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Readers' Letters

Before we get down to the mail, one quick announcement. If Jordan Block is reading this, could you mail us? There was a problem with the email address you gave us in your subscription form. Thanks. And apologies to any subscribers who missed out on their notification about Issue 3. Now that we've got the bugs out of the system, this shouldn't happen again. Anyway, we never get bored with hearing what you think about the mag, so keep the letters coming. Why not send us something now?

Dear PTG, PTB Guys,
Congratulations on the second issue. I'd bookmarked the first issue rather than your index page, every time I went back there was no change. I was afraid you'd shut down, glad that's not the case.

I'm impressed by the fact that you're approaching RPGs in a thoughtful mannner without getting too academic. Most folks I see putting some thought into gaming go far overboard, trying to turn an otherwise entertaining hobby into the stuff of textbooks and term papers. You're helping to validate my belief that a meaningful discussion of RPGs doesn't need to result in the participants gnawing at their own wrists to end the boredom! I'm also relieved that you haven't fallen into the "All mature/3rd generation/enlightened/good gamers think and play just like me" routine. It's nice to visit a site that doesn't try to tell me I'm gaming wrong! Keep up the good work,

Nicely put, Kizig; too many "serious" articles suffer from one of the above afflictions. We're trying to stay on the narrow path between dullness and pomposity, and we're glad to hear you think we're succeeding. As for the problem of not knowing when we update the page, we're thinking about adding something to the main page to let non-subscribers know when the new issue has arrived. We'll let you know.

Dear PTG, PTB,
In your June issue you raised a query as to why the Brisbane Maelstrom Convention was scheduled on the May long weekend.

The Maelstrom Committee was formed in September 98 from representatives of Queensland Miniature Wargamers and The Tanelorn Games Club Inc. In targeting a weekend for the convention, the miniature gaming element represented on the committee required a long weekend to conduct their games due to the time requirements of their tournaments.

The committee only had 3 viable weekends to choose from: Australia Day, Easter, May Day and the Queen's Birthday. Australia Day was eliminated for two reasons: (1) Cancon was an important convention to miniature gamers who represented a large proportion of our audience. (2) The committee became aware of a new convention (Tir Nan Con) that was looking at running in Brisbane on that weekend.

Easter was eliminated due to the structure of Maelstrom. The committee was trialling a new concept of an 'Open' gaming convention that targeted diverse games that are not represented at existing conventions (Chess, Scrabble, Go and the like)in addition to standard Con games. Because of this, it was perceived that a lot of our audience would be from a more conservative background and would be likely to be scheduling holidays, visiting friends etc over Easter.

May was eliminated because Briscon was running on that weekend, and the Queen's Birthday long weekend was accepted.

In finalising our negotiations with our venue at Moreton TAFE, we came across information that we had not considered in formulating our decision: June was a peak exam period, and we would be unable to change the configuration of classrooms and would be limited to areas where weekend exams were not taking place. The committee then reconsidered its options and voted for May.

Maelstrom was devised as a 'change of direction' in the traditional way of running a Con and the formula proved very successful. The committee did not consider that Maelstrom would impact seriously on Briscon and this has obviously been the case. Some tournaments at Briscon and Maelstrom would be of the same genre, but largely the Maelstrom audience were people who were not being serviced by Briscon and so would never be missed.

We were prepared to bear the flak for our decision and patiently outlined the above facts to the misinformed persons who phoned/e-mailed Maelstrom with various negative comments. I hope this mailing clarifies the matter for yourselves and your readers.

Keith Done
Maelstrom 99 Coordinator

Thanks for that Keith, it does help clarify things. Hopefully, next year people will realise that the two conventions can co-exist, and stop hounding you. Our compliments on doing the very tough job of running a convention with great professionalism and dedication.

Dear PTG, PTB,
Hello. I was looking through your web site and checked what you wrote about mine. I am very pleased by what you wrote and I thank you very much. If you don't mind I'll add your link in my Web Magazines section. Thanks again,
Blue Troll.

We're glad you liked it, and we're honoured to have a link on your high quality site. Keep up the good work.

Dear PTG, PTB,
Hi Guys, it's Kevin here, and I just read through this month's forum... cool! A Brisbane-based (no southerners taking our toys away) forum for roleplayers to speak their minds!

Anyways, enough of my usual butt-kissing, I was wondering if it is possible to make "replies" to letters in the forum? Thanks.
Kevin Powe

The Forum is purely the reader's section, so you can pretty much submit anything you want to it. We encourage replies to specific letters because this can stimulate wonderful discussions and debates about the nature of the hobby. Just try not to get too personal with your remarks, OK?

Dear PTG, PTB,
Re the History of Role-Playing: it was certainly interesting! I have a quibble, though. Legend may have it that Ken St. Andre designed Tunnels & Trolls independently, but his own description of the process is very different. He told it several times in articles around the time, and two later articles are available at his web page, here and here.

Basically, Ken St. Andre read the original D&D rules, liked the idea but hated the execution, and sat down to write a better game. Unlike many other second generation designers, he didn't own or use the D&D rules, so while T&T built on the ideas of D&D, it wasn't much influenced by its rules. For some time, he and his group of role-players actually used the name "Dungeons and Dragons" to describe his game, but when the decision was made to publish it another name had to be invented.

Also, maybe "faded into obscurity" would be a better description than "faded into oblivion". There are still quite a lot of people playing T&T, there is an active web ring, there is a mailing list, and a new edition is being discussed. For more information, visit this page.

Yours sincerely
Peter Lewerin

The author says:
OK, fair point, you got me. At the time I wrote that piece, I was struggling to find a good source on T&T, and strugling to get the article in for the second issue. And so this omission occurred, for which I apologise. I thank you for your interest and contribution; I have read these essays and found them very useful, and welcome alternative sources (see this issue's History for an example). I will be incorporating this new information into the History very soon.

Since then, my breadth and depth of research and sources has increased somewhat, so hopefully this won't happen again. Still, no history can ever be complete, so if any readers feel that I haven't dealt with some element to your satisfaction, or if you have an alternative source, please let me know. And I encourage History fans to read the articles linked above, they are quite fascinating and a damn good read as well. Once again, thanks for that, Peter. I hope you enjoy the rest of the History.

Dear PTG, PTB,
I just wanted you to know I've received the MiB game, read it, and it seems great fun. I'm gonna try it out this weekend. Thank you very much, as I've said before I've never won anything in my life and it meant a lot. I love your fanzine, and it was felt good to see my letter in the readers forum. So long and thanx for all the fish.

Nick Smith

We're glad we could bring a little bit of sunshine into your life, Nick.

Dear PTG, PTB,
...noun adjective verb or was that adjective noun adverb verb adverb noun? I'll get it right one day....

Keep up the good work! Seriously.

Been reading all your stuff on computer games and muds. I have just stumbled upon the world of interactive fiction. Still do not know where it fits in, but it is relevant to the world of muds and the like. Try this as a starting point. I'd be interested to see what you think.
Brian Yap

The problem with the term "interactive fiction" is that is applied to a variety of different things, such as text-based adventure games, MUDs, Play By Email games, and even just normal table top RPGs. The site you list above tends to take the text-based adventure road, while Brett's article in this issue looks at a Play By Email game. One of the most intriguing interpretations of the term I've come across is taking the Play By Email idea to the logical extent of co-operative story telling. See this site for a good example. And look out for more on this issue in the future; new avenues and ideas in gaming is something we're very intersted in at PTG, PTB.

Do you have an opinion on one of the articles in this issue? Do you feel the need to voice important questions about the gaming industry? Do you just want to tell me I have something between my teeth? Tell us what's on your mind.

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