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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

******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite and most reliable unbiased publication in the known universe from our home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last couple of weeks,

Cluster War! DNA Gather Fruit
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

user image

Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,

Cluster War! MZC attacks DNA
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

The Dewiek rise again!

After the death and destruction wrought upon the Dewiek Nation by the Architects, there was a period of calm if you were a werewolf fancier. But now the Dewiek have risen to once more in the name of the Dewiek Packs, led by Skarn. Their new message being one of peace, a most unusual change for the large humanoid wolves. While they rise from the ashes of the Mizuchi Combine the Galaxy waits to see how this new affiliation acts, baring in mind the Dewiek have something of reputation.

Empire invade the Cluster!

A significant force of GTT warships recently entered the Cluster, somewhere they have not seen the need to go for a very long time. At the same time the CIA banned the Dewiek Packs from it’s space and also sent a large number of warships into the Cluster to bolster the GTT’s presence. After this show of force the Crossley system, known for it’s wormhole connecting from the Cluster to CIA space shifted to be claimed by the GTT. Currently the Empire has over 200,000 troops and 2000 warships roaming the nearby systems. Inhabitants of the Cluster are waiting to see if there are any further developments. GTT CEO Xavier Fox when asked by our office dismissed it as a “Training exercise”.

Krell sale!

The Krell Clan Dark Angels has been selling off bases, outposts and even systems lately. It is unknown why they have decided to cash in their assets and territories, but it points to the accumulation of significant wealth by the Krell clan. If you have any spare cash and want to expand your assets then it seems to our office that the best place to go is the Dark Angel Clan and ask what will be going up for sale next, assuming they actually have anything left.

*** Affiliations ***

AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
BLG Bolg Organisation (22) - Akhenaten
BHD Brotherhood (63) - de Molay
CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - <unknown>
DWK Dewiek Packs (19) - Skarn
FCN Falconian Republic (70) – Bacran *
FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
HEX Hexamon (23) - <unknown>
KRL Krell (30) - Namica
KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
MOH Mohache (73) – Listens
NHS Noble Houses (41) – Roy Roberts
NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

* Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
** Only known contact, please update us if this is incorrect.


*** Submissions ***

By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
GTT step forward to control protection and peace in the Stellar Empire.

With the retirement of Jack Johns and various lower-level IMP officers from public life, the Imperial Services were left on the verge of being unable to fill their role as protectors of the Stellar Empire. Due to the serious nature the Imperial Services found itself in, the Emperor recently travelled to GTT HQ to attend a board meeting with the directors of the GTT.

With Galactic Trade and Transport being one of the few remaining loyal Imperial Chartered affiliations, who also supply well over half of the war material to the Imperial Services, the Emperor sought the position of the GTT with regard to the Imperial Services becoming overburdened with bureaucracy and lacking effective leadership. Effectively the Imperial Services were at the point of collapse. A position highlighted when an opportunistic supposed ally subverted four Imperial Outposts in the Inner Empire, thinking their asset grabbing would go unnoticed.
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  Star Date: 221.30.5

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A Forlorn Hope

The seat of Dewiek Government has fallen. What began as a small group of Architect ships picking up retreating DEN forces, amalgamated into a much larger force. The bombardment fleet comprised dozens of Adult ARC ships plus several Planet Killers. The force made short work of the impressive fortifications of the planetary orbit of Newstart. Multiple heavily armoured and maximised deflector shield platforms crumbled. They did so only after releasing their volleys of antimatter and nova weapon batteries. Any DEN warships that remained from earlier encounters also stood the line. But within the week, the last defence was gone.

Bombardment of Wolf Lair starbase proceeded without further resistance from the Dewiek. ARC Plasmas ripped through starbase shields. They demolished tens of thousands of factories and research facilities. The ARC demolished the huge military recruitment and training facilities on the planet. Over half a million trained troops evacuated from deep bunkers, leaving a token ground defence.

The ARC were not satisfied to burn the facilities and murder the workers. They deployed repeated salvos of their Virus Bombs on the wider population. Reports began to arrive of civilians of the world regressing. Leaving settlements and returning to nature. Much as the Dewiek found themselves some decades ago when they started to recover from the First Great ARC-DEN War. This time there was no High Lord Magnus willing to obliterate the world to save a remnant of the people. Newstart was already lost.

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Newstart is lost

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  Star Date: 221.27.2

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End Game Lost

A short-lived period of peace followed the Dewiek Elder Nation’s historic and Saga-worthy defence against the Architect Planet Killers. A handful of the more typically encountered ARC ships were spotted picking off DEN support ships in Forlorn Hope before more than forty of them appeared back in End Game.

While the ARC “Adult” class ships, as the DEN had previously classified them, were eight times smaller than the “Planet Killers”, they were still as big as the largest ships any other species has managed to produce. Including the otherwise technologically advanced Dewiek.

Forty-four of these Plasma armed organic vessels smashed through the DEN forces left circling the orbit of Beacon, End Game. The mass of ARC weapons bombarded the DEN Shipyards at Ragnorak with their superheated ionized gas, razing the entire outpost to the ground.

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ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game

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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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Assault on End Game

The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.

The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.

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Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble

However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:

“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”

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Doomsday On Pause

At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.

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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space

As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.

Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.

Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.

Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease

Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.

What they found will shock you!


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).