10 votes

Has anyone done a Play-By-Post game? Tips?

Has anyone done a play-by-post (PBP) game? Where you play online not in some service like Roll20, but in a forum structure (like Reddit, the Paizo forms, or, hey, here)?

I'm thinking about starting a PBP game of Pokemon: Tabletop Adventures somewhere (maybe Reddit or Discord, not sure), but I'm not sure if I want to create maps for the whole thing. When I was working on my homebrew 5th Edition campaign, the thing that annoyed me most was map creation (mostly overworld, but since this is Pokemon and I know where I'm basing it off of, I don't have much trouble with that). I'd only use "maps" for combat (more like I'd use a combat grid that I steal off of Roll20).

Would anyone here that have either run games in a PBP format or just GM'ed games in general have any tips for doing something like this?

12 comments

  1. [3]
    Thrabalen
    Link
    I've done play-by-Discord (and in fact, I'm in one right now), and honestly... the lack of immediacy pushes it into "out of sight, out of mind" territory for me. "I'll post in the morning" becomes...

    I've done play-by-Discord (and in fact, I'm in one right now), and honestly... the lack of immediacy pushes it into "out of sight, out of mind" territory for me. "I'll post in the morning" becomes "crap, I haven't posted in days."

    5 votes
    1. anahata
      Link Parent
      This is so important and so easy to fall into. I would even call it insidious. It seems a bit strange to apply such a strong word, but it's quite accurate. I've seen it happen many times, I've...

      This is so important and so easy to fall into. I would even call it insidious. It seems a bit strange to apply such a strong word, but it's quite accurate. I've seen it happen many times, I've done it myself a few times. It starts off innocent: "oh, I've had such a hard day at work, I'll post later tonight after dinner" becomes "I'm exhausted, I've had such a long day, I'll post tomorrow morning before work" becomes "oh shit, it's been a week since I'e posted". This is something you need to be really careful about, and something you need to address with your players as well. If you can't devote yourself to posting every day, or at least every other day, I would not run a PBP game. It doesn't have to be award-winning writing, but it needs to be something substantive.

      5 votes
    2. hamstergeddon
      Link Parent
      This is definitely true in my limited experience doing RPGs on a forum. Also I've found that sometimes you genuinely aren't able to check in on the thread and it's a huge pain in the ass catching...

      This is definitely true in my limited experience doing RPGs on a forum. Also I've found that sometimes you genuinely aren't able to check in on the thread and it's a huge pain in the ass catching up and then you've missed some great opportunities and meh. I'd rather just do things at a scheduled time all together live. Although definitely not via text chat because the one time I did that it turned into a confusing fast-paced nightmare.

      I'm just not cut out for these kinds of things unless it's in person, I guess.

      1 vote
  2. [5]
    StellarTabi
    Link
    Does any (open or closed source, self-host or SaaS) PBP software exist?

    Does any (open or closed source, self-host or SaaS) PBP software exist?

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Play-by-post can be done on any forum engine. Reddit is okay, Tildes is okay. I prefer the way Russian PBPs do it: myBB and similar engines allow one to play a plotline within its own thread,...

      Play-by-post can be done on any forum engine. Reddit is okay, Tildes is okay. I prefer the way Russian PBPs do it: myBB and similar engines allow one to play a plotline within its own thread, confined to one of the set list of categories.

      1 vote
      1. StellarTabi
        Link Parent
        I really mean software that intentionally lifts PBP (and/or play by email) into a better experience than just repurposing a message board.

        I really mean software that intentionally lifts PBP (and/or play by email) into a better experience than just repurposing a message board.

        2 votes
    2. anahata
      Link Parent
      Several RPG forums (like Paizo as mentioned by OP and also the Giant in the Playground (of Order of the Stick fame)) have PBP sections. Not something you can host yourself, but you can look at it...

      Several RPG forums (like Paizo as mentioned by OP and also the Giant in the Playground (of Order of the Stick fame)) have PBP sections. Not something you can host yourself, but you can look at it as SaaS in a way. You're just not paying for it.

      1 vote
    3. skeetcha
      Link Parent
      Not that I know of at the moment. If anyone does know anything (before I take on a project to develop something of the like), let me know.

      Not that I know of at the moment. If anyone does know anything (before I take on a project to develop something of the like), let me know.

      1 vote
  3. ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    Then don't. Having a general layout of the place in the notes is nice, and if you can't be bothered to make a non-essential piece of information for the project, don't be. It's your game. Run it...

    but I'm not sure if I want to create maps for the whole thing

    Then don't. Having a general layout of the place in the notes is nice, and if you can't be bothered to make a non-essential piece of information for the project, don't be. It's your game. Run it how you like it.

    3 votes
  4. Nexu
    Link
    Not exactly what you're talking about but I've played a fair few games of Magic the Gathering over Whatsapp by sending/receiving screenshots per turn. Works quite well, and in my experience it can...

    Not exactly what you're talking about but I've played a fair few games of Magic the Gathering over Whatsapp by sending/receiving screenshots per turn.

    Works quite well, and in my experience it can be just as fun as an in-person game. Also added bonus of being able to pick up and play / stop whenever, with a photographic preserve of the game state at any one time (providing you leave a dedicated space for the game state to rest at, like leaving everything on a table in the corner of the room).

    My tip would be to lay the ground rules for how each turn will start/end/progress from the start. Make things as simple as possible for the players, and be sure everyone knows exactly what crucial information needs to be included with each post.

    Maybe start by making a template or building out a an example with a few posts so that you're sure everyone is on the same page.

    2 votes
  5. [2]
    rmgr
    Link
    I've run a few games on Rolegate. It works really well and it's optimised for mobile. Most of them have sort of petered out after a while though as people forget to post or lose interest and...

    I've run a few games on Rolegate. It works really well and it's optimised for mobile. Most of them have sort of petered out after a while though as people forget to post or lose interest and disappear on you.

    I much prefer in person games but it's a good way to get your RPG fix when you can't commit to a regular game!

    1 vote
    1. anahata
      Link Parent
      The problem I encountered with Rolegate is that there isn't any documentation. There used to be a wiki but it's gone. When asking the community for documentation, they told me to use the...

      The problem I encountered with Rolegate is that there isn't any documentation. There used to be a wiki but it's gone. When asking the community for documentation, they told me to use the Clippy-style helper. This is so, so common of startups: they like to focus on making the thing but skip the documentation because it's "boring". But the documentation is the most important part of the project!

      "It looks like you're trying to rage impotently at this software's lack of tutorial and documentation. Would you like help with that?"

      2 votes