Universal PBEM Rules and Map

Link to Street Guide


The GM will assign the color of each player in the game. Each player is free to select the name of their own gang or use the supplied name (on the edge of the board) at their discretion. Themed nicknames are also welcome! Those with gang names related to a color will be given preference for that color. The GM will also randomly determine the order of initial joint purchases.

Initial joint purchases are then made per the normal rules. Once joint purchases are complete each player sends his gang's initial gang purchase and placement to the GM. Once every player's placement has been received, the GM will forward them to every player (the Assistant GM will perform this function for the GM's game).

No advanced options will be used (unless all players agree). Feel free to use the squirt gun on yourself as called for in the rules.

Each player turn will consist of 1) Purchases and Rolling the five dice (see Dice), 2) Cop Movement, Raids and Bribe Resolution, 3) Movement, Recruiting, and Collection of Extortion & Organized Crime payouts, and 4) Resolution of any Shootouts. If random movement order is being used, each player will also determine the next player.

During a turn, a player can expect to send a maximum of the following emails:

  1. Dice request for the Initial Five Dice (Must include any Purchases)
  2. Dice request to Draw a New Cop
  3. Dice request to Handle Bribe Resolution (Must include the Cop's movement)
  4. Dice request(s) to Draw a New Public (Must include the Cop's movement or the movement of a previously drawn public piece if not emailed earlier)
  5. Email detailing movement, recruiting, and collection of payouts/extortion (including the Cop and Public moves not emailed earlier)
  6. Dice request to Resolve Shootout(s)
  7. Dice request to determine next player (if using random movement order)
  8. Email with dice results and an updated Summary

Obviously, many turns will not use all of the possible dice requests in a turn. For example, if there are no shootouts and random movement order is not used, the email containing movement, recruiting, and payouts can also include the updated summary. It is critical, however, that dice requests not preceed email of moves which must proceed those dice. Examples: (1) Shootout dice should not be rolled until all movement has been emailed. (2) A public piece cannot be drawn if the cop's moves have not been sent (though they could be included in the comment text with the public dice request)!

Email Considerations

1) Any purchases should be included with the notes sent to the dice server when rolling the five dice (see Dice).

2) All movement must be completely detailed. For example, on a Racketeer roll of 3 write: "Racketeer: Astoria House - Subway #1 to Subway #6 - The Loop #9 - Ham 'n' Egg Kitchen." To facilitate identification of every square, I have created a map which numbers all street spaces and will send each player a copy via snail mail or by email (for those with a JPEG compatible program). The map is shown at the top of this page.

3) A new cop may be drawn by rolling one die (based on the number of cops left in the cup) if the number of cops <= the number of crimes (see Dice).

4) A bribe may be purchased by listing it as your cop move. There are a total of ten bribes available in the game. Each gives a 10% chance of stopping any police action. When using a cop against a player who has one or more bribes, roll one ten-sided dice. If the roll is <= the number of bribes the player has, the bribe is successful (see Dice). If a bribe is successful, reduce the number of bribes held by the player by one and negate the cop move. Note: Unlike the face-to-face game, bribes do not pertain to a specific cop!

5) To facilitate speed of play, the moving player will handle the die rolls for all shootouts. However, in the case where losses can be selected by a defending player, that player must designate the casualties prior to proceeding. For example, a Thug invades a joint where an enemy Racketeer and Vamp are present. The moving player rolls for his Thug AND the enemy Joint & Racketeer; however, the opposing player would have to divide up the losses between the Joint and Racketeer unless both were completely lost before continuing. Note: The Vamp cannot be taken as a loss.

6) Every player should be copied on each email including dice rolls.

7) At the end of a move, a player must update the game summary listing every piece on the board and forward it to the other players. Download the game summary template text file!

8) Since every cash transaction can easily be recorded by every player, cash holdings are public information and should be explicitly noted during each turn. Keeping it open prevents one player's miscalculation from ruining the game!

9) The game plays much faster if a set of sample dice requests are kept and modified each time one is needed (rather than composing them each time).


We use a nice dice facility at dice@pbm.com that normally responds to requests in about 2 minutes. For complete instructions, send it the one word message "help" (without the quotation marks).  If you prefer to fill in a web form, you can download a program called Dicey at http://www.thewargamer.com (this program formats and submits a request to dice@pbm.com for you).

Sample dice requests to dice@pbm.com

Purchase Phase and Initial Five Dice:
#P red_player@his_email.com
#P green@her_ISP.com
#P brown_mob@aol.com
#S 6
#D 1
#R 5
#L 5
#C I'll buy heaters for my Thugs for $1,000 and
#C the Astoria House for $600.
#C The five dice are Blue, Green, Black, Red, and White respectively.
#T GSR Turn 1 - Yellow Dice
Cop Draw (or Public Draw):
#P red_player@his_email.com
#P green@her_ISP.com
#P brown_mob@aol.com
#S 7
#D 1
#R 1
#L 1
#C There are 7 cops in the cop: 2,3,5,6,7,8,10
#C The roll of the seven sided dice indicates which is drawn.
#T GSR Turn 1 - Yellow Cop Draw
Bribe Check:
#P red_player@his_email.com
#P green@her_ISP.com
#P brown_mob@aol.com
#S 10
#D 1
#R 1
#L 1
#C Cop #9: Subway #2 - Pussycat Club where he attacks Brown's Thug (4).
#C Brown has 4 bribes - any roll of 4 or less and Cop #9 is back in
#C the cup.
#T GSR Turn 1 - Yellow Cop Move & Brown Bribe
#P red_player@his_email.com
#P green@her_ISP.com
#P brown_mob@aol.com
#S 6
#D 1
#R 17
#L 9
#C My 5 Thugs (5-6) and 4 Racketeers (6) are attacking Red's 6
#C Thugs (5-6) in his joint - the Palace Chophouse (Level 1; 4-6).
#T GSR Turn 8 - Chophouse Shootout
Random Movement Order:
#P red_player@his_email.com
#P green@her_ISP.com
#P brown_mob@aol.com
#S 3
#D 1
#R 1
#L 1
#C Still to move: Red, Brown, Green.
#C Roll of 3 sider indicates who moves next!
#T GSR Turn 5 - Next?

Code of Conduct

Timing/Delays - Players are expected to complete their move within two days of the finish of the preceeding turn and to respond when a decision is needed (i.e., choosing shootout casualties) within two days. If everyone takes the full two days, this means each player makes one move every eight days (not counting shootouts). Obviously, there will be times when meeting the two day deadline is impossible. When this will be the case, please notify all other players and the GM and give them an expected date for resumption (hopefully, of course, other players can continue to play until the absent player's move comes up). For example, "I'll be on vacation from the 12th through the 17th. I should be able to resume playing by the 18th."

Should a player exceed the two-day time limit with no prior notification of absence, that player loses their turn. While this may seem harsh, it's far worse to put three other people on indefinite hold. The two-day limit begins at midnight following the email timestamp of the proceeding player's move (using the timezone of the player whose turn it is). For example, suppose player #1 has just finished moving on the 3rd at 4:52 pm. At one minute after midnight on the 5th, player #2 loses his/her turn and player #3 may proceed. Should neither move by midnight on the 7th, player #4 may proceed and both #2 and #3 lose their turns. Note: As long as a following player has not rolled their dice, an earlier player who has missed his/her turn may move (and return the player-turns to their original order). Using the previous example, it's the 7th but neither player #4 or #3 has begun his turn (by rolling the five dice). Player #2 could roll the five initial dice and begin her turn. Of course, #4 could also begin (thereby cementing the loss of turns for players #2 and #3).

Keep in mind that no player who has notified his/her opponents of their absence or delay loses a turn under any circumstances. For example, player #2 notifies her opponents that she'll be gone on vacation for 2 weeks. The game pauses once it's player #2's turn for the 2 week period. The 48-hour time limit does not begin until the stated vacation period ends.

Normally, no effects occur during a missed turn. Exceptions, however, include organized crime (public) payoffs to other players and shootouts initiated by joint guards. The player moving after the player who missed his/her turn handles these effects.

Speedy Play Exception - No player is ever required to move more than once every five days regardless of the 2-day deadline. For example, suppose Player A makes his move. Players B, C, and D all move very quickly such that eight hours later it's now Player A's turn again. Player A may wait until the midnight deadline 4 days and 16 hours hence before moving again -- even without notification -- without forfeiting his turn. In other words, the deadline (from midnight) is the later of 2 days from the preceeding player or 5 days since the one's last move.

Negotiations - Kibitzing is allowed before a player rolls the dice as long as it is done in public (i.e., every player is copied). Once the dice have been rolled (but prior to moves being received), no discussion is permitted. (This is, of course, one of the rules of the game.) Violators pay the bank the standard $500 penalty. In the spirit of the kibitzing rule, negotiations should be short, general, and not delay the game. Please don't waste time negotiating specifics based on what-if die rolls that usually don't happen anyway or trying to make deals that are so transparently in your sole benefit that no opponent will ever take you up on them.


  • "I'll split the payoff if you leave the public in Martin & Sons." (OK)
  • "If you roll a five on the white dice and a two on the blue dice, you can raid the Chophouse and get the public from Taylor's into the Bus Station by moving down Westside Drive." (Too specific)
  • "We need to stop 'The Exterminator' by taking out one of his red joints." (OK)
  • "On a blue 3 and a green 5 you can get a cop and your Racketeer into the Ambassadors' Club to take out 'Da Boot's Thug." (Too specific)
  • "I'll give you a 60-40 split on the proceeds of any public you get into my green joints." (OK)
  • "I'll give you $100 to get the Public x3 into my upgraded Pussycat Club." (Too "not gonna happen!")

There will be no enforcement against poor negotiating, but it does reflect poorly on the player engaged in it and dampen the fun of the game for the other players.

Errors - If an illegal move or obvious mistake is made, notify the player and allow him/her to correct the error. Because mistakes do happen, each player should carefully review the move of the player preceding them prior to rolling the dice to permit a simple correction by the preceding player. Once a player rolls the dice, that player forgoes any chance to correct a previous error. Furthermore, any player adversely affected by an error may demand a correction as long as the request is made within one day of the turn containing the error (this one-day deadline begins at midnight following the last timestamp of the erroneous turn). If another player or players has moved since an error (which generates a fix-request within the day timeframe), that move (or moves) is entirely undone, the correction made, and play proceeds as if no move(s) had been done and no dice had been rolled.

For example, "The Exterminator" goes in a shootout against 5 Thugs and 3 Racketeers belonging to "Da Knee-Bender." He erroneously assigns the 4 hits obtained to the Thug without allowing "Da Knee-Bender" to distribute any to the Racketeer. "The Gambler" doesn't catch it and makes his moves two hours later. Da Knee-Bender then signs in and reads his email and discovers the error. If he does want to allocate some hits to the Racketeer, he may do so (and send out an updated summary). "The Gambler" will have to re-do his turn -- including re-rolling any dice. So, a word to the wary and wise, carefully check the moves of the player ahead of you before proceeding!

Continuing that example, suppose "The Gambler" had waited until after the one-day error deadline to move and "Da Knee-Bender" hadn't noticed the error and made a "fix-complaint." At that point, once "The Gambler" rolls his five initial dice, the error is "water under the bridge" and can't be changed. Of course, if "The Gambler" noticed at this point, he could still request the correction since no dice have been rolled.

Of course, there are also some easy accounting errors (e.g., adding the cash incorrectly or incorrectly tabulating the "crimes in progress" for the summary). These should be correctable no matter when they are discovered. Simply make the correction, notify the other players, and proceed.

Courtesy - Having said that, remember that the point of PBEM Gangsters is to have fun and improve our skill -- not to win on technicalities. Please give your opponents every benefit of the doubt and extend every courtesy you yourself would appreciate. Get to be friends, work together, and have fun!

Gangsters® is a registered trademark of The Avalon Hill Game Company.