What is a PBeM?

PBeM

PBeM is an acronym that stands for "Play By e-Mail". The basic idea is to simulate the experience of a face-to-face role playing game by using e-mail. There is a game master (or multiple game masters), and a group of players. Instead of verbally telling the game master (and the group) what a player's character is doing, the player emails a description of his or her actions to a mailing list. The concept is the same, but the medium is different.

As a result of the different medium, the game is more descriptive in nature. Most posts are written to not only describe the actions a character is taking, but what s/he is thinking, feeling, or experiencing. In this way, it is an even more immersive experience than face-to-face role playing.

Another benefit to the PBeM paradigm is the lack of a vast time commitment. If you want to role play face-to-face, you usually have to coordinate the schedules of eight or more people, find a time and place where they can all get together and be sequestered for hours at a time. With PBeM, you can play anytime you have a few spare minutes to check your email and do a bit of writing. So long as you're able to work a handful of such sessions a week, you have all the time you need.

Star Trek

Our particular PBeM is set in the Star Trek universe. Therefore, it certainly helps to know some background information about that fictional setting. Our game is based on information provided in the original series, the movies, and the more recent series: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. A potential player need not have seen every single episode, or even a majority of them. He or she needs only to have seen enough to have an understanding of how things work in the fictional setting of the United Federation of Planets, circa 2400 A.D.

How it All Works

So you may be asking, how does all of this work? Well, the organizational structure of the game fairly closely mirrors the actual structure of Starfleet. The overall game consists of a number of duty stations, which can be either a stationary outpost (like a Starbase or a research facility), or a Starship (like the Enterprise, or Voyager). Each duty station is its own self-contained game, has its own storylines, and its own set of characters, independent of any other duty station.

Each duty station has a Commanding Officer (CO), and a First Officer (FO). These two players are usually very experienced with the game, have been playing for quite a while, and know the ins and outs. They are the game masters for that particular game, in that they come up with the plot and are responsible for guiding the progress of the game, as well as dealing with any player-related issues that arise.

Everyone else on a duty station is a player in the game. They each have a fictional character which they created at the time they applied to join the game. Their character will belong to a department within the ship (e.g. Security, Engineering, Science, Medical). Their character will also have a rank, which will not only affect their in-game status, but will also reflect their time and accomplishments in-game. Players start at Ensign (junior grade), but can eventually work their way all the way up to Captain, or even higher!

Posting

The single most important aspect of the game is posting. A post is an e-mail containing a description of a character's (or group of characters') actions. Therefore, posts are what make the game go. Each post takes place in the context of a "mission", which is a storyline that the game is generally following. Missions are roughly analagous to an episode in the sense of the TV series. A post contains the following information:

What character is this post centered around

Where the post takes place

When the post takes place

What characters the action in this post will require a reply from

Generally, the CO of a ship will start a mission with a fairly long post which will set up the storyline. After that, it is largely up to the players and their imaginations to keep the story going via a series of interconnected posts. This continues until some goal or series of goals have been reached; these goals are usually known only to the CO and FO initially, and are revealed to the players gradually as they reach them via their posts.

Version 17.01 : Designed from the ground up by Anthony Keen : Contributions from the inexhaustible creative imaginations of the membership of Star Trek : Freedom. Star Trek®, Star Trek: The Next Generation®, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine®, Star Trek: Voyager®, Star Trek Enterprise®, Star Trek Picard®, Star Trek Discovery® and all associated marks and characters are registered trademarks of CBS/Paramount Television. All rights reserved. Please read the extended copyright notice. All original content copyright © 1997-2019 by Star Trek Freedom. The use of anything related to “Star Trek” on the “STAR TREK : FREEDOM” web site is not meant to be an infringement on CBS/Paramount Television property rights to “Star Trek.”