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View Full Version : DM Help Good Rpgs for the play-by-post format?



Rofltrollcopter
2017-12-08, 12:09 AM
Hello Playground, RL has conspired to keep me out of the pbp scene for a while and I would like to get back into it. I've had a fair amount of bad luck with games dying on me as a player, and I would like to take a stab at it as a GM. I've become more and more convinced that Dnd + Pathfinder are terrible systems for play by post, just due to the nature of combat and the complexity of its mechanics. My question is does anyone have experience with successfully running games in different systems? Is there something that lends itself more to shorter self-contained story arcs that have a lighter weight as far as rules go?

Kaptin Keen
2017-12-08, 02:33 AM
Well .... in my experience, D&D is definitely the best system for pbp. Quick, easy, everyone knows it, all the rules work, dice aren't screwy or weird, there isn't such a high level of abstraction to the combat as to make it unworkable in a text-only environment.

Take Shadowrun for a comparison: Magic doesn't work, matrix doesn't work and requires in-session solo adventures for the decker, vehicle combat doesn't work, dice are enormously screwy. With everything being gunfire, lines of sight become tricky without maps and figures. Essentially, it just never stops.

Dark Heresy also works. It's such a simple system, how could it not =)

Firest Kathon
2017-12-08, 04:17 AM
Take Shadowrun for a comparison: [...] matrix doesn't work and requires in-session solo adventures for the decker

Isn't that more a point for the post-by-post format? It's actually possible to run the decker and non-decker parts in parallel, and if the decker player replies quickly it can even be done while waiting for another (non-decker) player's post.

Kaptin Keen
2017-12-08, 04:20 AM
Isn't that more a point for the post-by-post format? It's actually possible to run the decker and non-decker parts in parallel, and if the decker player replies quickly it can even be done while waiting for another (non-decker) player's post.

Either you can or you cannot run solo adventurers during turn based combat. Whether you can or cannot has nothing to do with pbp, far as I can see. And the answer, far as I can see, is no. You can't.

tensai_oni
2017-12-08, 10:51 AM
FATE and other Fudge-inspired systems. Judging from what OP says this seems to be the perfect fit:

-Rules-light, but not so rules-light that it becomes a simplistic no-brainer (RISUS) or turns into a freeform. Not a lot of means of acting/reacting when it's not the given character's turn to act either, which means encounters flow smoothly instead of having to make sure every time if anyone wants to counterspell or whatever.
-Actions during combat and other encounters can be more complicated from a narrative point of view, by that I mean the player describes their characters doing several things or taking a longer action as opposed to going through actions blow-by-blow like in DnD and other classic tabletops. This means encounters run faster, but also every action is more meaningful.
-Fudge dice tend to be less swingy than d20.
-The one disadvantage of FATE, which is that it encourages and rewards creative problem solving or describing your actions in a creative way (which can be a problem if you don't feel particularly creative at the moment!) is made easier to work around in pbp's, because players have more time to gather their thoughts.

The Glyphstone
2017-12-08, 01:00 PM
Either you can or you cannot run solo adventurers during turn based combat. Whether you can or cannot has nothing to do with pbp, far as I can see. And the answer, far as I can see, is no. You can't.

Except in PbP, you totally can if the decker in question is available at a mutually convenient time. The primary benefit of PbP (leading to its biggest drawback) is that it plays out slower than around a tabletop - one fight can take days if people are in different time zones or have differing work schedules. In that sort of environment, you could play out an entire 'solo adventure' during a single round of PbP combat, or however much of one you need.

Where games like Shadowrun prove highly unsuitable for PbP is the need for opposed rolls in combat to use active defenses; doubling the number of dice involved for an attack, coupled onto the slow pacing, makes it more problematic than D&D.



I would jokingly suggest Continuum as a candidate for the OP, if a copy could be found. Its time travel mechanics might actually work better in PbP than in tabletop format, thanks to Edit Post functions. Unfortunately it's clunky and confusing in basically every other aspect, so probably a net loss.

Kadzar
2017-12-08, 10:50 PM
Yeah, most RPGs tend to be made for in-person play, so they're built with that in mind, and feature things like reactions and specific turn order, which, while fine and even helpful irl, don't work so well for PbP.

The closest thing to a system made for PbP is Roll to Dodge (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Roleplay/RollToDodge?from=Main.RollToDodge), though it's not really a system so much as a skeleton of a system. The Bay12Forums (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?board=19.0) probably have the best examples of this idea in action. It's a system where you'll probably have to do a lot of design work to use (since any amount of bonus can have a lot of weight on a d6, you'll probably want to limit that, unless you use some other kind of dice, or multiple dice, in which case you'll need to adjust the levels of success to fit different dice, and also have you figured out how damage will work? (I believe the standard is the Chunky Salsa Rule (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChunkySalsaRule), aka, "Any situation that would reduce a character's head to the consistency of chunky salsa dip is fatal, regardless of other rules," but there are other ways, and often there's some kind of opposed roll or something before it gets to that point.) So, it's maybe not the most helpful for someone who just wants to run a game.

But Bay12 also has a board for forum games other than Roll to Dodge (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?board=15.0) (I'm mostly bringing it up twice because it's the forum I spend the most time at, and am therefore most familiar with, though I do think it gives good examples of how games can be made to run over forums), in which it is also the common standard to design a system for whatever game is being played (when I found the giantitp forums, I was excited by the fact that this forum has a built-in diceroller, but was somewhat disappointed that people only seem to play pre-published systems here).

I'd say one of the more interesting systems to come out of Bay12 is Arms Race (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=152099.0), since it really wouldn't work as well outside of forums. The basic idea is that you have two teams fighting each other, and all the players are on one of these two teams, making suggestions and voting on what their team will develop for the turn (there's not really a need to limit the number of players for this sort of game, since each team is limited in the number of actions they can do in a round, though it might not hurt to set some sort of deadlines for when teams reach a consensus). There may be a number of phases, in which one or more designs are rolled to see how effective they are, and then eventually there's a combat phase, in which the GM simulates what it's like when the two teams with their various designs, past and present, face off. I'm mostly familiar with it from participating in Wands Race (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=163275.0), which might have been the first version to incorporate magic and in some ways had simpler rules than the original.

Thinking of it, I do recall at least one complete system that was made for forums, called Fire Emblem on Forums (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=137453.0), though from what I've seen of it, it's not a super light system (probably about D&D in complexity), and probably only good if you want to play in the Fire Emblem universe (though you can always refluff things), but it is at least explicitly made to run over forums.

I'd say the suggestion of FATE offered by tensai_oni isn't bad (it's a pretty lightweight system, especially if you're running FAE (Fate Accelerated Edition)), but the Fate point system requires a lot of back-and-forth negotiation, so their other suggestion of Fudge is a bit better.

Alternatively, you might look into some older versions of D&D, or games derived thereof, as some have initiative systems where players pre-plan their actions, and they're then done in order of initiative (granted, it's probably more useful if you want the GM to be able to react to all the players actions than if you want players to be able to act mostly without GM input).


Where games like Shadowrun prove highly unsuitable for PbP is the need for opposed rolls in combat to use active defenses; doubling the number of dice involved for an attack, coupled onto the slow pacing, makes it more problematic than D&D. I'm not too familiar with Shadowrun (outside of the video games), but is there some sort of choice involved in the opposed rolls? Because otherwise I don't see how it's much different than target numbers/difficulty class/armor class/etc. Just tell whoever's rolling what they'd need to roll to oppose, then let them do it all at once. Handling a large amount of dice rolls at once is actually something PbP is better at.

noob
2017-12-10, 03:05 PM
There is Destroy the godmodder like rpgs.(basically players chose the actions they want to do and charge actions and the gm decide the result of the actions and most of the time is spent fighting stuff by lowering its hp by doing attacks)
I do not know if it is good but at least it is popular where they are.
It is quite easy to run too.(as long as you do not have too many players and do not have a forum that bugs too much)

Kaptin Keen
2017-12-10, 03:17 PM
Except in PbP, you totally can if the decker in question is available at a mutually convenient time. The primary benefit of PbP (leading to its biggest drawback) is that it plays out slower than around a tabletop - one fight can take days if people are in different time zones or have differing work schedules. In that sort of environment, you could play out an entire 'solo adventure' during a single round of PbP combat, or however much of one you need.

Where games like Shadowrun prove highly unsuitable for PbP is the need for opposed rolls in combat to use active defenses; doubling the number of dice involved for an attack, coupled onto the slow pacing, makes it more problematic than D&D.

I would jokingly suggest Continuum as a candidate for the OP, if a copy could be found. Its time travel mechanics might actually work better in PbP than in tabletop format, thanks to Edit Post functions. Unfortunately it's clunky and confusing in basically every other aspect, so probably a net loss.

But .... yes, I agree, but doesn't that make it play-by-chat, rather than play-by-post? And even so, it only works that way if both are available for chat :p

Pleh
2017-12-10, 04:12 PM
Take Shadowrun for a comparison: Magic doesn't work, matrix doesn't work and requires in-session solo adventures for the decker, vehicle combat doesn't work, dice are enormously screwy. With everything being gunfire, lines of sight become tricky without maps and figures. Essentially, it just never stops.

I have never played Shadowrun.

That said, it seems optimal for PbP. A game with a computer hacking focus that you play on a computer? Yes please.

Also, I've been playing 3.5 over skype to great effect by improvising a grid map in google spreadsheet and adding players as collaborators.

I agree it needs to be PbP+, but I think some creativity will make it fly.

The Glyphstone
2017-12-10, 04:15 PM
But .... yes, I agree, but doesn't that make it play-by-chat, rather than play-by-post? And even so, it only works that way if both are available for chat :p

I guess if you consider rapid-fire posting back and forth chat, then sure. I still think of it as posting since the medium doesn't change, only the reply speed. And yeah, it is not at all guaranteed, but it is one distinct advantage PbP has over real-time play for games like that (though honestly at best it is cancelling a disadvantage).

Are there actually any games other than Shadowrun that do the 'one player/class gets a solo subgame in combat' thing?

noob
2017-12-10, 04:53 PM
I have never played Shadowrun.

That said, it seems optimal for PbP. A game with a computer hacking focus that you play on a computer? Yes please.

Also, I've been playing 3.5 over skype to great effect by improvising a grid map in google spreadsheet and adding players as collaborators.

I agree it needs to be PbP+, but I think some creativity will make it fly.

Well it is a part of shadow run.
The other half is ruining infrastructure with explosives and fleeing.

Kaptin Keen
2017-12-11, 07:30 AM
Are there actually any games other than Shadowrun that do the 'one player/class gets a solo subgame in combat' thing?

Well - to an extent, the D&D rogue. Or anyone ever scouting for the group. If they're ever allowed to do so. Which they propably aren't, for the same reason =)

Airk
2017-12-11, 10:19 AM
You are correct that D&D is a terrible choice; Indeed, any game that requires lots of back-and-forth, be it die rolls, negotiation, or whatever, will tend to bog down badly in play-by-post. While negotiation-type mechanics aren't very common, back-and-forth, "I roll, you roll" dice systems are all over the place - indeed, it's something a lot of people look on as a positive in face-to-face play. So you are probably not going to find many "popular"/big name games that work for this format.

What you need is something with comparatively little of that - probably a game with scene-level resolution so you can do a bunch of roleplay, then throw dice once or twice to get a result and then move on. Maybe consider Trollbabe (Yeah, I know, the name is kinda "..." but the game is pretty darn good.) I'm told that Tunnels and Trolls also does this, though I've never read it. Apparently Story Engine (http://www.pigames.net/store/product_info.php?products_id=657) is also designed with an eye towards scene-based resolution, so consider giving that one a look as well.

Knaight
2017-12-11, 04:40 PM
I'm going to second Fudge, both because I like it and because it has one key feature - Simultaneous Combat. There's no initiative order, so you don't get situations where player C can't post until player B posts, who can't post until player A posts. You just need a post from everyone every so often, and that's a much more flexible structure that really comes through in play by post.

Another option is to pick games that encourage party splitting, particularly if you can get past split all the way into balkanized. This can also reduce the logistical difficulties.

noob
2017-12-11, 05:10 PM
How complex would it be to change dnd 3.5 to have simultaneous battle(as in: no longer initiative but rather all the actions resolve at the same time(of course one thing that would make the game a bit more complex would be those stories of immediate action and counter-spelling and those weird stuff based on turn order))?

Knaight
2017-12-12, 01:45 AM
How complex would it be to change dnd 3.5 to have simultaneous battle(as in: no longer initiative but rather all the actions resolve at the same time(of course one thing that would make the game a bit more complex would be those stories of immediate action and counter-spelling and those weird stuff based on turn order))?

The big thing is that you'd have to figure out how to incorporate a tactical movement system in to simultaneous rounds without it becoming ridiculous. It can probably be done, but I don't expect it to be easy.

Lapak
2017-12-12, 08:44 AM
Iíve played a couple of games of Dungeon World in a PbP environment and had no significant bobbles; the only significant adjustment we had to make in the interest of game-flow was allowing Aid rolls to apply after the target of the assist had already made their roll. Thatís a modest bump to the utility of Aid rolling, but it seemed that that was an underpowered move to start with so I didnít mind.

Rofltrollcopter
2017-12-12, 10:12 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions from everyone. I'm going to take a closer look at Fate, it seems like the best match for what I'm looking for. I'll see if I can adapt it to fit the Wormverse.

Duff
2017-12-12, 10:42 PM
Song of Ice and fire works quite well.
Combats are short
There's lots of decisions to make "Do we want to go to war this month or later?"
It encourages in character conversations so whoever's available can play out a scene.
It works well with split up parties.

Suggestions - adopt "Flexitime". Where reasonable, allow a player to play out 2 scenes at once if they don't impact each other.
For example, I had one PC trying to talk another into taking a more active role in running the house's affairs. A conversation which happened in the keep before they headed off in different directions. At the same time, that player was playing out a scene at a neighbor's court.
More often when the party split up, each party ran on their own timeline.
Bigger battles and wars can be easier to run F2F, so if occasional sessions like that can be included it's worth doing.



Ars Magica should also work quite well
Lots of lab time.
Plenty of situations where one character has the limelight with supporting cast along as well, so whichever player is most active at the time is the timeline which will move forward most. Each player having multiple characters can work well here.


Also note - what I'm suggesting is more the setting than the system. I can see GOT (or any medieval political game) working quite well with FATE