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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    pupaeted's Avatar

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    wink What makes a good PbP game?

    What makes a good PbP game?

    I've seen some play-by-posts run for hundreds of pages, while others die out on page one.

    It's tempting to blame ghosting players or busy GMs, but people are always enthusiastic at first. I think it must be something along the way that switches people off, or that the game isn't delivering enough to keep people interested.

    What do you think it is? What's the special sauce that makes a PbP game good? Any tips or lessons learned from past and current PbP GMs are welcome. I'm hoping for system-agnostic ideas.

    Note: I know how to run games in person over a table, but the dynamic there is really different, and I think a whole different set of tools might be needed to keep PbPs exciting.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Dark Shadow's Avatar

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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    The biggest magic thing I've found for having a PbP survive is, almost counterintuitively, having some sort of Real Time OOC chat. Whether Skype, Discord, or something else, a place for players to just always have up and talk in - not just about game stuff - drastically increases game lifespan.

    You get to know the other players as people, and even as friends, rather than just names controlling a character that might only be seen once every day or so. And that's very important, because people are less likely to suddenly lose interest if they like and/or care for the people that they're playing with. I've been around and run a PbP site, I've seen the difference from before and after we encouraged RT OOCs. It's no guarantee, but it really, really helps.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    Quantity not quality.

    A long, well written post encourages others to do the same, it also intimidates others into not posting.
    A short and to the point post inspires others to post as well, keeping the game going, think the opposite of back-storys often written.

    Also people (especially the GM) should pace themselves more, typically the games start with lots of posts per day, and then they taper off, I'd prefer a slower initial pace, and games that last.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Spoiler: Old post on joining PbP games
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    Because I just can't commit to enough of a block of time for face to face gaming (or even Skype and the like) PbP is the only gaming I still do, and I've only ever done PbP at this Forum (mostly 5e D&D, never 3.5), and I've never used "Roll 20" (I actually quit one game because the DM instead of just telling me the distances insisted that I log into a Roll 20, and view a map. I created an account, only to discover that to view in "mobile" I had to subscribe. Since 99.9% of my computer time is via "smartphone" that was a deal breaker)

    I'm going to assume that what works for 5e will work for 3.5:

    1) Be persistent.
    I had to try many times before I lucked into games that lasted.
    And it was luck. I can't descern any clues as to which games would last. "Past history (or lack of same) is not a predictor of future results".

    2) Subscribe via e-mail to both the "Finding Players (Recruitment)" and the "Currently Recruiting Players" threads, and be ready to jump.

    3) Have multiple character "sheets" ready to go at Myth-Weavers.com

    4) PM yourself lots of "back-stories" ready to copy and paste for when the DM asks you to submit one.
    Length is more important than quality, I write junk but most DM's seem to decide by word count.
    Pile on lots of dead relatives in the back story, DM's eat that "Edgelord" junk up, I'm serious don't have shame steal be inspired by Batman and Mad Max's, yes those are trite cliches but they work.

    5) Don't actually role-play out a character implied by the back-story, the "back-story" seldom fits the campaign, and it's usually disruptive if you try.

    Why do DM's demand them?

    Who the Abyss knows, but if you want to play you must pay some dues, and that includes writing some tragedy filled junk.

    6) Forget about whatever "character concept" you had before play starts, make your PC fit the game, including how your PC's interact with other PC's, which you can't really guess at first. I've seen DM's flee in terror when a game starts off with "competitive soliloquies" by the players narrating their back-stories, which soon devolved into character driven bickering.
    Nobody really cares about that mess!

    7) Steal an image for PC off the "Dreamboats" thread, or some other source and include it with the "back-story" submission. Worth at least two dead relatives in your PC's history as far as getting accepted to pkay.

    8) Don't flake and be Civil. You encounter the same people again and again, and you will be remembered.

    9) Always be applying!
    You can't guess which games will last, and if you don't have "many irons in the fire", you will be without a game.
    Yes that does mean that sometimes you will be playing more games than you want, no you don't get to flake.

    10) Did I say that you can't predict which games will last?
    Well here's an exception: Players recruiting DM games don't last.
    All games lose players, but when you lose the DM the game ends, and if it's someone else's idea for a game the DM is more likely to quit.

    11) Subscribe to the game thread via e-mail, and post fast.
    Speed is more important than quality.
    A long, well written post encourages others to do the same, it also intimidates others into not posting.
    A short and to the point post inspires others to post as well, keeping the game going, think the opposite of the back-story you wrote.

    12) Post off topic nonsense in the OOC. "Boy do I roll bad", jokes, the weather where you live, whatever. It makes it so that people recognize you.

    13) Put your characters name (and maybe even a small image) into every post, as it's easy to get confused.

    Here's an example:

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    "Liberates" one of the Goblin's shields, and continues searching the cave, stealthily when he enters a new area. I'm going to see what's further in
    Spoiler: Rolls
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    Perception:[roll0]
    Stealth:[roll1]

    14) If you need to take a break, post it!
    If you had to to take a break, and you didn't warn the other players apologize and continue. They have lives as well, and will likely understand.

    15) Be flexible, odd house rules and trying out unorthodox settings may be why the DM is running the game.

    16) Try other games.
    Non 3.5 and 5e D&D games have much better GM to player ratios.
    I'm playing a game of Pendragon, which is awesome, and I didn't have to stress about will my "back-story" be accepted among the many submissions, I'm also playing a "freeform" game where I didn't have to stress about submitting a "sheet", and I'm playing a 5e game (maybe two depending if anyone posts again) where I had a sheet and a back-story pre-made, plus a "homebrew" system (pending another posts).

    17) If you have a "snowflake" non-core class you want to play, submit all the rules.

    18) Be the DM/GM!
    Way better ratio that way.
    Too much work?
    How about a simplified system. Here's one:

    1) GM describes a scene.
    2) Player says an action that their PC attempts.
    3) GM decides if the PC has no chance of success, no chance of failure, or a partial chance of success.
    4) If a partial chance of success, GM makes up on the spot a percentage chance of success.
    5) Player rolls D100 (two 0-9 twenty-siders once upon a time).
    6) If the player rolls under the made up number their PC succeeds in attempting the task, if over the PC fails.
    7) GM narrates the immediate consequences until it's time to again ask, "what do you do".
    8) Repeat.




    I'm playing in three in-progress games (people have posted today), two maybe games (people have posted this month), and I've played many used-to-be games this year.


    Two games have lasted more than four months, one of which just had a post today, and I really couldn't have predicted which games would last.

    By patient and persistent.

    Good luck.

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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    I think there are a lot of moving parts to make a PbP work. The heaviest hitters that determine whether or not, imho, a PbP lasts are:
    • Good synergy between players and DM.
    • A well thought-out environment and system.
    • Flexible, but easy to follow structure.
    • Consistent gameplay.
    • Dedication.


    Spoiler: TLDR: Group pacing and dedication helps a lot.
    Show
    It's important to realize the strengths and weaknesses of a PbP system. They're great for emursive RP, open-world exploration, meticulous and contemplative world mechanics structure, beautiful imagery and/or audio video choreography, and careful considerate rules adjudication. They're not so great at fast-paced action. Not that you can't do a kick-in-the-door campaign on PbP; it's just handled a little differently.

    But the hardest thing to maintain is probably the pacing. My friend struggles with PbP, because staying in the headspace of his character for days, weeks, or even months at a time isn't fun for him. Inversely, I've run campaigns where players hung out at the same tavern for over a month, and everyone was happy. That's why synergy is important. You need everyone to be on the same page for game pacing. If you're running a campaign where half the team wants to get the story moving, and half the group wants to really explore the backstory and intrigue of the innkeeper's eldest daughter's secret lover who is a member of an assassin's guild, who is trying to go clean, but the guild won't let him, then you're going to run into trouble. You can run a split campaign on a seperate thread, which I usually do in cases like that, or you can risk half the party getting bored listening to the innkeeper's emo daughter whine about her emotional plight, or you can risk the other half getting frustrated because the campaign feels like a cardboard cutout.

    Be up front about your gaming style and preferences and how your campaign is being run. Try to select players who feel your vibe and play the way you play, and always be willing to adapt to player dropoff. Worst case scenario, you can run the missing players' character sheets as DMPCs while you reopen recruitment, as long as you have at least one willing player.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Ninja_Prawn's Avatar

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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    From my experience, I'd say it's very important that the GM is attentive and engaged at the start. You can't afford long breaks in the service, or people will switch off and drift away.

    It's a question of trust, I guess. People expect PbP games to die, so a few days of silence causes them to write it off. Once you've built up some trust between the players and GM, though, it's less of an issue. As an example, I was off the forum for like three months last Autumn due to moving house and then doing NaNoWriMo, but all my players were there waiting for me when I got back because we've been together for over two years and they trusted me. A younger game would not have survived that.

    I'm not sure exactly how long a game needs to run before that trust is established (assuming everyone is strangers to start with). My guess is at least 6 months.

    Edit, because something in inexorabletruth's post reminded me: PbPs where a GM goes into recruitment with a campaign ready to go are much more successful than games where players look for a GM, or a GM rocks up with vague and wishy-washy ideas. If the GM sets the tone from the start, it gives clarity about how the game will be played and ensures that people only apply if they're actually interesting in what's on offer. The other way around just sets you up for failure.
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2018-02-15 at 05:40 PM.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    Schedule and post with frequency.
    I'm not a native english speaker and I'm dyslexic(that doesn't mean I have low IQ quite the opposite actually it means I make a lot of typos).

    So I beg for forgiveness, patience and comprehension.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    I agree with most of the points given above, but there's also an important point that you shouldn't miss.

    The norm of a PbP is to fail.

    Tabletop gaming (often) has you playing with your closest friends in physical places where your absence/inattention can have social consequences.

    PbPs are played with total strangers in a medium that there's absolutely no drawback to suddenly disappear.

    Successful PbPs are a combination of dedicated players and a good GM. But that's like rolling a natural 20. My signature, before getting bored and erasing it, held my PbP statistics in this forum. Last I checked, it was something like 60-70 died off games to 1 completed game. If you felt forgiving and counted any game that lasted 3+ years as successful, the count increased to a whopping 5, IIRC.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cespenar View Post
    The norm of a PbP is to fail.
    *applauds*

    I agree 100%.

    Lots of PbPs putter and die. I've had PbP's not make it past the first page of posting. Campaigns I worked super hard on too.

    The one I'm running has been going for a solid 3 years. It's my most successful campaign on PbP yet. Most of them run for about 6 months to a year and never really accomplish their objective.

    I guess, maybe, you have to redefine success to: was it fun while it lasted? Campaigns on PbP are more likely to end before the objective (if there is one) is accomplished. It's daunting to measure success by those standards.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: What makes a good PbP game?

    Based on experience, PbP will fail when clinging to the group-based model and when resolving things like simple combat take too long. They will also fail when trying to replicate the one GM, four players situation we tend to have at a regular gaming table.

    The more vibrant, active and lasting PbPs I've participated were based on system that do away with "class D&D style", like Ars Magicka, White Wolf stuff or MechWarrior/A Time of War, with two GMs and the freedom for the participants to do their own little stuff between themselves without needing a GM. Those PbPs can recruit quite a lot of players that can contribute on their own time frame and don't suffer from it.

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