Welcome! Rules, guidelines, homebrew modifications, and tips.   Posted by The Dungeon Master.Group: 0
The Dungeon Master
 GM, 1 post
Sat 14 May 2022
at 12:27
Welcome! Rules, guidelines, homebrew modifications, and tips
Since this is going to be the first experience for all of us of asynchronous, play-by-post style roleplay, we will no doubt be learning and making adjustments as we go along. Nevertheless, I thought it worth summarising some of the advice I've read while researching how play-by-post works, as well as approaches taken from other games, in the hope that we might use it as a baseline for how we approach the game, as well.

Post frequency

By far the most commonly-cited issue with play-by-post games is that while everyone starts off excited and motivated, before too long people stop checking in and the game fizzles out. It only takes one person not posting to put the whole game on hold as everyone waits to hear what they're going to do before they can continue. It's important, therefore, to adopt a pace which is regular enough that the game doesn't fade away, but sustainable enough that we can all actually keep it up. A common ballpark estimate is that each player should check in and post at least once every other day. If you can check in every day, so much the better, but the minimum is two days.

In order to keep the game going smoothly, some groups I've seen have adopted the two-day rule: if a player goes without posting for two days, then on the third day the DM is allowed to post on their behalf (deciding what their character does for them). This isn't supposed to be a punishment; quite the contrary, it is done in the spirit of understanding that sometimes life gets in the way and it isn't possible to post, and so if you are in this situation at least you know the DM will be able to help pick up the slack.

To that I would add: sometimes we know in advance that we won't be able to post for an extended period, for example if we go on holiday for a week or two. When that happens, we have two options: pause the game until everyone is back, or lend the missing player's character to one of the other players to control. Let's discuss which option we'd prefer when this comes up.

Post formatting

RPoL offers a number of formatting options in its editor, including bold, italic, underlined, and coloured text. By adopting a couple of conventions I think we can help keep our threads easy to read. I don't want to go over-the-top here, because that will just slow us down and anything that adds friction to the act of posting is the enemy. So, by and large, I think style your posts how you like, but here are a couple of ideas we might consider to help keep things straight:

out-of character comments and questions should be prefixed with "OOC:", and coloured in grey. This helps them fade into the background a little.
player character dialogue/speech gets coloured in a different colour depending on the player. You can each choose your own colour (except for Red, Gray or Goldenrod). By having each player "speak" in a different colour it makes it easier to scan through previous posts when we want to remind ourselves of something someone said.
non-player character dialogue/speech will all be coloured in "Goldenrod".
dice rolls are coloured in Red (choose from the drop-down list in section 5 of the die roller).

Here's an example player post to demonstrate the above:

Grundle Thwackstone rushes toward the unsuspecting goblins, yelling toward them, "you won't get away from me this time, you miserable runts!"

21:48, Today:  Grundle Thwackstone rolled 16 using 2d20+2, dropping the lowest dice only ((14,2)). (To hit)
21:49, Today:  Grundle Thwackstone rolled 9 using 1d8+3. (Damage)

OOC: I have Advantage on the attack roll, right?

Rules tweaks

Because we will be playing asynchronously across three different time zones, too much back-and-forth will slow the game down. In order to try and mitigate this, it makes sense to "batch up" points of decision making or uncertainty, so that we don't get stuck waiting for each individual person to go before we can post.  This section will probably be updated as we discover what works and what doesn't.

Ability checks

In live play of D&D 5e, I generally follow the rule that you only roll an ability check when the DM asks you to. In live play, I think pro-actively rolling ability checks distracts from the roleplay and keeps you focused on the numbers instead.

However, for asynchronous play the opposite applies. Asking to do something, then waiting for me to post which ability check you should make, then making another post to make the roll is just going to slow everything down.  There are two options I can see to resolve this:
  1. Pro-actively make the roll in the same post where you state your action. If I disagree on which ability should be rolled or on questions of Advantage etc., I can re-roll on your behalf in my response.
  2. Just state what you want to do and I will make the roll for you in my response.

I am open to either of these options. Let me know which you think is best!


Combat is probably the most challenging aspect of D&D for asynchronous play. In 5th edition, each player/NPC/monster takes it in turns in initiative order to declare what they will do and then act upon it. Once everyone has taken their turn, that makes the end of a round of combat (defined as roughly six seconds of real-world time), and the next round begins

As with the ability checks, I think waiting for each player to take it in turns will kill any momentum we have, so I'd like to batch up each round of combat. During combat, all players should declare what they want to do, including any contingencies. For example, "Grundle goes after the first goblin, unless it looks like one of the other goblins is going to make a run for it, in which case he goes after that one instead." I will also decide ahead of time what the monsters plan to do, in a similar manner. Once everyone has declared their intent, I will try and resolve everything into a coherent round (taking initiative into account) and describe everything that happens during that round in a single post. After that we move into the next round, and players declare their intent once again.

Incidentally, a single round of combat in AD&D 2nd Edition was defined as roughly a minute in length — ten times that of 5th Edition! We may want to move toward a slightly less granular style here, as well — perhaps by describing our intent a couple of moves ahead, or something. Let's play it by ear and see how it shakes out.

One other point about combat in 5th Edition: each round, a player can take an Action, and potentially a Bonus Action (depending on abilities) and a Reaction (predicated on a trigger). If you want to make use of Bonus Actions or Reactions, please include this in your initial post describing your intent for the round.

The most important rule: have fun!

I hope everything that I've written above isn't overwhelming or overcomplicated. The most important thing is that we all enjoy playing and that it doesn't feel like a burden. We're all new to this, and no doubt we will have to make adjustments as we go. If you have any suggestions, please either raise them with me or start an OOC thread (prefix the thread title with "OOC:") to discuss it with everyone in here. I'm looking forward to seeing how this goes!

This message was last edited by the GM at 12:51, Mon 16 May.

Branrig Goblinbane
 player, 1 post
Mon 16 May 2022
at 10:31
Welcome! Rules, guidelines, homebrew modifications, and tips
My vote goes towards the DM rolling, unless it’s something we can easily do ourselves. Otherwise I think it could get very slow very fast. Eg.:

The red dragon wakes, sees Frombo Bobbins taking the treasure and lets out a tremendous roar! Roll for initiative

Frombo: 1d20: 9 Frombo pulls out his dagger and throws it at the dragon’s eye, shouting “Have at you!”
DM: The dagger hits, causing 3d6: 3 Points of damage. The dragon laughs, and proceeds to incinerate Frombo for Copyright Infringement.

Or something similar.

This message was last edited by the player at 10:31, Mon 16 May.