadlord

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Starting Position - 5

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Ending Position - 5

7 - Jef Tonelli

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Starting Position - 7

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Ending Position - 7

10 - Richard Lockwood

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Starting Position - 10

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Ending Position - 10

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Hyborian War Question Series - Episode 2
ROKer Mindox Sul

Thank you for considering me as part of this experiment. I know I am far from the best HW player. In fact, by HW Character standards, my HW Play Skill is probably "Adequate" on most days, or "Good" when the planets are all in alignment.

Q. How long have you played Hyborian War, and after all of your time spent studying, thinking about, and actually playing the game, what specific things about playing Hyborian War continue to give you trouble, and what specific things about playing the game do you feel that you achieved a pretty good grasp and mastery of?

I played my first Hyborian War game in 1990... I was a senior in High School. I played one game as Kosala. I bombed abysmally, and abandoned hope. I didn't play again until 1994... as KOSA (again). So, I guess if my math is correct, I have been playing for 34 years. 31 if you deduct the time between my 1st and 2nd game.

Well, to be honest, I am handicapped with a severe case of ADD. And I am embarrassed to admit this, but I have a learning disability. I am severely neurodivergent, and so my brain does not process learning new things as easily as it does for others. Especially in the case of 'self-teaching.'

By that, I mean, I typically am unable to read a manual on my own and process how to follow said instructions. I require a second party to show me the instructions and help explain them as we go. I never admitted this out loud to anyone before, but please, do not let that alter what you plan on doing with my responses. I think its important to know that all types of people, with all types of handicaps, strengths and weaknesses play Hyborian War.

So, for me, the thing that gives me the most trouble playing, quite simply, is understanding how to get started, unassisted.

On a Game Mechanics level, to this day, I still cannot figure out how to budget my treasury. I simply cannot wrap my mind around how to keep it thriving. I actively rule as often as I can, I 'Bless' my provinces when I can, I try not to garrison huge amounts of troops in a single province... but still, every turn, I crash the economy as if I was Joe Biden, himself.

Mechanically speaking, I do not think I have a good grasp of anything in Hyborian War. To be honest, its been 30+ years, and I still feel like a novice.

I keep waiting to have that "Aha!" moment, when it all becomes clear to me. If forced to select something I am good at, I would say its inter-player diplomacy. I think I write pretty decent letters to other players that they find enjoyable, and I think because they want to keep those letters coming, they either do not attack me, offer me alliance or accept my offer of alliance, and thus, my survivability level goes up.

In the old days, before the internet, my letters were robust, in-character and chock full of maps, illustrations and all assorted types of Hyborian War related flair. Nowadays, email kind of kills that feeling, but I still endeavor to keep things fun and in character as often as possible.

Q. Of all of the different rules and mechanics in Hyborian War, what do you consider to be some of the very best of the bunch, and what about them each, specifically, really distinguishes Hyborian War from all other games of any genre or type or medium that you have played, before (be it video games, computer games, board games, card games, role playing games, tabletop miniatures games, or even other play by mail games)?

I enjoy the character ratings, but find certain choices vexing, like diplomats with "Poor" or "None" for Diplomacy. Or Agents with No Intrigue... But then I think of my job, and just how many people I work with on a daily basis. I am surrounded by individuals that are not very good at what they do, and yet, they still have their job... so their skill level would be a Poor or None, and yet here they are... doing what they were hired to do.... only Poorly."

I also enjoy the Set Piece Battles. I love assigning the troops, the characters to different units, and picking what spells to use. I just wish the verbiage had more variety. It gets a little stale. If they would let me, I would love to write some fresh material for RSI to put in our reports, but I know that is not going to happen in our lifetime.

I am personally driven by imagination fuel. I love waiting for my turn to come in the mail. I love that there are no pictures, no glitzy soundtracks, no electronics to it. Hyborian War is... like playing the board game RISK, whatever you imagine it to be.

You're given the tools to build your kingdom, and do with it what you want, but you are not driven or forced into anything by "Rules." If Aquilonia wants to ally with Nemedia & Pictland - they can. If Hyperborea & Asgard wanna be allies... have a party! You do with your kingdom what you want to.

My son (who is almost 19) remembers playing on the floor with me as a child. He remembers the names and voices and even personalities of certain toys that I used to create. Whether they were green army men, Legos, Playmobil, or whatever... he still says, "Hey dad, remember that time when...?"

He plays Fortnite all the time on XBox. I asked him, "Have you ever won a game?" He said, "Yes." I then asked, "What skin were you playing in?" "Who did you beat?" "What was the terrain?" etc, etc... he has no recollection... and that was a lot more recent than when we used to play on the floor, together.

Why is that? It's because with all these electronic video games, you use absolutely ZERO imagination. Everything is generated for you. The character, the appearance, the weapons, the terrain, the music... what creative energy did you invest in that, as a player? None. So, why would you remember it?

But Hyborian War... like D&D... or playing with army men on the floor, is fueled and driven 100% by your imagination. You created that. Your mind did all the heavy lifting, so it's more likely you will have memories 20 years later of a role playing game than you will of a video game. Who remembers the specifics of a Pacman Game, or Asteroids? Why would they? But ask them about their first D&D character from 30 years ago... they'll remember every detail, right down to the colour of their tunic.

And so it is with Hyborian War. Your given characters and kingdoms, but  they are painted with broad strokes, its up to you as the player to paint in the finer details: allies, enemies, intrigue, magic, diplomacy... that's what makes Hyborian War a cut above your typical board game or video game, in my opinion.

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* The front cover art from the Galactic Empires Rulebook courtesy of Mark Wardell.

Remnants of the old Galactic Empires forum

Star Fleet Battles Online image ad for Franz Games

Hyborian War Question Series - Episode 3

ROKer Crom (aka Lloyd Barron)

Q. The rules and mechanics of Hyborian War aside, what do you believe needs to change on the player side of the game, for Hyborian War to be taken to the next level?

The primary thing is that, in addition to traditional mail, players must have the option to access their turns in other ways. Be it via PDF/email, download from a secure file storage dedicated to the game, or what have you, simply receiving the turns must become easier. The sad truth is that traditional mail service has been on the decline for a long time, and delivery of turns has taken a 'turn' for the worse, particularly in the past five years. I can relate several personal anecdotes of fellow players who have given up on a particular game, or on RSI entirely, due to difficulties receiving their turns. And in many cases when they do receive them, they're damaged in some way.

SCENARIO: You are given the task to change Hyborian War, in order to make it a better game. However, you cannot add or change anything about the game, but rather, you are limited to improving the play and feel of Hyborian War solely though deleting particular rules or mechanics of the game. How would you go about starting such an undertaking, and what considerations would be foremost on your mind, based upon your extensive play of the game over the years? Also, if possible, can you elaborate just a little on what you would hope to gain for the game and for players of the game, with regard to each deletion that you would seek to implement?

I will set aside for a moment my thought that, for a system as inherently limited as a 40-year-old piece of code can be, improvements are likely more to be found in the realm of changes or additions, not subtractions.

Within the limits of your scenario, I would delete all anti-victory conditions (including Kambulja's that were never deleted, only masked), as well as any 'major victory progress' conditions that depend upon a starting province for a nation. Deleting those would make several nations more competitive, some vastly more so.

Middle-earth PBM image ad for Game Systems International
Champions of Middle-earth

* Some highlights from the Champions of Middle-earth module.


The hour is late in the Third Age of Middle-earth.

For long years has the Dark Lord Sauron been forced to bide his time, working in darkness and shadow. But now hisreach grows long, stretching like a shadow from the mountain fastness of Mordor. His Nazgûl stalk the night, evil stirs inthe deep places, and called forth by his command, Goblins and Orcs spill like maggots from their tunnels and lairs.

But all hope is not yet lost for the Free Peoples of the land. The One Ring, in which Sauron bound his power and hismalice, remains in the keeping of Frodo, safe, for now at least. And Gandalf, escaped from the treachery of Saruman,makes with all haste north to Imladris, which yet remains as a torch lit against the gathering dark. For Elves, Dwarves and Men all stand ready to battle the forces of Sauron, awaiting but a leader, and the call to arms.

The world stands upon the edge of a knife. And its fate will be decided by the Champions of Middle-earth.


Game Systems International run turn-based, strategy games inspired by The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, including elements from ICE's Middle-earth Role Playing.

Play as either the Free Peoples or the Dark Servants, and work together with your team-mates to take control of the lands of Middle-earth.

Earn your victory through a combination of martial strength, magical prowess, and economic power.

Middle-earth PBM is an Origins Award Hall of Fame member.

Character Types

There are four types of characters in Champions of Middle-earth. (Note that these types are not related to the four classes or skill ranks – command, agent, emissary, mage – a character can have.)

Starting Champion Characters
Your starting characters can both issue 3 orders a turn.

Champion NPCs
Characters who you can find and recruit to join your nation, and to whom you will be able to issue 3 orders to a turn. You may only recruit a limited number of these during the game.

Minion NPCs
Some Champion NPCs have one or more Minion NPCs, and these characters are gained when the Champion NPC they belong to is recruited. Minion NPCs can be issued 2 orders a turn. They do not count towards your Champion NPC Recruit Limit..

Normal Characters
Character who can be issued 2 orders each, who are gained by naming them with orders as usual.

At A Glance

Champions of Middle-earth is a two or four player game (either one Free People player versus one Dark Servant player, or two Free People versus two Dark Servants). It is very different to our other modules.

Each player starts with only a ‘micro nation’, consisting of two characters and a handful of population centres. From this starting point, they must seek out and recruit powerful Champion characters with which to build their nations. These come with a variety of benefits, including population centres, armies, artifacts, special nation abilities, and even other characters.

Through the choice of characters you recruit, you can decide what kind of nation to build, be it military, magic or agent-based. But you will only be able to recruit some of the many characters available, so choose wisely!

Turn Processing

Unlike our other modules, which run to fixed turn deadlines, Champions of Middle-earth games will run as soon as all players have submitted orders. This means that you will not be able to send in revised versions of your orders, so make sure that the ones you submit are your final ones! The due date on the results pdf shows the very latest date by which you must submit orders. If you have not submitted orders by the due date shown on the pdf, your opponent is allowed to claim victory (see later for details).

Champions of Middle-earth image ad for Game Systems International

* All content and images copyright © GSI.

* Editor's Note: The Champions of Middle-earth module is one that always tempts me to give it a try. Either two players or four players. That's it. No huge list of player positions just sitting around forever and a day, waiting to get filled. In a nutshell, that strikes me as manageable.

Ever since I first tried my hand at Middle-earth PBM, which was long before the generation of Clint Oldridge, John Davis, and crew took up the gauntlet of carrying on the Middle-earth PBM tradition, I failed miserably at playing the Witch-king of Angmar and Hoarmurath the Ice King in two different 1650 scenarios. Wins and losses come and go (more losses than wins for me, obviously), but dagnabbit, something about Middle-earth PBM has always stuck with me, in all of the many years since I first tasted the flesh of what Middle-earth PBM had to offer.

To have not tried Middle-earth PBM, again, in the intervening years is really little more than a bid on my part to stave off temptation. Much like trying on the One Ring of Power, something about giving Middle-earth PBM a try lingers on, whispering to you, sometimes even rawly and opening tempting you. The game is brazen in its bid to get me to return to the familiar setting that is J.R.R. Tolkien's epic Middle-earth.

Publishing PBM Chaos endows me with my own ring, of sorts - the One Ring of Dour - which, for the curious at heart out there among you, is significantly less enticing and far less powerful than the true One Ring of Power. Playing Middle-earth PBM is probably a lot more fun than publishing PBM Chaos. I'd say it's a no-brainer.

If you've played the Champions of Middle-earth module, we'd love to hear from you, so that we might share your Champions module experience with our readers.

Write to PBM Chaos at: [email protected]

PBM Did You Know?

That Gamesman magazine was a source of PBM coverage which lasted for ten issues between 1991 and 1992, and included articles by Nicky Palmer of Flagship magazine fame.

Gamesman Issue 1 Overview
Gamesman Issue 2 Overview
Gamesman Issue 3 Overview
Gamesman Issue 4 Overview
Gamesman Issue 5 Overview
Gamesman Issue 6 Overview
Gamesman Issue 7 Overview
Gamesman Issue 8 Overview
Gamesman Issue 9 Overview
Gamesman Issue 10 Overview

Gamesman issues available on ebay

Gamesman Issue #2 on ebay

Gamesman Issue #3 on ebay

Gamesman Issue #4 on ebay

Gamesman Issue #6 on ebay

Gamesman Issues #2 and #4 on ebay

* Editor's Note: Not 100% sure if PBM coverage was included in all ten issues of Gamesman, but it was certainly provided in most of them.

Image ad for The Land
A Casual Stroll Through Flagship Issue 8
Charles Mosteller

Even if I were to never write another word about PBM, I probably have enough PBM reading material stockpiled to last me a lifetime. While my own PBM collection, such that it is, will never rival a true collector of such postal era gaming trinkets the likes of Raven Zachary (still the most important man in PBM), I nonetheless enjoying a rather sizeable number of old PBM magazines to while away the time with - should I choose to do so.

Which for me means just browse them now and again, with no real pattern to such sifting of PBM's ever-shifting sands.I'll probably ever reading every last word, every last article contained in all of these old, dated PBM magazines. And why should I? That would be akin to me killing the geese that lay all of the golden PBM eggs that I cherish so.

I'm gonna toss a special nod Tony's way, for gifting me a great bulk of the PBM magazines that I now lay claim to. He's out there - somewhere. He enriched my PBM life greatly with his benevolence and his generosity. I shall be ever-grateful to him for parting with them, and bestowing them upon me.

Issue #8 of Flagship magazine, aka The Flagship of Postal Gaming (US Edition), has been occupying space on my desk, of late. Yeah, I've looked through it, before. For all that I can or can't remember, I may have even mentioned stuff, before, that adorns the pages of this particular issue. But that's highly unlikely to stop me from waxing poetically (or not-so-poetically, as the case might actually be) about it.

My impression of it, right now, is that it is a thick issue. It's kind of heavy, too. Counting the front and back cover pages, it weighs in at a hefty fifty-two (52) pages. Yeah, it would eat up a chunk of your day, trying to gobble this bad boy whole.

The front cover has a big pyramid on it, one with a big eyeball in it. Clearly, this issues is watching me as closely as I am looking at it. MitreGames, operating out of Wandsworth Common, London, England, greets my eyes with a full page PBM advertisement, as soon as I flip past the front cover. That's probably the most treasured ad location in any magazine, the one located immediately after the front cover. The Tribes of Crane and StarMaster ads both conspire to dominate the eye, where this page is concerned. The complete start-up package for either The Tribes of Crane or StarMaster would set you back 9.95 pounds, back in 1985. This also includes your first two turns of play. Oh, how generous!

Terry Cale is going on about the need for a PBM convention in this issue's editorial. I glance at the index. Does anybody out there ever even bother to read the entire index of any PBM magazine ever published at any point in time? I have my doubts. That strikes me as a rather boring way to spend one's life.

Flip that page, again. Damn! PARANOIDS BEWARE! the next page screams at me, as a new full page ad about the PBM game, Illuminati, sledgehammers me. All kinds of player quotes transformed into a PBM advertisement makes for a nice departure from the PBM ads that I often run into, during my PBM explorations. Only four dollars per turn, this advertisement by Adventure Systems operating out of Houston, Texas says. Four dollars was cheaper than playing Hyborian War, even in Autumn of 1985, which is when this issue of Flagship was published, apparently.

Chris Carrier goes on and on about Illuminati, which his article describes as a Byzantine struggle for global power. And in the bottom right hand corner of Page 5, palace Simulations ran a PBM ad touting Rimworlds to the magazine's reader. Christ Carrier's article runs several pages, and a half-page ad for Rimworlds, The Cyborg-Moderated Game, greets my eye on Page 7. And is that a portion of an Illuminati turn that I see at the bottom of Page 8?

Page 9 is a full page add for Illuminati. Ben Parkinson wrote an article titled Saturnalia: role playing towards the Hall of Fame that starts out on Page 10. Some boring crap about The Flagship Ratings populates a good chunk of the lower half of Page 11. That big, beautiful-as-ever Saturnalia ad dominates and blows the human eye away on page 12. Saturnalia always did have some of the bet-looking PBM ads in all of PBM history.

Page 13 brings the reader Earthwood: The Fantasy Wargame by Nicky Palmer. Say, where have I heard that name, before? Nicky played the High Elves, it seems. KJC Games managed to work in a half-page or so ad for Earthwood at the bottom of Page 15. Page 16, however, brought an article by Jay Sax for the PBM game called Beyond the Quadra Zone. Page 17 has a half-page ad from KJC Games for Capitol, a play by mail game of Xenphobia, Conquest, and Space Warfare called Capitol.

A full page ad for Beyond The Quadra Zone awaits the reader on page 18. Hyborian War and Crasimoff's World advertisements dominate page 19. Page 20 enlightens my eye with JF&L's ad for Kings. JF&L operated out of Altoona, Florida. That same page also gifts the eye with PBM advertisements for Quest of the Great Jewelsby Zorph Enterprises and First Light by C-Mind Enterprises.

It's none other than Marty Kloeden who has an article titled Kings on Page 21. This article stretches across a page and a half, where it ends atop an ad for ABM's gang-war titled, It's A Crime! Ever hear of that play by mail game, before?

Three different PBM ads populate Page 23 - one for Duelmasters, one for PBMFL, and one for subscribing to Flagship, itself. Page 24 is a full page ad for The Weapon by 4 Sight. Page 25 is a full page ad by Spellbinder Games, which mentions The Keys Of Bled, Warlords Of Kaos, Spiral Arm, and it also teases a forthcoming PBM game called The Apoch.

I'm tired, just writing all of that, and I'm not even halfway through this issue, yet.

Player commentaries for a Flagship demonstration game of Power occupies the top half of Page 26, with the lower half of that same page an article by Raymond Maddox (Power GM) titled Powermonger. And over on the facing page, which is page 27, it's Nicky Palmer, again, this time with an article/information dump titled The Battle For Influence. On Page 27, also, we find a list of winners in the PBM categories at Origins.

A full page PBM ad for Power: The Game You've Been Waiting For! eats up all of Page 28, and facing it on Page 29 is a full page ad for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the play by mail game. It's Wilfrid Nixon who reviews Star Empires: High-tech galactic expansion on Page 30 of Issue 8, an article which extends to encompass all of Page 31, as well. A small portion of a turn sheet for Power is on display in the upper right corner of Page 31.

Page 32 has a smattering of PBM ads taking up the whole space of that page - Flying Buffalo and Starweb, with mention of PBMA occupying the center square of this overall ad space. Kip Allen shows up on page 33 to talk about The AFT. A small Earthwood advertisement is a little hard to read, down at the bottom of this page. PBM advertisements that require effort to read, to make out what they say. Yeah, not the best idea to ever hit the PBM scene!

Kip had a lot to say, with his article spanning the space of one full page. A rather sizeable ad from Adventures By Mail for Beyond The Stellar Empire, Crasimoff's World, and Capitol poked me in the eye on Page 35. Pages 34 and 35 are largely occupied by the section of Flagship magazine titled The Mighty Pen. Tom A. Thurber, Frank H. Wakefield, Dietrich Lange, Bill Moore, some unlisted person, Darren Heyward, Russ Williams, Jon Ogden, Chris Carrier, and what appears to be an alias of Bob McClain (perhaps) called The restless Ghost of GAMING UNIVERSAL. Maybe the editor of Flagship was just guessing, where that last one was concerned.

Onward to Page 36, and we fin Murphy's Moderators, a poem titled Electric Destiny by Li Tzu, and Tricks of the Trade. Page 37 is a full page ad split into two vertical halves, one for Star King and the other for Dukes Of hell, both of which were run by Software Doctors from Brooklyn, New York.

More than a half of a page of PBM coupons, a couple of which have previously been cut out (Dammit, Tony!), leaving gaping holes in the page and its predecessor page, also. Classified Advertisements take up the remainder of Page 38. The Spokesmen Speak column take sthe court on Page 39, with my old PBM favorite of Galaxy: Alpha starting things off. A portion of a turn occupies the entire bottom half of Page 39.

The Spokesmen Speak
column continues across pages 40, 41, 43, and 44. Page 40 also had a half page sized ad for Epic from Midnight Games, who operated out of Sacramento, California at the time. Page 42 is nothing but PBM ads in the form of Vengeance games announcing two new PBM experiences, Orion's Finger and World of Vengeance, as well as an advertisement by The Australian Wizard for Spiral Army, Keys Of Bled, and Midgard. Page 43 also has a small portion of a turn (not sure for what game, though).

The bottom half of Page 44 is a respectable looking PBM advertisement for Realms of Sword and Thunder by Empire Games, Inc. Page 45 has World Campaigns advertising Aegyptus: The Game of Expanding Civilization in a full page ad, though with minor mention of the Play-by-Mail Association (PBMA) at the very bottom of this ad space that tries to kill two PBM birds with one advertising

Hold on to your eyeballs, though, because Steven Weiss isn't messing around, authoring an article for Aegyptus that extends past Page 46 and over onto Page 47. Page 47 also includes Who is responsible for this outrage? This features some information about both Nicky Palmer and David Pritchard.

In what may well have been the smallest Galactic View in history, Page 48 feeds the eyes a half page of additions and deletions. Page 48 does gift the reader a half page ad for Vorcon Wars and I think it is a pretty decent look ad. Snazzy! Superior Simulations operating out of Fairfield, Idaho, but this advertisement also mentions the same game run by other companies in the British isles, Europe, and Australia.

Getting near the end of this issue, now, and on Page 49, three small vertical PBM ads tout StarMaster by KSK Concepts, Feudal Lords by Graaf Simulations, and Hypercruiser by Adventures Design Group, Inc. The bottom half of Page 49 plays host to a PBM ad for Darkworld by Mike Williams of LaFollette, Tennessee. Darkworld billed itself as the fourth planet of elven in a solar system very much like Earth's. This last ad was an all-text ad, no images are used in it, at all.

Page 50 features the Tailpiece article by John Muir (where's Shannon?), and this page also provides space for Flagship's Feedback section, which listed the average rating for issue #6 of Flagship as an 8.5, which it then goes on to state that this was "another new record."

The inside back cover page, which is page 51 for this particular issue of Flagship (US Edition), also doubles as a full page all-text PBM ad for Timepatterns (or should that be TimePatterns or Time Patterns? - someone write in and let me know) and its PBM games called Globemaster and Star Globe.

And the back cover of Issue #8 proved to be a full page PBM advertisement for Midgard, as run by Time Space Simulations, which operated out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

And that concludes this browsing edition of US Flagship's issue #8. I hope that you enjoyed it!

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Hyborian War Question Series - Episode 4

ROKer General_Tzu

SCENARIO: If you were tasked by Reality Simulations, Inc. (aka RSI) with creating a new variant of Hyborian War from scratch, and you were limited to just taking existing player kingdoms and incorporating their starting home provinces into another kingdom, and you had to whittle the list of available player kingdoms from its current limit of 36 playable kingdoms to just 12, and you had to limit yourself to reassigning 2 kingdoms that were being removed from play to each of the 12 player kingdoms that would remain for this new Hyborian War variant, provide a list of the 12 kingdoms that you would retain, and beside each of them provide the two kingdoms that each would absorb.

This scenario will present you with a number of options and considerations. If you will, please provide at least a brief explanation of why you would make each of the choices that you make, and what you would be seeking to achieve by your process of reassigning starting ownership of the kingdoms being dissolved to the kingdoms being retained.

[General_Tzu Begins]

Okay, Well it makes sense to clump the barbarians together as much as possible. In fact, that is my overall strategy, to integrate like kingdoms with the exception of the really powerful ones, that could make them more like the others with the assimiliation of weaker kingdoms. Balance.

Cimm/Asga/Vana-There's not a better way to put them as one. If you leave out Vanaheim, they are on an island by themselves or have to integrate with Pictland, but there isn't another kingdom that makes sense to integrate them with, unless you want to completely violate Hyborian lore. You could insert Hyperborea, but they are trying to keep the barbarians at bay.

Pict/Zing/Aqui-Another issue where in this scenario, you can't isolate kingdoms while integrating others in blocks. It also balances as Pictland is all medium. Zingara is a powerhouse, but not early. It'll have to still contend with it's natural enemy, Argos.

Argos/Shem/Ophir-They have the same regional enemies this way. Strong enough to contend with those around them.

Kothics stay together, it's just easier this way. Khauran is a mini-powerhouse, as is Raja. There are still other blocs that have issues other than easy expansion into Koth right off the bat.

Starts getting ugly here, but I put Neme/Bord/Cori together, because-

I also put Hype/Bryt/Zamo together. This essentially puts up a flank wall on the east side of Hyborian Kingdoms.

South is messy, so I went east. Turan/Hyrk/Kosala is perfect. Hyrk and Turan are brothers from another mother anyways and Kosala is the scab that is in everyone's way. It's a perfect fit. They won't impede on Turan or Hyrk and can have the same natural enemy in Vend or Iran as either of the other two.

This means Iran/Vend and Kusan have to go together or it's too spread out, or we can't divide the east up equally. If you switch Kusan around, it gets even uglier. You can't have Khitai and Kusan on the same team, not enough expansion room.

That leaves Khitai/Kamb/Uttara. Not the best fit as I think Uttara can lean towards expanding into Kambulja, but is also kinda natural enemy of Kusan in the region and should always be a foe of Vendhya. This does put natural enemies Khitai and Kambulja on the same team, but regionally, it's the only way I could get it to work. It is a huge power block though, but the best fit I could see. If you take out all other considerations, in a vaccuum, Khitai/Hyrk and Kosala might be the best balance, but I don't think that is the best case scenario, overall.

Alright, the fucking south. Huge issue because of Stygia. The first thing I think of is expansion lanes. So I would put Stygia on the same team as Juma. Though they are separated, and I had to do this in the east (but expansion lanes are huge), you could theoretically have colonized Juma with Stygian navies. Because of power balance, I'd put Punt on this team, who can also go north.

Every group here is problematic and I clump them based on ability to expand and balance. If you clumped Punt/Zemb/Keshan, the entire south would be gone, you can't create a counter-balance to that, even with Stygia. No one would want to play down there.

Zemb/Darf/Tomb-Keeps it fairly null in the area.

That leaves Kush/Kesh/Amaz-Kush has slow early expansion and has to deal with Stygia. Keshan is a bitch and Amaz is a pushover compared to Zembabwei.

So, it was hard to think of this through a paradigm exactly what you wanted. I had to break it down like this first. Now, to say what kingdom stays in each group and the others become it, on one hand, after breaking it down like this, it doesn't matter the name I guess, but assuming that all the others incorporated in it get the troops types, ext. of that kingdom, and court, instead of a melting pot. If we assimiliated all the troops and court, I think that fits where I operated from. If not, I might restructure if it's purely just territory.

1 has to be Cimmeria if it's going to compete. I'd say Asgard if Aquilonia was "lesser". I could neutralize Aqui into Zingara and make team 1 Asgard.

2 Aquilonia-Even as mighty as it is, I've defeated it solo with every kingdom around it through strategy because of the amount of space it needs to cover. I think it's still the case, depending on it it inherits all the armies of the other kingdoms or not. There's some huge variables here that need to be accounted for to really break this down. If it got all the armies of all the other kingdoms, this could get crazy. Maybe clarify.

3 Argos consumes the other two.

4 Depending on how this works, Khauran might be better to consume the Kothics than Koth. Way better court and troops.

5 Nemedia, but Corinthia would be cool to consume the other two as well. Just depends on what you actually inherit by consumption.

6 Again, hard to say. Zamora would be better military, Hype better court. I would assume Zamora consumes it all though.

7 Turan

8 Vendhya

9 Khitai -7,8,9 are the powerhouses of the groups. Same with 10 and 11.

10 Stygia

11 Zembabwei

12 Kush for troops, though Keshan being the one left standing makes the most sense.

If you clarify what happens when they are consumed I might have radically different answers.

Clarification Provided to General_Tzu

Their provinces get absorbed into the 12 kingdoms that remain. It's not about troops or characters. It's about kingdoms and provinces. You can't  transfer kingdoms' starting provinces or troops or troop types or characters or treasuries.

Here's a quick example to illustrate one possibility.

Retained Kingdom - Aquilonia Aquilonia will absorb Ophir's provinces and Khitai's provinces (if you choose for Ophir and Khitai to be removed from play, with Aquilonia being retained and strengthened by the addition of Ophir's and Khitai's home provinces.

[General_Tzu Continues]

I'll take another look just through a territory lens. There's a ton of possibilities, there.

So I think I expressed my logic, but from a strictly territorial perspective (and game balance), here's your 12 kingdoms:

1 Turan-consumes Hyrk and Kosala
2 Khitai-consumes Kusan and Kambulja
3 Vendhya-consumes Uttara Kuru and Iranistan
4-Asgard-consumes Cimm and Vanaheim
5-Aquilonia-consumes Zingara and Pictland
6-Nemedia-consumes Border Kingdom and Brythunia
7- Koth-consumes Ophir and Zamora
8-Shem-consumes Khoraja and Khauran
9-Stygia-consumes Zembabwei and Punt
10-Kush-consumes Juma and Darfar
11-Amazonia-consumes Keshan and Tombalku
12-Argos-consumes Ophir and Corintha

That's a fucking setup I'd like to play.

I fucked up somewhere, stand by.

1 Asgard
2 Aquilonia
3 Argos
4 Shem
5 Stygia
6 Kush
7 Amazonia
8 Vendhya
9 Turan
10 Khitai
11 Nemedia
12 Hyperborea

That shit would be crazy, depending on game format.

Well, hmm.

1 Asgard
2 Zingara
3 Argos
4 Shem
5 Stygia
6 Kush
7 Amazonia
8 Iranistan
9 Turan
10 Khitai
11 Brythunia
12 Hyperborea

That works, also, for maybe better game balance.

[General_Tzu Finalizes]

This is the "final" of the answers though, most game balance:

1. Asgard-consumes Cimmeria and Vanaheim

2. Zingara-consumes Aquilonia and Pictland

3. Argos-consumes Ophir and Corinthia

4. Shem-consumes Koth and Khoraja

5. Stygia-consumes Zembabwei and Punt

6. Kush-consumes Darfar and Juma's Kingdom

7. Amazonia-consumes Keshan and Tombalku

8. Iranistan-consumes Vendhya and Uttara Kuru

9. Turan-consumes Hyrkania and Kosala

10. Khitai-consumes Kambulja and Kusan

11. Brythunia-consumes Nemedia and Border Kingdom

12. Hyperborea-consumes Zamora and Khauran

Logic for each team:

The overall strategy was to try to put them in lumps where you could, while providing balance. Three key positions highlight that the most, Asgard, Zingara and Brythunia. These are not the strongest kingdoms in each bloc, but by Zingara instead of Aquilonia, Brythunia instead of Nemedia and Asgard instead of Cimmeria consuming the territories, you have much better balance. It's a toss up who can come out on top, the barbarian cluster is militarily weaker than the other two, but has the advantage, which is a huge one, of all the advantages that come with the Ice Age.

Through the paradigm of trying to make all things equal, these are the 12 clusters. When looking at the south and east, it wasn't possible to put all the cluster together, so I went for balance also. If you look at the teams, Stygia, Kush and Amazonia, I can explain the logic of each. In that southern NPK "bowl" is the expansion area for most southern kingdoms for the duration of the game.

Stygia is poised to be a buffer from Iranistan intruding on that. It also has the eastern most southern kingdoms, who can block Iranistan to the north and compete with the NPK space against Turan's growth. It leaves room in the south for the other two blocs.

Kush joined with Darfar and Juma. It was important for none of the blocs to have a major advantage in that NPK bowl, so Amazonia was the other nation that consumed Keshan and Tombalku, giving it focus in the NPK region. It is the perfect counter-balance to Kush, for NPK growth and home provinces as they border each other on multiple fronts. I don't see a specific strategic advantage of Kush over Amazonia, or vice-versa.

In the east, Turan's troops have the greatest advantage, but I couldn't take away the heavies in lieu of Hyrkania consuming Turan. Turan still has major foes on the west side of the map. Khitai and Iranistan (instead of Vendhya) also have heavies. It's the most balanced the east can be.

Shem consuming Koth, Argos consuming Ophir and Corinthia and Hyperborea consuming Zamora and Khauran all provide good balance and heavies in the area. Hyperborea acts as a buffer on the eastern edge of the power kingdoms. They can block them in, while also being a buffer of western expansion for Turan. They are literally a bloc to act as a buffer.

Argos had to consume the other kingdoms, and not mentioned before, Zingara and Stygia, keep the strategic value of naval war at play. Iranistan and Khitai are also more or less evenly matched on the seas.

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Where We're Heading
Charles Mosteller

While this issue of PBM Chaos doesn't have a wide degree of variety from across the PBM spectrum, it does actually have a good bit of variety across at least one segment of the overall PBM industry - name, Hyborian War.

This is the first issue of PBM Chaos to feature the Hyborian War Question Series. You can read it for yourself, if you scroll up, if you didn't read any of the four different episodes of it that reside within the pages of this issue.

It has long been my view that the players of the various individual PBM game playing communities are critical and integral to efforts to grow the overall PBM player base, and the player bases for individual PBM games, as well. I certainly can't effectively promote PBM games that I have never even played, before. All of that player expertise acquired and accumulated over years and decades is a PBM artillery all its own, as far as tempting and persuading others to join in and give PBM games a try.

If it weren't for a number of long time Hyborian War players who hang out over at the Road of Kings forum site, then none of these four episodes that appear in this issue would ever have materialized, at all. yeah, I asked the questions or posed the scenarios, but the real meat of the reading material is due to them, not me.

Beyond just Hyborian War, though, I think that this same concept can be applied to any and all PBM games. Internet search engines are always hungry for more and new and better content. The PBM industry, however, isn't exactly operating at the cutting edge of feeding the bottomless bellies of these digital search engine beasts. Yeah, sure, PBM gaming generates a shit ton of good content, and on a regular basis, even now here in what some might view to be PBM gaming's twilight era.

What the PBM industry kind of sucks big time at, though, is working ceaselessly to ensure that a great bulk of that content that the PBM industry is generating is then accessible by Internet search engines. Are those turn results that your churning out accessible during web searches? Is that forum that you're running accessible during web searches? Can Internet search engines see and find all of that content that your PBM Discord server is exploding with?

Probably not.

Why do I say that? Well, because I actively look for PBM material on a regular and recurring basis - and have, for years on end. I likely know that your PBM company and your PBM games already exist, and when I go exploring online to see what the Internet search engines see, as many times as not I come up bone dry. Tell me, how's that a plan for growth and success?

I think that we can do better. By that, I mean that I think that PBM can do better. Much, much better!

If you want your PBM website to enjoy high placement in search engine results, how important is content to enabling you to achieving that result? Reaching those that already know about you and your PBM games is all fine and dandy, but what about all of those gamers out there that don't know you, and who have never heard about your PBM games? Content is one of many recipes for success.

Now and again, during my casual browsing of the Internet, I encounter websites and videos that talk about something called biospheres. What is PBM's biosphere? Or do you ever think about it in those terms? I do. A healthy biosphere is better and more conducive for growth than an unhealthy or neglected one. The next time that you find yourself wondering why play by mail gaming, be it of the postal variety or of the digital lineal descendants variety, doesn't have more life (i.e.: more players) in it, try looking at it from new and fresher angles.

I've played Hyborian War longer than I've played any other PBM game. Some of you out there have lots of experience playing Alamaze, or Phoenix: Beyond the Stellar Empire, or Star Fleet battles Online, or TribeNet, or any of numerous other examples. I want PBM gaming to be more like Earth, just teeming with life, and less like Mars or the Moon, both for which seem to be pretty lacking in life.

Yeah, yeah, I know that it gets old listening to me pour this stuff out into words on digital paper, but likewise, it also gets old seeing a lot of the same old shit on the Internet, where PBM gaming is concerned. Energy! Vitality! Great sparks of life growing and flooding in!

That's what I want. It's what I hope for. It's what I strive for. It's what I sense and feel and believe lies within the realm of possibility and feasibility and viability. Is what we have now really and truly the best that PBM can do? Don't you ever hope for more? Don't you ever want and crave more?

Then let's make it happen. Surely to goodness, if we make a concerted earnest effort, there's still enough of us hanging around in PBM's shadows to make a few things happen. More than a few, I think.

Maybe it isn't PBM that's dead. Rather, maybe it just feels dead, because something deep within us that used to be teeming and bursting with life, we've somehow or other allowed to wither and die within us.

I'm Charles, and I publish PBM publications, from time to time. Nice to meet you. Now, who are you, again? And what are you cooking on your PBM front burner?

So, where are we heading? Well, I'm going to keep on looking to focus anew on things in and about PBM gaming that I think have merit, and I'm also going to try and see if I can do things that will help to nurture and to grow this PBM biosphere that I mentioned, before.

Until next issue, happy PBM reading and happy PBM gaming!

Charles Mosteller
Editor of PBM Chaos

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