The Rambling Ratpeople of Play By Mail

Forgive me, but I am given to colorful titles for articles! I wanted to write an article where I could just ramble, and Ratpeople started with the letter "R." Pardon the indulgence, if you will.

Although a lot of people have not yet responded to the Mini-View question that I sent out (and sent out a second time, as well), and even though I still hope for at least several more to respond between now and publication time for Suspense & Decision magazine Issue # 7, I am going to go ahead and declare the attempt at creating an Interview In Miniature and turning the concept into reality to be a success. Because numerous individuals did bother to take the time and to make the effort to respond, a multi-page article that comprises the collective sum total of their individual responses is headed your way in Issue # 7. My personal thanks to those that participated ( and to those who will participate in similar Mini-Views going forward)!

To counter this stroke of good fortune, however, the universe demands balance, apparently, and thus, I bring word of game companies and game moderators apparently forgetting to submit news, announcements, morsels of bragging, etc. for the PBM Activity Corner. Thus far, I have but one meager entry for that section for Issue # 7. Let the floggings commence!

Rick McDowell, running high on the success of his relaunch of the Almaze franchise, has beaten me to the punch, and gotten an article already submitted for inclusion into the next issue of Suspense & Decision. Damn his magic-powered hide! Here I sit, having yet to author anything at all for Issue # 7, and McDowell finagles another article from his keyboard. There's gnomes at work, here, I tell you! GNOMES!!

BUT...try as he may, Rick McDowell did not beat Jim Kemeny to the punch, as Jim, while still recovering from his recent bout with health issues, still managed to get an article in first. Of course, if Jim is able to overcome health issues, in order to write and submit articles, that raises serious questions about what all of the rest of you out there are doing? Damned lurking Ratpeople!

Of course, on the Mini-View responses, it was none other than Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo who got his submission in first. Even Lee Kline of Reality Simulations managed to get her response submitted for that section before Rick McDowell could rub the Alamaze sleep from his wizardy eyes. When you finally grab a copy of Issue # 7, once it comes oozing out of the Lava Pit of Production, you will know not just what these various PBM personalities think on the subject under consideration, but you will also know in what order that they each responded to the question posed. I copied and pasted their responses in the order submitted. So, for the very first Mini-View: Interview In Miniature, the Flying Buffalo is still flying high and fast. Those lagging behind should take care to steer well clear of any buffalo patties dropping from the skies above.

And, while we're not on the subject of advertising, let me remark on the subject of ads. I highly suspect that a change in ad policy shall be forthcoming in the not-too-distant future. Why? Because, game companies and game moderators continue to take for granted that their ads previously submitted will continue to be published. Perhaps an issue or three without ads being included will persuade the disengaged to engage more on this subject. I like including ads. I like providing an advertising mechanism that is affordable - even for game moderators and game companies that have no dedicated budget for advertising. I like helping YOU to advertise YOUR games. What I dislike is the level of disengagement that permeates the advertising aspect of our magazine. When a future issue of Suspense & Decision magazine publishes, and your ads are nowhere to be found inside of it, at least you will be able to look back here and figure out why.

Last night, when I was scouring the Internet Wishing Well for clues, as to whether anyone is reading Suspense & Decision or talking about it, I happened upon something completely unexpected - There he was, our esteemed front cover artist, posting a link on our behalf. It does a heart good to encounter such golden fruit! I want to take this opportunity to send a shout out to artist Anand Kaviraj for planting a link banner on an Internet outpost, thereby spreading the word that we are alive and well and we are here!

I also took the opportunity to gouge Kav with a sharp stick, to prod him to begin working on the front cover for Issue # 7. ::poke::   ::poke::   ::poke:: Keep on drawing, Kav!

Wait!! What's that I see? Is that Davin Church, one of the powers that be at Talisman Games, flailing about with a mace? Put the mace down, Davin! Hold on, though, because as it turns out, that's just another article headed your way in Issue # 7. WHEW!! What a relief that turned out to be!

But, what about you? Yeah, YOU! You know that I'm talking to YOU. Where's your article for Suspense & Decision? I've got Kevin O'Brien slaving away, writing Part 2 to his Hyborian War Kingdom Spotlight for Khoraja.

And did I mention the recent influx of Takamo players in the PlayByMail.Net forum? Yeah, it's getting pretty bad in there. It's even reached the point where we have bio-lifeforms claiming to be reformed smugglers. Reformed smugglers! Who ever heard of such a thing?! Even still, welcome aboard, What's the word that I am looking for, anyway? Oh, yeah - Takamo players! Welcome, one and all!

I just hope that you are doing better in Takamo than I am - unless, of course, you're a bio-lifeform, and if that is the case, then I hope that you're faring poorly, even worse off than I am. Nothing personal, of course. It's the Cybernetic in me coming out.

Did I mention that Mica Goldstone of KJC Games was recently spotted in my e-mail in-box? I'm not sure how he managed to squeeze in there, but honest to God, he's still around, apparently. And, here I was, thinking that he had gotten sucked into a black hole or something.

Plus, somebody by the name of Quentin Ball is looking to get some more people playing in the same game of It's A Crime as he is playing in. It's game # 87, for all of you would-be crime figures out there.

Oh, and lest I forget, I am signed up to play a game of Nuclear Destruction. IT's the ten cents per turn game, if you're interested. Rick McDowell of Alamaze fame has signed up for the same game, so if you are an Alamaze player, or really just anyone who feels like sending a nuke Rick's way, I encourage you to sign up. Try to avoid nuking me, if you could, though, or at the very least, just nuke me last. That's all I'm asking, comrades. If anyone in this game of Nuclear Destruction creates any propaganda along the way, which you would like to share with the world, then by all means, feel free to send it to me for publication in a future issue of Suspense & Decision magazine. Of course, if you nuke my position in the game too much, the magazine may not be around long enough to publish it.

It looks like Amber of the PhoenixBSE crowd splurged for a copy of Flying Buffalo's Nuclear War card game, after it was advertised in Issue # 6 of Suspense & Decision magazine. Could this be due to Mrrshan's mumbling that it looked like  perfect pub meet game? Or could it be that little old Amber has nuclear ambitions tucked away somewhere deep inside? I don't know about you, but I'm keeping an eyebrow raised, just to be on the safe side.

Ack! I've rambled on for too long. I've got to eat, after all.

If you happened upon this posting wile looking for a PBM game about Ratpeople to play, don't give up hope, just yet. Just smile and say cheese, and keep checking back!


  1. You are running S&D Mag all on your own, my concern is growing that it is too much for a one-man-band. Flagship had an editorial team of some dozen people working with Carol. It is true they had a publication that was marketed and so there was a webmaster and marketing manager, but the position I have in S&D had its equivalent of 5 "regular correspondents". Check out Flagship issue 104.It also had a whole group of contributors and another for articles and reviews. Flagship 113 for Apr/May 2005 was similar.

    I don't think S&D needs to be that admin-heavy even though your publishing every month and not 6 times a year as Flagship did. But you do need more staff writers, rather than just me alone. The more you can get the better as it means each staff writer will cover a different set of games and so make for variety.

  2. I pulled up a copy of Flagship Issue # 104, just now, and reviewed the index page of that issue. Then, I pulled up a copy of Issue # 3 of the same magazine (which is the issue that I have a copy of that is closest to our current issue), and compared Flagship Issue # 3 with Issue # 104. In the early stages of Flagship, anyway, Issue # 3 of Flagship magazine had five artists listed in its artwork credits, not counting the cover artist, which would have made six. But, it doesn't list regular writers for that issue, even though several different people authored articles for it.

    As we head into Issue # 7 of Suspense & Decision, we don't enjoy the luxury of having published over a hundred issues. How many readers an writers can be accumulated over an equivalent period of time? I have no idea, but I suspect that it's more than can be accumulated over a span of just seven issues.

    Of course, even though our credits only list one individual as a staff writer for Suspense & Decision magazine, even just headed into Issue # 7, we've already had more than one individual who has authored articles for us on more than one occasion. How many articles and how many issues are required, before they properly qualify as Regular Contributors? From my perspective, they already do.

    I have extended invitations to others to write for Suspense & Decision. Not everyone wants to commit to writing regularly, and others don't even bother to respond.

    Personally, I approach these issues with a perspective of patience. As each issue is published, perhaps more will take a deeper interest in perpetuating its growth, and become regular contributors in the process.

    If you know someone who would like to write for the magazine, Jim, then have them contact me. I will be more than happy to grow the staff list. Having authored more articles than anyone else for the magazine, to date, I feel that I am well positioned to appreciate the positive different that having more individuals contributing articles on the writing front could make for the magazine, going forward.

    But, until such a point in time as such individuals materialize with an interest in coming aboard, I still have a magazine to publish. It always remains a desire to continually improve upon not just each issue, but the foundation from whence future issues spring. Bear with me, Jim, and maybe we can grow the staff to a size that you feel will alleviate your concern. Fair enough?

  3. I've no problem at all, my main concern is that you put a lot of effort into producing the e-mag and walk the path between discouragement an becoming over-stressed by it all.

    I will ask around gamers I know, and see what I come up with.

  4. Nothing about the magazine causes me stress. That's a complete non-issue.

    The amount of effort that I put into it varies, from issue to issue. How much effort goes into it, even if it's a lot, doesn't really concern me. Rather, the concern, if you want to call it that, is whether the magazine, itself, makes a difference that is meaningful.

    The initial objective is for me to publish a run of twelve issues, enough for one issue per month for a period of twelve consecutive months. Issue # 6 had us arrive at the halfway point of that initial goal. With Issue # 7 begins the process of analyzing what I think the magazine's successes and failures are, and then ponder whether everything taken together as a whole, both good and bad, both successes and failures, whether what we have arrived at at the end of those twelve issues, is worth continuing with or not.

    The magazine is still fairly early in its formative stage. Already, there are both successes and failures. I began outlining some of them, already, over the last couple of days or so.

    Publishing a magazine in PDF format isn't a particular difficult thing to do. It's nothing like publishing a magazine in the old days. Publishing a magazine in today's gaming environment poses a different set of issues, though, compares to twenty or thirty years ago.

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