Code:
        From the Mouth of Sauron

Issue:    E-10
Date:     	   02-25-94

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


          Editorial

Before I ramble on, good news!  David and Leslie Foreman had their 
baby (actually, I think Leslie did most of the work) and everything 
was fine!  Here's the note I got from David this week:

Gang,

To use Mike Hostetter's term, here are the baby parameters:

Name        Garland David Foreman
Sex         Boy
Length      20.5"
Weight      7 lbs 5 oz
Apgar Score 9-9 (Blue feet like his sister)
Lngth of Labor          8 hours
Unusual terms used
  During Labor          0
Forms Completed         1,485,537,532,964,532,664,563,259,053

All are well and fine.  Thanks for the thoughts, and ignore Chris' 
statement about messages since all are well and I'll be checking 
email regularly (thanks though to Chris).

later! (wah, wah, cry, sniffle, scream!)

--
David R. Foreman

No doubt David and Leslie will be a wee bit busy for the next 
eighteen years or so, so don't expect to see much from them in the 
Mouth for awhile.  Congratulations, guys!

Delays:  my personal life has become even busier than it used to be.  
I'm experiencing delays with trying out new mailings, getting people 
on the subscription list, etc.  I might also miss an issue or two in 
early-to-mid March as my Significant Other is getting some minor but 
painful surgery.  If Friday rolls around and you don't see the 
Mouth, or if you aren't yet on the mailing list, be patient; I'm 
getting there.

Winter Olympics:  this has nothing to do with ME-PBM, but I just 
have to say:  right on, Dan J.!  You finally got your gold medal!

Format changes:  I'm going to be experimenting a bit with
reformatting the Mouth for easier reading.  Changes this issue:

	 - I'm pulling the "In Your Ear" section.  Unfortunately, 
     you're all just too polite to really duke it out over 
     controversial stuff.

	 - It looks like we have the artifacts down pat, so I'm going 
     to pull the artifact changes section as well.  If any new info 
     comes up, it'll make a brief reappearance.

	 - And finally:  it looks like the Personals section just isn't 
     that popular.  This'll be the last issue personals appear in, 
     unless I get a flood of 'em next week.

If you have any ideas for the format of the Mouth, I'd be happy to 
hear them.  Just drop me a line any time!


         Encounters

Nothing this time.


           Dragons

Angurth:  confirmed that a DS who ATTACKs Angurth will end up 
recruiting him.

Leucaruth:  confirmed that anyone who ATTACKS Leucaruth will get 
eaten.


 Other Corrections and Notes

From Brian Cash

I am currently trying to figure out the difficulties of the agent 
orders, how stealth is used, how effective guarding is, how 
successful scouting is, etc. for agents AFTER "the change".

Please send any info/thoughts you have to: bcash@bnr.ca.  Please 
include as much detail as possible, ie nationalities, locations 
(nation of pop center agent was at), relations, items, results, etc.  
I will put the results in MOUTH when I get enough info.

From Jeremy Richman

David,

Your reponse about going after Khamul made me puzzled enough to ask 
GSI about this.  You aren't the only person who has suggested that 
when a agent tried to 615/620 another character with agent skill, it 
is harder to do because of the target being an agent.  This was NOT 
what I understood, so I asked GSI directly on CI$; you may have
noticed their answer already, but here it is, prefaced by my 
question:

Q.  <>

A. <>

So hopefully Khamul will soon be dust.

(Editor's note:  the same Q&A was submitted by Keith Peterson at 
almost the same time that Jeremy's note arrived in my mailbox.  
Apparently this is posted on CIS).

From David Foreman

In the recent MOUTH, Tom stated that 'you can't overrun an enemy 
force that's sitting on one of its own (not an ally's) fortified pop 
centers.' THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE!

As I stated (not well apparently, sorry gang!) in my SHAFTED article 
last issue, you absolutely can!  Bill Nealon had 100 HI on an 
MT/tower he owned.  Gothmog overran them with about 900HC while 
moving EVASIVELY! All three of Bill's chars with the army were 
killed during the overrun.  Needless to say, he was mad.

Bill Field says that the check on armies occurs individually (as you 
said) and that no factors modify the chance of survival for the 
little army.  Thought you'd like to know.

(Editor's note:  alas, I misspoke.  David is right here.  My 
apologies if I screwed anyone up.  Though there does seem to be some 
evidence that you can't overrun an army sitting on one of it's own 
fortified pop centers if you're NOT successful in moving evasively 
into the hex.  This happened to me just this last turn - failed to 
overrun two small armies because non friendly/tolerant 
fortifications stopped movement, and the fortifications belonged to 
the player with the small armies).

From Keith Peterson

I (and several fellow players) have found that when the pop center 
limit is reached, camps may still be created at ruins. The 
hypothesis behind this is that ruins are counted in the pop center 
tally, and consequently are not impacted when the limit is reached.

From Wes Fortin

More on the Agent Equation:

First, I want to state the equation presented was a recovery based 
on facts provided, piecemeal, from Bill Fields.  So, it may not be 
the actual equation used in the game system.  It does seem to be 
accurate for calculating worse case scenarios.  With that disclaimer 
in there, I will proceed.

Darren's comments/observations are repeated frequently in the game. 
Basically, an impossible feat occurs.  His 65 agent, according to 
Bill, should stop an agent twice his rank (130).  Why didn't it?  
There are two answers, the first hypothetical, the second gospel.  
The "double agent rank" rule for guards may be a variable.  I look 
for "Mouth" readers to test the equation and provide feedback like 
Darren's.  According to Bill, the old rules only had the agent rank 
as a modifier, that seemed ineffective, so the double rank was 
created to encourage more guards as a deterant from widespread agent 
gods.  I could be that the benefits provided by the agent could be 
variable.  It could be 1-130 (using the above agent), or 66-130 wher 
the additional "doubling" is variable in effect.

Another possibility is this.  According to the Bill-god, GSI has 
built a critical failure/success system into the equations.  Those 
of you familiar with ICE's RoleMaster system are real familiar with 
how this works.  If the attacking agent got a real good "success 
role", it doesn't matter how good the target is, or how well 
guarded.  Theoritically, it is possible for a 10 Agent to 
assassinate Elrond with a REAL GOOD roll.  Likewise, there is a 
critical failure result also.  If you get a real bad roll with that 
150 agent, you could not only fail, you could die!  I have lost 60+ 
agents stealing from unguarded camps.  Very unlikely, but that 
critical failure role came in to effect.

In fact, much of GSI's success/failure/effect system mirrors 
RoleMaster and like systems.  There are extremes, and a large middle 
area.  Agent actions are the most frequently observed.  Your 65 
agent could die (a poor role), succeed in the guard with reduced 
effect (low midlin roll (yes, I caught the error - so my spelling 
stinks!)), succeed with normal effect (mid range roll), injure the 
assassin (better than average), capture/kill the assassin (great 
roll).  We also see this phenomena in Commander/Army action.  I have 
had 10 Commanders succeed in capturing 50 rank characters with enemy 
armies.  And, the 10 Comms army was destroyed in the process.  
Either I got real lucky, or they got real unlucky.  Maybe both.  GSI 
guards closely the real range of effects in each scenario.

Bill built in these effect ranges to "spice up the game" and keep 
those 100 rank characters from always succeeding.  It also ensures 
character turnaround so gameslast longer, thus more money for GSI.

Reply to Wes Fortin
From Tom Walton

Just a couple of added notes.  I can attest to the extremes of rolls
which is especially apparent in agent actions.  An example:  I had 
three 50-60 point agents in a row get killed trying to sabotage the 
unguarded tower of a dropped nation.  On the other hand, in one of 
my games Khamul got captured by a 20-point agent while trying to 
waste a 30-point commander.

You can also see this in challenges.  In game 60, for example, an 
opponent who had a 95% (according to David Foreman's calculations) 
chance of beating one of my characters into jelly was instead 
himself thrashed, without a mark being laid upon my character.  In 
fact, I won 4 lousy challenges in a row due to sheer luck, which was 
somewhat demoralizing for the enemy (having some of your best guys 
killed by a nobody is definitely irksome).

For numbers people, a statistical run on the data points produces a 
curve like the one Wes outlines.  This doesn't mean that the formula 
is the same as that in RoleMaster; just that whatever formula being 
used produces the same type of curve.  But the connection is fairly 
straightforward, allowing us to assume with good reason that the 
RoleMaster system has been transcribed into the game code.

From Tom Walton

Here's an interesting note.  In an earlier issue of the Mouth I 
stated that you could move directly to an encounter and issue order 
285 'ReacEnc', giving a response, without first doing order 290.  I 
said this based upon statements made by Bill.

A couple of people have reported trying this and failing.  I thought 
perhaps they weren't giving a response for order '285', or that they 
were just unlucky and didn't have the encounter, but I went back and 
actually found the paper copy of the Q&A with Bill (I threw all the 
others out once I transcribed them).  Here it is, blow by blow:

Q:  I'm somewhat confused concerning an earlier answer you gave in 
response to a question about encounters.  You said that a character 
in the same hex as a dragon could force an encounter using the '285 
React to Encounter' order.  Does that mean that I could have a 
character skip order '290' and move straight on to order 285, giving 
a reaction (e.g., 'Act Meek')?

A:  Yes!  But you had best know what the encounter is before you 
react.  You may not want to....

Q:  If the answer to the previous question was 'yes', can I do this 
with other encounters, assuming I'm willing to bet I know what the 
encounter is (e.g., Daeron, Demon of Aglarond, Slyardach, Amon 
Llhaw, etc.)?

A:  Yes.

Rather unequivocal, I'd say.  There were other questions concerning 
this topic, but they were basically a rehash to see if I'd get the 
same answer several times in a row (I do this in case Bill is having
a bad day).


          Personals

Game 27

To the remaining Dark Ones....Harad has joined the fight after 34 
turns) and your days (maybe hours) are numbered.

        Argeleb II

Game 43

Eothraim, how long do you think you can hide?  We have destroyed 
your armies, killed your characters, driven you from Rhovanian and 
you continue to fight on...too bad your allies didn't help you
sooner.
        Ji Indur

Game 61

Dark Ones, my allies come, the Western Lords have gathered,
your days are over....          Mahrcared


Game 104

Dear subjects, we have nothing to fear but our own alliance.
        Haruth Raman



      ME-PBM Wish List

From Darren Beyer

Army Retreats:

Through out history there have been quite a few battles which 
resulted in the losing army either being wiped out or vanquished as 
an effective fighting force.  Little Big Horn, Bannockburn, Crecy 
just to name a few.  There were many more battles, however, which 
resulted in each side leaving the field with a fair number of troops 
left in fighting shape and each army still able to act as a viable 
entity.

I would like to see some additions to the tactics that can be 
issued.  Consider:

A RETREAT Tactic.

This allows the army to fight only one round of combat before 
retreating from the field.  This tactic would yield an unfavorable
Army vs. Army modifier for the retreating army vs. all other tactics 
and would leave both armies in the same hex after the one round of 
combat.  If neither army issued a move command they would be there 
to fight next turn.

PRESS THE ATTACK Tactic.

This would counter the retreat tactic, forcing a "fight to the 
death" between the armies, but, like the RETREAT tactic, would yield 
unfavorable army vs. army modifiers against all other tactics.  

Another thing on my Wish List is using a different combat value for 
troop types from different nations.  I play the dwarves in game 60 
where my vaunted dwarvish pony riders swoop down from the mountains 
and crush everything in their path.  Should these "pony riders" be 
just as effective as the fabled cavalry from Rhovanian?  I think 
not.

The Eothraim should have maybe an 18 combat value for Hvy Cav, but 
not as effective infantry (8 or 9 for hvy inf, 4 for light).  The 
dwarves should have a 14 or so value for Hvy Cav and maybe a 12 for 
hvy inf.  The Sinda and Noldo should have better archers, the Dog 
Lord, Long Rider good cav.  I don't have enough data on the other 
nations to make suggestions about them.

This type of system is already in place for navies, and the basic 
structure is there for armies (GSI already lists combat strengths on 
each nation's startup sheet, they're just all the same).  This could 
add some flavor to the game.

From Doug Bergstrom

Naval Arena:

1)  Can anyone picture the Minnow being able to take as much damage 
as the Bismark prior to sinking?  Constitutions of warships and 
transports should be different.

2)  How about having the southern river (help me with the name guys) 
(Editor's Note:  the name of the river that cuts through Harad is 
the Harnen) extend through Harondur to the Mordor mts?  Switch the 
Cloudlord and Blind Sorceror positions around, toss in a harbor and 
a few warships and whalla, the Blind Sorceror has an avenue for 
using the cross open seas and the Quiet Avenger has a point of rapid 
reinforcement.  Suddenly, Harod becomes a major area of contention 
(not just a neutral playground) with naval invasions possible in 
both directions.

Heavy vs. Light:

How about simply giving troops w/o heavy greater movement or normal 
movement equal to force marching?  The real unaddressed advantage in 
light troops should be the ability to move farther faster.

Neutrals in Grudge matches:

You have two decisions to make, are you going to stay in the game 
and how soon to declare for the servants.  If you have decided to 
stay in you should start to aid the DS immediately.  Trust me, the 
FP don't need you and sooner or later the ultimatum will come - join 
or die.  And if it is any kind of a competent FP this will happen 
prior to turn 10.  At least the game will be fun (maybe for a short 
while) and the DS really need the help.  If you decide (as I did by 
turn 10 - Harad) to join the FP, it comes down to letting them steal 
your gold, assassinate your characters and influence your pop 
centers (all has happened since I have joined them).  Why?  Because 
they feel that they did more in 10 turns then I did so why should I 
be in first?  The fact is there is nothing that I can do to change 
their minds, believe me I have tried.

Editor's note:  what follows is an exact description of Doug's 
situation as Harad.  He sent this to me this morning, and I couldn't 
confirm whether he wanted it in the Mouth or was just filling me in 
on the game.  It wouldn't be relevant next week, so I decided to 
play it safe and include it.  If I'm wrong, Doug, I'll get down on 
my knees and humbly apologize.

Uhm, like didn't want to sound like I was complaining about being a 
neutral in a grudge match (the other day).  But having my first 
neutral position being a grudge match and having Harad I thought the 
game would be "VERY" interesting.  This is the way events have gone:

         Rhudaur drops
         Easterlings join FP (FP offered 75,000 gold & a MT)
         FP demolish WK/Drgonlrd
         Dunland is threatened join or die
         QA is basically taken out of the game (Vamaug falls T2)
         Corsairs turn good.
         Dunlands armies face Cardolan/Arthedain/Dwarf armies
           he tells me it is no-win and will join FP
         With QA out, Corsairs good, Easterlings good, S.Gondor
           Sinda, and N.Gondor having their way, I decided to join
           the FP-like alot of choice.
         I cut a supposed deal with the Noldo, relinquishing 1st
           with the understanding I would help N.Gondor monetarily.
           I was told that I couldn't have first since N.Gondor had
           done all of the major work (10 turns!)
         All this happened by turn 11.
         Since then I have sent 20,000 to Gondor, had my new
           alliance steal another 40,000, perfect their emissary
           skills on my pop centers and assassinate one of my
           characters for a Dwarven victory condition.  Caught
           a Corsair agent attempting to steal gold.
         And it is not that I haven't acted as a true ally since
         I have joined the free peoples, my only real point of
         attack was the QA, I challenged his characters and
         captured his capital.  I am sending 3000 HI to Mordor to
         assist if not take the IK capital.  But I am abit
         perplexed as to next moves.  There is no way I can com-
         pete against Elrond (who has been around) or woodmen
         agents.
         "Their answer to this 'Gee only 20,000' (last turn)."

Anyway that is why I feel the way I do about neutrals in grudge 
matches.  It is not good to make an opinion based on one experience 
but if I am ever in the position to do it over...I would immediately 
start aiding the DS with full intentions of joining them.

(Editor's note:  Doug, if I were you, I'd transfer all of my stuff 
to the DS and suicide against the FP with a character war.  Teach 
'em a lesson in diplomacy....)

Yesterday I put forth the idea of switching Cloudlord/Blind Sorceror 
positions and running the river Harnen (is that right? if so thanks 
for the last issue!) to the Mordor mountains.  The idea was twofold, 
allowance of the BS to use it's talent of crossing open seas and 
rapid support for the Quiet Avenger.  Last night another possibility 
came to me....How about a secret river passage extending through the 
Mordor mts connecting the Harnen with the Sea of Nurnan (did I get 
that one right too?).  Make it an available route for only skilled 
sailors who know "Crossing Open Seas". Either picture huge caverns 
with a river flowing through or possibly a grand scale Colorado 
river with swift and deadly turns.

Dragons:  Do dragons die in battle?  If not why don't they?  I feel 
that if an army is strong enough to beat another army that has a 
dragon along then the dragon should have a good chance of dying. It 
is not unheard of that dragons die while engaged in major battles.  
Plus an extra bonus should be given an army & commanders surviving 
such an encounter.  It could be gold, artifacts, experience morale, 
etc....but the army should be greatly boosted by withstanding dragon 
fire and winning the day!

Reply to Doug
From Tom Walton

I agree that at most of the time a neutral should join the Dark 
Servants just on general principle.  The Servants have a much harder 
time of it than the Free, especially in winter games (as I recently 
experienced first-hand), and neutral opposition makes their 
situation much more desperate.

Yet I can't say that I've done this.  I've played neutrals six times 
now; four times I joined the Free, once the Dark Servants, and one 
time both sides were so bone-headed I just attacked and conquered 
everyone around me regardless of allegiance (my most enjoyable game 
yet).  Why so?

In three of the four cases where I joined the Free, I did so because 
Mordor made a pre-emptive strike, either with agents, military 
units, or both.  In all three of these cases, the Dark Servants 
started off with threats ("join us or die"), either as a group or
from individual regional players.  In essence, the Dark Servants 
convinced me that I could expect nothing better than threats and an 
end-game character war, which irritated me to no end.  In the last 
case, I suffered a brain cramp upon receiving a very friendly letter 
from a neighoring nation and changed my mind at the last minute 
(indeed, on the turn I was supposed to cross over the river and 
conquer said neighbor under Sauron's banner).

Doug's point is well-taken.  Unfortunately, I've experienced what he 
seems to be going through at the hands of Mordor much more often 
than with the Free Peoples.  In only one game has the Dark Servant 
team actually tried a little diplomacy, and because of that I'm now 
throwing everything I have (as Harad) into protecting Mordor. 

The point being:  whether it's the Free or the Servants, picking the 
team that's least likely to give you the shaft can be difficult.  
It's also far more important to a neutral than picking a team based 
upon it's allegiance or how it's doing in the war overall.  It's no 
fun jumping in on a side and giving your all if said side smacks you 
upside the head with agents and emissaries when the war's all but 
over.

As a side note:  I still find it amazing that some people seem to 
think that threatening a neutral will actually convince it to join 
their side.  This might work in real life, but not often at all in 
the game; after all, we players have nothing to lose, and there's no 
greater satisfaction than stomping all over some obnoxious idiot 
who's been giving you a hard time - even if such an endeavor results 
in your ultimate defeat.  Dragging an enemy with you to the grave is 
a time-honored goal in gaming.

If you actually wish to recruit a neutral, beating your chest and 
grunting won't do it.  This juvenile and boorish tactic is only 
going to alienate the potential ally.  Recruitment tends to happen 
earlier, and much more whole-heartedly, if the allegiance avoids 
threats altogether and simply tries to convince the neutral just how 
unified and friendly it is.  Throwing in a few minor goodies helps 
too; after all, if you're the Servants you have artifacts to spare.  
What's one or two +20 artifacts in comparison to having the might of 
a nation equal to any two or three Dark Servants joining your side?


 How I Got Shafted in ME-PBM

From Brian Mason


This is not so much a "How I got Shafted" but a listing of rules 
mis-interpretations and errors in my first couple of games. In 
writing this I feel like I'm in a confessional. Forgive me father, 
for I've been dumb as a door.


- I assumed too much. I was guessing as to enemy strengths and
capabilites without having any good idea. I had characters blindly 
wandering about in the middle of nowhere hoping to find something 
good.

- I did not read the rules CAREFULLY! I recognized the need for 
emissaries (as described in Tom's excellent article on them in "The 
Mouth" #9) on turn one of my first game. So I named one with a 30/10 
mage/emissary. Down goes 5000 gold, out comes a 10 emissary. The 
character didn't pass 30 until turn eight.

- I did not recognize and use my capabilities well. I did not see 
the value in recruiting lots of troops, so the hire army ability of 
Cardolan was not adequately used until a half-dozen turns or so had 
passed.

- I didn't take the time to understand well how the combat algorithm 
works. GSI, in their example, goes to great lengths to, and I quote:
"the army of Borgen, although out-numbered 3/2, by virtue of..." 
blah blah blah. I took this to the heart and valued quality over 
quantity, and for the longest time would not even CONSIDER 
recruiting until I had bronze or steel handy, and I always went out 
of my way to train.

- DON'T LET YOURSELF GET SPECIAL SERVICED! Find out how long mail 
takes to be delivered from your door to Miami. Double it. Add a day. 
Then take it to the post office that morning.  You've got to plan 
ahead, but it'll save some heartache later.
- I assumed that if I found no characters on a scout for characters 
that there were no characters to be found. Wrongo!

- I didn't read the requirements for orders carefully. One game, I 
had an army commander make steel armor. On the very next turn he 
upgraded armor. But he left out that he wanted to upgrade to steel 
armor. Never mind that he only had steel armor present. No upgrade.  
Another example, in a recent turn I executed TranCar in my capital 
to send gold to someone else. I told them where to (4133), I told 
them what (gold), I told them how much (10000).  Unfortunately, they 
wanted to know where I wanted the stuff to come from. I was promptly 
told that I could not transfer gold FROM 4133 as it was not mine. No 
joke.

- FAX machines will and do run out of paper. If you are faxing in a 
turn, do it a day early or call to make sure it arrived or, sorry 
Charlie, tough luck (sound familiar, Glen?).

- I did not always read what affects orders.  Understand each order 
well.

- I did not appreciate how often Dragons wander about mountains. The 
love emissary snacks!

What now follows are a series of questions and the answers I sent in 
to GSI. For a while I had a fresh stack of a half-dozen questions or 
so every turn. Your response to some of the questions may be
increduility (as mine is now, in looking back, but these are the 
thoughts of a new player on the zeroth turn of his first game). Be 
kind!

          - Q: Regarding victory conditions, do I understand
   correctly that if I fulfill a victory
   condition prior to the game end then I only
   have fulfilled the conditions if they still
   exist at the game end?
A: Yes

          - Q: Who is Pochak?
A: You will have to find out. See spells for
   ideas...

          - Q: What is the purpose of the "challenge"
   attribute of characters?
A: See p. 52 - Rules: Personal Challenges

          - Q: When you name a new mage do you get to chose
   the spell(s) which he/she will have? If not,
   how are they determined?
A: No, they are determined for you by nation

          - Q: Do we already have all information available
   on our territory which would be determined by
   a Recon Area?
A: On your turn map, only icons and presence of
   items is indicated. Scout areas/recons also
   can provide names of characters/nations as
   well.

          - Q: Do we already have all information available
   on our territory which would be determined by
   a Scout Area?
A: See above.

          - Q: Do we already have all information available
   on our territory which would be determined by
   a Scout Hex?
A: No

          - Q: Do we already have all information available
   on our territory which would be determined by
   a Scout Population Center?
A: No

          - Q: Do we already have all information available
   on our territory which would be determined by
   a Scout for Characters?
A: No. This reveals characters in a specific hex
   only..

          - Q: If a hex has a population center in it, will
   scout population center and scout hex
   determine different things?
A: Yes

          - Q: Does it matter where within your country you
   spread rumors? Does it matter where in
   another country you try to uncover secrets?
A: No. Yes, see pg 87 in rules

          - Q: What is my interest in hex 0508 (Lanthir
   Lamath)?
A: See page 7 in rulebook.

          - Q: Is it possible to ascertain the loyalty
   effects of raising taxes prior to raising
   them?
A: Not exactly, it is a function of the amount
   of change...

          - Q: With regards to spell lists for research of
   new spells what is a spell list? For example,
   is Lore Spells a spell list or is Divinations
   a spell list?
A: See page 33 in Rules

          - Q: Can the same unit be put on army maneuvers by
   the army commander, and on troop maneuvers by
   another character with command skill with the
   army on the same turn?
A: Yes

          - Q: Once a neutral nation executes order #175
   (ChAlleg) to join the good or evil side, can
   it go back to neutral and to the other side?
   Can a good or evil nation use this order? Is
   there anyway to ascertain whether or not a
   neutral nation has executed this order other
   than the Perceive Allegiance and Perceive
   Secrets spells?
A: No. No. By spying army icons, indirect
   evidence as well.

          - Q: It seems that for casting spells the spell
   proficency is much more important than the
   mage rank.  Is this true?  Is the only value
   of mage rank in determining the initial
   casting proficency of a new spell?
A: Yes. And spell difficulty. See page 33 in
   rules

          - Q: Is it possible to research a spell that is
   "easy" on a list which is not "lost" even if
   the character does not have access to it? For
   example, one of my characters has the
   following three spells:
   102 - Barriers on the Barriers Mastery List
   208 - Word of Pain on the Word Mastery List
   419 - Divine Nation Forces on the Divinations
         List
   Suppose I want the character to research a
   new spell.  I know I can research spells up
   to one degree harder on each of these three
   lists, however, can the character research a
   basic prerequisite spell on another list
   (e.g. 402 - Perceive Allegiance)?
A: Yes. You have access unless they are "lost."

          - Q: On turn 1 two characters of mine executed
   order 925 - Recon.  The only information
   provided was a map.  No information at all
   was provided vis a vis an alien army in a hex
   on the map (1715).  Does this indicate the
   recon was unsuccessful or only partially
   successful? As Recon (925) is an easy
   command, with the +20 bonus on scouting/recon
   for Cardolan Agent/Command I would have
   expected to receive all available
   information.  Is this true?
A: The amount and detail of reported information
   is based on the command rank and incorrect
   reports are possible - see page #102 of the
   rules.

          - Q: On turn 1 I had 500 victory points.  Is it
   possible to get in the future, an itemized
   accounting of how we get the points and where
   we rank (1-25) in each of the four
   categories?
A: The exact break-down of Victory points is not
   revealed. See Page #6 for details!

          - Q: Am I mailing in my turn 1 moves or my turn 2
   moves? For example, suppose I received a
   resultsheet with turn # 5 printed on the
   bottom, and I had 12 characters. If the moves
   which I would then prepare to mail in were
   turn 5 moves (I presume) I could not create a
   new character. If the moves which I would
   then prepare to mail in were turn 6 moves (I
   presume, again) I could create a new
   character.  Which is true?
A: They would be turn #5 moves.

          - Q: Can you give commanders (not ARMY commanders)
   travelling with the army orders for army
   commanders only, which then would be executed
   in the event the army commander was killed in
   personal combat? For example, bill is an army
   commander and ted is a back-up commander
   travelling with the army.  Could you give
   both of these two orders 230 and 850 (for
   example). Of course, the only way ted's
   orders would take effect would be if bill
   were killed and he became army commander.
   This would allow you to make sure an army did
   what you wanted regardless of what happened
   to the commander.
A: Yes

          - Q: Can you give a character two orders of their
   type (i.e. two agent orders, two emissary
   orders, etc.) knowning that only one could be
   executed. For example, suppose you had an
   enemy army at your population center where
   you had an emissary.  Could you give him
   orders 520 and 550.  550 would take effect if
   the population center was destroyed, and 520
   if it was not. The effect is to give a
   character only one order for that turn.
A: No

          - Q: Are the production values given at population
   centers representative values for those types
   of hexes, or are they above the mean?
A: The production values given when scouting a
   hex are the values at maximum (100%)
   production, all other values may have been
   modified by the climate modifier.

          - Q: Are production values randomly selected for
   each population center at the start of each
   game, or is a nations production set, and
   production shifted between population
   centers?
A: Randomly selected.

          - Q: When creating or posting a camp what factors
   determine whether or not the camp is posted?
   For example, does it depend just on the skill
   rank of the person using the appropriate
   order, or does it also depend on the terrain
   in the hex, or nation tax rate, or season, or
   how well that nation is doing in the game,
   etc.?
A: The emissary or command skill and the total
   number of population centers in the game.

          - Q: When improving a population center what
   factors determine whether or not the
   population center is improved?  For example,
   does it depend just on the skill rank of the
   person using the appropriate order, or does
   it also depend on the terrain in the hex, or
   nation tax rate, or season, or how well that
   nation is doing in the game, morale of the
   population center, other characters present,
   etc.?
A: The level of the emissary and the loyalty of
   the population center.

          - Q: If an army has more than one backup
   commanders, and the commander is killed
   through personal challenge, as a result of
   combat, or by assassination, which of the
   subcommanders will become army commander?
A: The next best commander.

          - Q: Would the spell "Perceive Allegiance" show
   only active players of a specified
   allegiance, or would it also show those which
   are inactive (i.e. dropped), or would it show
   those which are defeated?
A: yes and only neutrals which have changed
   their allegiance.

          - Q: Just a suggestion for modification of rules:
   An idea I had of a possible emissary order
   would be "Make Pronouncement" where you would
   be allowed to make a 20 word statement that
   would appear in each countries "Nation
   Messages" for the following turn. This would
   then get the message to all nations, even
   those who do not get "Whispers..."
A: No response.

          - Q: Another suggestion for something to include
   in the new player supplies would be a map
   with the information provided on the large
   poster size map but in a small (8 x 11) size.
   The larger one is too bulky for easy use, and
   I think the resolution of laser printing
   might allow for the information to be reduced
   to that size.
A: No response.

          - Q: Is gold production reduced as a population
   center increases in size like all the other
   resources, or does it remain the same?
A: remains the same.

          - Q: Will Counter espionage work on the agent that
   executed the order?
A: No.



         Commentary
      by Leslie Foreman

  (Originally published in the 'Free People Press')

As I have mentioned in the past, I generally read 'The Press', but  
I must admit that I often find the names of the characters to be 
obnoxious.  I feel that I am wrapping my lips around too many 
letters to be in just one word.  Then when the sounds do come out, 
it is more like a foreign curse than a name.  I realize that many of 
the names where given to you by GSI, but I also know that you have 
had the opportunity to create and to name characters of your own.

With this in mind, I would like to suggest that you choose names 
which have meaning. I guarantee that it will help you keep up with 
who is who and what his/her purpose is. I have several examples. (I 
don't understand it, but I have remained true to the idea that names 
need to begin with a vowel.  I have selected E for this example.)

Eayuwanajoyn   A commander which you know will raise many
               troops. You know "Uncle Eayuwanajoyn needs you."

Ehrsdahinimy   A commander which you know will lead many men
               into many battles.

Ehrdowegoh     A commander created and attached to an army just 
               prior to battle.

Elpikneedelp   A commander who, when created, is already at a 
               military disadvantage.

Ehrsdahrmee    An agent created to scout for information.

Ehrsdagohld    An agent created to find his/her way into the 
               treasury of others.

Eayulissenin   A character created to steal "pop centers"
               through emissary action.

Eesded and     A character who is created, yet his demise is
Eestoste       known to be imminent.

Enuffe    	   A quick, and somewhat clever, way of ending this 
                   commentary.  Good gaming, guys!  (If you need a
                   key, there is one at the end of 'The Press'. 
                   Good luck!!)

I hope you don't need these, but here are the names written in good 
ol' standard English.

Eayuwanajoyn        Hey! You want to join?
Ehrsdahinimy        Where's the enemy?
Ehrdowegoh          Where do we go?
Elpikneedelp        Help! I need help!!
Ehrsdahrmee         Where's the army?
Ehrsdagohld         Where's the gold?
Eayulissenin        Hey!  You listening?
Eesded              He's dead.
Eestoste            He's toast.
Enough              Again, a good way to end.


   The European Connection
       By Brian Lowery

Following is somthing I got off rec.arts.pbm I thought you might be 
interested.  It would also be interesting to get the europian 
veiwpoint as I have been told that they run their own version of the 
software and it has not been updated with the latest agent/emissary 
order changes:

Since the disasterous attempt by GAD in the UK to produce a 
newsletter for MEPBM I've been toying with the idea of producing one 
myself (with a help from a few friends and fellow players).

This is a request for feedback on the validity of the idea.

	 - Is there a need for such in  UK / EUROPE ?

	 - Would people want it ?

	 - Are enough people willing to contribute articles etc ?

Please let me know, and spread the word to those players you know 
who are not on the net.

My e-mail address is:

Ian.Pearson@afrc.ac.uk

Contact me for my postal address if you need it.

Ian Pearson

P.S. Any non-Europeans reading this are more than welcome to 
comment/contribute.


       Mages in Battle
        By Tom Walton

I've heard a number of comments concerning how wimpy battle magic 
is.  Can't say I agree with them; there are far too many games on 
the market where magic is nothing more than the fantasy equivalent 
of nuclear weapons, destroying any real attempt at winning through 
wit (the idiots can get nukes just as easy as the smart guys).

But magic in battle is underestimated in ME-PBM.  Here's a
simplistic example, involving two armies of 2,000 HI.  Let's say 
that both armies are equal in every respect for ease of calculation, 
and that offensive strength works at to 10,000 points, defensive 
strength to 20,000 points.  Neither has access to magic.

In a normal battle, both would inflict 10,000 points on each other 
in the first round, reducing the armies to 1,000 HI apiece.  
Recalculate, and each kills off another 500 HI in the second round.  
This continues until both armies fall to less than 100 HI and are 
dissolved.

Now imagine that the first army has two mages in it, each of whom is 
capable of casting a defensive spell worth 1250 points.  Both cast 
for a total of 2500 defensive points in the first round.

Army #1 inflicts 10,000 points, while army #2 only does 7500 points.  
Army #1 is reduced to 1250 HI, army #2 to 1,000 HI.  The spells wear 
off (only good for the first round), and battle continues round 
after round until #2 is destroyed.  Army #1 survives with about 550 
troops.  In essence, the two mediocre spells saved the army and kept 
5500 strength points of troops from being wiped out.

Try another example, where army number one also has a 1,000 point 
combat weapon.  In the first round, army #1 inflicts 11,000 points, 
otherwise the battle is the same.  Army #1 is left with about 660 
troops at the end of the battle.

Maybe this doesn't sound like much to you, but you can change this 
to say, light infantry and get a survival rate of 1100 troops and 
1320 troops where otherwise the army would be destroyed.  Or 
2750/3300 men-at-arms.  Vary the equation by adding some archers in, 
and suddenly the bowmen aren't dying in droves.

It's usually better to use defensive spells than offensive spells, 
if you can expect to fight multiple rounds of combat.  But if your 
troops really suck, or you're going to get wiped out in the first 
round anyway, casting offensive spells allows you to inflict more 
casualties.

Used with precision, magic can change the course of a war, 
especially for the Dark Servants.  Those extra casualties or saved 
troops add up over time, and having an army survive instead of 
getting destroyed allows it to continue to operate and be a pain in
the butt enemy territory.  This is especially so if the army is far 
from home and it'd take several turns to get a new one into the 
region.  Best of all, magic doesn't cost anything in terms of 
maintenance, and can be used over and over again to annoy and 
discomfit your opponents.