Narrative Style

As I’m getting ready to launch my second play-by-post game today, how we’re going to write our story is still top of mind. Which got me thinking… how do all the other BSers do it?

Even outside of writing out our games in PbP formats, the way we use narration/descriptions to play RPGs can actually vary more than we think. From simply stating it matter-of-fact as the player to a flourishing series of prose that would make a poet laureate blush, everyone has their own way of presenting their narrative at the table. Some games even mechanize it, like some superhero RPGs that measure out turns by panels and pages or provide bonus dice when you go the extra distance to make your character’s reaction wackier than expected.

Then there’s the matter of shepherding different narrative styles at the same table. How do you maintain that sense of “participation equity” when one or more players give you bullet points and others smoke a pipe and regale the group with that time their character encountered a talking mouse hanging precariously from the edge of a broken branch, which eventually leads to the explanation of where this one particular copper piece came from… eventually. It can be something we take for granted. All RPGs involve some level of narrative creativity on the fly and some players can feel intimidated by those natural storytellers.

In other words… yes, this just may be a show topic.


Interesting thoughts here. I’ve honestly not put much insight time into this topic, but I think it would be worth looking into.


I tend to keep my descriptions short and sweet to get across the point of a scene while allowing the players to fill in the gaps with their imaginations. I’ll provide extra descriptions if needed, but I tend to keep things vague enough that if players ask “is xyz present in the scene?”, I can add it if it makes sense to help them get a better idea of the surroundings. It also encourages them to be creative and come up with details or locations that I can expand on as Game Master. Some players grok this and learn to be creative. Others… not so much.