Success in PbP

edited October 2010 in Story Games

Just a very general thread about games in play by post (games on forums basically, or fora if you're latinophile).
- have you feel some degree of satisfaction and fun in PbP?
- what game system work best for you in PbP?
- what non-game specific advice would you give to get to a better PbP experience?


  • All truly-successful PbP games take place on Snail's Pace.
  • edited October 2010
    I've had some very fun PbP.
    Systems that give large amounts of narrative control to the players seem to work the best, as it cuts down the posting cycle.

    I think the strike out function should get more use in PbP, particularly in games where you can block/dodge (i.e., IIEE). This speeds up the posting cycle, as you don't have to wait for consensus, you have the mechanics give players the right to block and alter the narrative.

    When players worry about stepping on people's toes, and then hesitate and give just limited content, it slows the game down, and then it runs the risk of dying off. So, the advice would be, encourage players to add content to the game, and trust the ability of the system to block/dodge it, and re-write it.

    After about twenty days, most PbP games fade and are forgotten. So, you'll want to plan on having a story arc end at three weeks, the game can continue after that-- but it's nice to have a set goal.

    Make sure there are no hurt feelings for people leaving play-- but it is important for people to announce that they are quitting. Otherwise you get these long spans of time where everyone is just waiting for one player to post-- and that ruins the game for everyone. Up front, tell folks that want to play if they want to bow out, announce it soon and that their will be no hard feelings.

    Get to the system early. Don't do a lot of "play before" stuff.
  • edited October 2010
    I have lots of advice and it mostly boils down to "keep it moving".

    I also like to keep the number of threads down to the bare minimum so there's fewer places to check, usually just an IC and an OOC thread.

    I think any game can work given sufficiently dedicated players and GM, but rules-light is definitely easier. Or get everyone to agree that the GM will handy the grotty details and they just describe what they're going to do. This speeds things up tremendously, as you can roll the dice, figure out what happened, and then narrate it in a quick burst of effort rather than going back and forth with dodges and parries and whatnot.

    EDIT: also, selection of players is really important if you're not playing with your friends. It's important to maintain your enthusiasm for the long haul, so you need to have enthusiastic people who post regularly, role play reasonably well, and can spell and punctuate. I've been on RPG.Net long enough to have played numerous games with some people and know who's reliable and who always flakes out -- I don't know how I'd do it with random people from the 'Net.
  • I've played freeform most of the time, via chat and message boards. I did have a lot of fun with it back in the day, but it's way too slow for my tastes now. My advice would be to keep posts short, turnaround quick, and for FSM's sake, use highly aggressive scene framing. Don't have the characters start out at opposite ends of town; start in the middle of the conversation (or fight, or what have you).
  • edited October 2010
    I don't know much about PbP, having never done it myself, but It's been really interesting reading along with this group on the Something Awful forums. They're doing a five player game of Fiasco using the Boomtown playset:

    Pitching the game and rules
    Recruitment and Setup

    It looks like they began on Sept. 29 and have so far managed to get all the players and go through the entire setup process (establishing relationships and details, fleshing out characters and backstory). So that's roughly a week for 30 minutes of tabletop play. They are considering ways to modify the rules to speed up the scene-framing and resolution stages, which seems like a good idea.
  • I'm quiet but I'm reading with interest.

    About threads : I've played in a few games where there was no OOC/IC split by threads. We just used tags to distinguish what was declared in fiction and what was outside of it. I see the interest if someone only wants to read the fiction part or wants to focus on "table chat" but it seems like it's a hassle to keep track of more than one thread. Is there other benefits from this split? Do you guys know of forum software that deal with OOC/IC/private talk (for games that use secrets) in a clever way?
  • One thing I've commented on recently has been PbEM with Apocalypse World. One of the really positive things about the game is that you do things by doing them. This makes the game a bit faster as you don't have to say "can I attack them?" - you just do the move and say what outcomes you choose. The mechanics really drive narration rather than crunchy mechanics. I'm also involved in a game of Agon over on RPG Geek. While I like the setting and, thus far, the writing has really drawn a lot from Greek poetry (The thread reads more like an epic than an EP) there are often long exchanges that are just dice rolls and maybe a sentence or two of flavor. I think picking the right kind of game goes a long way toward forming a good experience.

    Hopefully not to derail things, but I think that the communication medium also plays a big part in the success of an online game. For example, forums are great because you can edit posts and its easy to see a bunch of posts at the same time. On the other hand, playing the game via email (e.g. a google group) seems like it helps keep people involved. Each post shows up in your inbox among the other things you're doing rather than having to remember to go check a forum page. I haven't tried any of the more specialized services out there, more because I like doing things myself (I hand-write all my own character sheets by preference), but I'd be curious to find out how they help or hinder game-play and interaction.
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