member, 11 posts
Sun 20 May 2018
at 22:21
How do *you* run?
I'm a long time GM that had turned to RPOL to play games that my usual group isn't interested in.

I ran one game for some friends while I was out of town for a few months and it went well, but the last few games I've tried to run have met with challenges that don't exist in the real world.

So, I'm curious to know how others do things.

What do you see as the unique challenges to the medium and how do you overcome them?  What have you seen others do that worked well or poorly and made you incorporate or avoid it?  What still happens to disrupt or slow down your games that you have no idea how to mitigate or prevent?
 member, 544 posts
Sun 20 May 2018
at 23:04
How do *you* run?
>What do you see as the unique challenges to the medium and how do you overcome them?

Player attrition. It's the biggest hassle there is with pbp games, especially ones on sites that aren't also "social media" or more standard forum sites. There's very little interaction between people outside of games here, so people tend to drop games easier than they otherwise would on more interactive forums or in meatspace. The only solution I've seen marginally work is overbook the game at first and hope that you can keep new people coming in as older player drop out.

Posting rates. Some players want to post once a day, others feel compelled to post a dozen times or more in a day. Keeping the slower posting player from being overwhelmed while also keeping the faster poster player engaged are problematic. The solution that seems to work best is minimum posting rates, say one in-character post per 48 hours but also have a general out-of-character thread where people can chat about whatever.

Thought sniping. It's weird. Most players are fine with internal thoughts on display for all to see, but others will use their internal (but openly posted) thoughts to snipe at other characters / players and this is disruptive to no end. This is solved by not allowing internal thoughts to be posted in game.

Character vs character spilling over into player vs player. If there's conflict some people just can't help but take it personally. Even if it's a game. The only solution is to make players keenly aware before the game starts that this is verboten.

Min-max, power gaming, rules lawyering, and invulnerable / no conflict players. These aren't unique to pbp at all. But without that face-to-face communication it's harder to deal with them. The "solution" is to make sure everyone's as much on the same page as you (the GM) before the game starts. Knowing what to expect beforehand can help a lot. Sometimes it just doesn't though.

>What have you seen others do that worked well or poorly and made you incorporate or avoid it?

The "solutions" above were taken from the more successful attempts I've seen.

>What still happens to disrupt or slow down your games that you have no idea how to mitigate or prevent?

The above still happens. All the time.
Big Brother
 member, 445 posts
 Who controls the past...
 ... Controls the future.
Mon 21 May 2018
at 01:44
How do *you* run?
I generally agree with liblarva, though I dislike limiting how players can write (eg, telling players not to write their thoughts). As far as posting rates go, it often helps to state up front what your posting expectations are - "one a day," or "no more than two posts in a row," or "the GM will post every 'x' days, and you should post in that time."

By far though, liblarva is correct - player attrition is the gamekiller. Best solution to that is just to accept that you'll be calling on new players to join with some regularity.
 member, 371 posts
Mon 21 May 2018
at 04:17
How do *you* run?
I've actually found that it's more effective to control one's own posting rate than try to dictate to others their posting rate. What I mean is, if the players know the GM is going to update every day, they're going to have a lot more motivation to post consistently and if the GM only posts once a day, then regardless of how much chatter is going on in game, the other players won't get left behind because the meaningful updates are coming at a steady pace. It definitely requires some GM dedication though to maintain a reliable schedule.
 member, 220 posts
Mon 21 May 2018
at 13:34
How do *you* run?
I have two more problems to add.

Scope and pace is a huge problem. The game starts, everyone is enjoying themselves, and then the GM says a fight breaks out. You go into turn based combat and the game basically collapsed because you go from posting complex actions once a day to posting a single task once per week. Or the GM wants to start some 1-20th level style epic without realizing the much slower place of pbp.

The only way I can think to not fall into these traps is to not do it. If you have to have a fight, it's probably best to resolve it in a round or two (a few days) so you can keep the game going. When planning adventures, you have to make them much shorter and simpler, since it could take months to play through what you can accomplish in a session or two in live.

The other big problem I've seen is what I call babysitting. Some published games have a lot of back and forth between the GM and players/players and other players. In a live game, it doesn't take more than a few seconds to ask the GM for a roll modifier or to adjudicate something, but in pbp, that can take a week.

Again, the only solution I can think of is to not do this. For example, I love FFG Star Wars, but do to the constant back and forth needed to build dice pools and declare rolls, I have no idea how people play it by post. Freeform games do well here, but there are published games that don't require this kind of babysitting.