Trellian
 member, 1 post
Wed 30 Nov 2016
at 22:12
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
Hi everyone.  I've been lurking for awhile and am now just beginning to dip my toe into the water to setup and hopefully referee a Traveller game.  One of the things I'm trying to get my head around is how best to use threads and groups.  I think I understand the mechanics - how to create new threads, assign threads and players to groups, etc.  I'm actually getting a little hung up on the conceptual side.

Do you have any advice for a new GM as to when to create new threads, when to separate into multiple groups, or otherwise how to organize the game?

My initial thought is that if I think of the campaign as being played out in Acts and Scenes, each "scene" would be a separate thread.  Is that too structured?  Should I just start with one thread and split off when needed?  How do GM's handle situations when groups temporarily split up?  Does that justify a new thread?

Does anyone have any general advice on this subject?  All feedback appreciated!  Thanks!
Dgorjones
 member, 17 posts
Wed 30 Nov 2016
at 23:18
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
Here are some tips addressing some of your questions:

1. I use a separate thread for a variety of campaign management stuff.  For example, I have separate threads for House Rules, Character Generation, Campaign World Information, Request to Join Protocol, and Treasure & Experience Point Tracking.  I think that is fairly typical.

2. I create a separate "chapter" thread whenever we start a new stage in the adventures.  For example, Chapter 1 in my campaign involved setting up an ambush at a hunting lodge in the woods.  Chapter 2 could have been the party exploring the dungeon underneath the lodge, but the party decided to take a trip back to town to resupply.  I created an Interlude Chapter to deal with town stuff.  Chapter 2 was started as the Return to the Lodge.  I think this is fairly typical, too.  I haven't seen anyone try to break threads down by act and scene per se, but I think the principle would be the same.

3. The only groups I have used so far are to sort out which PCs know various languages that have come up in game.
StarMaster
 member, 231 posts
Thu 1 Dec 2016
at 00:51
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
As I run three Traveller games, I find it necessary to have a Library Data thread, as well as a Ship Stats thread.

Depending on what the characters do, I've also added a Cargo Manifest thread to keep track of what cargo they've bought and sold.

An RTJ thread is usually good to let prospective players know what you want to see from them when they apply.

A Character Generation thread is also a good idea to let new players know how you plan on handling Character Generation... how much detail you want to see in their thread, what house rules you are using, etc.

Another helpful thread is an OOC thread. This is where the players can post out-of-game questions, wish each other Merry Christmas, announce if they are going to be absent, and just general BS.


As far as separate game threads, that mostly depends on your own style... and the game. In one of my games, there is a thread for Ship's Bridge, another for Engineering, one for the Galley, etc.


Some GMs like to have threads by day. Some just start a new one for a different adventure.


I'd suggest you do a game search here on RPoL for Traveller games, and see what other games do. You can then pick and choose for what works for you.
Trellian
 member, 2 posts
Thu 1 Dec 2016
at 01:45
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
In reply to Dgorjones (msg # 2):

Thanks so much, Dgorjones!
Trellian
 member, 3 posts
Thu 1 Dec 2016
at 01:58
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
In reply to StarMaster (msg # 3):

Thanks so much, StarMaster!  That helps a lot.  I've actually been periodically scanning your Traveller campaigns for inspiration and ideas about how to run a Traveller game in RPol (not to mention for the enjoyment of reading the posts!)  Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with me.
facemaker329
 member, 6868 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Thu 1 Dec 2016
at 06:48
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
I don't play Traveller, and don't know much about it beyond the name, but when it comes to threads, there are a couple of common practices I've noticed.

First off, like the others have said, have game-related, informational threads.  Stuff like Character Generation and RTJ Info can be notices, and closed, because you're the only one who ever needs to post in them.  OOC threads are great...some GMs don't like them because they want everything in the game to remain game-oriented, but I got into gaming in no small measure as a social interaction.  Some people play bridge, or cribbage, or even poker...I roleplay.  And an OOC thread gives players like me a place to get a little better acquainted with just who's sitting around the virtual table.  So, yeah...I'll second (or third) everything they've said on that score.

With regards to organizing your in-game threads...that depends on how you want to organize your game, in general.  Some games I'm in have the threads done chronologically...when this particular 'scene' is done, a new thread comes up and the game continues there.  If you want the game to 'read' as a story or a novel, this is an easy way to facilitate that.  Other games I'm playing have threads for various locations, which is convenient if you have multiple players who may or may not be in scenes together or who move around a lot...a thread for a ship's bridge, cargo hold, engine room, etc.  This does make things more difficult to follow for people who may join the game later and are trying to read up on past events, because players don't always indicate which thread (and which post) contains the continuation of what they're doing...but if you want your game to have more of a 'day in the life' feeling for people playing it, this makes it really easy (you can swing by the hangar deck and check out the shuttle, pause on the Recreation Deck on your way to Medical, and then go back to Officers' Quarters to sleep off whatever medication you got before you go to the Bridge for your duty shift...each one being in a separate thread, which may or may not have other players active at the time so the chances for random, or 'random' character interaction are good, as opposed to the more regulated feeling of scene/chapter-based threads where everyone is expected to be there together...)

It's all a matter of your personal preference. The one game I run is episodic by design, so my threads are done as episodes (apropos, as it's based on Robotech...)  But even then, I inherited the game from another GM, and it was already established as such when I took the reins...and I had no interest in changing it.  If I was running a game where everything happened aboard a single ship...or even a couple of them...I'd probably do my threads based on locations, rather than events.

As for groups...that is ENTIRELY up to you.  I've been in games where everyone was in the same group (in terms of RPOL access...Group 0), so we could all see what everyone else was doing.  I've also been in games where each team was in its own group, so nobody could see what they were doing (since you wouldn't have any idea in a real-world equivalent situation).  Been in games where each ship was its own group.  The benefit to having everyone in the same group is also the drawback, depending on how you look at it.  It's beneficial, in that everyone gets a feel that the game is moving forward, even when your specific team isn't doing a whole lot at the moment...but the drawback is, it can get difficult to keep track of what your specific team is doing when you're, say, an infantry team on the ground, trying to infiltrate a building, and the thread is getting cluttered with posts from the air support talking about their dogfights and the orbital support talking about planetary bombardment actions.  However, everybody knows that SOMEBODY is still working on the objective of the mission, so it serve as incentive to keep going with your part, as well...

That one, you might want to confer with your players and see how private they want the various points of the game to be.  Since you can see everything, as GM, it won't impact you that much, individually, but it will heavily influence how your players experience the game.
Trellian
 member, 4 posts
Thu 1 Dec 2016
at 16:54
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 6):

Thanks Facemaker329 for the great info and advice regarding both threads and groups. That helps a lot.  It sounds like it truly is a judgement call whether to organize around locations or scenes/episodes/chapters, and the examples you gave help to clarify the pros and cons and the considerations for each approach.

I'm getting the sense that I would probably minimize the use of groups if I prefer a more collaborative and transparent campaign but might use them if trying to keep things more secretive or "need to know" for building suspense.

Thanks for the advice.  You and the others have given me much to think about.
StarMaster
 member, 232 posts
Thu 1 Dec 2016
at 21:22
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
There's also no reason you can't a bit of both. You shouldn't feel restricted to just one approach.

When the characters are on a ship, there can be location threads.

When they are on a planet or a mission, the threads can be episodic.


Likewise with groups. I also run a Stargate game with 3 teams. Each team is in it's own group, but there are common threads back at the SGC where they can all post together in between missions.
facemaker329
 member, 6870 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Fri 2 Dec 2016
at 08:27
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
The first game I played in on RPOL was a Star Wars game, where the GM had different teams in different groups...so as concurrent action was happening in different areas, the various teams had no way of knowing if the others were succeeding or failing, and how the actions of other teams might influence the results of their own team.  Anything that happened in one thread that would have a noticeable effect on the others, the GM would cross-post, so we could hear each others' comm traffic (if it wasn't on a team-specific frequency), or see large explosions in the distance (but we didn't have any idea what was blowing up).  I even almost had my character buried by falling debris when a building he was in got shaken by the shockwave of a particularly large explosion caused by another team...

And when it was all over, we'd go back to a shared thread with everyone in the group.  And the GM would archive the various threads (which made them readable to everyone) so we could get an appreciation for what the other teams had accomplished or endured.  I've had GMs try and do that in tabletop games in the past, and it always bogged the game down horrendously, because you either had to have individual sessions with each team, or the teams that weren't currently 'part of the action' had to sit idly by or go to another room or something so as to not blow the surprise factor...that's one of the ways that play-by-post excels over tabletop.  It's also the closest any of my GMs have come to running the kind of hybrid approach that StarMaster suggests...but I tend to gravitate to games that don't have much need for that level of character separation.  If it suits the way you want to run your game, do it...my primary rule for gaming (here or anywhere else) is, "If everyone's having fun, you're doing it right...even if you're not doing it right."  Do it however works for you...*grin*
Gaffer
 member, 1410 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Fri 2 Dec 2016
at 14:31
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
Having run and played a fair number of games here, my biggest advice is to have a thread where you post the things the players have learned. Especially if your IC threads are going to run more than 10 pages or so, it can be really boring to sort back through a couple hundred posts looking for an NPC name or a location or a clue or a fact that you want to include in a new post.

Sure, there's the scratchpad where each player can note down this stuff as it comes up or they can make notes in their Character Description, but on-line players are no better about this than table top players.

And I find that I'm not as organized here (maybe because games take soooo loooong to play out) and when I need to refer back to some character or idea that I wasn't planning to recur, I end up doing a lot of searching too.
Trellian
 member, 5 posts
Fri 2 Dec 2016
at 16:07
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 9):

Oh, wow!  I bet that was a blast (pardon the pun). Sounds like a lot of fun and suspense!  I love how the cross posting of radio chatter as you describe partially bridges the communication gap but even creates more tension.  Thanks!
Trellian
 member, 6 posts
Fri 2 Dec 2016
at 16:12
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
In reply to Gaffer (msg # 10):

Thanks!  I know as I have been lurking some active games and considering sending a RTJ, it is overwhelming to try to catch up on posts that may span years.  I love the idea of a thread that contains chapter summaries.  That also sounds like a good way of compensating for the discontinuity in time when a location based thread approach is used.
facemaker329
 member, 6871 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Sat 3 Dec 2016
at 06:05
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
In reply to Gaffer (msg # 10):

If you do something like this, it's crucial to stay on top of it.  I'm in a game that's been running for a little over five years...the GM started off posting occasional updates/summaries of events and locations and such...then they got more and more rare.  Another player in the game started writing them up and sending them to the GM...then those got more rare.  I even tried it once or twice...the GM was really good about posting updates if someone else wrote them, but it was hard to keep anyone interested in doing it because there was no real incentive to do it.

As a result, someone looking to join the game has the action summarized up until about two years ago...and then there's a whole lotta no-information (or investigating old threads to find what happened...)  I've been in table-top games where the GM offered extra character points for someone to keep a 'group diary', which might be an idea worth considering.
Grimmond
 member, 436 posts
 Antler-care by LIV THATCH
 "RALPH" The Wonder Llama
Mon 5 Dec 2016
at 07:32
Best Practices for Threads and Groups?
Something I do is most of my games have a "Newspaper" or a Chronicle thread of some sort. The people and places they have been get "logged" so everyone in game past and present can see where they have been and what they have done.

I have a British naval game set in 1793 so the thread is "The London Gazette" and in a WW2 game I run I have a thread called "The Stars And Stripes". I record the message numbers of the threads where new characters get introduced or important information is added. It helps the players and myself.