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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

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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 unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
***** Inter Galactic News *****

A Detinus expeditionary force is being assembled to liberate slaves in the Twilight Periphery. Stung by the wit of the Wimble Dinash, Admiral Bridge is leading a personal and sizeable force against the newly constituted Flagritz Republic.

The Wimble Bake Off has new competition with the Dominion instituting a Master Chef competition in the Orion Spur. This is all said to be a cover for further land grabs and in preparation for a move against the Hive and Dewiek, tipping the balance further in the Stellar Empire’s favour.

Meanwhile, the Wimbles struck off a number of hapless Wimbles under their new rules. To cement their plan to align themselves with the Stellar Empire, they have offered the services of their new masters to the Emperor.

Several hundred thousand slaves have been released by the Flagritz Republic but the terms of their manumission are unclear. Millions more await their emancipation. Many have refused to accept freedom without transit home, especially those brought in from outside peripheries. Many reportedly were captured by the Stellar Empire from the Detinus Republic and then sold on to the Flagritz.

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

The ship PRV HarCop Omega has been reported both in Orion and Corewards. This was the flagship of the former League Chairman, sacked from the role when the League went into administration and quietly disappearing beyond the edge of known space. It is thought that his return may have been for a clandestine meeting with his former contacts in Harlong and Coptuv. If so then he clearly has an agenda.

Unconfirmed stories that the Pirate King of The Pirate Holes and Million Islands is near completing research on the various larger ships his pirates have successfully captured over the past few years (big thanks to all the affiliations that participated in 'donating' ships). If the rumours are true it is likely a new armada of pirate ships using more advanced technology will be found in Corewards in the near future.

An supernova has been detected originating from just beyond the Transpiral Periphery. The rare event has created ripples in the subspace of the nearby stars. Nobody has reported any tangible ramifications but this is the first supernova in the current age of the Peripheries so esoteric scientists are excited by the prospect of grants to study the relatively nearby phenomena.
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

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

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

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

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc


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).