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Hi! I have a couple of issues to discuss with you:
(1) ConJure? What a coincidence that our RPG conventions share the "same" name. Check out our web page at and find our history and the history of "ConJuRos"
(2) I received a translated copy of "Give your master a break" or something like that, and I'm willing to put it in our web, but OF COURSE, I'd like your permission and the original article to submit in the spanish version.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Juan A. Del Compare, Argentina

ConJuRos looks an impressive endeavour, good luck with it. We'll be looking out for that translation.


I just took the ENTIRE day off to browse through most of the back issues. And I can tell you I didn't regret it! This stuff is very good, very informative, and most of all, it shows that you guys care about the hobby!

I didn't filled your survey (since I just found out this little gem) so I'll tell you a bit about myself: I'm 28 years old, live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I've been playing for 18 years and been GMing for at least 13-14 years. I am also designing my own universal RPG. This is a non-profit system for my own use only which, for now, I have no intent of publishing (or even releasing on the web). I would be very interested in contributing to PTG PTB on a regular basis. I have done a couple of reviews for RPG.NET under the (stupid) moniker "Warrior" and one under the (go figure why I changed for this even stupider) moniker "Man-o-king". I am also in charge of the french RPG section at Uncle Bear's very good site, the Toybox.

Admittedly, english is not my "mother tongue", and after reading your submission guideline, I don't know if I am qualified for the job in terms of submitting a proof-read article, but I would do my best and since this is published every two months, I think it shouldn't be a problem.

One thing is sure: this is my favorite 'zine despite the fact I didn't even know your existence yesterday, so you must be doing something right, so I'd like to contribute! :) If you are interested, please contact me. I sure hope you will do so!

Take care, and keep up the good work!
Martin Levesque, Montreal, Canada

PS: You mentioned Deadlands as being the first Western RPG, but didn't TSR publish "BOOT HILL" a long time ago? I think it was a Western RPG, but I never saw it...

Thanks for the praise, Martin. We should point out that PTGPTB are not responsible for any lost revenue due to reading the magazine! Martin penned the links page for this issue, and readers should look out for some of Martin's work apearing in the zine in the near future. Regarding Boot Hill, naturally I am aware that it was the first Western RPG - what the History says is that Deadlands was the first Western RPG in twenty years, which is true, give or take a year or two.

I just read the first article in issue #9 - the one about how all we adult gamers ought to be a little more kind to the newbies, because, after all, becoming a "good" role-player is a matter of experience.

Being tolerant (and polite, for that matter) is nearly always a good idea. But beyond that point, I'm not sure I agree with the author. As I see it, there are two kinds of role-players - and this doesn't have a lot to do with age: Those who concentrate on systems, and those who concentrate on character interaction.

I simply can't see why it should be wrong to reject someone (in a polite manner) who clearly isn't interested in the same kind of game as oneself? I know it might sound pretentious from a certain point of view (namely the view that role-playing is somewhat more arty, intellectual, or whatever, than roll-playing), but I have not, like the author, experienced an "evolution" from roll-player to role-player. Of course, in my case this might be on the account of having started playing quite late in life compared to most others (or maybe it's because I'm female? :)). But I know others - fifteen-year-old others - who are the same.
Sanne Harder, Denmark

Some good thoughts, Sanne, thanks. I agree that it makes sense to play with people who all have the same idea about roleplaying, and if your group is functioning well, a polite redirection of new players is a good idea. But I disagree that gamers can be so easily split into those two categories, and sometimes, bringing in someone with a different approach can help revitalise a stagnant group. New ideas are always a good thing.

I enjoyed Simon's article on psychological research and RPGs a great deal. Its good to see that not all cognitive psychologists are right-wing hacks with solutions to all the world's problem. It would have been good to see his sources, however. Did the author submit a bibliography or annotation which was edited out later on?

Glory to the gateway,
Andrew, Montreal, Canada

Simon provided us with no extra information on his sources. He can only reiterate his remark that any basic textbook will cover the ground well. Try your local university library.

I'd like to congratulate Steve Darlington on his history of roleplaying. It was well-written, thorough, and also said nice things about my favourite game, Paranoia.

Rest assured that in the middle of the Second RPG Golden Age, when I produce the world's first TV show about roleplaying (hey, it could happen) I'll ask him to help televise the history.
Arthur Boff, UK

Glad you liked it, Arthur. The TV deal sounds great. I'll have my people contact your people...

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am currently writing a thesis entitled Sartorial Habits of the Fictional Barbarian as Portrayed by the Media, and I am quite annoyed at being misdirected to your site by what is apparently no more than a lark on your part! I have spent many productive hours at such wonderful pages as Horny Viking Hats and Halsen, Xena: Barbarian Queen of the Runway, not to mention Mountain Goat Fur is Murder, and your attempt at humor has detracted valuable minutes from time I could have better spent at any of those informative sites.

For shame!
P. O. Royally

This one had us worried for a while, but we finally figured out he was taking the piss...we hope. The real author was none other than our new writer, Mr Roger Taylor, who also sent us the following letter. Nice one, Roger.

Do you think you will someday make the leap to print, or are your plans to remain virtual? You definitely have more to offer than Dragon, and that magazine is always cluttering shelves.
Roger Taylor, US

Thanks for the favourable comparison, but the answer is no. Even if we had the huge amounts of money, resources and manpower needed to pull something like that off, with the same production values as we have now, we still wouldn't. On the net, we can produce the magazine very cheaply and with a minimum of production hassles, and our distribution reaches thousands of people all over the world, and these readers can contact us with great ease, all of which would be all-but impossible in print. So we'll be staying virtual for the forseeable future.

I am so thrilled to find you! My 13 year old son has been playing and designing games of various sorts for years, and has been telling me he wants to be a game designer when he grows up. Since we homeschool (unschool, really) I try to follow up as much as possible on his interests in an effort to help him learn as much as he can. (Although, to be honest, I'd do the same even if he was in public school! *grin*) Anyway, I have been somewhat at a loss when it comes to offering concrete support and info/material along these lines... I mean, if he said he wanted to be a mechanic, or a doctor, or whatever, I'd have a wealth of resources and "career plans" and so on to present to him, and would be able to feel I'd been a helpful and supportive mom. *grin* But since I'm not very "into" gaming myslef, and can't find much as yet that seems to offer solid advice/info for a kid looking to make this a career, I am floundering a bit. Your wonderful site has more solid material for me to show him than anything I've yet found! And I suppose the point of this rather long and rambling email was simply to say "Thank you!"
Lene' Colbert

This was a very nice letter to receive, although we should point out there are a lot better sites out there for those looking for a career in game design, such as RPGNet. And probably the best advice is get used to being broke :-). But it's heartwarming to see a parent taking such a positive interest in their child's gaming.


As much as I enjoy your magazine generally, I have encountered a "capsule review" therein (viz a viz the below) to which my reaction verged upon violence. The product reviewed was Task Force Games' "Prime Directive," the role-playing adjunct to "Star Fleet Battles."

You wrote:

To Blatantly Go Where Others Have Gone Before
The prize for the crappiest game of the moment goes to the new one from Task Force Games. It is very, very obviously a cheap Trek rip-off, but, lacking the Trek licence, they can only use the words and phrases that Trek have not trademarked. Hence it is called "Prime Directive", and is apparently set in "The Star Fleet Universe". Players looking for a decent Star Trek RPG should hunt around in the second-hand bins for FASA's official one, which they published in 1983.

My initial verdict was that the reviewer was a complete idiot without the slightest clue about what he is discussing. In retrospect, I can only accuse the reviewer of undue carelessness and haste. However, his haste has done this game and the readers of your magazine a great disservice. As he did not trouble to explore the subject of his own review, allow me to try to undo some of the damage he has done:

For ten long years the realm of "Star Trek" had been entirely in the hands of an enthusiastic fandom when, in 1979, Steve Cole and Task Force Games produced "Star Fleet Battles," the tactical board-game of starship combat. Its genesis was singular: four years before, a company called Franz Joseph Designs had responded to the increasing tumult of Star Trek fandom by releasing first, meticulously-detailed Starship blueprints, then an entire, equally elaborate Star Fleet Technical Manual.

It was under license from them, and upon these designs, that "Star Fleet Battles" was created. It became an overnight sensation, and the "Star Fleet Universe" was born.

Only after this, a few years later, did Paramount Studios regain any interest in its television-born stepchild, and began producing first movies, then an entirely new television series. But the "Star Fleet Universe," protected by that peculiar "grandfather clause," continued its own course and kept its own counsel, and in 1993 Timothy Olsen and Mark Costello finally designed a role-playing game set within that universe: "Prime Directive." By virtue of the "grandfather clause", they are in fact PERFECTLY FREE to use whatever Paramount-licensed words and phrases they like; they got there first.

It is a clean-cut, workable game system that nicely balances between simulation realism and role-playing freedom, neither bogging down in game mechanics nor leaving the referee groping for what ad hoc rules he needs must fill in.

Most analyses of the original series have decried the foolishness of sending top bridge officers on landing-party assignments, and in the Star Fleet Universe this has led to the creation of "Prime Teams" - trained explorer-scout-diplomats who serve as professional landing parties. As a player, you are in such a team, beaming down to unexplored new worlds as representatives of the United Federation of Planets. These are not combat missions; you are armed, but your wits are your main defense.

(Not merely on the planet, either. Your Team has a shipboard commanding officer, who assigns an overall success level to the mission upon which the characters' promotion in rank depends. His decision can be swayed, and Team members may elect to "wheedle," a specific skill that also carries the potential for a Botch result...)

You may also meet some old adversaries: The "Star Fleet Universe" owes nothing to the dark, corrupt "Federation" shown on today's television productions, with its closed borders and dreary sameness. Here, where they have always been, are still found blue Andorians, mysterious Tholians, reptilian Gorn, cheerfully larcenous Orion pirates with their green animal women -- here are the Romulans, personally honorable and politically ambitious; here are the Klingons, intensely trained warriors who hold entire sentient races as serfs under their yoke.

For years that original "Star Fleet Universe" forged along quietly - while the passing of Gene Roddenberry allowed dark and drastic changes to overtake the televised productions. His vision of a mature humanity exploring an unlimited universe of sparkling wonder was abandoned in contempt by the new masters of his legacy, gleeful at their long-awaited opportunity to stamp bootheels into the face of that patient Star Trek fandom which kept the faith they mocked. They knew they would not be cancelled, no matter what they did...writers left, all creativity stopped and ratings plummeted, unheeded by those who had found such a "bully pulpit" for their fringe political agenda.

And then in 1998 Stephen Cole resurfaced, seized control of his boardgame creation from the comatose Task Force Games, and began vigorously marketing "Star Fleet Battles" on the Internet, where fan dissatisfaction finds its loudest voice. He has a new, computer-based version of his famous product, a new web site ( and there also is "Prime Directive," ready for a growing market who wish they could once again take phaser and tricorder in hand and go explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations...

For those growing numbers who want their dreams back.

In trying to get this fledgling game up again, we need all the help we can get. And this kind of carelessly negative "sloppy journalism" is the LAST thing that will help.
Gordon Neff, Greenville, South Carolina

OK, we admit it. In the pursuit of a quick joke, we took the piss out of a game without actually knowing anything about it and made some unfair remarks. We're sorry about any confusion this may have caused. It wasn't supposed to be presented as a review though, just a casual jibe at the industry. We'd like to thank you, Gordon, for setting us straight on this one, and we hope your short review paints a better picture for our readers.


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