Games to run yourself, a new hotline service and futuristic violence are just some of the latest PBM developments to catch IAN LACEY’s eye.

FOR THOSE wondering, the second company profile will appear next issue as it is not yet ready (the one I had ready was on a company which looks to have gone bust!). Instead, this issue I have a potpourri of news and reviews.


Jade Games are spreading themselves across the whole hobby at the moment, snapping up the rights to games both old and new. Now they have added the weight of their name to a PBM hotline. The line provides a 24 hour service, giving up-to-date information on all that’s happening in the Play By Mail world. The aim is to give more cohesion to the very fragmented world of PBM. In the past, information has taken a long time to reach players, the classic example being the shutdown of Mitre Games (magazine deadlines don’t help much!). Jade are processing the information sent in to go on the line, so if you’ve got some news, either ring Tony or write to Jade Games.


Flopping onto my mat the other day was ‘a new concept’ in PBM. What is this new and enlightening format to rock the foundations of PBM? Well the idea is to sell a game system to people (in the same way PBM companies sell start-ups) and then to let them get on and run it themselves. The game is called Overlord and is produced by Exodus Incorporated. It is a pretty normal semi-fantasy wargame, not brilliantly presented and rather overpriced. However, the game is quite fun to play, and if you have small peers group within PBM it would be fun to all try your hand at GMing. Of course, I don’t recommend you drop out of all your PBM games on the pretension that this is the way forward. There isn’t the same depth as a full time PBM, and I reckon GMing would take more time than the average gamer could handle. Still, if you like the idea, £6 will buy you the basic package (extra sets for each player can be obtained from Exodus for an extra charge).


Future Games have hit the PBM scene with Centaurea, a science fiction game of group role playing. The scenario has your group as a band of wandering adventurers on the post-apocalyptic planet of the title. There are three types of characters, any combination of which is acceptable in your group: Humans (slightly stronger than their terrestrial counterparts), Mutants (radiation-affected humans) and Metalons (War robots). This lot left earth just before it hit the self-destruct button, and ended up on Centaurea. After a couple of thousand years, Centaurea suffered a similar fate to Earth when a world war broke out. Now the radiation clouds are lifting and you are among the first to venture out of your underground homes. Searching the old cities for treasure, killing other people and generally having a good time seem to be the main objectives.

£4 buys you a start-up package, comprising a well-written rule book (with an awful cover), 4 character sheets (2 to return), a newsletter, some hex paper to map on and example turnsheets. Each turn you can write a number of group actions, individual actions and combat strategies. Turns cost £2 for a lengthy word-processed reply and a localised map, while combat results come at no extra cost. Get in touch with Future Games.


For those who would rather read about PBM than play, there is PBM Scroll, Issue 8. It’s not particularly well written or presented but still proves interesting. One brass beer token (that’s £1 to the more cultured) will secure you a copy, and £3.50 will get you a year’s supply. John Woods (cheques to) is the perpetrator.


Contrary to widespread rumours reported in last month’s CRASH the British PBM Association’s fourth annual convention has not been cancelled. After some initial problems finding a venue, the BPBMA has now announced its most impressive venue yet; The University of London’s Jeffrey Hall in Bedford Way, London WC1. The event will take place on Saturday June 3rd and tickets will cost £3 on the day, or £2 in advance. For more information write to the BPMA.

As you’d expect all the major PBM companies will be attending, many launching new games and offering discounts on old ones. Events planned include GM and star player panels, The Great PBM Quiz, computer game competitions, live role-playing demonstrations and, at the end of the day, the presentation of all the PBM awards. Sounds great doesn’t it? And with it being within walking distance of Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras mainline railway stations should be very heavily attended.

I’ll see you next month with a profile of one of the country’s foremost PBM companies. Until then keep playing it by mail...