I'm looking for games similar to De Profundis: Letters from the Abyss, which is a role-playing game played by snail mail, without any face-to-face contact. What is the genre called?

I've tried to search for play-by-mail and play-by-post games, but almost exclusively find games that are played by the Internet. A more specific term would be needed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, it's just play by mail - but people either don't use mail any more or replace it with email/forums because they find it faster, cheaper, and more convenient. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Sep 6, 2011 at 22:35

2 Answers 2


There isn't a name for the genre.

Play-by-post used to mean that, but the term was taken over by the Internet-meaning at the same time that the popularity of play-by-post (paper mail) dropped off into non-existence. For a lack of common need, no distinguishing term has arisen.

Rather than looking for a term to make searching easier, better to just ask the question here. Something like "A game possible to play by letter mail like De Profundis?" would work. (That said, I don't know of any. It's possible that De Profundis is unique so far.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I thought that recommendation questions were off-topic here, as on many other SEs. I'll try asking it in a while. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim
    Sep 6, 2011 at 18:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ They're on-topic here only because the field is small and doesn't change nearly as quickly as, say, video games. They still need to be phrased so that they don't just collect a list of equally-valid answers: looking for one that suits works, and will get a small, easily-managed list of possible acceptance candidates. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 6, 2011 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ cf. Are game recommendation questions on topic? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Sep 7, 2011 at 23:46

The Style of Game is typically called Play By Mail or PBM. In the UK, it was also called Play by Post, but given the US domination of the early internet, PBP came to mean posts to forums or BBSs. Play by electronic mail is usually called PBEM.

There are a few games I know that are suitable.

Whether they truly cross all the way into "roleplaying" is arguable, but several of the old play-by-mail games are still run on a commercial basis by Flying Buffalo

En Garde! (originally by GDW, in print by Margam Evans, Ltd.) is likewise on the border between board game and roleplay, and is well suited to play by mail, play by [forum] post, and play by email.

Lords of Space isn't RPGing, but is a human moderated PBM ruleset for play of space empires at war. It was my first encounter with PBM moderator rulesets for sale, tho it actually postdates En Garde. When I ran it, many of my players got heavy into RP-mode.

Fiasco likewise should be playable that way.

Marvel Universe also should be playable by mail, tho' it would be annoyingly slow to me.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Fiasco? I can't see how. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 6, 2011 at 21:27

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