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Various Counters, unpunched Note: these counters are all the same size in real life; the images just ended up being at different resolutions. Starweb by Flying Buffalo Inc.


This is a popular play-by-mail game which features the Berserkers as one of the characters which players can choose. Game description from FBI website and Starweb rulebook: Starweb is a game of 15 stellar empires clashing over worlds. Everyone starts out equally, each with one homeworld. The object of the game is to be the first to get approximately 10, victory points.

When you sign up for a game, you get to pick one of 6 different "character types", each of which gets victory points for different things. More info on Starweb, including the rules and how to sign up to play, can be found here. Fred Saberhagen wrote a novel, Octagon, about players in a Starweb game getting more than they bargained for. Some start turning up dead, and one mysterious player may be behind it all.

This one sounds like great fun, but I've yet to get my hands on it so can give no review. More info can be found on Fred's site here. Gallery click thumbnail for larger image Note: all of this artwork is copyright Flying Buffalo Inc. Rulebook Cover Art by Michael Carroll. Berserker Illustration Art by Elizabeth Danforth.

The games are now collectors items. Or so we can hope. Based on a short story by Fred Saberhagen. Featuring strategy, tactics, adventure and arcade action.

Play-by-mail games

Fred Saberhagen and Lloyd Johnson. The struggle for control of a ten-star cluster between the remorseless Berserkers and two human forces. An illustrated Berserker story. A non-interactive art gallery disc that combines a story with 32 breath-taking illustrations. Flip through pages, set a bookmark, or view your favorite scenes on demand. Certainly, one of the first attempts at electronic fiction. Designed by Jon Walter Williams. A Regency Romance of the Jane Austen era.

Attend balls, hunts, and house parties. Spread gossip! Win the affections of a wealthy bachelor!! One to six players. Designed by Lloyd Johnson. Included a specially written story by Fred Saberhagen. Strategy, battles, and magic. Designed and implemented by Dale Koehler. A 3-D racquetball action game. Only production and distribution provided by Berserker Works. Programmed by Stephen Walton.

Buffalo Castle (Tunnels & Trolls Solo #1) by Rick Loomis

Fifth Historian's Account Back in the days when a computer game could be made without a team of hundreds and for prices not exceeding a million dollars, Fred and Joan Saberhagen had their own computer game company: Berserker Works Ltd. The New Media Reader Although most computer games today have not continued in the veins of some of the BWL games, an interest in interactive fiction has persisted. The following is a description from the official New Media Reader website : The new media field has been developing for more than 50 years.

FBI This is a popular play-by-mail game which features the Berserkers as one of the characters which players can choose. The Empire Builder - You are driven to conquer.

About roleplaying games, and playing them

Victory can be yours only by crushing those who oppose your iron-fisted rule. Strike fast, strike hard, for a swift victory is a sure one. The Pirate - Plunder is your game.

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Your maruading fleets of brigands and blackguards sweep through the far reaches of space, capturing ships, sacking worlds, and cutting a wide swath of terror through the ship lanes. The Merchant - You come from a long line of galactic traders, ferrying goods and products between the stars. Greed overcomes your fear of the unknown The Artifact Collector - You are drawn by the unique, rare and exotic; the most extraordinary objects in the universe are the strange and indestructible artifacts left behind by a lost race.

You want them all for your very own The Berserker - You are a malevolent robotic intelligence whose prime directive is the utter destruction of life. Robot warriors, launched from orbiting fleets, lay waste to all who stand before them, while entire worlds are doomed in the blast from a single planet buster bomb! For games with infinite play, the turn cycles continue until either you or the moderator get tired of playing; the game, in theory, never ends, and so you must establish your own goals within the game.

Your personal victory cycle is the number of turns it takes you to achieve your goals. Usually, each turn cycle takes two to three weeks, much of that time eaten by mail service between you and the moderator, so you'll have plenty of time for plotting, planning and communicating. So much time that in the span of a single turn cycle you could have played a state-of-the-art computer game, delved through the grimmest dungeon or taken a second honeymoon.

But play-by-mailers like the slow pace. It lets you make an adventure part of your life rather than the transient entertainment of a slow weekend. And that "slow pace" is why you will or won't play by mail. Forget the jargon and the cycles; you'll learn them if you think the effort is worth it.

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For now, all you need to know is that play-by-mail offers a unique type of gaming experience, one not found anywhere else, and perhaps one not destined to last for much longer. Naturally, conflict has arisen over who first started play-by-mail. A Roman consul-in-the-sticks who sent chess moves by barbarian messenger to his opponent in Rome? Or the warlord who couldn't get up a good game of Go in Manchuria? Or those Diplomacy folks? We might as well ask where all the dinosaurs went.

Flying Buffalo's Legacy - Part 2: Tunnels & Trolls

A better question here might be, who started the professional industry of play-by-mail? For that question there is a definite answer. In , Rick Loomis shut the door on his coin shop and inaugurated a more lucrative venture - Flying Buffalo, Inc. For about 25 cents per turn, avid fans could fire missiles at one another in Nuclear Destruction , the first professional play-by-mail game, a design perhaps inspired by the ideology of Loomis' political hero, Barry Goldwater.

Full text of "Space Gamer"

Later, in , George Schubel surfaced in Sacramento with Tribes of Crane , based loosely on John Norman's Gor series, and offering an element absent from the Buffalo games: "special actions. With special actions came "special fees," charged for anything you did beyond basic play. Serious Crane players paid hundreds of dollars each turn for multiple positions in the same game. Later still, in , Jim Dutton gave us Silverdawn , a fantasy game played entirely by special action.

You wrote several pages of instructions for your character, the moderator responded with several pages of results. Inevitably, as the player base grew, the moderator couldn't write fresh material for every turn, so much of the response became all-purpose boiler-plate, bearing some slight relationship to your original instructions. The history continues, with variations on the three game types above, and with the inevitable debut of play-by-mail magazines, newsletters, licensing deals for properties like Illuminati and Conan, trade associations and conventions. Play-by-mail flowered, however briefly, in the s, though the effort to bloom exhausted the energies of George Schubel and Jim Dutton, who faded from the scene, taking with them the notion of an "Old World Order" based upon several large, stable moderators leading a pack of smaller, slightly less stable moderators.

In the midst of the tumult, immune to it all, Rick Loomis maintained and expanded his business, and a few of the smaller moderators, most notably Adventures by Mail, Game Systems and Graaf Simulations, enjoyed spectacular growth, making them the heavy hitters of the "New World Order. And that's just in the U. Overseas, most particularly in Great Britain and Australia, play-by-mail gaming has enjoyed an unprecedented growth spurt, and with it an unprecedented failure rate among new moderators. Qualitatively, play-by-mail has entered not a Golden Age but an Age of Cellophane, so flimsy you can poke through it with your finger.

It would be a waste of your time, were it not for two things: first, you can have fun playing games by mail if you pick the right ones, and second, in a few years, a decade at most, you can expect a far more robust environment to rise from the dry bones of play-by-mail gaming. Until then, it is an insider's racket. I offer these recommendations as a guide to help you find honest, efficient moderators who won't sour your first experience with play-by-mail games.

I've limited my recommendations to one game per major genre, e. Science Fiction. Almost every PBM player has experienced this simple game of galactic conquest, fought among six exotic character types: Empire Builders, Merchants, Pirates, Berserkers, Artifact Collectors and Apostles.

The rules are so simple, so intuitive, that I still remember how to load and unload raw materials from my starships almost a decade after I last played the game. Unfortunately, Starweb is an old game, first released in Many of its features will seem primitive to players used to slicker interfaces, but it has such depth that you probably won't mind. Rick Loomis is a top-notch game designer whose acumen goes unrecognized outside his own field. Box , Scottsdale, AZ If rumor holds true, this game began on a spreadsheet, but its design was so good that the moderator wisely turned it into a program and changed the way most people play computer-moderated fantasy games.

You direct the fortunes of your kingdom each unique, with realistic limitations depending upon its type, e. Turns are expensive, far higher than for most play-by-mail games, but with Alamaze you're actually getting a bargain. Box , Waynesville, NC Feudal Lords.