Play by Post gaming

edited August 2017 in Forum Discussion
This idea kept me up all night.

There I wondered if there is a diceless possibility of a game where the posts themselves, maybe randomly or descriptively decide the outcome. At first I thought the number of words could be the number but people would hack that no doubt. I thought of description, like Wushu to an extent. I looked over Formless, but nothing bore absolute fruit.

Any ideas, a diceless rpg designed for play by post, where the post itself is the resolution mechanic. I am stumped!


  • There's a game named calypso that does it by something akin to GM fiat, except I think that each player owns an aspect of the world where they are the final authority on it.
  • Can't find that, all I get is MMMORPG references.
  • I am curious if there is a way to do randomizers in forums. But I think the simplest way to manage this if you want to go diceless is to take a paper rock scissors approach. There are also lots of existing diceless RPGs so you could probably just use those.

  • Can't find that, all I get is MMMORPG references.
    That's because I got the name wrong. It's actually Callisto:

    The game itself may have been inspired by a campaign that someone was running by mail, which started from a magazine ad. Or so I read..somewhere. I just can't remember.
  • Move your resolution away from randomizing and more towards choice-making.

    Then, establish rules for the players to set up choices for each other on a regular basis. For example, perhaps players have points they can use to set up demands and limitations upon each other, forcing them to make difficult choices. The more difficult the better.

    As a trivial example, a player might establish that this given character will now have to choose between saving their wife or their home.

    This way a post "causes resolution" for the next post in line, by forcing them to make a choice.
  • This is curious, can you give a more concrete micro example?
  • Let's say that these are the rules in their simplicity:
    * When your character struggles towards a goal, they get Struggle Points for the trouble. Perhaps you'll roll for them or only get more of them in certain situations, whatever. There could be an overt mechanical cost, even, as the character's sweat and blood turns into Struggle Points.
    * Your every post has to either depict your own character's Struggle, or it has to invoke a choice for another player's character. Or maybe there's a GM who invokes choices. If a choice has been invoked for you, you have to answer that as part of your own post.
    * When a choice is invoked, the invoker lists the options the character has in this moment of crisis. The list is in the form of granted goals and forfeited goods: the choice concerns what your character gains, or what they lose.
    * You can expend gained Struggle Points to pick multiple options off a choice matrix devised for your character.

    So something like that. Let's say that the game concerns the efforts of character A as they attempt to discover the Dark Tower. Character A has gone through some struggles and has gained a number of Struggle Points for their trouble. Player B presents them with a difficult choice as part of their post; A discovers some surviving members of their lost tribe, and now has to make a choice:
    a) Escort these survivors to a safe place.
    b) Discover the Dark Tower in the inhospitable deserts.

    Player A now has to answer this choice on their own turn. Effectively player B has set a price on the task or goal at hand: to discover the Dark Tower, you have to forfeit possibly the last remnants of your kin.

    But, perhaps A has options by the rules: they could have enough Struggle Points to pick both options at once. Or perhaps Struggle Points can be used to "table an issue", so that the player can settle some other outlying concerns instead of being forced to resolve this choice here and now. Maybe they could even force player B to "try again", if they didn't like the choice set for them. Depends on the particulars of the rules. Essentially it comes back to making choices, though: the difficulty of the game is not in the risks you take, but the choices you make.

    This is all basically just applied Otherkind (as is 20% of all modern game design, of course). By moving the focus from pass/fail to setting priorities you can let players resolve conflicts simply by making choices, instead of taking risks, and the content will still carry a certain kind of meaning.
  • I am not going to lie, I am intrigued, and might use something like this. I do not see the connection between this and Otherkind though, not mechanically. I do know that in Otherkind you roll to resolve conflicts not tasks.

    Also wasn't there a game specifically created to be played on IRC, I remember it being something with a W?
  • There was a game made to play on Hangouts (or similar), I believe, named ViewScream.
  • I confess I also posted this on Make stuff. I need a brainstorm.
  • The connection to Otherkind is that the player chooses where to place their successes and failures. Will they take harm/burn resources to reach their goal or take the longer safer route.
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