Flagship #87, £3.50, quarterly
Flagship, 14 The Hollows, Exmouth, Devon, EX8 1QT
At the heart of every issue of Flagship are the very complete listings of PBM games available in the UK. Without a doubt Flagship is the first port of call for anyone seeking to enter the often confusing world of PBM. Not only does it provide contact and pricing details for all the games it also tries to categorise them and cross-reference to previous items in the magazine about the game. The result is really quite authorative.
Flagship is attractively presented with good general production values and even good quality artwork in the main (something that is quite rare). About the only thing that lets down the side is the sometimes unnecessarily jagged look of some of the scanned artwork. The average issue is made up of the usual letters, reviews, news and gossip. One peculiar institution is the Rumours section which is made up of a form of
High Gossip comprising of out and in-character views on on-going games, previews from games currently in playtest, in-game rumours, out of game opinions and pure chat. Since the whole section is made up of reader's contributions it is quirky, immediate, compulsively readable and adds a great feeling of
involvement with the magazine
For roleplayers though there is another angle of interest. Of interest to burnt out GM's there are the excellent
player diaries for hand-moderated RPG PBM's. The
diaries are often written in-character and in addition to providing a good idea of what a game is about, how it is run and what the moderating GM is like the diaries are full of interesting ideas to plunder and play around with.
In Issue 87 I was particularly taken with the description of a game called
Intrigue in Sumer which is set in a fantasised version of the Sumerian Empire. The game seems well-researched and the setting vividly described. I found it extremely interesting to consider how their descriptions of the desert capital (and its trappings - including a zoo) fitted in really well with the Dark Sun world. There was the same exoticism, the strange and yet familiar setting, evoked through strong, exciting language.
Of course actually running a game set in a background originally intended for PBM'ing might soon be a possibility as many PBM companies are now realising that the detailed backgrounds for their games might be a valuable commodity for roleplayers. At Dragonmeet I saw Lance and Crown games hawking their fairly lacklustre RPG system round but if the richness alluded to in the Sumerian piece was available at a reasonable price it could herald some major changes.
In the meantime if your imagination is flagging think about picking up a copy of Flagship to recharge the mental batteries.