Code:
        From the Mouth of Sauron

Issue:    E-1
Date:     12-17-93

An Experiment

This is an experiment.  Prior to the start of game 117, I ran a 
newsletter to help coordinate team information and strategy.  The 
newsletter was discontinued with the start of the game, since many 
of the members have e-mail and the remainder could be contacted by 
phone far more quickly.  Alas, the U.S. postal service simply proved 
less than adequate in comparison with other methods of exchanging 
knowledge.

Given the much faster response time inherent to e-mail,I thought I'd 
give a shot at putting together an electronic newsletter.  There may 
be alot of interest, there may be none; I'm curious to see what you 
all think of the idea.

I'll run a couple of issues to 'test the waters' and see how people 
respond.  If there's sufficient interest, The Mouth will go out 
every Friday.  If not, the newsletter will be discontinued and 
revert back to a simple file of updates on encounters, artifacts, 
and so forth.

Newsletters rely upon contributions by the readership.  If you like 
the idea of a newsletter, then by all means feel free to send in a 
contribution.  Possible subject ideas might include (but certainly 
aren't limited to):

	 - questions concerning game mechanics, encounters, etc. that 
           you'd like to have answered by a veteran reader.

	 - strategy and tactical ideas.

	 - humor (my favorite)

	 - personal opinions on styles of play

	 - analysis of various nations, allegiances, etc.

	 - information or data on the market, combat, etc.

	 - interesting experiences, examples of brilliant or poor play, 
           neat tricks

	 - just about anything you can think of that's even remotely 
           connected to ME-PBM (e.g., essays on Tolkien's body hair, 
           whether or not his nephew actually wrote most of the 
           Silmarillion, etc).

I'll print anything you send me except for personal attacks upon 
another player or blacklists.  If you submit something, you don't
have to do it under your own name.  Aliases are fine; just you and 
I will know who wrote the article or response.

Should the writing bug nip you one in the ass, simply send your 
article to me at my e-mail address with an attached note saying that 
you want it to go out in The Mouth.  Also indicate what alias, if 
any, you want to use.  Don't use neat-looking formats, because I'll 
just have to reformat it for inclusion anyway (the various systems 
of individual players cut word-processing documents to hell).

Format

During these first few issues, the format of the newsletter will run 
like this:

	 - editorial observations by yours truly
	 - letters (forum)
	 - changes to basic game information (artifacts, setups, etc.)
	 - changes/additions to encounters
	 - rumors of all sorts
	 - questions that someone would like answered
	 - articles submitted by the readership

As this counts as the first issue, the only items here are my 
comments (above) and various changes to artifacts and encounters, 
plus a few notes.  Mayhap the next issue will be somewhat more 
interesting

Information on Artifacts

The baselines on the artifact list are slightly off in a number of 
cases.  I never bothered to correct these until now.  Most of this 
information was provided by my teammates in game 117 (who're 
somewhat more thorough than I am):

- Collar of Command, 160:  this is a Command +30 artifact, not 
 Command +25.

- Dragon Helm of Dor-Lomin, 61:  my best information says this is a 
  Command +15 artifact, not Command +10.  However, I recently heard a 
  rumor that this artifact has been changed to +30.  Anyone with an 
  interest may want to do a 'research artifact'; I'd appreciate 
  hearing about the results.

- Ring of Impersonation, 4:  this is an Agent +25 artifact, not 
  Agent +20.
 
- Lorglin, 8:  This is a mage +15 artifact, not mage +20.

- Orb of Seeing, 35:  This is a mage +30 artifact, not mage +35.

- Galadriel has Nenya (12); Gandalf has Narya (13).  This was 
  inadvertantly switched on my artifact list.

And for some more rumored secondary powers:

- 15 Tinculin: 	 Access to Spirit Mastery.*
- 16 Mothras:  	 Alternate list has this as access to Dark 
                 Summons, not access to Spirit Mastery.*
- 18 Tablets
   of Dark
   Knowledge:  	 Alternate list has this as access to Dark 
                 Summons, not access to Spirit Mastery.*
- 77 Ungolrist:	 This has a bonus to fighting spiders.
- 81 Sil-Maegil: This has a bonus to fighting evil creatures.*
- 101 E Voronwe: Access to teleport.
- 127 Aranruth:	 This has a bonus to fighting evil creatures.*
- 133 Dagger of
  Green Wisdom:	 Access to conjuring ways.*

All of those marked with an asterisk haven't been independently 
confirmed by other sources.

I list I recently received actually had an entry for the One Ring.  
It said that the Ring gives a character a +90 to his best ability 
and a Stealth rating of 100.  Sounds a bit far-fetched to me.  One 
other list I had in my possession said the Ring gives a character a 
+60 to his best ability and also a stealth bonus, but that hasn't 
been confirmed either.

Rumors

Rumors abound in the game, most ludicrous.  Rather than attempting 
to make an educated guess, or spending hours poring over data to see 
if you can confirm or deny what you hear, I suggest you ask Bill at 
GSI directly.  To date, I've sent my a half-dozen letters chock-full 
of questions, and as a result, I've learned an astonishing amount 
concerning how the game works.  It also helped to dispel a number of 
far-fetched but much-treasured 'old gamers tales' concerning 
encounters, the economic system, combat, and so forth.

Some examples:

	 - the defensive bonus provided by fortifications is 10%-20% of 
           the constitution value of the owning army.  Towers give the 
           force a 10% bonus, citadels a 20%, with everything else falling 
           in-between (I think these figures were clarified in the 
           November issue of Whispers).

	 - Most ideas on how the market system works are hogwash.  It's 
           rather complicated, but follows many real-world rules of supply 
           and demand.  Quickly, market prices aren't determined by 
           treasury alone; it's possible for a single player to buy out 
           the entire stock of a resource on the market (I've done this a 
           number of times); sells don't have built-in limitations, other 
           than what's provided by the overall capacity of the market; 
           pricing is interconnected and limited by an 'averaging' factor; 
           the basic laws of supply and demand play a very big role in
           determining prices and capacity; and much more.

	 - for most encounters, you can skip the '290' order and go 
           directly to the '285' order, providing a response.  Of course, 
           you have to know what you're facing, since you won't get an 
           option list like you do with the '290' order.

	 - dragons can encounter more than one person during the turn.  
           If a dragon finds someone in the hex, others (who don't get the 
           encounter description) can do a '285' and react to the dragon.  
           They'll do so individually, so characters can't 'gang up' to 
           fight a dragon (although they could fight it one after another, 
           eventually cutting it down if they're all good enough).

These are just a few examples of what Bill has told me in our Q&A 
sessions.  It pays to talk to the game creator; no player will ever 
know more than a small fraction of what he does.

If you have questions that you want answered by Bill, you can just 
drop him a card directly.  In addition, I compile lists and send 
them off to him every once in a while, so I'll be more than happy to 
forward any questions you have by putting them down on the list 
(makes life easier for Bill if they come in one letter).

Loyalty Ranges

There's some interest in learning what loyalty ranges correspond to 
the description you get when an emissary does an 'Influence Other'.  
Rebellious seems to be 1-15, marginal 16-25 or 30, etc.  Anyone 
who's interested can send what data they have to me; I'll compile it 
and put the results out in the next newsletter.

Revised Files

The data files I have on ME-PBM have been revised substantially 
since I first sent them out a few weeks ago.  The formatting 
problems inherent in the expanded margins were also taken care of, 
for those of you who have systems that trash files with long line 
lengths.  I also revised the results, so that the 'escape' entry was 
cut into 'escape unharmed' and 'escape injured'.

If you want the revised files, simply drop me a line and I'll send 
them out.  Those of you who've indicated you want the revised files 
anyway will get them along with this newsletter.

Also, for those who've indicated they want entire files, I'll 
probably only send these out once every couple of weeks if I get 
alot of changes, or once a month if I don't.  I'm sure that you 
don't want to pore over a new list just to find a couple of new 
additions.

Encounters
I'm always looking for new information on encounters.  Anyone with 
a hankering to add to my list is more than welcome to do so.


Curtain Call

That's the end of the first electronic issue of The Mouth.  Hope you 
found it worthwile!

Tom