What is PBEM?
Play By Email is simply another way to play traditional roleplay games. (If you're not familiar with the concept of roleplay games, see the short explanation in the ARG systems section.) PBEM games tend to come in two flavors (unmoderated and moderated).
Unmoderated games tend to be more tactical in nature. Players have a limited number of choices (usually involving the exploration and manipulation of resources) which they submit by email, and someone (usually a piece of software) generates a reply.
Moderated games are more like traditional roleplay games. Each player writes a short scenario describing their character's actions and dialog and emails them to the GR. The GR (moderator) collects everyone's messages and synthesizes them into a combined episode that he emails back. Everyone responds to this and the process repeats.
How Does It Work?
Once a player is accepted, he simply emails a message introducing his character and describing what his character is doing. We will probably be using a mailing list to post messages to (please do not post "moves" to the argrpg address). Private messages between players may be sent directly via email, however, the GR should be cc'ed on all such messages. This ensures that players are not making plans based on faulty information and allows the GR to jump in with any knowledge that the characters might have but which the players may have overlooked. The GR will post a reply summarizing all messages once or twice a week, possibly sooner if all players respond quickly.
All character actions may be written normally. Everything the character says should be in "quotation marks." Comments to the GR, such as listing optional courses of action, should be set aside in parenthesis. Out Of Character comments (ooc comments) should be set off with double slashes. (There shouldn't be too many of these, but a few are ok.) An example might be--
Gaylin approaches the door slowly, pausing one step away. "Wait a minute," he says as he examines the door. Gaylin first checks for traps // wouldn't want to end up like Wild Joe One Eye, heh heh!// (if he find's a trap, he will attempted to disarm it, otherwise he will check to see if it is locked.) Finally he will listen for sounds coming from the other side. He will step aside, share what he hears, and allow one of the fighters to open the door// :^) //.
The above example is a little terse. Because PBeM is a written form of gaming, feel free to take advantage of it and embellish your prose a bit. But do be careful. One's own writing always seems more interesting then others, so don't write pages and pages of text when all your character is doing is walking to the bar and ordering a drink. Also be sparing on the adjectives. In PBeM, as in professional writing, less is often more.