Something Else Entirely!

By: Vince L. Falcone

Issue #19

     The Arch Necromancer speaks on PBM Games

I have waged wars across all kinds of platforms; I have played solo missions against endless hordes of villains and monsters only to end up fighting their super-inflated ‘Level Boss’. I have played MMOs and fought everything from intergalactic wars to first-person shooters in a dozen cities across a dozen countries even on a dozen worlds. I have lead armies across maps and rolled the dice that would determine my fate and the fate of the world on more occasions than can be remembered.

And that is my point. I cannot remember in great detail a single one of those ‘glorious battles’. Oh sure, I may recall a particular shot I made, or a kill I landed, but it ends there. Forgotten, along with the rest of the things that just don’t warrant memory. My guess is because the image was overlayed onto my brain, and no real thought or energy was expended on my part. It was simply a manufactured memory; and like all things manufactured –they aren’t built to last. Because it’s a computer-driven game, with brilliant lights, and fancy sounds backed up with a slick soundtrack. None of it is mine. Not the look, not the feel, not even the playing of it. Its all generated to stimulate. No real effort required on my part.

But then, like the kings of old, or an anxious general waiting for news from his scouts, my PBM turn arrives in the mail! This is something else entirely! This is what I have been waiting for all these weeks – news from the front! Word of deeds back home at court or in faraway kingdoms.

I eagerly open my turn, and it reads as if my own vizier were before me, transporting me to where I need to be. And, just like the kings and queens of a forgotten time, I have numerous decisions to make – dozens of decrees that will either seal the pacts of alliance, or send thousands to their death in glorious battle. Mine is the power to command spies to inform me of my neighbor’s activities, send assassins to silence forever a troublesome diplomat, or order my generals and heroes to war for the greater good of the realm. Wizards are summoned to work their arcane magics and summon powers in the service of their king that go beyond the scope of mere mortals.

Armies are hurled at my enemy’s frontiers, and garrisons are reinforced to defend against hostile raiding parties. Treaties are made and broken, tributes demanded, and gifts of jewels, spices and gold are sent to entice prospective allies, or hire the talents of distant nations to do those deeds that cannot be associated with the crown.

And while all of this is enough to stir the imagination, and keeps the piston’s of my mind firing endlessly; turning various options in my head over and over and over again, this is still not the end… the greatest aspect of the game has yet to unfold itself…

Your turns are submitted and received via the mail, but so too is the greatest feature of the PBM system… the interaction with players from all over the world. Why should your kingdom wage war alone, when you can write to another and strike up an alliance, or forge a peace treaty? The power to communicate with players from all walks of life, from every corner of the map who are all here with a singular purpose – the same purpose as yours– the conquest of a realm!

It is interesting to note, that many of the players will interact ‘in character,’ adding to the flavor of the already sumptuous game. Knowing that there are other kings and queens contacting, and waiting to be contacted only adds to the fun. In time, real-life friendships will arise, and where once a floundering alliance may have existed, talks of a second game with even greater cooperation may begin, and so the wheel continues to spin… and it is a war without end… the kingdoms you play may change, as will the allies and enemies you may have, but the adventure will always be there, and the memories from each war will last a lifetime. The victories will burn brightly in your recollection, and your defeats will gnaw at you for a chance at revenge – but the two greatest things you will take away from your PBM games will always be: the friends in unexpected places you have made, and the memories of the adventures and wars you have journeyed through together.

The time is now, ‘O king. Will you heed the call, and partake in the greatest of adventures, or will you sit by and listen to the tales of the courage of others?

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