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Author Topic: Advice for Running PbP  (Read 1858 times)
Catodon
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« on: March 24, 2011, 04:59:01 AM »

I am considering running a pbp. I have a lot (28years) running tabletop games so I'm wondering what are the key differences, do's and don'ts, of running a game in this (pbp) medium?
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glimmerrat
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 05:03:45 AM »

1) Be organised - have the adventure ready to rock before you recruit
2) Have backup players on standby
3) Be clear about how often you'll post updates; this is my main failing, as I used to be really consistant - after running 4 successful PbPs, i'm now complacent!
4) Accept that real life will get in the way and stop people posting sometimes (including you!); be prepared to carry on without someone.
5) Be ready to push the game along when it slows to a crawl
6) TALK to your players OOC and ask how things are going
7) Have character sheets and campaign rules clearly posted in an easy-to-access place
Cool For heaven's sake, use a dice roller
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Catodon
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 03:09:44 AM »

How about pregen. characters would this stifle recruiting? What if the names, gender and appearance was left for the players to fill in?


An observation: The pbp games I have seen seem more tightly scripted than a table top needs to be. In table top I can provide a nicely detailed area and kick start quest then allow the PC's to live in the world responding to current events and pursueing thier own goals. In pbp plots seem to be simpler than this.
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"I just do eyes"
Author of Gulliver's Trading Company and the map of the world of Gullivers travels:
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paddyfool
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 05:47:51 AM »

I don't think pregen is as beneficial for pbp as for a oneshot game - people are going to be playing with their characters for awhile, and will want to make them their own.  Setting limits for what characters can be is absolutely fine, however (you'd generally want characters that would fit the start and setting, and they might vary widely depending on whether that start or setting is "a team of renaissance-era spies and assassins for the kingdom of X" / "a crew of smugglers and runaways on an airship in low-level steampunk setting with a little magic Y" / "the outriders and scouts for a legion from the multispecies empire of Z" / "the castaways from a wrecked pirate ship in a formerly greyhawk-esque setting that's beginning to experience general magic & deific failure coupled with a zombie apocalypse" or the more basic "you all meet in a tavern and hear a rumour about a quest for the fabled treasure of Iskariozaphron; sandbox world, anything goes").

The big problem with pbp is pacing - you're going to be playing a slow game with your players, and each time it's their round, they're going to want to make sure they don't waste it rather more than at a table, which leads to a greater temptation to powerplay.  Posting actions ahead-of-turn within the initiative order can reduce the waiting period, but half the time any given action will be redundant by the time it comes up, and it's easy to get held up on one player waiting for an answer to a rules query that you may have missed, or someone with a crucial decision to make being besieged by real life stuff etc.

EDIT: Overall, I'd recommend having the first shot being something intended as a simple one-shot, and/or a prewritten adventure that you'd like to run, and see what issues you identify as you do it.  Start simple and build from there.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 06:00:49 AM by paddyfool » Logged
SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 10:33:39 AM »

Choose the amount of combat you want very carefully because it's the biggest slowdown.
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EloiseCartwright
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 12:46:13 PM »

How about pregen. characters would this stifle recruiting? What if the names, gender and appearance was left for the players to fill in?


An observation: The pbp games I have seen seem more tightly scripted than a table top needs to be. In table top I can provide a nicely detailed area and kick start quest then allow the PC's to live in the world responding to current events and pursueing thier own goals. In pbp plots seem to be simpler than this.

Issue there is that discussing what everyone wants to do will take half an hour at the table (though to be honest I've had 2 hours of discussion before when things were left too open). Multiply that by the extended timing issue for pbp and you end up never actually doing anything.
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2011, 01:37:54 PM »

One thing that can help is to make it clear to your players that if actions by others in combat invalidate theirs, you reserve the right to have their characters do something similar when processing the turn. I don't mean make actions whole cloth, but move up to and attack (now dead) Goblin 12 becomes move up to and attack goblin 13 (who was standing next to 12).
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2011, 11:59:08 PM »

I've only run a Warhammer FRPG 3rd game PbP so far, and I must say that combat annoys me the most. It just takes forever, even with the (comparably pretty speedy) WFRPG system. It helps if your players know and make use of all their options, and if you add drama to the conflict in some other way (a chase, working against the clock, hostile locations). I also tended to give my players a lot of leeway here: once the biggest challenge was overcome, I would either just roll out the last few rounds of combat or say "... and you finish of the last few baddies" or have them flee.

On pregens: if the world you run in is commonly accessed or easily imaginable, then I don't think pregens are necessary, they just add to your work. Give the players parameters ("don't build a pure fighter, we're going to do little combat", or "magic users are killed on sight") and let them run with it. However, if you are using a less well-known setting or one you developed yourself that is completely off-kilter (like, say, a post apocalyptic fantasy setting, or a cyberpunk port to fantasy), I'd pre-make all characters, and if the players are interested in continuing after the first adventure, allow them to make changes or swap out characters. This will save you time; you don't have to provide mechanics for all options available, heck, you don't even have to describe all options. 
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2011, 01:05:27 AM »

I'd absolutely eschew pregens for a PbP; they're alright for face-to-face 1-shots that last a few hours, but really inappropriate for games that are going to last longer which pbp games inevitably do
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Catodon
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2011, 01:36:12 AM »


On pregens: if the world you run in is commonly accessed or easily imaginable, then I don't think pregens are necessary, they just add to your work. Give the players parameters ("don't build a pure fighter, we're going to do little combat", or "magic users are killed on sight") and let them run with it. However, if you are using a less well-known setting or one you developed yourself that is completely off-kilter (like, say, a post apocalyptic fantasy setting, or a cyberpunk port to fantasy), I'd pre-make all characters, and if the players are interested in continuing after the first adventure, allow them to make changes or swap out characters. This will save you time; you don't have to provide mechanics for all options available, heck, you don't even have to describe all options.  

I did have in mind an odd world with a surprise. Rather than go through all the limitations I thought I'd make pregens but allow the players to pick one, decide its gender, describe their own appearance and personality. PC's would all be Amnesiac speciality enabling them to pick skills during play. Finally, after the first 'big reveal/intro to setting' adventure the players could make new characters.

That said I may run a simpler idea first...
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"I just do eyes"
Author of Gulliver's Trading Company and the map of the world of Gullivers travels:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/84956575/Gullivers-Trading-Co-Grub
http://browse.deviantart.com/#/art/Gulliver-s-Travels-World-Map-294804331?hf=1
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2011, 01:19:02 PM »

You could make up a list of suggested characters - say 1 Soldier, 2 Mages or Priests, 1 Scout - and let the players fill in the details from there. It's limiting, yes, but you're still giving the players a fair amount of leeway.
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2011, 03:59:04 PM »

Speaking for myself, I wouldn't mind playing pregens, especially if there is the option to customize them after an adventure or two.

From a GM perspective, if you are whipping up a completely new world, it's a lot less work to make pregens than flesh out any detail that may be desired.
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SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2011, 06:57:20 PM »

At the very least with pre-gens they might allow the players to see the sort of characters the GM would be expecting.  Plus nothing says once they select a pre-gen you can't let them re-structure the whole thing.
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Wolverine
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2011, 08:33:14 PM »

Here's another thought - provide character examples similar to the ones found in the Classes section of the rulebook. Give examples of the types of common characters possible with each class.
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Catodon
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2011, 09:38:04 PM »

I think this thread is getting a little away from its original intent but that's ok if you lot don't mind. Originally I had an idea for my first pbp and was after general advice. This has uncovered an issue with my specific idea. The issue is I want to set strict limits on characters allowed to fit the setting.  To get around making a great big discouraging list of limits I thought I'd use pregens. The first (short/intro) adventure to be menace V, and I'd hate to kill someone's PC they worked so hard on. After the intro adventure these limits will be gradually eased (if there is a second game).

Problem is, people seem very resistant to pregens for pbp and have raised good reasons for this.
I could run a simple dungeon first to learn the ropes, but I can't find any enthusiasm in me for that.
Perhaps, I'll have to be patient and wait until I can get people round a real table.


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"I just do eyes"
Author of Gulliver's Trading Company and the map of the world of Gullivers travels:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/84956575/Gullivers-Trading-Co-Grub
http://browse.deviantart.com/#/art/Gulliver-s-Travels-World-Map-294804331?hf=1
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