I am getting closer to setting up the first BH episode I have mentioned a couple of times. I am thinking of using Obsidian Portal for maps, NPC / PC listings and so on and running the thing here.
I have never run a PBP game and would love for some players and DMs who have experience to give any advice that might be useful - what are the pitfalls? I am guessing that attrition and loss of attention mid game is a problem, how do you handle that? I am thinking of having a couple of "understudy" slots so if someone goes AWOL for a period of time things can keep going smoothly.
I'll be camping this weekend so I won't respond till next week some time. I am thinking of putting up some info over the next week or so and starting the campaign on the 20th or so, trying to wrap up a simple scenario by July 4.
I have run a dozen or so pbp and pbem games over the last 6 years or so mostly via the iterations of goblinoid games boards and yahoo groups. I am pretty much over the medium at the moment.
My advice to you is patience and pacing. Patience in that there will be times when you want the game to progress faster than it is. Pacing in that you will need to at times know when the right moment is to post a new action in the interest of keeping things moving even though a player or 2 haven't posted actions yet, but without rushing things or getting certain players lost. It can be a delicate balance and frustrating. Be aware that things will move very slow, it can take a week to get through one seemingly simple action or moment in the game, especially combat related. Wrapping up any game that hasn't already started by July 4 2013 sounds impossible to me.
Good luck and have fun!
Last Edit: Jun 8, 2013 0:08:45 GMT -6 by scalydemon
Take me down little Susie, take me down I know you think you're the queen of the underground
Marv / Finarvyn DCC playtester (2011) S&W WhiteBox author (2009) C&C playtester (2003) Builder of the TrollBridge for T&T; Amber Diceless player since 1993 OD&D Player since 1975; Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!" - Dave Arneson
I have run successful, and unsuccessful pbp games, and it is hard to pinpoint what works and what does not. I think you have to be clear about posting standards (every day, 3 times per week, at least once on weekends, whatever...) . I found I can not do "one post per day" games, so I don't join them. This allows people to know going in what is expected. I also think you have to give some clear direction (are you going to play poker, or are you going to drink at the bar?) and not make things too complicated (the player logs in for 5 minutes every two days, can't keep track of convoluted plots). Decide when to cut your losses, and resolve the next round, whether everybody has posted or not. I had one player hold up a game for over a week, as I was waiting for what he planned to do to avoid onrushing green slime. Eventually, I just had to move on and he dissolved into a puddle of goo. Then, let the players do cool stuff, use your imagination, and let them have fun.
Some players drop out through no fault of your own (they get overcommitted, real life happens, etc). Some people drop out after they decided the game system does not work for them. Some people drop out because they just can't mesh with your setting. Some people drop out because of personality clashes (both with the DM, and with other players). Some people drop out because the pace is so slow as only two of the 8 players are posting. And some people just can't handle a commitment of more than 6 months.
Don't know If this helps or not.
Cpt John "Jack" Hammer 6A84A6 Age 22 male Rifle SMG Grav Vehicle Trc Vehicle Gambling Leader
Post by scottenkainen on Jun 10, 2013 9:10:21 GMT -6
All of Makofan's advice is excellent. I would add:
Talk to your players about if they want to see the game mechanics a) inserted into the In-Character messages within double parentheses (or some other method of distinction), b) inserted into the In-Character messages but at the end, c) detailed in a separate OOC folder, or d) kept behind the scenes and not seen at all.
Talk to your players about where and how they want to handle dice rolls. If you're comfortable with it, they could roll at home and let you know the results. If they are comfortable with it, you can roll at home and let them know the results. There are online dice rollers out there you can use instead.
Post by waysoftheearth on Jun 10, 2013 19:33:59 GMT -6
I've moderated and participated in quite a few PBP games.
It can be an excellent format for PRGs, but it certainly requires players and referee to take "the long view". It can take months of real time to simply get from town to the adventure, or to resolve a single encounter. "Maintaining the momentum" is one of the ref's principle responsibilities... but he can't do it alone. The game needs steady input from players as well in order to succeed.
But there are things the ref can do to facilitate success.
Acknowledge that players are "checking back" irregularly looking for updates, and make it easy for them by keeping posts short. Several short, focused posts are probably easier to digest than one long one.
Make it clear who each post is intended for -- even going so far as to explicitly state "James, Earl and Wyatt are here." at the top of your post. Especially if the players break up into multiple groups. Which they will.
Conduct all posts in the 3rd person. It's much easier for everyone to follow what is happening when they read "Jim loads the final two shells into his shot gun..." than "I load the final two shells...". If everyone is using "I" it quickly becomes difficult to follow.
I also bold PC names in every post to help clarify who is involved.
As far as dice rolling goes, it will speed play along if the ref rolls everything. Whether or not he shows the game mechanics to the players is a separate thing... revealing die roll results can help the players figure out whether they are hard pressed or winning easily. On the other hand, its extra work for the referee, and it might detract from the story atmosphere. Personally, I like to show the players' dice rolls, but keep some of the ref rolls secret.
Also consider pacing. PBP is an achingly slow format, so take advantage of the abstract nature of ODD's (and related games) combat, and allow much stuff to happen during a combat round. Keep the momentum going; you don't need to wait for everyone to post. Unless a key moment is hanging on what a PC will do, just assume they take their stock action. Reward the players who do post by focussing on their actions, while those who don't post become "extras" in the background.
Try to provide as much feedback to player questions as possible. Answer every question. Try to keep your replies rich but brief.
Running a game will be easier (and faster) for a ref if he keeps his own records of the PC sheets. Keeping these in synch with the players' own records can be challenging, but work together. Be flexible when errors come up
In the end, remember that it has to be fun for you too. It's a lot of work to run a PBP game, and it might last years, so make sure you're enjoying it too!