facemaker329
 member, 6983 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Mon 15 Jan 2018
at 20:53
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
As is true with any other game, a lot depends on the chemistry between players and GM.  Contrary to popular belief, not all free-form players are writing everything to their character's benefit, some are actually more interested in a fun story that will include setbacks and obstacles for their character, because they understand characters are only as great as the obstacles they overcome.  I've played with people who are fit the 'freeform stereotype', and they actually didn't last long in the games they were in with me, because other players pretty much dismissed their more outrageous gambits and GMs would only allow so much drift in the story before they reset the course (in a freeform sandbox game, there's not necessarily a GM influence, but a lot of freeform games are NOT sandboxes, and the GM opts for freeform merely to facilitate the storytelling aspect of the game, so people don't get caught upnumber-crunching and rules-lawyering.  Yes, that can be abused, which is why you need the right group of players and the right GM for it to work.)

The largest-scale game I've been in was NOT freeform, and it was actually three or four games running in different parts of the same world.  There was a head GM to steer the overall plotline and rule when events from one game would impact another, but each 'sub-game' had its own GM that oversaw the day-to-day stuff.  It actually worked pretty well for a while...but with the increased number of sub-games came a corresponding increase in the usual problems of player dropouts and GMs getting overwhelmed withRL demands, and the sub-games began running at different paces, which made it hard to maintain the whole shared-world concept.  That said...again, with the right collection of players and GMs, I think it would have worked really well.  I do think that large-scale games run a real risk of bogging down if they slow the pace for slower players, or of losing players if the pace is dictated by the fastest players.  A good GM can moderate the pace, more active players will likely get more detail-oriented in their character interaction to fill in the slow spots, but the slower players are still along for the major events.  Good players will also regulate their own pace, realizing that others may want some input on the current scene rather than running away with it themselves.  I do think large-scale games are well served by subdividing, and using secondary GMs to keep things moving while a head GM steers the direction.

I was in a tabletop Star Wars group that eventually got so large that we broke into two groups, and rather than playing every weekend, we went to every other weekend, with occasional big nights where both groups crossed each other's path...those were fun, socially, but usually very unproductive in terms of gameplay, so it's not a problem limited to the play-by-post sphere.
aguy777
 member, 250 posts
 Join Date:
 Fri, 29 Nov, 2013
Mon 15 Jan 2018
at 21:53
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
I run a D&D 5e game with more than 50 players. Across those 50 players, there is a current 108 characters. All those characters are spread across just over a dozen adventuring groups that they have formed themselves. It's kinda similar to running a dozen small games at once, but all the groups can affect each other in various ways. If two groups run into each other, they often merge into one super-group.

I'm the lone GM in that game, and it takes around 1-2 hours per day of my time. I've seen others try to emulate my game's success, either alone or with co-GMs, but only a couple have even come close to succeeding. For such large games, the GM typically needs to be willing to spend a lot of time and effort to keep it from getting bogged down.

As for particular mechanics and rules that I find work, time is a big one. I tend to not be too stringent on time. If one group is at 6 PM, and runs into another group that's at noon, I just shrug and hand-wave the time to somewhere in-between. I don't think any of my players have noticed in the nearly two years I've been running the game, and I don't think they'd care too much in the long run. Time just seems to be one of those things that needs to occasionally be hand-waved away for shared-world campaigns.

As for pacing, which facemaker329 mentioned as an issue (which it can be), that can only be remedied by a GM moderating the pace. Some players will always move faster than others, and there doesn't seem to be a way around that. That's my experience, at least.
ashberg
 member, 651 posts
 Beware the Groove.
 Groooooove.
Mon 15 Jan 2018
at 22:51
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
Round 2

Early on in my RPOL life I joined in a couple of these large-cast games... but found the GMs weren't influencing game flow enough; and some characters assumed decision making roles for the whole group, which left people feeling like Extras. Also, some players went so far as to describe their surroundings in their posts, effectively contributing minor elements to the World Building side of things... but this got out of hand, where some players invented localised threats (swarm of bats, or a large bear, etc) that were then ignored by the GM & other players. All in all, it felt like a mess.

@aguy777 More than 50 players, for 2 years? Wow. That is certainly a noteworthy achievement.

A simple pacing mechanic of "max posts per IRL day"? or "max actions per round"? Where players precede their posts with the Round # in Grey, or similar?
ashberg
 member, 652 posts
 Beware the Groove.
 Groooooove.
Tue 16 Jan 2018
at 03:10
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 3):

Chemistry is definitely a major factor for large cast games. On RPOL that usually means a few weeks, if not months, of trial & error with a couple of large cast games to find the right crew.

For RPOL noobs, this cultural aspect of trial & error isn't clear at first. Only after 12 months or so do those cultural nuances become clear.

--

To summarise so far...

Large cast games needs an active GM to orchestrate. Large cast games collapse without a GM.

--

What about GM NPCs?

As a GM, how do you manage the admin side of things, so that the plot lines intersect?
Yaztromo
 member, 140 posts
Tue 16 Jan 2018
at 03:16
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
I just wanted to congratulate aguy777 for his amazing achievement!
Do you run published modules or do you write your adventures as well?
aguy777
 member, 251 posts
 Join Date:
 Fri, 29 Nov, 2013
Tue 16 Jan 2018
at 05:02
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
I ran a published module once, but found I didn't like it. I write all my adventures and plots myself. I typically come up with them while working, and type them out either on my phone or once I get home. I also make my own maps (using a mapping program) and my own encounter tables. My own loot tables are a plan for the future, but RL has prevented me from sitting down and making it happen so far.

GM NPCs are easy. I write them as they come, and keep the information on them saved to my computer. That way, the NPC can be handled consistently regardless of how many times people have run into them.

How do I make sure plot-lines intersect? Notes on practically everything. In my game, players explore the land and discover things on their own. That sometimes results in them finding the same things. A pair of groups managed to find that there was a necromancer operating in the swamps. One group later found the exact location, but had to turn back due to attrition. As of current, two groups independently decided to go and deal with the necromancer and wound up banding together in the process. This necromancer is tied to the NPC that has had its hands in several other events. My list of notes on all this is ridiculously long. If a plot line is tied to another, the players will find out in the process of the plot they are pursuing. It's then up to them if they want to go to the connected plot or leave it to someone else.
Yaztromo
 member, 141 posts
Tue 16 Jan 2018
at 05:18
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
Sounds like a massive job!
aguy777
 member, 252 posts
 Join Date:
 Fri, 29 Nov, 2013
Tue 16 Jan 2018
at 05:26
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
It is, but it's worth it to have so many happy players. That's what keeps me going, and keeps my running games: the joy I get to bring to people. :)
icosahedron152
 member, 825 posts
Tue 16 Jan 2018
at 11:23
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
The Cast List may not be a reliable guide to the number of players. I'm running several games with large Casts at present, but although there are about 50 names on the list, many of them are NPCs or Puppets of players who have left, and in good games, where I can rely on players, each player runs several characters.

IMO large games depend on three things: GM time and organization skills, and player interaction.

I suspect that aguy777's phenomenal achievement (kudos, man) is not limited to 1-2 hours per day. That may be the time he's actually logged into the game, but I'm sure the thinking, planning, map-making, etc, etc, takes significantly more time than that. I would love to be able to dedicate that sort of time to a game, but it's not going to happen this side of retirement. :(

Organization is essential with a large game. You have to be able to visualize the whole world, how it works, how the different groups and factions relate, and you have to remember where everyone is and what everyone has done. If players contribute to the canon, those things must be remembered and acted on, too.

However, the larger and longer the game, the more important it is to have really good, reliable players. The GM can't be everywhere, all the time, and can't carry everything. Players who are able to relate to one another, who are able to write posts that include others, that create opportunities for others, and that take account of the whole story, not just their own role, are essential partners in a large game.

Otherwise, yes, you get chaos.
ashberg
 member, 653 posts
 Beware the Groove.
 Groooooove.
Tue 16 Jan 2018
at 12:08
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
In reply to icosahedron152 (msg # 11):

quote:
Players who are able to relate to one another, who are able to write posts that include others, that create opportunities for others, and that take account of the whole story, not just their own role, are essential partners in a large game.


This. I dig this. Are there mechanics that can drive this kind of interaction?
Rewarding players who create opportunities for others, and are able to play to the story?

Not just another heady mob of adventurer's going out to be the best there ever was, ever will be.
facemaker329
 member, 6984 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Wed 17 Jan 2018
at 08:35
Large multiplayer RPOL games?
Well, it's not a 'mechanic', as such, but several of my GMs over the past three decades (and change) have resorted to something as simple as giving extra experience (in whatever form the system in use categorizes it) for players who role-play exceedingly well.  And by that, I don't mean simply that they remain inordinately true to their character (although that does sometimes come into play), but that they actively and consistently do things to move the game forward smoothly.  Did the guy who came up with the master plan build that plan around involving other characters?  Give him an extra point.  Did the master thief hold himself in reserve so the new guy could try his hand at it?  Extra point.  Did the guy who always seems to have more than enough time to post restrain himself so that the player who's on the other side of the world had a chance to be involved?  Give him a point.  Or a nifty weapon (because a really good player isn't likely to abuse it).  Or find some subplot out of that player's background that you can spin into a storyline...

Incentivize the kind of play you want to occur in your game.  When somebody does it 'the right way', recognize them, even if it isn't with XP, so other players realize what should be emulated if they want the game to run as smoothly as possible.
horus
 member, 353 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Wed 17 Jan 2018
at 17:40
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
facemaker329:
Well, it's not a 'mechanic', as such, but several of my GMs over the past three decades (and change) have resorted to something as simple as giving extra experience (in whatever form the system in use categorizes it) for players who role-play exceedingly well.

{snippage...}

Incentivize the kind of play you want to occur in your game.

{more snippage...}


What you said.  I try to build in these kinds of incentives from the get-go, and make sure everyone knows they are there.  I want characters in my games to succeed, to realize all they can, and grow into the bad-*aspic* heroes they want to be.
icosahedron152
 member, 826 posts
Thu 18 Jan 2018
at 08:50
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
Sadly, I don't think there is an effective 'Manners Mechanic'.

Certainly, you can drop incentives into your game, but there are some players who will not even recognize the purpose of your efforts and will simply complain about your 'unfairness and favouritism' in always giving Bennie Points to someone else...

If players have not learned how to moderate their behaviour to include others and work for the common good by the time they are old enough to play RPGs, you're not going to teach them that skill during the course of your game.

Your only real option is the long way round - keep inviting good players back to your games until you have a core group that work well together.

Start with small games, and leave the Multi-Player Epics until you have gathered a group of players who can handle it.

Then hope they're all available at the same time.
Escribblings
 member, 12 posts
Mon 22 Jan 2018
at 00:59
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
I'm one of aguy777's happy campers.

In fact I currently have 4 characters in his game (although 1 is retiring soon)

The reason his game is successful, in my opinion, is because he listens to his player base.

While he is the GM and could be dictatorial, he often opens up the decision on a new house rule to a vote, or asks for suggestions.

A couple of us have wanted specific material included, and while the adding of said material itself was not an issue, the GM likes to have the books.  And this isn't always financially viable.  There are a couple of us who have gifted books to increase the materials allowed.

The game is approaching it's second anniversary (I've been in it for about 18 months), and the post count is approaching 30,000!!!!!
praguepride
 member, 1226 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Mon 22 Jan 2018
at 20:04
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
I run a 23-25 player Vampire game and that takes about 1-2 hours to keep up and running a day and that doesn't have nearly the combat minutia that &D/Pathfinder have. I have easily spent an hour getting a single post up on a pathfinder game for 4 players because it was a large combat (4 PCs versus a couple of ghouls and a half dozen skeletons).

I would expect 50 players to take 4 hours assuming they all have daily posting rates. If you're only updating say, 20 stories at a time then that makes more sense to me...

Not trying to call you a liar just very surprised about the time requirements being listed...

THEN AGAIN if it's only a dozen adventuring groups and they're pretty self sufficient (i.e. they engage among each other quite a bit) I can see that bringing the time down a lot. Like I said, not every post requires a GM update every day....

For me it would be hard to get 50 players to post consistently for longer then a month.
pdboddy
 member, 600 posts
 EST/EDT [GMT-5/GMT-4]
Mon 22 Jan 2018
at 20:11
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
icosahedron152:
If players have not learned how to moderate their behaviour to include others and work for the common good by the time they are old enough to play RPGs, you're not going to teach them that skill during the course of your game.


I would agree that it shouldn't fall on you (or your group) to see that someone learns how to work together and include others, but I disagree that you can't teach them that skill during the game.  Roleplaying games are excellent for learning how to work together, think about others and think outside the box.  It's a great way to learn how to socialize.  If, however, someone is unable to do so after a few RPGs under their belt, then sadly they will likely never learn.

This message was last edited by the user at 20:12, Mon 22 Jan.

aguy777
 member, 254 posts
 Join Date:
 Fri, 29 Nov, 2013
Tue 23 Jan 2018
at 03:05
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
icosahedron152:
I suspect that aguy777's phenomenal achievement (kudos, man) is not limited to 1-2 hours per day. That may be the time he's actually logged into the game, but I'm sure the thinking, planning, map-making, etc, etc, takes significantly more time than that. I would love to be able to dedicate that sort of time to a game, but it's not going to happen this side of retirement. :(

I believe I previously mentioned that I think and plan for the game throughout the day. Posting itself takes a couple hours. I'm constantly planning and making notes.

Escribblings:
The reason his game is successful, in my opinion, is because he listens to his player base.

While he is the GM and could be dictatorial, he often opens up the decision on a new house rule to a vote, or asks for suggestions.

One thing I've noticed many GMs not do. If you intend to run a large game, you must make sure you communicate with your players. You'd think that's common sense, but it seems not. Every 3-4 months, I ask everyone for feedback on how the game can be improved, what they enjoy, what they dislike, etc. Just a simple dozen or so questions; all optional. It hardly takes any time, shows the players that you care about their opinion, and can help the game grow.

praguepride:
I run a 23-25 player Vampire game and that takes about 1-2 hours to keep up and running a day and that doesn't have nearly the combat minutia that &D/Pathfinder have. I have easily spent an hour getting a single post up on a pathfinder game for 4 players because it was a large combat (4 PCs versus a couple of ghouls and a half dozen skeletons).

I would expect 50 players to take 4 hours assuming they all have daily posting rates. If you're only updating say, 20 stories at a time then that makes more sense to me...

Not trying to call you a liar just very surprised about the time requirements being listed...

THEN AGAIN if it's only a dozen adventuring groups and they're pretty self sufficient (i.e. they engage among each other quite a bit) I can see that bringing the time down a lot. Like I said, not every post requires a GM update every day....

For me it would be hard to get 50 players to post consistently for longer then a month.

My 70-77 WPM typing speed probably helps somewhat. Currently, there is roughly 14 groups. I typically make a post for each group every day or two. On average, I make around a dozen posts per day (not counting private messages or other games). I have memorized a sizable chunk of the D&D core rules, which helps make combat posts much faster. There certainly are some GMs who would take four hours to handle my game, but I've gotten better at it over the nearly two years I've been doing it.
pdboddy
 member, 601 posts
 EST/EDT [GMT-5/GMT-4]
Tue 23 Jan 2018
at 12:01
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
In reply to aguy777 (msg # 19):

In regards to feedback, in my SR game over at Roll20, I try to do what I call "the good, the bad and the ugly" every couple of sessions.  What am I doing that's good, what am I doing that needs changes, and what should I avoid doing again at all costs?  After the first few, most of the players are now great at giving feedback without my asking, and I only do it to pry info from the few players who think everything's just fine.

This message had punctuation tweaked by the user at 15:21, Wed 24 Jan.

NowhereMan
 member, 174 posts
Tue 23 Jan 2018
at 13:05
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
In reply to pdboddy (msg # 20):

This is an excellent way of getting feedback.
icosahedron152
 member, 830 posts
Wed 24 Jan 2018
at 14:13
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
In reply to pdboddy (msg # 20):

I like it. I might just use that. I periodically ask players for feedback, but probably not as often as I ought to, and that sounds like a fun format.
pdboddy
 member, 606 posts
 EST/EDT [GMT-5/GMT-4]
Wed 24 Jan 2018
at 15:25
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
I hope it works well for you. :)

I think when I spool up my games here again, I'll add a thread named "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" for just such a purpose.  Leave it to the players to give feedback there.  Perhaps offer little goodies for their characters for providing constructive feedback.
icosahedron152
 member, 831 posts
Thu 25 Jan 2018
at 06:38
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
In reply to pdboddy (msg # 23):

Better and better! If nobody has posted in it for a while, you can simply bump it.

Bennies for feedback: how to resist the urge of better bennies for positive comments... Mwahahahar!
pdboddy
 member, 608 posts
 EST/EDT [GMT-5/GMT-4]
Thu 25 Jan 2018
at 10:28
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
In reply to icosahedron152 (msg # 24):

Don't thank me, just throw money. :D
KingHenryBlack
 member, 24 posts
Mon 29 Jan 2018
at 21:53
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
aguy777:
It is, but it's worth it to have so many happy players. That's what keeps me going, and keeps my running games: the joy I get to bring to people. :)


   Let me add my own kudos to that - simply amazing the amount of love and effort you're putting into it all. I can imagine that if you're getting that much satisfaction out of it, it feels nothing like the work you're putting into it. Well done, Sir...

   I'm also a great believer that if you are having a larger group, having people with good chemistry and can write together is a big plus. With the group I have now, it started out at something like 9 players - which I'll admit was difficult for me to deal with at first, but when it dropped to 6 (as it stands now), it's been a lot easier to handle. It also helps that 4 of those 6 players either know each other or are familiar with their playstyles that writing between them takes a bit of the work out of what I need to focus on. I'm basically handing them information that their characters would know or be aware of, then let them write their own story.

aguy777:
As for pacing, which facemaker329 mentioned as an issue (which it can be), that can only be remedied by a GM moderating the pace. Some players will always move faster than others, and there doesn't seem to be a way around that. That's my experience, at least.


   I recently had an issue like this where one player was having RL troubles and falling behind. As a solution, I asked the others about how comfortable a posting schedule might be for them. As expected, they replied in a range from 3 times a week to three times a day. They were good enough to let me know that they had no problem with slowing things down - something I was worried about - in the interest of keeping the pace moving.  I'm just glad to know that I've got players who are interested and engaged, even when the post count slows a little.

facemaker329:
Well, it's not a 'mechanic', as such, but several of my GMs over the past three decades (and change) have resorted to something as simple as giving extra experience (in whatever form the system in use categorizes it) for players who role-play exceedingly well.  And by that, I don't mean simply that they remain inordinately true to their character (although that does sometimes come into play), but that they actively and consistently do things to move the game forward smoothly.


   Exactly, this. I use a simple system (Bennies/Drama Dice/etc) for things like this. It encourages people to contribute to the story and have a little fun 'acting out', as it were. If you can be angsty (for instance) and still move the plot forward, I'll be happy to toss a bit more to you for it.

Certainly, you can drop incentives into your game, but there are some players who will not even recognize the purpose of your efforts and will simply complain about your 'unfairness and favouritism' in always giving Bennie Points to someone else...

icosahedron152:
If players have not learned how to moderate their behaviour to include others and work for the common good by the time they are old enough to play RPGs, you're not going to teach them that skill during the course of your game.


  Bingo. I'm willing to budge on some things, but if all a person is going to do is whine about how 'other people' are getting rewards and they aren't.', then they are not going to last long in my game, nor anyone else's, for that matter. Role-playing is supposed to be a co-operative venture. If you can't play well with others, you need to find a new hobby.

Escribblings:
While he is the GM and could be dictatorial, he often opens up the decision on a new house rule to a vote or asks for suggestions.


   This can't be stressed enough. I try to have an open mind, as well as an 'Open Door' policy when it comes to the rules. Rarely have I turned down something that a PC has come to me with. I've also worked with my group to expand upon areas of the rules that have been a little vague and then made them "House Rules" for a Tabletop session. You have to work with your peeps in order to foster a good connection with them and let them know you aren't some "Because I said so!" sort of GM. And even when I've made a ruling, I'm still open to a reasoned negotiation about it. Just saying "But that's not fair!" is not only childish, but a poor negotiating tactic. (Now go sit in the corner for 3 min - :) )

aguy777:
One thing I've noticed many GMs not do. If you intend to run a large game, you must make sure you communicate with your players. You'd think that's common sense, but it seems not. Every 3-4 months, I ask everyone for feedback on how the game can be improved, what they enjoy, what they dislike, etc.


  I might just swipe that idea, if you don't mind.
Escribblings
 member, 13 posts
Fri 9 Feb 2018
at 23:52
Re: Large multiplayer RPOL games?
Today, the game that I play in (run by aguy777) overtook the "Wanted Players" sub forum in it's post count.

We all got 100xp for this ;)

I love my GM!