How We Run PBP/PBEM Games.   Posted by Garrion.Group: 0
Garrion
 GM, 1 post
Sat 23 Sep 2017
at 02:50
How We Run PBP/PBEM Games
Game expectations, progression, and posting format.

Why "We"?

This is a GM collaboration. The adventures detailed within this game are shared among multiple GMs, who will take turns creating the stories.

What is Play by Post (PbP)?

A play by post game is a bit different than most roleplaying experiences. The medium allows for people to play together in games that may otherwise never be able due to various factors creating scheduling issues such as conflicts, availability, or different time zones. PbP games allow for players and GMs to take their time and think through their actions and look up rules that would often eat up valuable session time. This specific site has been tailored to PbP games, allowing spoiler text and private information to be separated in the post. This allows for a relatively seamless storytelling experience with in-character actions being the focal point and extraneous discussion not detracting from that. Even with all these benefits, PbP games do have some drawbacks. Game progress tends to be slower than most other forms of playing, whether that be live at the tabletop or using a VTT to facilitate real-time sessions. Some people also feel pressured to compose extensive prose within a post, having read or been told that they have to elaborate and make long posts to do it "correctly" (more on that later). It can also be troublesome to juggle sequential "turns" when people are posting at various times, or a person is holding up the progress because their response is needed before the game can move forward. Even with the drawbacks, a little creativity and flexibility can make for an enjoyable and rich experience.

To do play by post all you need is an internet connection and a few free minutes to make a post. You will need to check the forums occasionally (frequency variable depending on the scene and GM's desired play speed) so that you can keep up with the story and post again when your response is needed. This site will house your (private) character sheet, a (private) note pad, images for maps or handouts (with limited access to specific groups if needed), post formatting to keep character dialog and visible actions separate from game mechanics for story continuity and decreased interruption, and lastly private messages to specific players in-line within the same post so that player information is isolated and kept within the character's knowledge.

How fast will the game progress and what are the attendance requirements?

As with any game the speed of progression is variable depending on the detail within the scene and how long players linger within it. For this particular medium, I'm desiring players to make posts every day or two. In some scenes players may wish to make several posts in a day if the action is divided into small segments. Absentee players will simply forfeit their character's involvement within that section of the scene. This will be narrated as the character delaying, being inattentive, or simply not present. Sometimes this won't be a big deal and will flow naturally, other times a player may feel left out due to their unavailability. These things are tricky to juggle and we'll just have to handle them as they arise. In the instance of a prolonged absence (1 to 2 weeks) due to vacation or a life event, characters can be handed over to another player or they can just be absent from a particular scene without XP penalty. If a player is inactive for a prolonged period then they will simply be removed from the game and the narrative will be adjusted to reflect any changes needed. The key here is communication.

I want the players to be involved with telling the story and not simply reactive. I'll describe the scene you are in, leaving some instructions. Then it's your turn to interact with the scene or each other as much as you want - talk, interact with your environment, create narrative scenery. The rule is, you guys act with as much free form as you want as long as it does not break the immersion or limitations of the scene. Then, after a day or two, I will describe more of the scene based on your actions (and feedback on task resolutions), leave more instructions, and then let you continue on with the scene. This allows very active players to interact and feed off other active players, and also allows players who are not so active to still be involved without feeling they are holding others back.

How do I use the threads and format my posts?

If you peruse the list of threads you will see many related to specific purposes. It is expected that only content appropriate to the threads will be posted within them. Each thread has an introductory post that explains the function of that thread even if it is obvious by the title. Content not appropriate to a thread will be deleted or moved. Some threads (such as this one) are informational only and are posted as "notices" and are not able to be responded to, other threads are open for discussion. Typical discussion threads include out-of-character (OOC), rules questions, and in-character (IC) purposes.

The single most important thread type will be the in-character threads. This is where the story is told and all character interactions take place. I will title each of these threads with the chapter, mission, season, or some name to denote when it takes place in the timeline of the story. Once that tales comes to an end the thread will be closed and a new one will begin, to continue the story. When you read an IC thread it should read like a book - an accounting of the characters' perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, actions, and dialog - either in first or third person.

Any content not fitting within a character's personal experiences will be contained within a "spoiler" tag. The most common usage of this would be references to game mechanics such as rolls or other explanations of game mechanics. Private lines are used to relay information that is limited to only certain characters. This is primarily a tool of the GM but players can use it too when they want to declare to the GM that they do something that the other characters can't see, including those that can see it into the recipient list. In essence, you should not post something openly that should be unknown to other characters if it could influence their reaction. Thoughts and background introspection do not need to be private unless the player wishes for it to be kept secret for some reason, or if the thought would reveal information that was revealed exclusively to that player by the GM. You need to declare information in-character as dialog for it to be openly available to others.

Players should proactively make applicable rolls if it seems reasonable to include them. To post a dice roll go to the Dice Roller and enter in the appropriate number of dice and the type. Be sure to select the "Record each Die" option, and enter the reason for the roll (Skill, TN/Focus). Copy the output from the dice log into a spoiler tag. Do not spam skill rolls in a post if you are not sure. Often a scene will include variables with declared difficulties for tasks. I may say an Observation check is at D2, so you can go ahead, make your rolls - whether you pass or fail continue to describe your resulting actions but not the reaction of others or any other external factors. I will then tell you what happens or what you perceive. The player can then take the information that I have given him and describe the response in his next post. This allows the players to read other player's responses, and it's through them (not me) that the story is told.

Spoken text should be contained in quotes and for ease of reading when skimming, should be bold. Optionally, players may choose to have their spoken text in bold and a color of their choice for quick character recognition.

For example:

GM:
The darkness outside of the edge of the campfire seems like it is closing in on you. The night is growing colder as the fire flicks its shadows on the nearby trees.

Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
Due to darkness, all observation rolls are at D2.


Player One:
Player One looks around the campfire, looking at the faces of his fellow companions. Looking at the treeline, he feels a since of dread. And decides to walk over to the edge of the campfire to look into the forest.

Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
01:13, Today: Player One rolled 15 using 2d20 with rolls of 10,5. Observation, TN13/F2.
D2, Success



Player Two:
Looking up and seeing Player One stand and walk to the fires edge, He looks in the direction that player one is looking.

Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
01:13, Today: Player One rolled 15 using 2d20 with rolls of 18,19. Observation, TN13/F2.
D2, Failure


The bright campfire blinds any attempt to peer into the darkness.

GM:
Private to Player One, You see a figure in the shadows in front of you.
Private to Player Two, You see nothing of interest.

Player Two:
Player Two says to player One, "Sit down my friend, There is nothing over there except for trees."

Player One:
Ignoring the jestful comment of Player Two, he points into the woods. "No, look near that tree, something is standing there!!"

GM:
The two companions stare into the darkness, barely seeing the shadow as it moves closer.

Player Two:
Player Two turns to look where player one is pointing. "Oh no!!!", he mutters.

This message was last edited by the GM at 03:13, Sat 23 Sept 2017.