Role Playing Game (1981). Adventures By Mail. Designed by Jack Everitt, Robert Cook, Michael Popolizio.
Beyond the Stellar Empire was a Play by Mail game created in the US, resembling a massively multiplayer Space Sim such as EVE Online (2003) but mediated entirely through text and run in slow motion. In 1992 the UK company KJC Games (KJC) licenced the game from Adventures By Mail and created a separate instantiation of its fictional world. While the US version has now been shut down, the UK variant continues in the form of Phoenix: Beyond the Stellar Empire (2002 KJC) designed by David Bethel, Mica Goldstone, a successor which uses more sophisticated software to continue the narrative developed in the UK licence of the original work.
Players begin the game in a Space Opera universe as captains of their own starships, typically as members of a human corporation, alien race, or other "affiliation". They can accept missions offered by the group or act independently; common approaches include concentrating on exploration, trade, combat or founding colonies. Actions are submitted on a written form, originally by post and later by email or web browser, and processed by software or, if necessary, by a human moderator. This format offers considerable flexibility; players can establish and manage their own interstellar colonies, dispatch landing parties to explore planets, negotiate with other factions and participate in battles between opposing space fleets. The game has no predetermined ending. Instead, players have created their own Future History starting from the universe established by the developers when the original Beyond the Stellar Empire was launched in 1981. This shared story has much in common with Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium stories and Traveller's Third Imperium; several hundred years from now, humanity has created a Galactic Empire ruled by an aristocratic elite. [NT]
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