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New Rulebook Development

A new Rule Book

For over 12 years Phoenix has developed from a few journals of ideas on how to replace the decrepit Qbasic code of Beyond the Stellar Empire into something that far exceeds anything we ever imagined. During this time it has progressed from a purely email interface into something that from my opinion is unparalleled in the world of Play by Mail, by which I include all descendents of the genre.

So busy have we been in adding new features, updating old mechanics and refining elements of the game that the rules have become to be polite somewhat wanting. Occasionally we have added sections or updated other sections and even hardy players have taken up the baton upon occasion. The simple truth however is that they have been cobbled together and what little structuring that does exist is not overly user friendly.
So it is with both trepidation and resolve that I am to set the matter straight, starting with this article explaining what I intend to do.

To answer the most obvious question, why now and not years ago, it is because the end is now finally in sight. Yes indeed, we can now see what is needed to finish writing the game. Of course this in no way implies that we will stop developing Phoenix, rather we do not envisage anything on a par with the battle program, Nexus, notifications or relations. We will be largely concerned with bug fixes, bells and whistles. In fact in terms of major things left, all that we have to do is characters and improving the interfaces for missions and writing the orders for infrastructure as already laid out in the rules.

It is weird to have the end in sight such that afterwards we are concerned with doing nice things rather than necessary things, things that add depth to the game rather than things that when added you wonder how the game was played before. Of the latter, Nexus is the best example and from what I hearing, notifications is one of the best development since.

Returning to the subject of a new rule book; with a fair amount of hindsight and a lot of material contained within the IGN’s, the prospect of compiling one is much less daunting, though it is a task that I would rather do once and therefore properly. As such the purpose of this article is largely to share my thoughts on its layout and hopefully garner positive and critical feedback. In the existing rulebook my main complaint is that within pages there are often many sections. This makes for very awkward reading and location of information. I think that it is much better to use sub-pages, allowing for quick location of relevant information from the tree directory. This was previously not done because it was considered annoying to continually click between pages but mostly for players that prefer a printed version of the rules. We will bypass this through the creation of word documents and probably PDF’s of the rules. These can be generated by assembling sub-pages as sections in a single document (according to Darak, very straightforward).

The other major difference intended is to split elements into their own entries. For example, where research is currently a section within starbase, it will become a top-level page, as will things like production, exploration and the other key aspects of the game.

There is a question about depth. Many of the IGN articles, for example ‘Damage - Everything you needed to know’ explain aspects of the game to a higher degree than the existing rules. There are two schools of thought on this. The first is that the rules should contain all this data. The second is that as this level of ‘nitpicking’ is not needed to play the game, it might be best to simply give an overview that is sufficient for most players and give a link to the article for further reading. I sort of prefer this approach because the rules should give you what you need rather than put you off by seeming far too complicated.

So, the theory is that the main headings have an overview with the sub pages going into more depth. Purely by reading the heading pages, the player will have a reasonable understanding of the game.

There will also be a few notes in italics within the various sections explaining why things are the way they are.

This is what we have so far:

  • Introduction
    • Game Development History

  • How the game is played
    • Your Starting Position
      • Starting Missions
      • Submitting Orders
        • Offline Editor

    • Game Processing Cycle
    • Bank Holidays
    • Establishing your Game Presence
    • Stellars (in-game currency)
    • Fees (pay to play positions)
    • Leaving the Game

  • Navigating Nexus
    • ID
      • Changing ID
      • Pips/Medals/Ribbons

    • Forums
      • Posting Rules
      • IC/OOC

    • Game
    • Turns
    • Orders
    • Political
    • Library
      • IGN

    • Admin
    • Messages
    • Personal
    • Notifications
    • Missions
    • News

  • Positions
    • Ships
      • Squadrons

    • Starbases
      • Outposts

    • Operatives
      • Agents

    • Ground Parties
      • Debris
      • Cargo Dumps

    • Politicals
    • Platforms
    • Creating New Positions
    • Selling Positions

  • Factions
    • Affiliations
      • Profile Options
      • Charters

    • Power Blocks
    • Relations
    • Territory
      • System Claim
      • System Income
      • System Enemy Lists
      • Exclusion Zones

    • Roleplaying

  • Movement
    • Jumping
    • ISR Drives
    • Reaction Engines
    • Stargates
    • Wormholes
    • Surface and Orbital Movement

  • Scanning
    • Stopped for Combat
    • Cloaking

  • Personnel
    • Employees
      • Slaves
      • Indentured Workers

    • Troops
      • Militia
      • Training

    • Scientists
    • Officers
      • Skills

    • Recruitment and Acquisition

  • Trade
    • Merchandising
      • Merchandising Calculator

    • Item Value
    • Planetary Sales
    • Player Controlled Markets
      • Private Markets
      • Hiports

    • Trading with Civilians (Non-players)

  • Production
    • Assigning Factories
      • Basic Production
      • Mass Production

    • Materials and Substitution
    • Strion Enhancing
    • Blueprint Limits

  • Research
    • Principles
    • Techs
    • Blueprints
      • Prototypes and One Use

    • Scientists and Universities
    • Stellar Cartography
    • Esoteric Technology

  • Ship Design and Construction
    • Design Limits for tech
    • Limits due to Hull Type
      • Armour
      • Weapon Space
      • ISR
      • Installation Space
      • Integrity

    • Armour
    • Installed Item Requirements
    • Ship Template Alternative for Installed Items

  • Mining
    • Mining Calculator Resource
    • Types of Mining
    • Subsurface Mining
    • Enhancement of Deposits

  • Resources
    • Finding Resources
    • Growth
    • Dealing with Civilians

  • GM Moderation
    • Explorations
    • Investigations
    • Special Actions
    • One-off
    • Free Actions
    • PM’ing GM’s
    • Arbitration
    • Civilians and NPC Factions

  • Infrastructure
    • World Levels
    • Establishing a Colony
    • Infrastructure Classes
    • Enhancements
    • Governments

  • Combat
    • Targeting
      • Enemy
      • Support
      • Defend
      • Do not Target
      • Relations Override

    • Weapon Types
    • Combat Ranges
    • Weapon Types
    • Defence
    • Damage
      • Death and Promotion
      • Blowing Up
      • Integrity Breakdown

    • Control Battles
      • Boarding Actions
      • Raiding

  • Appendix
    • The Universe
      • Peripheries
      • Systems
      • Planets & Moons
        • World Types

      • Gas Giants
      • Asteroid Belts
      • Nebulas
      • Asteroids
      • Stargates
      • Wormholes
      • Anomalies

    • Items
      • Stats
      • Item Types[…]
      • Unique Stats

    • Orders
      • By Position Type and Group Type

Is open for business...
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Return of the LiQuans

A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.

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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).