[Next] Brainstorm the next forum/discord/whatever

Hey there! To try and collate ideas and give that boost of energy, feel free to discuss ideas, talents you may have and willing to donate, etc, etc, etc.


  • I think there's good reason to have a new forum and not to simply migrate to a pre-existing one (The Gauntlet, or wherever). A lot of the conversations being had here at the moment require a fair amount of Story Games cultural background to understand. Trying to push those into someone else's forum would be more like an invasion. Also, Story Games as a discussion forum has a lot of issues, which periodically get examined in fits of navel-gazing but never actually fixed. Starting anew gives an opportunity to actually fix those rather than just transplanting them elsewhere.

    I have been thinking about what the perfect software to run somewhere like this would look like - it probably doesn't exist, but here's my wish-list:

    Inline word definitions. People complain about jargon, but it's used because it's useful. Something that links to a single source of truth that people could mouseover to get a concise definition, that looks a bit like this would work wonders to make the place make sense. Either something fully automated - where, say, the first use of a word in the glossary and every nth usage of it after that are marked up, or some easy tagging system (e.g. writing [GNS] would show as GNS. I think the important thing being that there's one canonical definition and not thirty.

    Being able to split threads easily would be a good thing - I think all forum software allows mods to split threads, but it would be good if other people could. Currently there's a lot of 'if you want to talk about it, start another thread' type posts - being able to prune off posts into new threads would a) increase the amount of discussions happening, b) keep the thread on the original topic clean, and c) decrease the pace of threads so that there aren't five different topics going on at once.

    Once upon a time, I remember there being a [Slow Down](?) tag put in the titles of threads that were moving too fast for people to catch up on or be involved in if certain prolific posters were deep in discussion. Systemising this would be nice - being able to mark a thread as Slow could add a cooldown timer for posting, maybe limit post size, and prevent double-posts. Being unable to keep up with the pace of conversations is a big turnoff from participating.

    Getting a bit more pie-in-the-sky, but some way of automatically summarising threads and indexing them or the ideas in them for later reference would be nice. There are algorithms that can shrink articles - if there were something that could shrink threads and pop out the salient points people made without all the wading through the point/counterpoints to get there - and then if that could be automatically linked next time someone makes a similar thread as a 'what we think about this so far' ... well, that would be nice. As-is, you sometimes get someone who posts a bunch of old threads with hundreds of long thoughtful posts and that's great but often way too much (though I guess just automating the link-finding would be relatively easy - other forums already do that).

    Maybe a way to set up a voice call discussion. I reckon if people sat down and talked for ten minutes, that would obviate the need for ten pages of back-and-forth disagreement on what they mean by a particular word, and the long text posts could be saved for the 'why this is cool' part of the discussion. Plus, for a forum about conversation-based games, it would make a lot of sense if you could play one here.

    Anyways, enough wishful thinking. I would really like there to be a successor forum to both here and The Forge though, so I'm happy to help with whatever effort gains traction.
  • For me personally, discord would be most appealing, but maybe with specific channels where it's encouraged that you post more like a forum, what with waiting for responses and stuff, and some channels devoted to live chat.
  • I feel like there should be a way to have elements of discord (real time chatting, seeing who's online now, pbp) sort of embedded into a more traditional forum. Same with something like a customizable feed somewhere like on a main page. My

    Perhaps an embedded sort of wiki funtion to help people with definitions (sounds like Sandra said there's already something like that but I never noticed because people don't know about it and in often on mobile these days)

    Speaking of mobile, it's got to be mobile friendly or I wouldn't be able to check as often as I do
  • edited May 2019
    I can add those functions, if they reach consensus. Fictioneers runs on Drupal, and I'm a Drupal ninja, baybee. :-)
  • I really love this vanillla software so much. It's a big reason why I've kept coming back to this place. I ain't gonna go to discord or some google place
  • edited May 2019
    I looked at Fictioneers. It has the advantage that it's new, a blank canvass, and could become anything Tod and the users want it to be. It also hosts many/most of the games that get discussed here. If Tod is willing to add features that makes it even more attractive. Plus it would feel less like a cultural invasion of someone else's space if everyone went over there instead because (a) it has very few users yet, (b) Tod is a story-games.com alumnus.
  • edited May 2019
    I like the idea of a federation, a set of sets.
    I have contacted itch.io tabletop but we are not formally invited (yet). I think it is good policy to ask and maybe state what we can offer in terms of moderation.
    Fictioneers OtOH is linked to storygames and we are invited there.
  • @DeReel Yes, and we have been invited there.
  • @DeReel Yes, and we have been invited there.
  • edited May 2019
    One thing I'm interested in seeing, is perhaps not folks lifting up and moving entirely to a new spot like a Settler band in the Civilization games, but rather a diaspora to various focused places (maybe with folks simultaneously engaging in several places). I'd really like to see a list of "what's out there" these days.

    I mean, avoid the real shitholes of gatekeeping nerdery, but beyond that we don't need to rabbit-hole into the tiny positives and negatives of each.

    So, to kick things off, let's see...

    * There's the Gauntlet forums, which just like S-G, were created to focus on play vs design and theorizing. https://forums.gauntlet-rpg.com/

    * There's Fictioneers, mentioned about here. seems to be very focused on discussion of individual games. http://fictioneers.net/

    * There's the /rpg reddit; which I wouldn't wholesale sell everyone one, because reddit in general as a platform can be kinda toxic. But from how I've seen moderation go down, they keep the place pretty focused on game discussion (not theory), very humanist/positive, blocking of toxic folk, and very open to small-press/hippie game discussion (their "game of the month" is basically a hit list of Story Gaming classics). https://www.reddit.com/r/rpg

    (there are also individual subreddits for various games, including game design. Not sure about theory)

    * There's MeWe, where some folks went after the G+ explosion. I haven't used it so I have no comments.

    * There's Pluspora, where some folks went after the G+ explosion. I haven't used it so I have no comments.

    There's RPG.Net, which despite being a core user for about 20 years until this year, I really can't recommend in good conscience/faith (the community/discussions are okay, but the moderation/staff abuse, mod->user harassment, mod coverups, mod wagon-circling after bad behavior uncovered, etc...)

    * There's Mastodon, which is an interesting thing. It seems to have a lot of positive users and content creators. But ultimately, it's basically Slightly Longer Twitter. Folks looking for forums/long term discussions might be disappointed.

    * Itch.io (a very interesting up-and-comer) has a Tabletop Games discussion forum, even with a place to discuss Play, Theory, LARP, and sub-forums dedicated to indie classics:

    Please do feel free to share more- Forums, Discord Communities, etc.

    I also continue to urge people who have a real interest in this kind of thing, to consider starting new communities (no rush, take your time etc) or getting involved with new forum software initiatives (if they have that skillset or are interested in developing it). I'd love to see new places, new focuses, new communities of activity, new users discussing the fringe, and so on.

    EDIT: I'll close with a few fringe offerings. After getting far out of the forums/community-building game, I put together a few with my good friend that are extremely focused on one single aspect of the fringe. These aren't "migration destinations" but rather "check if you have interest; definitely not for everyone" communities:

    The Kotodama forums, just started, which focuses specifically on Japanese RPGs (both translated into English, and Japanese language RPGs) and the intersection of Asian cultures and tabletop: http://kotohi.com/hiroba/
    (very low key/low speed, glacial updates)

    The sister Discord for Kotodama (live/chat about Japanese RPGs, the Japanese language, and related stuff): https://discord.gg/yeSbVtf

    Also, super-fringe of super-fringe:

    The Discord link specifically for Dungeon World discussion: https://discordapp.com/invite/Qf7xYnZ

    The Discord link specifically for Indie RPG design discussion in Japanese. Everyone here pretty much only speaks Japanese and focuses on Japan-specific stuff, but it's basically like watching "The Forge: Japan", with regular meetups in Tokyo and the like: https://discordapp.com/invite/j4NWYj7 (again, super fringe of super fringe, but might appeal to one or two out there; likewise, I'd like to see similar super fringe stuff!)
  • That's a great list, Andy.

    So far I've explored The Gauntlet Forums, and I'm finding a vibrant and thoughtful community playing a lot of games and having great discussions. There are tutorials (via the "discobot") which teach you how to use the interface, which is also nice.
  • edited May 2019
    BTW, cross-posting in the closure thread, but since there are some other redditors here...

    I created a new subreddit called "story_games" (before it was nabbed by say a n'er-do-well etc; also unfortunately "story-hyphen-games" can't work in reddit, so it had to be "story-underscore-games").
    (as per the cross-post; unfortunately r/storygames is dedicated to "console video games with a strong story", alas)

    I'm currently the mod. It IS a placeholder subreddit if there is enough interest.

    I do NOT plan on using this subreddit myself (in other words, my plan isn't to "recreate Story-Games Dot Com on Reddit). But if other redditors are interested and want to pick up up and take it forward, please feel free to hit me up and I will make you a mod, transfer you ownership of the subreddit, and slink into the darkness.

    If no one is interested within 4 weeks, I'll just delete the subreddit.


  • Reddit's /r/rpgdesign might be interesting to people here too. I don't think Reddit is a good place for in-depth discussions, but it's slow enough that you can have a discussion there without it dropping off the front page too quickly. /r/rpg is fine, but for casual discussion.
  • One thing I would do on Reddit is disable link and image posts as a start in order to cut down on the most cluttering aspects of social-media-like posting. I was also disallowing drive-by link & run posts, but relaxed it a bit (now low effort posts get removed after seven days).
  • edited May 2019
    I am going to miss this site especially because I can get to it on my work computer. All the other options Andy listed, including the Gauntlet and Fictioneers, are blocked for some reason. :(

    For me personally, I want one place for everything out of sheer laziness. I just don't want to be checking a bunch of different websites. That being said we are certainly going to be splitting up some, there's just no way around it. Story Games is but a dandelion, off we are to the wind.

    I wouldn't mind helping out with moderating or other tasks either. I am so tempted to start my own forum but I would be starting from zero (both technically and networking wise), and I'm not sure what my focus would be honestly. "No wait check out my forum, it has....blackjack?"
  • I'm so tempted to write new forum software modeled on the marginalia from Vincent's old anyway blog.

    There's something about those scribbled margin notes that I just loved.
  • I miss anyway!

    RPG.Net is pretty good IMO, you just have to avoid certain subjects during your visit there. Like visiting the People's Republic of China.
  • A bit on pluspora (and diaspora* in general) and Mastodon - what I love about the Fediverse is that it's a conglomeration of different nodes/pods/sites/instances and that you can communicate across all of them. I'm on Friendica on my own instance and can communicate on people over all of them. Each one has its own drawbacks specific to the platform, but you can choose what you like.
  • Welp! I just got banned from the Swedish site where I've been doing a lot of posting for the last two decades! and S-G is closing down

    @chuckdee, where's a good intro to that stuff! I used to be on identica back in the day and i still use xmpp/jabber but that's just for chatting with @Aviatrix pretty much
  • Second that, I'm curious about the analog gaming presence in the Fediverse, as it might be one of the few things I'm interested in enough to make a Fediverse presence for myself stick (I love the concept but finding topics or people that make it worth diving into has continually been a brick wall for me).
  • @2097 I accumulated a few tidbits when I first joined that helped me decide on my path after G+.

    I think that the most important things to know are the limitations of your choice in regards to pod/instance and technology.

    In terms of communication, some platforms are more limtied than others. This diagram illustrates how the different platforms communicate, and, more importantly, who can actively communicate.


    The second part of that is that a pod/instance is only as reliable as its admins.

    I have an account on several different pods, which isn't the recommended way to go. But my introduction was more haphazard. I started out on Pluspora, which is a Diaspora* pod created for G+ refugees. I had a good run there and the admins were very responsive, but wanted to communicate with people outside of the Diaspora* network, and found out about forums, which I definitely wanted to be a part of. I also have an account on dice.camp, which is a mastodon instance. I want to say that Vincent Baker runs that one, but don't quote me on that. It's very lively and is geared towards TTRPG enthusiasts and such. But as I found out, that really doesn't make a difference.

    As everything is federated, as long as your platform can communicate with others, you can interact wth people on a variety of platforms. There are limitations in the implementations of the protocols across platform, though they are always working on them, it seems.

    I decided on Friendi.ca because of the fact that it could communicate with pretty much everything, was pretty user friendly (unlike my experience with Hubzilla, and had forums). This is the part where pod reliability comes into it.

    Most of the people that are doing this are in it for reasons other than money. So when the instance interacts with money (real life, technical issues, etc), you can have a less than reliable experience. For Friendi.ca, I chose rpgtable.top. I wanted to support an effort rather than striking out on my own, and that one was geared towards TTRPGs from the start, just as dice.camp. It started out well but had stability problems, and the instance was down for weeks. During that time, I rolled my own on my own server and pieced together my contacts from the little that I had available to do so. It came back up, and I think it's more reliable (they got another admin, and I haven't seen it down), but I realized I'd rather have control of my experience, and I wasn't really missing anything by not being on a large instance.

    That's been my experience- I'm on my instance and on dice.camp/tabletop.social (as a backup for when dice.camp is down), and am enjoying it, though it's definitely a lot different than having a centralized experience.

    A few links:

  • I’ve never used these formats before (like Mastodon). Is it fair to assume that they’re more or less Twitter-like? (In the sense that it’s like a social media platform with short posts that reference each other via things like follows and hashtags?)
  • @Paul_T - Mastodon is twitter like. Friendica, Hubzilla, and Diaspora* are more Facebook/G+ like with long-form posts.

    This is a screenshot of my home page:


    That post actually illustrates one of the other things I love about Friendica - that post is from an RSS feed, so I can aggregate my social media type shares with my RSS.
  • Friendica sounds nice♥
  • Which, if any, of those are suitable for longer discussions on theory or design?
  • Which, if any, of those are suitable for longer discussions on theory or design?
    Mastodon is like Twitter. It's a bit better for longer discussions as you can trace your way back to the conversation easier in my experience. But it's still Twitter, microblogging, and all that implies.

    Diaspora* is a bit better. The downsides that made me start looking elsewhere were the lack of forums and the lack of an ability to edit posts (delete and republish! Mastodon has that limitation also). It does have the ability to follow bare tags in your stream. So if you followed #ttrpgs, anything tagged with that would show up in your stream. But also, anything that was tagged with that would show up in your stream.

    Friendica has Forums, though they are a bit challenging when compared to your traditional forum. There's a certain format that people have to follow to publish to them. And they have no index, so just like things can scroll off here at times if they aren't touched... Friendica has it even worse, so if something goes cold, it will be hard to find it. You can't follow hashtags, though you can save the searches. Friendica also has the ability to bookmark and organize threads, so even though there's not a real easy way to get back to old stuff, you can bookmark it to make sure it remains close.

    I know that one person that I follow is developing a game on it in his private posts. That MementoRPG forum that you see is in the screenshot above is a forum that I created for playtesting my game.

    None of them a perfectly equivalent, but I prefer the engagement and conversations on Friendica. (I didn't really figure out Hubzilla enough to engage with people on the platform)
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