Code:
 From the Mouth of Sauron

Issue:         E-14
Date:   04-01-94

Note:  all authors retain exclusive rights to their material. 
Reprinting is allowed for non-commercial game use only.

The Mouth is edited by Brian Mason and Tom Walton.  All
correspondence can be sent to them at:

Brian Mason    - mason@chara.gsu.edu
Tom Walton     - kazandar@aol.com


        First Word
       From Tom Walton

April Fool's and I've nothing funny to say.  Fortunately, others do 
and have, and you'll find their submissions at the end of the Mouth.  
But on to business:

Mailing lists:  my AOL mailing lists were destroyed after I sent out 
Mouth #13.  I've reconstructed them, but I might have lost a few new 
subscribers during the process.  If you know someone who hasn't 
received Mouth #14 by Monday, tell them to send another note and 
I'll add them to my list.

Data files:  Brian is the prime source for data files right now.  My 
connection with AOL is spotty and has a tendency to lock up during 
large uploads.  I'm looking into alternatives as we speak.

An observation:  a long-time subscriber to the Mouth asked me 
a question concerning an encounter, one that had been answered in a 
previous issue.  However, he was still working off the database I 
sent him when Issue #1 went out.  He never updated his files with 
the information in the Mouth.

Please note that the data files are set up so that you can 
update the info with what you read in the Mouth.  This was done for 
your convenience.  If you haven't updated your files and have erased 
your old copies of the Mouth, I'd suggest getting new ones.  
Encounter information changes/grows regularly, and you don't want to 
be poring over an old database when your character's well-being is 
at stake.

Mailing Times:  The Mouth will now go out sometime over the weekend, 
rather than every Friday.  Due to a lack of time during the week, 
it's become necessary for me to have an extra day or two to do the 
editing.  This means that you could get the Mouth anytime between 
Saturday night and Monday night, starting with issue #15.

Survey:  Our readership is growing at a fast rate, with a new name 
or two coming in almost every day.  In order to better serve you, 
Brian has drawn up a survey which'll appear in Mouth #15.  We intend 
to tally the results and see what we can do to make the Mouth a more 
interesting newsletter.  I'm informing you in advance so that you'll 
have more than a week to ponder this weighty question.  Any 
suggestions are good suggestions, so long as no personal comments 
are made concerning our parentage, body odor, and so forth.

GSI New Player Packets:  I just saw the new player packet that GSI 
put together and will be sending out with all new registrations. 
While it doesn't contain the extensive database files that the 
editors of the Mouth and others have, it goes a very long way to 
correcting the play imbalance between those who've been in the game 
before and those who haven't.  Now a new player won't be completely 
lost when firs joining the game.  Features:

   - a nation summary list, giving special advantages, location, 
     general troop strength, and so forth.

   - a series of articles on Middle-Earth, including works by 
     Keith Petersen.  Good going, Keith!

   - a hint sheet detailing common pitfalls and how to avoid 
     them.

There's more, but I for one am happy that the new guys will have a 
better chance of surviving their first game.  It should also keep 
people from getting frustrated and dropping out altogether, which 
seems to be a common occurrence in Middle-Earth.

I don't know how you could go about getting the packet from GSI.  
The one sent to me was done as a courtesy for some contributions, so 
I'm not entirely certain if a) it's available yet, and b) if you can 
get if you aren't a new player.  Still, it's worth looking at if 
you're still not entirely comfortable with the game.

That be all this time around.  Here's hoping my Corsairs weren't 
special serviced in 97,

Tom


          Artifacts

Staff of the Wanderer:  This artifact is GOOD, not NEUTRAL.  Some 
versions of the data files are incorrect.


           Dragons

 CULGOR.... MEEK (I tHINK, I need to check)
 URUIAL... I know but dont have it here
 SMaug  likewise.
 Ando-ANCA ... Meek = survive
 Bairanax... Meek = survive.

All these for DS.

        Khuzadrepa   --->  MEEK      ---> recruit
        Itangast     --->  MEEK      ---> recruit
        Ando Anca    --->  MEEK      ---> escape
        Bairanax     --->  MEEK      ---> escape

(Paul Comber)

          Dragons

Daelomin:  Flee = injured/killed for all allegiances.  This was
tentative, but has now been confirmed.  Note that the number of
reports are starting to lean towards the 'combat' result, so it may
be that getting killed is more often the case than escaping.

Thanks to Wei Wang and Paul Comber for their help with the dragon
information.

         Encounters

Hobbits:  the Hobbiton clan of Hobbits has been discovered to 
provide no combat bonus whatsoever to the army it's attached to.  
Other clans of hobbits may or may not provide a combat bonus, but 
this one most certainly doesn't.  They do, however, increase the 
morale of the army they're attached to each and every turn, and this 
bonus to morale remains even after the hobbits leave the army.


          Personals

This section has been tentatively revived for the sole purpose of 
giving people a way to contact their email counterparts in their 
games.  Should you wish to get in touch with allies or enemies, drop 
a note here with your address.

- I'm playing the Witch-King in #153 and am interested in talking 
  with any other players.  -- Ed Bailey (bailey@hagar.ph.utexas.edu)


         Other Items

From Paul Comber

According the Paul Comber, the following is the formula for success 
of threats goes something like this:

+ Command Rank(Inc Artifact)
- loyalty of pop centre
- 20 per level of fortification
- 20 if capital
+ 100 if required amount of troops present.

(Tom's Note:  while the presentation of this algorithm is 
interesting, I've had several instances where threats which were 
better than 100% by the above formula failed.  My own experience 
with threats points to a somewhat lower chance of success than the 
one given here - though I could just be terribly unlucky).

Therefore it is perfectly possible to threaten a city if command 
rank is high enough, also perfectly feasible for a com10 character 
to threaten a pop centre.

Also, Paul reports the following bugs:

Ship pickup Bug:

There is a bug with the order destroy/Pickup ships.  Several times 
in a row I have issued the order Destroy/Pickup ships, the answer 
has been you captured 0 warships, 0 transports all the other ships 
present were destroyed.

In the same turn and after this order a scout reported the presence 
of ships of N Gondor and S Gondor. (I was the QA). Now, nothing has 
been to the hex to leave these ships behind in the time I have been 
there. SO, either the scout report is wrong or I am not destroying 
the ships when the order says I have done. It seems impossible to 
affect these beached ships. I have repeatedly (3) asked GAD games 
(the UK licensee) to sort this out but they never do anything. 
Anyone else ever notice this ??

(Tom's note:  This may be specific to GAD games and not to GSI.  
Anyone experience the same problems here in the U.S.?)

Attack Enemy Bug:

The Attack enemy order does not work correctly.  If this order is 
issued you should (according to the book) attack all armies present 
who you consider to be an enemy. i.e. your relations to  them are 
disliked or hated.

In fact you will NOT fight with a country which does not regard you 
as an enemy. This means that you cannot attack (with this order) a 
nation with neutral relations to you. This has important 
implications if you are faced by armies of more than 1 nation.  
Imagine a DS force coming out of Mordor with say 4 different 
nationalities and N Gondor can only fight 1 of them !!!

(Tom's note:  This may be true for GAD games, but it isn't true for 
GSI.  This bug doesn't exist in American version of ME-PBM).

Article from Jeremy Baxter, Issue #13:

With Regard  to an article from Jeremy Baxter about ME-PBM game #2 
in the UK and the Dragon Lord win (A follow up to who wins most, who 
loses most) I was on the winning side here (I organised them). 
Jeremy must have been one of the opposition.

From our side of things the QA, LR dropped out on turn 1. The 
Corsairs, Easterlings also were inactive as far as we could tell. 
Several of the FP's also dropped (can't remember who) and several we 
pushed out pretty Early (Woodmen for one who didn't like people 
ganging up on him !)

Anyway the point I am trying to make is that there were 5 of us who 
joined essentially as a team, IK, BS, DragL, DkLts, CL. We  quickly 
got most of the other DS cooperating and finished the game in about 
25 turns. We were interested in seeing how quickly we could end the 
game and so to stop any squabbling and unnecessary dragging out of 
the end game it was decided that we would 'let' the Dragon Lord win. 
Since he had taken out the Woodmen, Sinda, Cardolan and chunks of
North Gondor as well as administering the Coup de Grace to the 
dropped Noldo. Without this decision (and the consequent sending to 
him of large amounts of funds) who knows what might have happened 
but we didnt want to pay large amounts of money for very boring 
mopping up operations.

Anyway, after all that, the upshot is you should really discount the 
Dragon Lord win form you stats for who wins most.


  Observations and Critique

From Paul Comber

The game never ends if a player is determined to last out.

He just builds capitals in lots of out of the way sites, its  nearly 
impossible to find and detroy one before he builds  another. There 
is a game in England where 1 DS has held out against 6 FP's for 
about a year, each FP is many times more powerful than the DS but 
its very hard to actually find and kill him.

Now, if the FP's did this with the mantle of Doriath it would be 
well nigh impossible.

Also, economic system.  Its fatally flawed.  The price of goods is 
directly related to the total amount of money in peoples treasuries.  
Therefore upward and downward spirals can be achieved, e.g., people 
have lots of money in treasury, prices are high, people sell make 
more money and prices rise even further.  Or, people have no money 
in their treasury, prices fall people can't make any money on the 
market and things get worse.

Anybody else experience this ??

From Tom Walton

These concern Paul Comber's remarks.

I heartily agree with the first observation.  If too few people stay 
in one a side, it becomes nearly impossible to hunt down and root 
out a player determined to stay in the game.  A number of games have 
turned around and ended in favor of a defeated side because one or 
two players simply refused to give up, and the members of the 
winning team just dropped out one by one until no one was left.  
This isn't a test of skill; it's a test of how much money you're 
willing to throw away on a game gone dull.  Any moron can win if he 
runs away and hides and waits for everyone else to drop out in 
frustration.

My solution:  have the emissary order 'Uncover Secrets' give away 
the locations of characters/pop centers/armies.  This would reveal 
the locations of 'hidden nations' much sooner, allowing you to
corner and destroy the enemy before he can build a back-up someplace 
else.

As for the comments concerning the economic system, Paul is 
partially correct, but only partially.  It isn't true that the 
economy and market pricing rely solely upon the amount of gold in 
one's treasury.  GSI itself has said this is not true.  Pricing 
relies upon gold in the treasury AND other factors, these factors 
being just as important (production rates as a prime example).

Rumors to the contrary are incorrect and should be ignored (no 
insult to Paul; this misinformation has been making the rounds for 
over a year now).


From Jeremy Baxter

In Mouth 9 and 10 there was some discussion of the use of army 
tactics and whether or not they were useful or irrelavent. The first 
thing I would like to say is that it is difficult to know without 
having the changed percentages known how important it is but there 
are situations where the army tactic can be used to your advantage.

It was pointed out that in the situation where armies are evenly 
balanced the tactic can swing the battle in your favour, in the same 
way as artifacts or spells do. The main problem with this is that in 
Middle Earth the troop losses are so bad in evenly matched battles 
that the victor ends up with a fairly weak army anyway.  The best 
tactic is always to out manouver your opponent so that you always 
have such an advantage in troop numbers that you win in one round.

Even if you can do this you still take that one round of losses 
which will weaken your force. This is where the army tactic is 
important, not in improving your chances of winning but in reducing 
your losses. The Tactic vs Tactic modifier is the only chance you 
get to reduce the attacking strength of the opposing force ( appart 
from spells ). If you are reasonably sure of victory, even with a 
reduced strength yourself the best move is to chose the tactic which 
will work best against your opponents favourite tactic.

For instance in UK game 4 as the Arthedain I have 2400 HI, 900 LI, 
1700 AR and 500 MA facing 1800 HI of the Fire King. From scouting 
etc I estimate that the Fire King has a troop strenght of 12,500 and 
Constitution of 27,000 while my force manages 43,000 strength and 
47,000 constitution.  Obviously a walk over but I stand to lose 1440 
troops, probably more with all those unarmoured archers. Since I can 
assume that the Fire king will try to maximise troops tactic bonuses 
by using Flank what should I do? To maximise my attacking strength 
I would use Flank also, but that is not necessary since I will win 
anyway. Instead I plan to use Surround, sacrificing some of my 
attacking strength from all those exhausted Heavy Infantry running 
around the battlefield but reducing my losses by imposing a much 
smaller modifier on the enemy.

Even should he second guess me and try to use Hit and Run He will 
still suffer from the reduced troop tactic modifier by not using the 
best tactic for Heavy Infantry so hopefully I can reduce my losses 
and keep the force viable for longer.

(Tom's note:  Michael Hostetter did an excellent analysis of the 
usefulness of combat tactics in the game, which was printed in "The 
Free People's Press".  He demonstrated just how critical tactics can 
be to battle, and what a difference they can make over the course of 
the game.  I might suggest contacting either him or David Foreman 
for the original, if they still have it (and if it's on-line)).


      News from the Net

Editors' note:  this is a new column suggested by Brian Mason.  
Brian uses his access to the newsgroup rec.games.pbm to digest the 
on-going conversations and provide questions and answers that other 
people may have about ME-PBM.


----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #1
----------------------------------------------------------------
From: dubb@parrothead.nrlssc.navy.mil ()
Subject: MEPBM: riddles and encounters
Date: 22 Mar 1994 15:59:07 GMT

I'm having trouble with the following riddle:

Great and noble was he.
Wolf slayer was he.
Fee to leave the Evil and join the good
to slay the grat evil yet slain be.

So far Finrod has failed as an answer. I'm rather perplexed by
this one.

I also have the following rather interesting encounter this turn.

----- travled long into the night in an attempt to shorten the
travel for the following day. Finally, trail tired ahn ready for
some much needed sleep, he began looking for a place to camp.
Suddenly, a dark shape flew across the face of the full moon and
landed ahead in the clearing for which he hadbeen headed. As he
slowly and cautiously advances toward the clearing, an man of
great beauty seems to walk toward his place of concealment. The
man apparently has mo weapos and is smiling disarmingly.

Choices are:
ATTACK
ALLEGIANCE
REQUEST  him to join
HIDDEN
Say _______
FLEE

This is happening to a dark servant charater in mordor. I think
either Allegiance of request are the correct actions but I have
nothing to base this on.

Also how do you get away from giant spiders. Any advice on these
matters would be helpful.

   -john dubberley

----------------------------------------------------------------
Answers below were supplied by Arnold Mohammed
----------------------------------------------------------------
     Answer:  Huan

Vampires
Description:   usually encountered as men or women of great beauty,
or mysterious voices coming from the night.
Location:      anywhere, but Mordor is most common.
Options     Result
ATTACK the man/woman    All: combat
State your  All:  injured/killed   
ALLEGIANCE
JOIN the man/woman      All:  injured/killed
HIDE from           
the man/woman
Say "CELGOR"FP, NT:  injured/killed; escape unharmed*
DS:  escape unharmed
SAY (one word)
FLEE        All:  injured/killed

Notes:  in most cases, escape from a vampire will leave the  
character with one health point.  Should the vampire be defeated in  
combat, the character will often receive a variable amount of gold  
and possibly a lost list spell.

It's possible to be killed by this encounter if the result of the 
response is 'escape injured'.

Vampires have a challenge rank of somewhere between 75-100.

Giant Spiders
Description:   the character encounters a giant spider intent on
making him it's next meal.
Location:      anywhere, but most often in Mirkwood and Mordor.

Options     Result
ATTACK the spider       All:  combat
Offer FOOD  All:  combat
COMMAND the spider
SAY "Elbereth"          All:  combat
SAY "Ungoliant"         All:  combat
SAY (one word)
FLEE        All:  combat

Notes:  giant spiders generally have a challenge rank ranging from
50-60.  Even should combat ensue, most characters will escape with
their lives if they lose the battle.

Defeating a giant spider often results in the character finding a
stash of gold, a lost list, or both.

The information is from the Mouth of Sauron, a player-produced 
e-zine
on ME-PBM.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #2
----------------------------------------------------------------
Wed Mar 30 09:01:08 EST 1994
From: freeman@cae.wisc.edu (Samuel Freeman)
Subject: ME-PBM: xfer ownership order

What are other players' experiences with the transfer ownership 
order?  How important is the emissary rank of the RECEIVING 
emissary?  How is the loyalty affected?

Sam
freeman@cae.wisc.edu
----------------------------------------------------------------
From: tolley_t@wums.wustl.edu

The emissary rank is not important. what is important is your tax 
rate, your average loyality rating. those will affect the loyality 
once it is transfered.
----------------------------------------------------------------
That's the News from the Net for this week.
================================================================


        Strategy and Tactics:  The Witch-King
        From Wei Wang

Some Witch-King Strategy I thought of.  I've only played the Witch 
King once, but with Rhudaur's help I conquered Arthedain and 
Cardolan on turn 10. (game 93)

1) Raise your taxes to about 79% or so.  All of your pop centers    
are fortified and you'll need the cash.

2) Murazor locates the Ring of Wind, Curifin, etc.  And names an 
emissary.

3) Send the cav east into Mirkwood!  This is the plan.  Send all    
your cav to Mt. Gram.  Split all the cav together and move onto    
Zarak-dum (this must be taken or the dwarves can kill you). 
Threaten it and land on Buhr Fram on the next turn, along with the 
Gundabad army.  Mirkwood is your hope for a better future.

4) Improve all your villages to towns.  Improve Zarak-dum to a  
major town.  Use Angulion to do this until it is convenient to meet 
up with your new emissary.

5) Raise troops like crazy and try to use the blind spots in the FP 
maps.  If you can survive for more than 10 turns consider raising 
light infantry for cheap threatening power.

6) Name that one emissary, a commander/agent, and two more 
commanders.  I was fielding 9 armies at one point.

7) Bribe or beg Rhudaur for help.

8) Try to trade the Fire King or Blind Sorceror for a major town.  
The Fire King is good since he doesn't have that many concerns down 
there and he can put up instant high morale armies.

9) You'll still need a lot of luck!

Observations on the Previous Article
From Tom Walton

I also have played the Witch-King once, and I find some of Wei's 
tactics to be a bit dangerous in the face of competent opposition.  
However, in light of the sheer fact that he conquered Arthedain and 
Cardolan by turn 10 (even with Rhudaur's help), it's a good guess 
that Wei's opponents weren't exactly skilled.  My comments:

- I wouldn't use Murazor to locate artifacts.  Agent artifacts best 
belong with the Cloud Lord and Ice King, and the Witch-King has more 
than enough artifacts in other areas.  Murazor is more useful as a 
challenge god and information gatherer (plus he's rather good at 
summoning hordes, a move that has great potential).

- the Witch-King cav is quite powerful.  Sending it into Mirkwood 
seriously weakens the western front.  Had I done that in game 62, 
Brian, your co-editor and the Cardolan player in that game, would've 
rolled right over me.  Only the timely appearance of my cav kept him 
from trashing most of Angmar (it also helped me defeat Arthedain's 
entire army, which arrived outside of Angmar on turn 6).

- I wouldn't raise light infantry under any circumstances; it isn't 
cost-effective.  If you want threatening power, raise MA or summon 
hordes with the Witch-King mages.

- of the beginning characters, I'd name one emissary (for the 
pectoral), two commanders, and one mage (for combat duty and 
summoning hordes).  Wouldn't bother with the double-class 
characters, as they cost too much and probably won't see alot skill 
improvement until Eriador is firmly under control.

- fielding armies under single commanders is always dangerous.  Even 
if you're relatively safe from assassination (which the Witch-King 
is not, considering that the Noldo are so close and are quite 
capable of picking up agent artifacts early in the game), accidents 
happen.  Example:  in game 62, Rogrog was killed in battle while 
fighting Cardolan.  Just an unlucky roll.  Rogrog was the cav leader 
and carrying all of my command artirfacts at the time (since Murazor 
died in personal challenge with Argeleb).  If a secondary commander 
hadn't been in the army, I would've lost my commander, my cav, and 
virtually all of my best artifacts through one unlucky event.  
Considering Cardolan's skill, that would've been the end of Angmar.


         Strategy and Tactics:  The Corsairs

It is rather difficult starting off this strategy and tactics 
column, discussing effective strategy for the Corsairs, and never 
having played them before. Especially, when I know I am going to be 
followed immediately by a better tactician than myself . So, I'm 
going to avoid some of the specific moves I have discussed before, 
and rather, concentrate on listing specifics about the Corsairs, and 
making a few observations which might assist the novice at the 
position.

How do the Corsairs compare to other nations? At the start of the 
game they rank as follows (Allegiance Comparison Tables, Tom 
Walton):

                    among all      among Neutrals
Total Tax Base      4th            2nd
Resource Base       25th           5th
Combat Strength     20th           5th
Character points    6th            1st
Artifacts           last           last

While the Corsairs have a good resource base, their production is on 
the poor side due to developed state of the population centers which 
it starts the game with. Expected production (not climate adjusted) 
for the nation would be as follows:

     le      br      st      fo      ti      mo      go
    345     212     123    2196     668     121    6722

Because of the poor production in almost all areas, to effectively 
recruit troops with good weapons or armor, to build ships or 
increase fortifications, the Corsairs must either manipulate the 
market (a difficult task given the poor production available for 
sales), take advantage of the market manipulation of others as it 
presents itself, or create new camps.

Because of the close proximity of the Haradwaith, these can either 
be your closest ally or your most implacable enemy. The fact that 
very little which you do can go unnoticed by the Harad makes 
surreptitious actions difficult. The only area on your map not
observable by the Harad are those hexes west of and including the 22 
column, and only those south of and including the 36 row are 
unobservable by Southern Gondor. This leaves you only two hexes: 
2139 and 2239 which can be developed without Harad knowledge.

It is rather important that you decide rather quickly what course of 
action you will take with the Harad. If they cannot be trusted, 
almost every movement you make can be monitored. If you cannot trust 
them, then begin making plans right away for their destruction.

Another hex you might plan for early development would be 2538.
Placing a tower there could slow movement of any force towards your 
capital. While other hexes, further along the road might be better, 
hexes east of and including the 26 column are seen by the Quiet 
Avenger, and their is no reason to advertise this to more than are 
necessary.

Because all but one of the Corsair population centers starts with a 
fortification, raising taxes to around 60% or so is possible early. 
The increased revenue of one turn would pay for the tower at 2437 
preventing reduction. Raising taxes to this level will put you in 
the black, but not by much. If you do not anticipate early combat 
retiring some troops, especially the Men-at-Arms might be a good 
course of action.

With your excess gold create emissaries and camps. Most important to 
you is improving your economy. You are also paying for harbors and 
ports at the rate of 2000 gold per turn. First of all, a harbor is 
redundant at 2337, so get rid of it. I would also consider removing 
the harbors at 2236, 2137, 2337, 2039, and 2339. This would leave 
your only port at 2438 and your harbor which is closest to the rest 
of the map: 2136.

Fortunately, three of your four starting armies are off the Harad 
map. Therefore, it is relatively easy to combine these into an 
effective fighting force at 2136 early.   The final point I wish to 
make is points for Corsair landing. Since you do not have to sail 
along coastlines you should avoid them as wandering navies of other 
alliances, can only slow you down. I comment now on places of attack 
ideally suited for the Corsairs.

There are many population centers which can be struck from sea with 
no warning at all. Among them are:

Arthedain 1211 Camp/Tower         S Gondor  2225 Town
Cardolan  1113 Town/Tower         S Gondor  2227 City/Fort
Cardolan  1014 Town               S Gondor  2328 Town/Tower
Cardolan  1015 Town               S Gondor  2527 M Town/Fort
Cardolan  1614 M Town/Castle *    S Gondor  2628 Town/Tower
Cardolan  1514 Town/Tower    *    Sinda     2325 M Town/Fort
Cardolan  1317 Town/Tower    *    Noldo     0408 M Town/Fort
Cardolan  1219 Town/Tower         Noldo     0508 Village
N Gondor  2926 Town/Tower         Noldo     0708 City/Fort
N Gondor  3026 Town/Tower         Noldo     0808 Village
N Gondor  2927 City/Castle        Noldo     0710 Town/Fort
N Gondor  3028 Town/Tower         Noldo     0611 M Town/Fort

*  Only if 1319 has not had a population center placed in
   that tower.

Because of their location, Free People dwellings are the most easily
struck. It is advisable to have an onground commander doing a Recon 
in the area of a possible landing so that you know what to expect. 
Many of the population centers above are suitable only for a full 
scale invasion, and you'll want to know precisely what you are 
facing before striking there. But some of the population centers 
above, escpecially the unfortified ones, are well suited for raids 
by a small force simply to destroy. Again, since your force is small 
you'll want to not strike when their are armies present. So, again, 
a spotter for the raiding force is advisable.

While most damage can be done against the Free Peoples, it is also 
possible to do some dirty deeds against the Dark Servants and 
neutrals. Because of their location it is not always as easy, but a 
Corsair looking for fun, can, like Captain Blood, raid for king, 
country, and the forces of good.

Options include:

1.   A surprise raid on the Witch-King. Making a landing at
     1302 will take some time (at least four turns), but can
     ruin his whole day.

2.   Taking out the Quiet Avenger. This nation is much
     weaker than you. Simultaneous strikes on 2135 and 3034
     are easily possible, and with adequate planning you can
     take out this pesky nuisance quickly.

3.   Osgiliath, why not? It is easy for the Corsairs to
     reinforce this deadly bloodbath.

4.   Dealing with the Haradwaith. Between the Corsairs and
     Southern Gondor the Haradwaith are an easy mark. With
     advance planning you can handle them on your own.

These are only some of the options for the Corsairs player.
I'm sure more will be mentioned below.

From Tom Walton

The nation of the Corsairs ranks as one of my all-time favorites in 
Middle-Earth.  Something about having an entire kingdom of pirates 
and cutthroats at my beck and call, just dying to plunder and 
pillage the shores of distant lands, does much to fire up my 
interest in the game.  Indeed, I could talk all day about the 
various Corsair tactics; the original text of this article was only 
half-finished and occupied about 50% of the Mouth.

In the interests of not putting our loyal readers to sleep, I'm 
going to cut out the details and simply address those items that 
Brian didn't, or that I have a different opinion on.  I'm assuming 
here that you already know alot about the game and tactics, to keep 
this article as short as possible.

The Corsair strengths are easy to see:  good tax base, well- 
fortified pop centers in an easily defensible area, some of the best 
characters in the game, and, of course, their incredible navy 
(supported by appropriate nation advantages).  Their weaknesses are 
less obvious but critical, especially in the early game:

- lousy resource base.  As you can see from Brian's table, the 
Corsair resource base is tiny.  When raising troops or conducting 
construction projects, the Corsairs will have to buy what they need 
from the market.  This could be easy if the prices are low, or 
crippling if the prices are high.

- pathetic army.  The Corsair starting army truly stinks.  The 
entire force is barely capable of taking out Vamag, and that only if 
it isn't heavily defended.  Adequate for defense in the early game, 
it's nothing more than a nuisance when on the offensive.

- naval weakness.  I know this sounds like a contradiction in terms, 
since the Corsairs are capable of defeating any single player on the 
open seas.  Alas, that's any SINGLE player.  Should the Corsairs go 
evil, they'll face a combined Free Peoples fleet about twice the 
size of their own, easily strong enough to wipe them out if they get 
caught in naval battle.

- neighboring Haradrim.  As Brian said, the Haradrim can either be 
cooperative or hostile.  A Harad-Corsair combo can wreak havoc on 
the Free and cause some serious difficulties for the Dark Servants; 
a crazy or obnoxious Harad can force the Corsairs into a long, 
bloody war of attrition which'll occupy most of the game and ruin 
both nations.

In most of the games I've been in or heard about, neutrals tend to 
get paid alot of attention until recruited.  After they actually 
join an allegiance, the allegiance seems to forget about them, 
essentially telling them to 'sink or swim' on their own.  Given that 
you won't be able to rely on your 'allies' most of the time, it's 
imperative that the Corsairs correct their weaknesses and strengthen 
their position prior to entering the fray.  Here are some ideas:

- consolidate the army and fleet immediately.  Leave the navy in one 
big chunk and make sure the commander has a back-up and is well- 
guarded.  I suggest two recruiting points:  2438 and 2136 (the 
latter because it's the most strategically located pop center in 
Umbar).

- name three or four emissaries out of the first four character 
slots.  These emissaries should move out and begin to put down camps 
as fast as possible.  Don't worry about doing upgrades to villages;
the Corsairs have enough taxes, what they need right at the start 
are resources.

- speaking of taxes, raise the tax rate to 79%.  This will nearly 
double revenue.  Better yet, when the Corsairs have eight or ten 
camps down, they can drop taxes to 60%, giving all of their camps a 
loyalty increase of 1-19 points.  Instant village material.

- if the Haradwaith aren't crazed for battle or simply too stupid to 
figure out they can't conquer the Corsairs at the beginning of the 
game, disband all troops except the heavy infantry.  Don't start 
recruiting again until the Corsair economy is stable and running a 
nice surplus.  While this is suicide for the Free Peoples and Dark 
Servants, the Corsairs can disband troops with little fear of 
invasion in the first ten turns.

- if the market gods have smiled upon Umbar, think about building 
more warships.  The stronger the fleet, the more likely it is the 
Corsairs will be able to defeat a combined Free force.  Of course, 
if the Corsairs are leaning towards the Free, building warships is 
a waste of time.

- think about blowing the bridge over the Harnen.  This prevents a 
land invasion by enemy forces unless they're willing to march around 
and through Easterling territory, a very long haul even with cav.

Ten turns of judicious planning will put the Corsairs in a position 
to inflict some serious damage upon their foes.  Not only will they 
be able to shore up their weaknesses, but their nation will become 
an economic powerhouse capable of supporting a very large army.  A 
few more suggestions:

- most Corsair characters are double and triple classed.  Attach 
them to armies right away and start training them in their off- 
skills.  By doing this, the Corsairs can get some fairly skilled 
agents, emissaries and mages - without having to waste character 
slots or gold.  At the same time, they'll also improve their already 
nice command ranks.

- Meriot is a decent mage, able to learn 'locate artifact true' by 
turn 3 (sooner if he lucks out and already has a spell or two in 
this area).  Artifacts are icing on the cake for the Corsair 
characters, improving upon their already excellent abilities.  If 
Meriot is lucky and acts fast, he can pick up some nice artifacts 
before his competitors can reach them.

- think about putting camps down in off-map areas.  This can give 
the Corsairs a good resource and tax base well away from the action.  
While western Gondor is a good choice, it's also too obvious; I'd 
suggest south and east of the Easterling capitol, a place that 
virtually no one visits.

How to battle with the Corsairs?  With the above plan, the Corsairs 
can become a powerhouse without having to plan to join any one
allegiance.  By turn 10, they're capable of doing serious damage to 
any opponent they choose.  The tactics used will vary depending on 
the target:

- Free Peoples.  I favor going Dark Servant as the Corsairs simply 
because it's boring not to.  If the Corsairs go Free, they deprive 
themselves of the joy of ravaging the coastal cities of Middle 
Earth.
	 Brian has already listed a set of good targets outside of 
Southern Gondor.  If the Corsairs wish to make nuisance attacks, 
then put as many troops on the fleet as possible and move from town 
to town making threats.  With a fleet, the Corsairs can threaten and 
move all in one turn, safe from attack by land-based forces.  
Unfortunately, many of these threats will fail (since the Corsairs 
don't have a slew of good command artifacts), but those that succeed 
will put a crimp in the style of the target nation.
	 If the Corsairs wish to make a major invasion intent on doing 
serious damage, or even with conquest in mind, I'd suggest first 
building 7 more transports.  This gives them a lift capacity of 7500 
HI, a very respectable force.  Have the navy move to some hex in the 
area that isn't obvious, then on the next turn order the naval 
commander to split the army and move away.  The new army will 
immediately be able to march to a target, while the fleet can flee 
to some place safe from interception by Free warships.  At this 
point the Corsairs conduct a traditional land campaign, while the 
fleet goes back to pick up a second army (now recruiting) at Umbar.

- Dark Servants.  I only recommend hitting the Dark Servants if 
you're in a suicidal frame of mind.  The Corsairs almost always lose 
the game when they declare for the Free, primarily because they're 
within easy reach of Mordor's agents.  If it looks like the Dark 
Servants will be the intended target, I suggest naming pure agents 
early on, then training them up and attaching them to army/navy 
commanders before Mordor finds out which way the wind is blowing.  
Without proper agent support, the Corsairs can be decimated even 
before battle is joined.
	 In this case, conquest of the Quiet Avenger is the first 
priority.  This is an easy campaign if Harad isn't inclined to 
support them.  In fact, with proper planning both of the QA major 
towns can be taken in one turn, and there's not a thing the QA can 
do about it.  Destroying the QA navy is also a priority, to prevent 
counterinvasion in Umbar.
	 After the south has been secured, I'd suggest making a landing 
in trouble spots in support of the Free.  If Eriador is going down 
to the Witch-King and his allies, think about landing in Cardolan or 
Arthedain and lending 7500 HI worth of troops to the cause.  This 
could turn around the battle completely.  If the Gondors are 
struggling with the enemy, the Ithilien is a nice place to strike, 
as so many targets suggest themselves and are easy to reach.  I 
wouldn't recommend a direct strike against Mordor proper until 
allies are ready and willing to come along, as this will only 
attract more agent attention than the Corsairs can really handle.
	 If the Dark Servants are to be the enemy, the Corsairs may 
also want to move their capitol, preferably to a major town with a 
harbor that's entirely outside of Umbar.

- Harad.  Harad will become a target if the player in this position 
is hostile, overbearing, or just plain stupid.  When invading Harad, 
do two things right away:  (1) blow the bridge over the Harnen, and 
(2) destroy the Harad navy.  If these objectives are accomplished, 
the Corsairs will carve Harad into two separate nations which aren't 
capable of reinforcing one another.  The Corsairs can then mount a 
major offensive in southern Harad to take the towns there, recover, 
then go for a sea invasion in Harondor (northern Harad).
	 An attack against Harad needs to be well-planned.  Harad has 
a better economy and resource base than Umbar; by rights, it can 
conquer Umbar should war rear its head.  Only the division of Harad 
into two nations gives the Corsairs an advantage in this campaign.  
If Harad suspects such a strike and moves/raises all of its troops 
in the south, it may be able to make a surprise strike that Umbar 
can't counter (I did this in games 55 and 68 with great effect).
	 If Harad is the target, surprise is a useful ally.  Lull the 
Haradrim into thinking that they're safe from the Corsairs, then hit 
them while they're not looking.  If you insist on fighting a 'fair' 
war against a good opponent in the Harad position, you'll get your 
ass kicked (and deserve to, in this case).

As I said in the opening of this article, I could wax lyrical on the 
finer points of Corsairs strategy for pages.  But in the interests 
of avoiding a cancellation of subscriptions, I'll end my comments 
here.

I'm especially interested in criticism and comments concerning 
neutral nations.  I tend to play neutrals, and Dark Servants when 
I'm not doing that.  So, anything regarding the neutrals, the 
Corsairs in particular this issue, would be most appreciated 
(especially if you see that I've made some major gaffe somewhere).

Tom


  The Problem with Dragons
by Tom Walton and Brian Mason

Recently, a debate was engaged with another player concerning 
dragons. A concern was put forward by the player that dragons are 
necessary for the Witch-King and Dragon Lord to effectively fight 
the Free Peoples.

While we are sympathetic to these two positions, and recognize their 
weakness, the fact remains that there are positions which are as 
weak or weaker than these two. Specifically, of the first 31 games 
which have concluded in Middle-earth Play-by-Mail, the Witch-King 
has been in the winners circle an average number of times and while 
the Dragon Lord has never placed in a game, he is not alone, sharing 
this distinction with the Woodmen and Rhudaur (Tom Walton, "Winners
and Losers in Middle-Earth," The Mouth #8). These positions are 
difficult for the same reason that the position of Northern Gondor 
is difficult: so many nations are focused on your destruction.

In the game, as they are, dragons make powerful emissaries for the 
Dark Servants, constantly lowering Free People and raising Dark 
Servant loyalties and being, essentially, enchallengable. These 
beasts are a constant problem to those Free Peoples with population 
centers in the moutains, as any player of the Dwarves will tell you. 
Also, they provide a rather impressive reason for the Free Peoples 
and Neutrals to stay out of the mountains making these havens for 
new Dark Servant population centers.

This article, however, is not about what can be done to balance the 
table among the nations. All of them are different and have inherent 
strengths and weaknesses associated with them. The purpose here is 
to discuss the problem with dragons. Specifically, why they should 
not be "less common and more likely to join your armies." The 
reasons fall into two areas: one, historical, and the second, 
play-balance.

Unlike other fictional games of this kind, Middle-earth Play-By-Mail 
is based on a place which has a history associated with it. While 
the game can (and does) make changes, these changes should be in the 
spirit of Middle-earth. Dragons are historical creatures, bred by 
Morgoth and used extensively by him in the battles of Belariand and 
the War of Wrath of the First Age (as described in "The 
Silmarillion"). The fact is, that after the First Age dragons were 
not, to the best of our knowledge, used in warfare by Sauron or any 
of his minions. Smaug was certainly capable of destroying a Major 
Town (ala Esgaroth from "The Hobbit"), however it is by no means 
certain that they would necessarily show any predilection to 
attacking population centers of the Free Peoples. There is, however, 
a faint suggestion that using dragons in warfare might be possible. 
The following quote comes from "Unfinished Tales" by JRRT. Gandalf 
is speaking.

"It might all have gone very differently indeed. The main attack was 
diverted southwards, it is true; and yet even so with his 
farstretched right hand Sauron could have done terrible harm in the 
North, while we defended Gondor, if King Brand and King Dain had not 
stood in his path. When you think of the great Battle of the 
Pelennor, do not forget the Battle of Dale. Think of what might have 
been. Dragon-fire and savage swords in Eriador! There might be no 
Queen in Gondor. We might now only hope to return from the victory 
to ruin and ash. But that has been averted -- because I met Thorin 
Oakenshield one evening on the edge of spring not far from Bree. A 
chance-meeting, as we say in Middle-earth."

I think the implication is clearly here that Smaug would have 
fought, if not with the armies, at least to loot and pillage.

Tom's note:  I interpreted this to mean that Smaug would take 
advantage of the fighting and confusion to loot and pillage Northmen
territory.  I believe he would've done the same thing regardless of 
which allegiance was in control of the area (what does Smaug care if 
orcs or men have the gold?).  That the Northmen had the region was 
incidental to the dragon (though certainly not to the Northmen!).

However, it is in the area of direct play-balance that dragons cause 
the greatest problem. Dragons are a no-brainer battle-winner, 
destroying the best-laid plans through luck rather than skill.  All 
you need is a table of encounters, and whoops, there goes the 
enemy's 5000 man army. Don't bother recruiting, just send characters 
into the mountains and meet as many dragons as you can.  Worse, this 
becomes more and more true as time goes on and better dragon lists 
are made (or verified).  It's discouraging for those of us who spend 
a great deal of time and energy executing a perfect campaign against 
our opponents, only to have it ruined by such a mindless tactic as 
recruiting a dragon.  What's the point of going to the trouble if 
some half-baked would-be Napoleon can whip your ass simply because 
a kindly veteran gave him a dragon list and he got lucky (comments 
on the availability of our dragon list should be kept to yourself!)?

Dark Servants will, of course, scream bloody murder if it becomes 
impossible to recruit dragons.  Without them, they're in a worse 
position than they currently occupy.  But the point isn't whether or 
not dragons are needed; they aren't.  The point is that if dragons 
are required to fight on even terms, then there's a serious flaw in 
some of the positions of the game.  This flaw needs to be addressed 
APART from dragons, not intertwined with it.

Both of us have heard many arguments for the presence of dragons in 
Dark Servants armies.  All, however, sound like excuses to have a 
Middle-Earth equivalent of nuclear firepower, using this in lieu of 
skill to acquire an advantage.  As one who favors Dark Servants and 
has played both the Witch-King and Dragon Lord (Tom), I sincerely 
sympathize with the poor saps who get stuck in these positions; but 
I, for one, can't condone dragons as the answer (it is possible to 
win an Eriador campaign without them; I never had a dragon when I 
played the Witch-King, yet with my allies managed to defeat our 
enemies in the region.  The same is currently true for a Dragon Lord 
player in one of my other games).

Some players are of the opinion that the possibility of character 
deaths more than makes up for the recruitment.  I (Tom) disagree; 
having played the Witch-King, Dragon Lord, Duns, and Dwarves, I've 
had more encounters with dragons than any other single player that 
I know of.  Yet using my own dragon list and a little common sense, 
I haven't had a single character death in just under a year.  Anyone 
who loses characters to dragons except on rare occasions either has 
the worst luck imaginable, or is doing some really silly things.

It's our opinion that dragons need to be removed from recruitment 
entirely and made more rare, perhaps mostly confined to the Grey 
Mountain area (which was historical, both by I.C.E.'s standards and 
Tolkien's; the latter mentioned that most of the dragons were in the 
Northern Wastes, far from the inhabited areas of Middle-Earth).  At
the same time, corrections need to be made to certain positions to 
make up for the loss and take care of their specific problems.  This 
will provide the weakened positions with the resources necessary to 
press an advantage in their area, and perhaps win, but only if the 
player in charge of that nation is skilled enough to take the lead 
through wit and not luck.

We welcome all comments and would enjoy printing a rebuttal to this 
article.

Brian and Tom



         COMMENTARY
      By Leslie Foreman

Editor's Note:  we held this over two weeks specifically so it would 
appear in the April Fool's edition of the Mouth. 

I feel confident that most have you have read the article in the 
"Whisper of the Wood" related to the different play styles of the 
people who are involved in ME-PBM.  These "types" of people were 
also discussed in the Free People Press, for those of you who were 
involved in that publication.  It occurred to me that not only do 
the 'players' of the games have characteristics, but so do the 
wives/girlfriends of the players. ( I realize that there are women 
who are the only ME-PBM players in their homes, but I do not know 
any of them personally.  Therefore, I do not feel that I can comment 
on the male observers of The Game.)

In considering the types of non-players, here after referred to as 
NP, I feel that there are five different kinds.  I have assigned 
each to a person,  fictional or non-fictional, who I feel 
personifies the characteristics associated with that kind of NP.

BONNIE BLAIR:
The Bonnie Blair NP is the kind of person who is very interested in 
the game and the interest eventually leads to her becoming a player 
herself.  I know of several Bonnie Blairs who are now players and 
are enjoying the interaction between the players and the competitive 
spirit inherit to the game.  If you want to talk competition, who 
else is there but Bonnie Blair?  If you want to enter into a 
previously male dominated activity, who else is there but Bonnie 
Blair?  If you want to work hard and to exercise your independence, 
who else is there but Bonnie Blair?

DIANE SAWYER:
The Diane Sawyer NP is the kind of person who is interested in the 
game because the player is interested in the game.  She asks about 
the results of turns and discusses the specifics of battles and 
confrontations with the player.  She is also interested in the 
dynamics of the game and often has insights about the other 
characters/players because she is an objective observer and has
listened to the player discuss the pros and cons of previous turns 
and is able to put everything in perspective.  The Diane Sawyers are 
just like their namesake - they are like reporters. "Just the facts 
ma'am.  I don't want to be involved, but I want to know what 
happened."

MRS. WIGGINS:
Many of you will not remember this character.  She is one Carol 
Burnett portrayed on the Carol Burnett Show.  Mrs. Wiggins was the 
secretary for Mr. Tudball.  The Mrs. Wiggins NP is the one who takes 
the messages from the phone and the answering machine and passes 
them on to the player.  She generally does not have the slightest 
idea what they mean.  (That's what makes her like Mrs. Wiggins!)  
All she knows and all she really cares to know is that the character 
Frost Bite is at some "hecks" number.

MURPHY BROWN:
The Murphy Brown NP is the one who is not interested in the game, 
but she doesn't care if the gamer plays.  I think it would be 
accurate to say that she does not want anyone to tell her what to 
do, therefore, she does not tell the player what to do.   While the 
gamer is occupied with the game, she has interests in which she is 
involved.  She does not sit quietly.  When it comes to hobbies, the 
couple's lives run parallel - they don't cross at any point.

CLEOPATRA:
The Cleopatra NP is the person who completely dislikes the game and 
does not want the gamer to play at all.  She does not tolerate the 
game - she completely dislikes it.  The reason why she feels this 
way is because the game takes the attention away from her - she has 
to share the limelight and this is not a position she takes kindly 
to.  The gamer has to play on the sly. I understand that Marc Antony 
was a gamer;  he was in Game #25 BC and I guess it just lasted too 
long.  He probably would have rather encounter Smaug than that asp 
in his chair.

Author's note:  The ideas represented here are uniquely those of the 
author.  Any resemblance to significant others, current or 
otherwise, is purely coincidental.  This article is not designed to 
be the authority on the various personalities of the female non- 
gamer.

There are MANY reasons why we women act the way that we do.  That 
statement is fact even if this article isn't.  LRF-


        A New Nation
       By Brian Mason

Recently, I received a letter from Bill Feild, the game designer of 
Middle-earth Play-By-Mail. He was concerned that the unbalanced 
nature of having an odd number of neutrals might lead to pitting 13 
against 12 at some stage in the game. To offset this game imbalance 
he had advocating adding a sixth neutral, and he asked me to make
comments on the following position. I could think of no one better 
able to evaluate the position than the loyal readers of "The Mouth."

I enclose a summary of the major attributes of this new position 
number twenty-six in a format similar to that of Tom Walton's nation 
data. Also, I provide the map ranges, warship strengths and a 
further list of artifacts. They were added by Bill spcifically for 
this position.

Before I turn it over to you, I though we might take a look at how 
it compares, specifically with the other neutrals. I will rank the 
neutrals, 21-26 in each of the following areas from lowest to 
highest. As you can see, it compares favorably with its neutral 
counterparts. It's relative weakness, however, in both tax base and 
combat strength is somewhat overcome by the additional artifacts 
which they possess, far in excess of the other Neutrals.

Tax       RB   Combat Str     CP
22        22   25             21
21        26   24             26
25        25   23             23
23 & 24   23   22             25
26        24   21             22 & 24
          21   26

26.  Siam

Special Advantages:

(1)  All new heavy cavalry recruits start with a training
     rank of 20, all new light cavalry recruits start with a
     training rank of 20, all new heavy infantry recruits
     start with a training rank of 20, et cetera, et cetera,
     et cetera.

(2)  Any character whose challenge rank exceeds that of the
     King is automatically retired (the King's head must be
     highest, and so must his challenge rank).

(3)  All Lore spells and scouting/recon orders doubled in
     casting rank or skill level (Why? It is a Puzzlement!)

(4)  New emissaries can have a skill rank of 40 (everybody
     has to grovel to the King).

Population Centers
Name           Hex  Size           Fort.     Docks
Ayutthaya      1324 Village
Bangkok        1227 Major Town     Fort      Port
Chiang Mai     1323 Town           Tower     Harbor
Chumphon       1324 Village
Kamphaeng Phet 1327 Town           Tower
Khon Kaen      1423 Camp
Nong Rong      1427 Camp
Surat Thani    1725 Village
Takua Pa       1626 Town           Tower     Harbor

Initial Forces
Hex       Morale    HC   LC   HI   LI   AR   MA   Ships
1227      50                  1000      1000      16W, 8T
1323      20                        500  500       8W, 4T
1626      20                        500  500       8W, 4T

Warship Stength = 4

Initial Characters

Name                    Com  Ag   Em   Ma   St   Chal Art
Anna Leonowens                    40             20   191, 194
King                    50        10             51   192, 193
Kralahome               10   20        20        32   195
Lady Thiang                       20   10        13
Lun Tha                      10   30             25   196
Prince Chulalongkorn    20   10   10             23
Sir Edward Ramsey       20   10   40             26
Tuptim                       20   20             17   197

Map Ranges

ULeft     URight    LLeft     LRight
1117      1917      1129      1929

Additional Artifacts (all alligned neutral)

191  Robes of Dancing         +20 emissary
192  Sword of the King        +1000 combat
193  Mantle of Ego            +20 command
194  Whistle of Happy Tunes   +500 combat
195  Turtle's World           +15 mage
196  Rendevous Boots          +10 stealth
197  Slippers of Assignation  +15 stealth


       Tolkien and D&D
      (author unknown)

Many people have noticed that Tolkien's novel "The Lord of the 
Rings" bears an uncanny resemblance to the game of Dungeons and 
Dragons, in that it contains elves, dwarves, orcs and so forth. 
Clearly Tolkien was much influenced by D&D, and a recently unearthed 
recording, probably made by MI5, shows him playing Dungeons and 
Dragons on the floor of his rooms in Merton College, Oxford, one 
evening, with C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and various other 
luminaries.

 Here is part of the transcript of the recording, which all will 
agree is of great historical interest.

C.S. Lewis: Well, Tom, it's really good of you to come along and act 
as Dungeon Master for the evening. Haven't enjoyed myself so much 
since I played in G.K. Chesterton's dungeon and slew Father Brown.

T.S. Eliot (for it is he): Thanks. Anyway, is Father Aslan going to 
go and explore the Waste Land further yet, or will he have another 
drink?

Lewis: That depends on the rest of the party. Radagast?

Tolkien: Yes, I want to go and see Madame Sosostris the clairvoyante 
and see what she has to say.

(Murmurs of assent from Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Williams, 
Bertrand Russell (visiting), etc. etc.)

Eliot: O.K. Radagast I want you to roll a D20 at this stage to see 
what happens as you walk across the Waste Land.

[LOUD BANGING ON THE DOOR.]

Tolkien: Who is it?

Voice outside: Iss only me, Professor Tolkien. Juss poor Smeagol. 
He's brought his essay for the nice Mr Professor.

[Tolkien goes over to open the door, doing his best to block the 
view of the dice, counters and miniature monsters on the floor.  
Meanwhile the rest of the party hurriedly leap into chairs and 
pretend to be having a deep discussion.]

Lewis: Yes but we all remember what St Paul says about the Numinous 
in his Epistle to the Confusions...

Tolkien: Well, Smeagol, where this essay? Can't you see I'm busy 
discussing the Numinous?

Smeagol: Don't be hard on poor Smeagol, he couldn't find his 
precious elvish dictionary. That nasty Baggins had borrowed it. 
Oooh, what's that on the floor?

Tolkien: Er, nothing. My son must have left his toys there.

Smeagol: Can Smeagol be an orc?

Bertrand Russell: Certainly not. We don't want any orcs. I've come 
over specially to play White Head the dwarf.

Lewis: You mean, 'to argue the non-existence of God,' don't you?

Russell: Er, yes. Sorry.

Tolkien: Off you go boy and hand your essay in on time in future.  
[Door slams]. Now, my character Radagast threw a 12. What happens to 
him?

            
                   Another item from the Mythcon XXIV Songbook
                  copied shamelessly and without permission from
                       Mythprint, Vol. 30, No. 9-10, 1993.
            
                          Periodic Table of Elvish Names
                      by Carl F. Hostetter and Patrick Wynne
                     Sung to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan's
                               "Modern Major General"
                             with apologies to Tom Lehrer
            
There's Baragund and Belegund and Beregond and Barahir,
Beren, Mandos, Luthien, Isildur, Tar-Atanamir;
Umbardacil, Hyarmendacil, Romendacil, and Ardamir,
Castamir and Cirion and Gilthoniel and Firiel,
Nienor, Lothiriel, Lindorie, and Miriel;
Hallacar and Hallatan and Huor, Hurin Thalion

               [take deep breath]

Beor, Beleg, Bregor, Brodda, Tuor, Turin, Calion.
There's Gloredhel, Adanedhel, Tindomiel, and Aravir,
Aravorn and Belegorn and Boromir and Faramir;
Tar-Ciryatan, Atanatar, Tar-Minyatur, Anarion,
and Herunumen, Herumor, Elendil, Tar-Aldarion.
            
Isn't that interesting? I hope you're
all taking notes, because there's going
to be a short quiz next period.
            
Gildor, Galdor, Fundor, Uldor, Arador and Bregolas,
Haldir, Handir, Brandir, Mardil, Mormegil and Legolas;
Araphant and Araphor amd Arvegil and Arathorn,
Araglas and Argeleb and Aragost and Aragorn;
Elu Thingol, Melian, and Elured and Elurin,
Maedhros, Maglor, Amrod, Amras, Celegorm and Curufin;
Finwe, Finrod Felagund, Finduilas and Feanor

               [take deep breath]
Daeron, Dior, Dragluin and Diriel and Denethor.
Elwe, Olwe, Inwe, Manwe, Tinwe Linto, Elrohir,
Elmo, Ulmo, Namo, Sulimo and Curunir;
Quenya and Taliska and Koronolorin and Lindarin,
Adunaic, Dwarvish, Orkish, Danian, and Sindarin.
            
These aren't the only ones of whom the news has come to
Arda,
But we could not include them all: that would have been
much harder.


          Last Word

Hello all. Greetings from elsewhen.

I was sitting at home this evening, minding my own business, and 
wondering how am I ever going to get Tarondor out of all the mess 
I've piled on him in game 131 when I though I might check my email. 
And there, sitting in my bin is the first draft of the issue you 
currently have in your hands. I read through it, and it seems fine 
to me, but then I hit the last line of it and the last line says, 
simply, Last Word.

Damn.

Here it is a few days from press (archaic isn't it?) and while I've 
come up with First Word for issue 15, it has suddenly hit me full in 
the face that I've got a deadline to make.

Damn again.

So hear I sit listening to Beethoven hoping that he can inspire me 
to write something wonderful for the Last Word this month.

Obviously it is not working.

You see, this is I suppose the problem that you encounter when we 
say "write us an article," or something to that effect.

What?!?!

Me?!?!

Now?!?!

Write?!?


It's commonly known as writer's block and it's the sudden panic that 
often occurs in these circumstances. Writing however will beget 
writing, and once you start putting pen to paper (or fingertip to 
keyboard) it becomes easier the more you do.

Ideas usually come to me as I'm doing something else,casually 
thinking about a topic, or wondering what I should do in a specific 
game. Once you begin working in this way, you will find that 
articles can come pretty free and loose.

Others among you have not written articles for fear of rejection or 
ridicule. Hey guys, it just doesn't happen. I've lofted some 
stinkers in past issues of "The Mouth" (and, if the truth were 
known, I think the weakest piece on me-pbm I ever wrote got me my 
first free setup (in game 131)). And even from that load of hooey 
did not generate one negative response.

So, send us your prose, your tomes, your written refuse, yearning to 
be read.

Until Murazor hangs from the gibbet in game 97,

Brian