Delirious Edd
 member, 9 posts
Thu 11 Feb 2021
at 17:16
Make games go faster ideas
I have been thinking about a way to partially overcome one of the worst drawbacks of PbP games-- they move too slowly.

We've all been in a game where eight rounds of combat in a detailed system took three months to complete. I want to do something about that, but I'm not quite sure what.

The idea I am leaning towards is to move to a simpler system. Also tell smaller or more episodic stories. Also work out a way as GM that we can move the game forward every two or three days, or perhaps daily. And if a player can't post because they are busy, to still make them feel part of the story.

Has anyone tried these things? How did it work out for you? I would be interested in hearing about any experiences or other techniques I may not have thought of.

I guess my ideal concept of this game would be that we tell a complete, short story in one week, and after a month we have a memory of several episodes or encounters. I think some people would like that, and I know I am interested to see if I could make it work as a GM.

I'd also like to hear system recommendations. I know about Lasers and Feelings, and the Window, and RISUS, but I'd like to hear how these games work out here, or of course also about other systems I may not know about.

Thank you for any advice or commentary you can share here!

This message was last edited by a moderator, as it was the wrong forum, at 17:32, Thu 11 Feb.

 member, 7320 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Thu 11 Feb 2021
at 17:34
Make games go faster ideas
Several of the games I've been in have simplified or abbreviated combat rules for precisely that reason.  Another way of improving the game flow--which is more controversial, but I've never had it abused--is for the players to describe what they're trying to do and the GM resolves whatever dice-rolling needs to happen.  That definitely isn't a universal solution--you've gotta have the right chemistry of players and GM for it to sustain over time.
 member, 674 posts
Thu 11 Feb 2021
at 17:50
Make games go faster ideas
If the system uses initiative, explicitly tell your players to not post in initiative order. Have them post as soon as they can and you as DM adjudicate the round in initiative order. Some granularity will be lost and some actions wonít make sense as you work through the round. Those can be missed turns, attacking an already dead opponent, whatever. Just run with it.

Set time limits on posting or posting requirements, be explicit about them, and skip players who donít post within that framework. It sounds harsh, but waiting for everyone drags out the game and increases the chance people will disappear. Itís not a punishment, itís to keep the game from dying.

Making sure to include everyone even if the player canít post. In combat you can have players set default actions. The rogue will always try to hide and get advantage on an attack. The barbarian will rage and charge. The wizard will blast with a cantrip. Etc. That works well enough, but OOC is tricky and players tend not to like having their characters god-modded.

Simple vs complex systems. Just have your players roll everything they need to resolve an action with their initial post and you can generally run any system just fine. Take D&D as an example. To attack you need to roll to-hit, find out if that hits, then roll damage, then the DM narrates the outcome. You can speed up play by just having the players roll to-hit and damage when they make their post declaring the attack. Similarly, most players are going to be familiar with the basics of the games they play, so if they perform an action that would require a roll, have them make those upfront, like the to-hit and damage rolls in combat. If they try to sneak they should include a stealth roll just in case. If they try to climb something they should make an athletics roll just in case. Etc. Be clear that the roll isnít binding and that itís a precaution. Like if itís impossible and they roll a 20, it doesnít matter; likewise, if you wouldnít have required a roll and they roll a 1 donít punish them for it.
 member, 212 posts
Thu 11 Feb 2021
at 18:01
Make games go faster ideas
When I ran a game (DnD) I had everyone (that is, both of my two players :P) PM me with their intended actions for the combat...and depending on their Initiative rolls I'd tell them what would likely have happened by the time their turn came around (eg "This monster is gonna go for you while that other one goes for the other player, who has said they're going to use X attack on it and then move away if possible"), and then do the entire round in one post, making all the rolls. It was a way to try and avoid lots of back-and-forth in between turns and stuff. Seemed to go okay but I dunno how well it would work if there were more players.
 member, 827 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Thu 11 Feb 2021
at 18:03
Make games go faster ideas
I am just finishing up a battle that has run thirty one rounds. It started at the end of October, and it seems to me that it was a pretty decent pace.

I think the secret is for the DM to set some rules for posting rate, and sticking to them. In my games, if a person doesn't post in three days, time advances without them doing anything.

I am in one game where the DM demanded posting at least once a day, and right from the start people were flaunting the rules. A good, well paced Play-by-Post game requires a stern hand at the helm.

If that rule isn't maintained, then no rule change is going to make a difference.
 member, 391 posts
Thu 11 Feb 2021
at 18:33
Make games go faster ideas
I agree with Piestar, posting rate is important.

I like to say that Rpol games live and die based on their momentum. Posting of any kind builds and maintains momentum. Consistent updates build momentum. A day without an update kills momentum, a GM post that doesn't advance the action in some way kills momentum.

Another philosophy that serves me well in GMing games is when I make a post I ask "Did this update cause some meaningful change to the action unfolding?" If not then I need to add more to it. The one exception I've made to this rule is with a sandbox game I started running where I firmly put the reins into the players hands. Some of them are running with it, some of them are starting to indicate they want more direction.

Other rules and modifications will depend on what you're running. The more dice rolling is involved with a game the more you'll likely need to modify it, ask for rolls in advance, maybe shrink HP pools for enemies, ask for rolls preemptively or ask for players to include contingency plans in their posts (If the goblin dies before I attack it then I attack the spider instead. If the pillar of doom activates before I can disarm it then I run away) Contingency plans let the GM make more meaningful posts while still making sure the player agency is accounted for.

My last bit of advice, I've had a lot of success in wrapping up action within a week. Whether it's a fight, or a dungeon crawl, or a bar scene. Wrap it up after a week. It probably means you're only getting 2 to 4 meaningful actions in that time if you have daily posting so try to make every post count. This means they should be getting a reward every week, whether loot, experience, a story development. Something.

Tldr: Fast, consistent posting, adventures are designed with PbP confines in mind. Make every post meaningful. Tangible rewards at least every week.

This message was last edited by the user at 18:50, Thu 11 Feb.