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PbP: Anyone got resources/thoughts for the GM considering one?
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Thread: PbP: Anyone got resources/thoughts for the GM considering one?

  1. #1
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    PbP: Anyone got resources/thoughts for the GM considering one?

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    In facing the (apparently) imminent collapse of another FtF game due to family/scheduling conflicts for my players, and judging by the difficulty I've had finding players close by, I'm mulling over the possibilities presented by running a PbP game, and trying to figure out whether I should perhaps try running a game that way instead.

    On the positive side, a PbP game would play to one of my strengths; I've always been better at communicating through writing than orally (not that I'm poor at either, but writing allows me the kind of details and ornamentations that don't always flow easily from my mouth). PbP also seems slightly less hampered by scheduling conflicts than FtF, and gas prices aren't even a factor.

    On the negative side, I can't say I've ever really grokked how certain things...say, combat...would work in the format without dragging the pace to a glacial crawl. Perhaps certain systems would work better in that regard, but since combat is one of those areas where a player's options and choices can have a huge effect on the outcome, it seems difficult to balance speed of pace with allowing the player full control of their own choices.

    Then there's choice of game system, and implementation of it. I'd think that a good option would be finding a way to make things as system-transparent as possible to the players, to keep the focus more on what they can do well, and how they describe doing it, rather than on the math and mechanics. But perhaps that's more a matter of those involved making the choice to keep the focus there, or writing in such a way as to do that.

    So...if anyone wishes to make some helpful observations, or point to relevant and interesting examples or articles, then perhaps I can find a way to sort out in my own mind whether the attempt would be worth it. It might even be helpful to anyone else thinking of trying a PbP game. How does one make PbP work from a gaming perspective, before even getting into issues of player "attendance" and participation which affect any sort of gaming no matter the format?
    I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going! (But I'll happily be the GM...)

  2. #2
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    I'll be paying attention to your responses, Stormhound. I've been asked by numerous gamers to host/DM a WFRP pbp beginning in the next couple of months, and even though i am certainly up for the challenge, i have never DM'd a pbp.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    I would love to get into a 3.x PbP camp. There is a HUGE resource available at www.planewalker.com I played it in 2e AD&D and have never enjoyed another camp. as much as those. However I never got to play due to the long changeover to the otherwise unofficial 3.x conversion.

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mindbomb View Post
    I would love to get into a 3.x PbP camp. There is a HUGE resource available at www.planewalker.com I played it in 2e AD&D and have never enjoyed another camp. as much as those. However I never got to play due to the long changeover to the otherwise unofficial 3.x conversion.
    Very cool link, Mindbomb. Thanks for posting.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    i am running two campaigns right now, i'll have to post some things that we're doing. =D but later, it's past bedtime for me.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    i find that playing in a play-by-post takes all of maybe an hour a week, and that's including time spent checking to see if anyone's posted or not. ^^

    however... running a play-by-post is more time intensive. at least for me, i find that i have to spend small blocks of time concentrating on what's happening and going to happen, and translating that into words. i find myself taking several hours per week per game to keep everything up and running. and that's posting only once or twice a week.

    combat is pretty simple. you simply type what you would say, and when you are going to roll a die, you use the bbcode that farcaster handily supplied to do so. i am running d&d, and the rules-heavy, dice intensive structure of d&d does slow down combat, even in play-by-post. other systems might be much easier to run combat in.

    for examples, check out the various active games in the play-by-post section and read through what's going on to see what you like and don't like about it. everyone is welcome to read through the two games i'm running, different styles each one, and post your observations and comments in the peanut gallery thread. =D

    some tips for speeding combat in d&d: roll the attack, the damage, the crit confirmation, and the extra crit damage all in one roll. then just apply what actually succeeds.

    since d&d is turn-based, have everyone post the init, then have everyone post one rounds action. then post the result of the round. repeat. sometimes this will stutter a bit as one player lags in posting for some reason or another. having a house rule in place ahead of time as to how to handle that is a good idea.

    one possible solution is to have x amount of time allowed after the dm posts, say two to three days, and if the player has not posted the dm will npc the character for that round. or something like that. or you can simply have them lose their turn, or whatever. but establish something ahead of time, and everyone signs off on it.

    hope this is helpful, and feel free to ask questions!
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    Just to prove that I'm not sitting here waiting to be handed wisdom by the enlightened, I came across the following:

    Guide to Play By Post Games

    Note that I've never even heard of that forum before, so this in no way constitutes advocacy for it.
    I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going! (But I'll happily be the GM...)

  8. #8
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormhound View Post
    Just to prove that I'm not sitting here waiting to be handed wisdom by the enlightened, I came across the following:

    Guide to Play By Post Games

    Note that I've never even heard of that forum before, so this in no way constitutes advocacy for it.
    Upon first appearances, Stormhound, this site looks to be very cool. I'll be perusing it for a while. Thanks for posting.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    Stormhound – I have been trying to do PbP for several years.
    My PbP is a D&D 3e5 Site – The Dragon's Den and Lairs. (Link on profile)

    Thoth-Amon. Thanks for the Planescape link.

    PbP can be a frustrating experience, to say the least.

    Game System is the least of your worries: Just pick one that you know everyone already understands, and tell everyone the fact that it is being used.
    Depending on what you go with, you can ask around (here and similar Forums) for Links with info.
    (I have several D&D-info sites in my Favorites.)

    The next biggest problem: Dice Rolls. If you use a Emailing Dice Roller, then expect to have your inbox filled with lots and lots of these. A lot of places like to reward the “win” to the Member that is the most creative in their writing about their character's attack: including body positioning, weapon movement, wind blowing in various worn articles, spoken & thought comments with added emotions.
    And so on.

    Now, don't get me wrong, there should be a reward for a Member that does the detailed post over someone that places “Unavoidable, Instant Hit, Instant Kill Attacks” (U-IHIKA) that are only a sentence – or at best a paragraph – long; but determining who wins the day with what you can write and post is not really fair to the Member that is just learning how to do that kind of thing.

    I got tired of trying to filter through all the emails for even a single round of combat, and I finally just posted a message that I needed to change the way the Site ran. All Dice Rolls are to be taken as “Average”. This included rolls for Attacks, Saves, and Skills. I also then noted that the Players could leave the results of their actions up to Fate. Which is me, rolling an actual D20 on the table at home, and then posting the results onto the site. As an incentive for Players to allow this, I give an EXP Bonus for those that trust in Fate. I also give bonuses for creative writing, sometimes to a Roll, and other times to EXP.

    Sure, I lost some players doing this. But there were only a few Members that were really posting anyway, and all the rest complained about either that there was too much a delay between rounds, or they said that I was only playing favorites. Which annoyed me, since I try to avoid that as a DM – sure I have my favorite Character of Members, but I don't let that affect the Dice Rolls.

    The truly biggest problem that you will face: figuring out which Forum Site you want to use for your Game. Do a lot of research and experiment a lot before you choose a Forum Site, and then have your Players go into the place and also experiment with the Site, and get feedback.

    My Site is on MSN Groups, and there are things that I like and hate about it:
    Like: easy for non-friends to locate, since it is listed on the “Groups” by interest area. Reduces the number of people that wander in and go “What the heck is this ?” And having to explain over and over.

    Dislike: Once you post something, you can't edit it. All you can do is delete it and repost.

    Like: Lots of Fonts, Colors and other things that can be used to make a post interesting.

    Dislike: the fact that very few Members actually use the above options.

    Nijineko – you have a good point, in the turn-base posting. Because I can't really control when a Player posts for their Character, I simply just use the order that they post in as the Initiative.
    Also, should someone fall behind, I simply NPC their actions – and then have them roleplay from there. Until they catch up.

    Stormhound – thanks for the link. I'll check that out.
    Underestimate No One.

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    If there is a 3/3.5 game on line I am in. I would post every day if I could but I found with players stretching from Canada, to England to Australia personal business and time zones get in the way. Being retired gives me a time advantage you guys working or going to school don't have so I need to be in more than one game.

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    establishing a policy with the turn based nature of play-by-post is essential, whatever policy one decides on. that way everyone knows the rules, and the way it goes is the way it goes. allowing at least a two to three days for a reply-to-gm post seems about median for most.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    In PbP, as a player, I prefer games in which the GM does all the rolls. It means I have to spend less time going back and forth between websites, and it makes it more cinematic. I say what I want to do, and the GM says what happens.

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    DeathByDM - I don't know about anyone else, but if a Member chooses to have me do their Rolling, then I do my best to create interesting cause and affect, as well as a Bonus EXP award for doing this.

    Keeping track of who does and does not do this, is sometimes tricky - though. I make notes to my email to help me keep up.
    Underestimate No One.

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    interestingly enough, i've found it easier to track all the players separately. i'm running two campaigns, ag16 and cos. in the latter, each player has their own thread, and so far it's working well. in the ag16 one, everyone is in a single thread, and i still struggle to sort out each round of combat. *^^*
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    interestingly enough, i've found it easier to track all the players separately. i'm running two campaigns, ag16 and cos. in the latter, each player has their own thread, and so far it's working well. in the ag16 one, everyone is in a single thread, and i still struggle to sort out each round of combat. *^^*
    I like this idea and I can see how it would work better. You can post only what that particular player sees/does, making it a more personal experience. It could make for a great deal of intrigue as well.

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