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Running a play-by-post

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 6:34 am
by RainOnTheSun
Does anyone on this forum have any tips or warnings for trying to start a PbP game? I've never done it, but I have a couple ideas for at least a one-shot, and I don't know how much work goes into it (I'm guessing a lot). Anyone know any good websites for advice, or anything like that?

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 3:58 pm
by CaptainChaos
There are so many things to consider when deciding to run a pbp game. What PL, how many players, how much time do you have to devote to the game, posting frequency expectations of the players and yourself, homebrew game vs pre-made adventure, what powers to allow or forbid, and much more. I don't know of any websites for advice/information but I'm sure there must be something out there.

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 5:14 pm
by Ares
The most important thing with a Play-By-Post game is communication. If you're running that game, you need to keep in touch with your players regularly, and you need to have players who are willing to commit to the game. 90% of all problems I've had with PbP games was either from the GM not communicating with the players, or when the players (frequently me) slacked off and didn't respond quickly or for a length of time.

Now, real life happens, allowances need to be made, and time needs to be taken out at points to keep your actual life going. But you need to make sure that minor delays don't snowball into major ones. That just leads to the group being frustrated with someone, and you don't want it to be you.

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 6:00 pm
by FuzzyBoots
We had a thread on either Ronin Army or the Atomic Think Thank with tips, I remember. I'll see if I can't track it down tonight, but what I remembered varied from general advice (try to write up blocks of description text in advance much like in published modules so that you don't need to be creative on off days, make clear your expectations on things like post frequency, play style, dice rollers, and formatting, and to always try to assume the other side is acting in good faith until you know they are not) to some board-specific things (OOC blocks, the standard header a lot of people use for player posts, coloring speech, separate IC and OOC topics (and sometimes a setting thread). Oh, and I remember there was a fair amount of discussion about what is simultaneously the easiest and hardest part of the game, deciding who gets in (there's seldom a lack of qualified submissions, but it's hard to know who's going to be a dependable player, who's going to be a good role-player, who doesn't use munchkin tactics, etc).

My personal advice would be to start with a prepackaged one-shot scenario and no more than four players. Try to have your players post at least once a day and make yourself available for that at least twice a day (in the morning and then in the evening, perhaps) to keep things moving. Coyote Code is a fine dice roller (albeit not without some drawbacks). And if you don't want to worry about figuring out the best submissions, accepting the first four good builds isn't a horrible way to start out. It's quick, easy, and pretty fair. Once you start running longer campaigns, you will want to pick more carefully.

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 11:06 pm
by Nunya B
I'd like to echo this question, and add another:
I've got face-to-face GMing experience but little PBP experience of any kind. What particular potholes does PBP GMing introduce that I should be aware of and try to avoid?

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 11:15 pm
by Bladewind
As Fuzzy pointed out, communications.

I generally like to point out at the beginning of a game that as GM, tell me I suck and that you`re leaving rather than just leave. (I prefer if people aren`t that harsh, but I can take it.) The point is try to get respect going both ways so that the GM knows where he stands when a player goes awol.

Understand, as Ares said, RL happens. It can cause lags - heck in my games I feel like I blinked and lost almost two weeks to RL. Thankfully I`ve got resilient and interested players and we`re still good.

Establish how posting order should happen. In general, out of combat, let people post as they will, sometimes put your foot down to give others a chance to contribute. In combat, you need to decide if you want people to wait their turn or post their action when they can and then you insert it when their turns comes up (generally the first option works best, even if it slows things sometimes.)

Be prepared to fudge. This is a golden rule regardless of medium, but in PbP you need to be able to wrap up combat or move things along for the sake of the game (not the plot, not the story). Essentially, be ready to throw a bone where in tabeltop you`d let them hash it out until they moved on their own...

The biggest plothole is the people aren't a tight group of friends that can form a team that works well together. The facelessness of the net makes it difficult to get real teamwork going sometimes.

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Fri May 25, 2018 11:20 pm
by RainOnTheSun
Thanks for the feedback, everybody. Any thoughts on if it's better to have PCs meet for the first time during the game or assume that they're already on a team together?

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Sat May 26, 2018 12:46 am
by catsi563
either works really it can take time story wise to bring them together but it can be a lot of fun as well with the writes ups if it happens over the course of a scenario like I did for my HU game where the team came together to stop a group of super villains from robbing a mall and harming the store goers.

contrary wise some stories may have the characters together as part of a team or crew of a star ship

One shots are usually the best time to have the characters start together since you don't have to do a lot of why are all these disparate people getting together and you can just go right to the action.

Re: Running a play-by-post

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 7:39 pm
by Bladewind
As Cats said, and I`d reiterate that it should be scenario based.

Meeting can establish a lot for the characters and the players.