View Full Version : How to GM a Fun Play-By-Post Game

2007-04-24, 09:44 PM
Hello everyone, WeaveWarden here, seeking wisdom (or at least commentary) from the prodigious gaming community here at the Playground.

More specifically, I'm working on making a Guide to GMing Play-By-Post games (http://www.treasuretables.org/wiki/index.php?title=Play-by-Post_Guide) over at the TreasureTables GMing wiki, and I'd appreciate your thoughts, corrections, advice, and jabs on the matter. Pretty much the idea is to compile good PbP techniques and ideas into a few clear articles so that it's easy for people to get involved in play-by-post and roleplaying in general.

Though I'm a long-time player, lurker, and GM at a variety of PbP sites (currently a staffer at Myth-Weavers (http://www.myth-weavers.com) as well), I thought I'd turn to you guys to expand the advice I've put together so far and add a variety of perspectives. I figure that if I can get gather enough solid opinions and good ideas on PbP into a few helpful articles, it'll make it easier to spread good GMing skills to new GMs and encourage people to get involved in play-by-post in general.

Well, if you're interested in helping out, feel free to jump right in and start adding your ideas (registration at the wiki is free and harmless), or you can post your thoughts on how to be a good PbP GM here and I'll do my best to incorporate them as I go.


2007-04-24, 10:03 PM
((I haven't actually read the guide, so I might be repeating.))

Time goes far slower in a PbP game. It's important that you focus on what your group enjoys best. It's also handy to note that combats take far longer (I have trouble getting everybody's actions and responding faster than 1 round a day), so the typical adventure has to be modified. Also, because of the increased time between posts, players have more time to think. This thinking can be used for writing eloquent posts, solving puzzles, or solving difficult tactical situations. All in all, the PbP format lends itself to roleplaying (and other thought exercises) better than hack-and-slash combat.

Another thing, players LOVE leveling up. But, levels come far slower in PbP than face to face game. Don't be afraid to hand out over-the-top "story xp" awards to keep things moving. Keep the leveling up at a reasonable pace, say every month or two, but this will give the players a sense of accomplishment and progress.

2007-04-25, 02:16 PM
I have never run a Play By Post game before, but I am quite interested to hear people's opinions on what works and what does not in this context. I have heard a few times that you can give more detailed descriptions and things, but I often wonder how many players just skim through such descriptions (the online equivalent of 'zoning out' when the Dungeon Master starts describing every shrub in Middle Earth).

2007-04-25, 03:32 PM
In adition to Zebra's advice:

Definately describe detailed things well in a PbP, to avoid questions that'll just slow the pace further. When doing this remember to continually evoke the theme and feel you want. I find that players in PbP rarely skip it cause they need it to immerse themselves more than tabletop, which takes place in a full senory experience of your bud's basement around the big yellow table with the minis scattered over the battlemat.

Set a realistic desired post rate you'd like everyone to try to stick too, but dont make it feel obligatory. It's fun, not homework. Notice and antipate when a player posts and be ready reply. This implicitly encourages players to keep the pace up.

2007-04-25, 03:36 PM
I often wonder how many players just skim through such descriptions

I read the whole thing personally, but parts of long posts which seem to be only description, I might skim through. (The shrub example, for example.) But I'd be far more inclined to read if it affects the characters. Entertaining, relevant description will be read. Generally, I find that if a post is longer than a page in Word, then there'd better be a good reason for it.

EDIT: Another tip: Maps are good too, and simplify combat immensely. They don't need to be works of art, but need to have some sort of conceptualization. They encourage tactical planning above "I hit the nearest enemy". Since you're using a computer anyways, you could make the maps on Paint, or try the free program AutoREALM. (ASCII works too.) Alot of times, you can save a lot of time by simply typing out what the tactical situation looks like; the time saved isn't worth the benefits lsot from the map.