Mad Mick
 member, 1002 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Thu 21 Oct 2021
at 19:49
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
Hey, all. I havenít GMed a ton of games, but Iím guilty of losing steam and having to call it quits. Iíve finished first adventures, often just barely limping to the end, but getting a gameís second adventure rolling is difficult for me. This behavior tends to affect me as a player as well. When I get behind in a game I GM, I start avoiding RPOL. The act of logging on to the site is difficult. This last time, I thought about my game I was GMing almost every day and wanted to log back in to continue. I eventually just had to put the game out of its misery and shut it down. This has happened half a dozen times already in the 10+ years Iíve GMed on RPOL.

These behavioral challenges play out in other areas of my life as well. The more prep time involved or the more difficult a task, the harder it is to get started for me.  A three-page paper is childís play, but a 15 pager? I might avoid that thing for half a year. Iíve received help from some great mental health professionals, but the issues persist.

I love RPOL. Itís the best place Iíve found online for play-by-post, and Iíve played with some excellent players and GMs Iím primarily a player myself, but I love the creativity and adventures that being a GM offers, too. I love the feeling of creating  something that is fun for both me and other people. I also know the disappointment of becoming invested in characters just for the game to die.

For those GMs who have dealt with ADHD or similar issues, what strategies have worked for you in play-by-post? Making copious notes? Using adventure modules? Limiting the number of players? Being up-front about your challenges? Swearing off GMing altogether?

I welcome all feedback, whether you have GMed and/or have ADHD/ADD, or whether you have experience or insight dealing with issues like this.
Yaztromo
 supporter, 456 posts
Thu 21 Oct 2021
at 20:12
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
I don't think I have ADHD, but I understand your point and for me it works using (short or very short) adventure modules, daily posting, limited number of players on each adventure, no or minimum maps or images shared with the players. Keep each adventure short and snappy, then move on with next adventure and keep it moving. The group of players can change between adventures and there may be more than one group running at the same time.
Mad Mick
 member, 1003 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Thu 21 Oct 2021
at 22:28
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
Maps slow me down so much! My poison of choice is GURPS, and my players do like having maps, but they take forever for me to make. Iíve used MapTools and Roll20 to make maps in the past, but it takes me a long time to create them.
Rockwolf66
 member, 79 posts
Fri 22 Oct 2021
at 03:44
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
As a GM with ADHD I have found that having someone to bounce ideas off of and to help keep me focused helps immensely.
Eric J
 member, 1 post
Fri 22 Oct 2021
at 23:19
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
GM'ing a game when you have more and more ideas for new games all the time can be incredibly frustrating.  You want so badly to move on to the next idea.   Your strength is the creativity.  That's great.

Keep a notebook so you can write down all your wonderful new ideas and you can weed them down later to your favorites.  In the meantime make sure your storylines are very short one shots and advertise them as such.

There are lots of players that would love to get into a "quick game" and it keeps your interest to a 3 page paper versus a scientific paper on the mating rituals of the New Hampshire Gray Moth.
evileeyore
 member, 567 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Sat 23 Oct 2021
at 00:04
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
No ADHD, but I hate prep, so I tend not to do it.  I fly-by-the-seat and take notes as I run.  Now I have the opposite problem, so every so often I get upset with my notes lack of organization, drop everything else I'm doing, and spend an evening redoing all my notes up to that point, formally swear to keep better "more organized notes", and immediately fall back into my "take bad notes" habits.

I run threatre of the mind, and if that's not good enough (hey, even I fail to properly describe a scene) it's a rough sketch map.  If the Players want maps of the area they've been traveling through, that's on them to keep 'em.

My GM maps are 'generally accurate', they're good enough that I know how far things are apart, what is where, etc, and that's all that matters.  While I make them 'quickly', I do enjoy making maps, and if it's a face-to-face game I've been known to make some truly good maps as handouts.  Not Dyson Logos or Daniel Reeve quality, but more than 'passing' good.  But that's for f-2-f, in a PbP, y'all get my chicken scratch maps (because I don't have a scanner and I've never mastered digital arting).

When I play, I keep maps for myself, but they really aren't even "accurate"... they tend to be more like so:
https://i.imgur.com/FzUvd8b.png
and so
https://i.imgur.com/fBKYq9m.png
Shroompunk
 member, 9 posts
Sun 24 Oct 2021
at 08:31
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
I've been struggling with undiagnosed-- but, you know, bloody obvious-- ADHD for forty years and gaming for thirty of them. I didn't start deliberately trying to make accommodations until very recently (when I was "not" diagnosed) but, I've been doing a lot of these things for years.

  • Reduce prep time. Do not run games that require you to build every single NPC.
  • Get a co-GM. Offload prep on them if you can, but their main job is to make the game feel "urgent" to you.
  • You seem to like maps, so I'm not going to tell you to stop using them-- but consider it.
  • People are suggesting smaller group sizes. This doesn't work for me. Whatever group size you run, try to rig the game so the players are playing with eachother more than playing with you, so the game moves without leaving you further behind.
  • Run more character driven games than plot-driven games; riff on player actions instead of having to remember anything, and keep notes.


Mixed results so far, but I'm getting better now that I know why I'm failing.
Mad Mick
 member, 1004 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Sun 24 Oct 2021
at 17:58
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
Eric, at one time I was attempting to run three different games: a Star Wars game, a Middle Earth game, and a Banestorm game. I like exploring different stories, but I also love recurring characters. My ideal game would be a living, on-going world. Setting a series of one-shots with recurring characters would be ideal. Perhaps I need to think less in terms of building campaigns.

Evil, those are some impressive maps! I used to make comics when I was a kid and these elaborate space battles. Visuals have never been my strongest point, but theyíre attractive to me. Also, it seems that many GURPS players are attracted by the tactical aspects of the system. I like theater of the mind, too, but feedback from my players is that they like having maps. If I could speed up the process, that would be very helpful.

Shroompunk, a Co-GM sounds really helpful. I donít think Iíve played in a game that had a Co-GM before, but if I could task someone with the combat and do the narrative and dialogue, that would be a pretty nice set-up.

Your point about smaller groups sizes is a good one. Iíve had the same problems whether I had 1 player or 7.

I almost want to do completely improvisational games, but that somehow feels less real to me. I play completely freeform games with my kids. We create characters and explore the world without sheets, dice, or rules. It doesnít as real, though. I like the sheets, dice, and crunch, but even more, I like characters and settings that seem real.
evileeyore
 member, 568 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Sun 24 Oct 2021
at 22:23
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
Mad Mick:
I like theater of the mind, too, but feedback from my players is that they like having maps.

You can do tactical with theatre of the mind, it just require far more detailed descriptions.  to the point it's almost easier to make maps.  I fiond if the Players trust teh GM, theatre of the mind is less of an issue, it's when they don't trust the GM to play fair, that's when "I need a map" becomes a line int he sand.

quote:
If I could speed up the process, that would be very helpful.

Try going with simpler maps, go 'gridless', just be prepared to again increase your descritpion, like with gridless, range becomes a necessary descriptor you need to add for everyone who might try ranged attacks.

quote:
It doesnít as real, though. I like the sheets, dice, and crunch, but even more, I like characters and settings that seem real.

I don't like freeform because it never ends up with everyone playing with the same limitations.  Players who can express themselves better, write more fluidly, end up taking center stage and commanding more "freedom" in whatever limits may exist.

I prefer games with strong limits on what, how, etc the (N)PCs operate within the medium of the game.  The game can be "rule lite" (or at least 'lighter') than my preferred system (GURPS), they can have more direct narrative control for the Players (I enjoy what little I've played of FATE), but there has to be structure outside of "I'm the GM I say so".
Shroompunk
 member, 10 posts
Mon 25 Oct 2021
at 07:59
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
Mad Mick:
Your point about smaller groups sizes is a good one. I�ve had the same problems whether I had 1 player or 7.


I actually try really hard to have what most online GMs would consider ridiculously large groups-- six or eight or more-- because if I've got fewer than five players, my... gamemastering process grinds to a halt and I choke and die.

So what I do is I try to get as many players as possible, try to make sure they all have a handful of really good plot handles, and try to encourage all of the players to get wrapped up in eachother's personal BS, instead of having some plot of my own they're not really connected to. The plot is the recounting of what the players have actually done, rather than a series of events they're ideally supposed to participate in.

But a lot of that is also ideological, about the meaning of games, rather than just trying to make online gaming work with my neurodivergence. Not sure how to disentangle them for your benefit, but I hope you can find something useful.

Co-GM helps a lot. You can bounce plots off them, ask them to do some of your prep work-- but the most important thing is having someone in the game who knows what's going on, and knows when to tell you that you need to start pulling on game threads right now.
evileeyore
 member, 569 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Mon 25 Oct 2021
at 13:48
Tips for GMing on RPOL with ADHD?
Shroompunk:
I actually try really hard to have what most online GMs would consider ridiculously large groups-- six or eight or more--

I find that 6-8, or even 10, tends to be a far better number for online games.  For a few reasons:

 - Some people just don't like to interact outside of "combat", I mean their Characters are there, they'll maybe quip in a sentence or two here and there, but they've shown up for the action, not the drama.  So if at least half your group like the drama and intraparty interaction, you're set.

 - if 1-2 people go missing, you still have a core number of 4+, and 1-2 will go missing.  In fact when I run I try to recruit at least 10-12 people knowing that the standard of RPoL is "half will abandon the game within a few months".  We have a lot of Players that just fade, either they were new to PbP and just don't enjoy the pacing, or your pacing, or they're not getting to play the game the way they want to, or it's been two months and Real LifeTM intrudes, or that's just who they are, they join games and bail within a few months.  And that's not even talking about the people who need to take a week or a month here and there off, who will hang around forever in your game, but rel life intrudes often enough that they really can't do a face to face game (merchant marines, seasonal workers, emergency personnel, etc), so being able to have a core solid 4-5 "always around" Players (even if they rotate), means your game never needs to go on hold.  Because going a month or more with your game on hold can kill it.

 - Lastly, being PbP, it's far easier to wrangle large groups.  If you do get a large group that are all amateur typing thespians (that is they all enjoy the intraparty interaction dynamic), they will tend to divide into smaller "inner groups" anyway, so you'll basically end up with two-three groups that are interacting with each, which can further decrease the amount you need to interject.  SO I'd say 8 is the ideal 'adventuring' party size, 10ish is great for pure drama games.  It does mean you need to adjust you're personal settings, if you tend to "balance challenges" for smaller parties, that might need to scale up, or even down.  The number of people participating can dramatically shift during a scene, especially if it takes weeks to play out.  But "balancing" or "challenging" an adventuring party in PbP is a whole different topic of discussion.