Play by Post - Good Practices

I’ve just recently started a PbP game on Discord with some coworkers where I am the GM. This is my 1st foray into that realm (not having played one either) and it seems to be going pretty well. One of my players showed the game to their friends and I was asked to start another game for them. Of course I said YES! I am excited and nervous to dive in headfirst to this. I see that many of the BSer’s are veterans of this gaming milieu and would most likely have great insight at playing and running this type of game.

Have B or S been a part of this type of game? Why or why not? Pros/Cons? Are there sets of rules specifically catered to this type of play? Good GM practices? Good player practices? Tips for organizing multiple games? How to get buy in from new players?

Looking forward to seeing this as a show topic.

Feelin Good about PbP

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Awol, Wayne, and Harrigan, feel free to dissect Do Not Let Us die. Your critique will make me better.

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@LaramieWall is that a PbP you are currently running? What genre and ruleset are you using, if any? Thanks.

Hey Louis!
Running it on the Discord. Well, I was. We just got done.
The rules are Please Do Not Let Us Die In This Cold Dark Winter. It’s a pretty simple turned based survival game where the group (classes: Fighter, Thief, Wizard) try to keep a small village alive through, well, a cold winter.

I will say, the group was extremely patient with me, and I learned a lot. Will likely give it another go sometime.

Interesting topic. Admittedly, Brett nor I have done a lot of play by post.

Aha!! I found a chink in the armor!! And now there is a reason to have on a guest that does. We can all get our “learn” on.
Thanks.

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And don’t ever do it, @sean . Every one of my experiences has been poor. I’ve sworn it off!

But @Harrigan probably would be an ideal guest for this topic. It seems to work well enough for him!

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That bad, eh, @Gabe ?

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@Gabe I love a challege…especially a hopeless one. :wink:

So far the players and I are having fun with it. It’s a little clunky right now, but I chalk that up to my inexperience with the pacing of this type of game. So for now, “Full speed ahead!”

“Aye, Aye captain! But where are we going?” asks the players.

(The sound of :game_die: rolling)

“Into the Maelstrom”

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Ha ha!

Okay, so I’m convinced that it can work, and I believe that most of my personal problems with my PbP experiences have been because of the usual problems that can arise at any game table, and these are contingent on any player behavior or attitude.

For me, the PbP either is too frenetic or too slow. I always ask that players post at least once a day. I almost never see that happen.

Because of the textual format, confusion or general incomprehension seems to be a recurring problem. Sometimes the situation has to be clarified, then clarified again, at which point two or three days have gone by while the game has been stalled on a technicality.

Days of inactivity can stretch into weeks, sometimes into months. I have seen players “pop back into” the server to blurb a noncommittal or inconsequential action, such as “I follow the rest of the party.” To which I’ve literally seen a GM have to respond, “Your character already is with the party, currently slung over the shoulder of the barbarian, because we didn’t know what to do with your character while you were ghosting us.” You have to wonder, are some players even reading the PbP? Why are they playing? And, now that the situation has been clarified, because the player didn’t even bother to read about what currently is going on, you can bet that it’s going to be another week before we read about an equally incongruous action.

I know that many of these problems can be mitigated by dedicated PbP servers. Those often describe some of the common pitfalls associated with PbP, thereby warning less-than-committed players away from the format, as well as by suggesting some formal practices for facilitating play.

@FeelinGoodLouis,

Everything @Gabe says is true, but I would add that in my experience playing RPGs in a play by post format can be an incredibly rewarding experience. More complex stories, much deeper characterization, more involved roleplay – some of the very best experiences I’ve ever had in gaming have come from this format. It’s slow, it’s difficult to sustain, it’s not a good format for highly complicated or mechanically dense games that require lots of back-and-forth, those games that need lots of player to GM “transactions” to resolve the action… but in the end, it’s actually my favorite way to play RPGs.

I come by this love of the format honestly. From 1983 to 1994 I ran live games, the usual way. From 1995 to 2019, for a variety of reasons (lost my group when I moved, got married and had kids, traveled a ton for work) I played only play-by-email and play-by-post RPGs. In 2019, after making a shift at work and finding myself traveling less, I decided to dive back into live, at-the-table TTRPG play. That of course transitioned to virtual play, but I’m still at it, and loving playing the traditional way.

But I also still run and play in a lot of PbP games – across two different (and excellent) sites that specialize only in PbP RPGs: tavern-keeper.com and gamersplane.com.

There are indeed strategies to employ around finding the right players and tools, around picking the right system, and around developing a style and set of procedures that can help sustain the game. There are some big communities of roleplayers who only play this way.

Anyhoo – I dunno if Brett and Sean want to burn a whole show on the topic, but it’s certainly a subject near and very dear to my cold, black gaming heart.

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Tailing onto people not responding in time… there was a tool in an old issue of Knights of the Dinner Table that was a… I guess an AI tool for players to set in case they were going to miss a session. Instead of having the GM remove the PC, the player would set basic idea of very broad “if X then Y”. I should find that, as this might be a great tool for a PbP situation.

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Some GMs certainly do that – think ‘standing orders’. Might work great in combat or exploration scenes, but no good for heavy RP. However, in those scenes, the GM can just push the AWOL PC to the background. Plenty of games have posting rates, and if you don’t post in time, the game just moves on. 1/day seems a very healthy pace, from what I’ve seen…

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