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Building a Better Doomed Hero: Painlord's Advanced Play-by-Post Play


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The Exchange

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Greetings Mortals--

For those of you who are new to PbP, the format is *THE* best pure Pathfinder experience there is. It allows for a depth in roleplaying and character development that is not possible in a F2F (face to face, aka tabletop) game. In fact, I prefer PbP to my regular games: for the quality of character development and totality of roleplaying combined with the pure strategic/combat geekery that a good, updated map can provide.

This entire post builds on concepts established by Doomed Hero in his epic post: DHs Guide to Play By Post Gaming. Doomed does a great job of outlining conventions and common styles that carry through to most of my PbPs.

I've played in some awfully bad PbPs. Thankfully, I've also been blessed with some *amazing* PbPs. The two biggest factors involved are the strength of the GM and the skill of players. It's tough being a good GM...even tougher to be a good PbP GM.

Pathfinder, like life, is a skill, and you can become better at playing. As we become better players, it allows our GMs to present a better game. Good Pathfinder play is a series of skills and the more you play, the more opportunities you have to improve those skills. Some of these skills are shared with F2F and tabletop, but others are unique to PbP. In order, consider the following when you're trying to be the best PbPer you can be:

#1: Become a Master of the Push and of the Hook:

Always Be Pushing. (ABP!) A, Always. B, Be. P, Pushing. Always be pushing. This is the most important thing you can do as a PbP player. It's not about posting often or quickly, it's about doing stuff when you post. It's about pushing your character's involvement in the story forward. Whenever you can, push the action, push the direction, push the party along. PbP is already a slow format, so try to make it better by pushing while giving others a chance to respond, of course. To reiterate: it's not the frequency of your posts, but what actions you take through them.

Examples of good push posts:

Good push post #1.

Good push post #2.

Good players push...rarely leaving a post that doesn't move things along or offer a hook. That momentum will make it easier for the GM and other players to act and react as necessary. It's easier for a GM to slow things down if necessary, rather than create something from nothing. Do this because it can make your GM's job easier.

Embrace hooks: leave them everywhere. In PbP terms, a hook is a call to action, a point of interest, a *something* that someone else can react. It's hard to react in a vacuum, much easier to react to what others are doing and what else is happening. So try to have a hook in every post!

Compare the following two posts and pretend you're next to post:

Post #1: Hektir enters the room and looks around. 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16 Perception

Post #2: Hektir enters the room, spits, and looks around. "Smells like goblin farts in here," Hektir says, sniffing the air. 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11 Perception

Which post would you rather respond to? The second sets up a few more opportunities, if ever so slight. You might react to the spit on the ground, noticing it only when you make (or fail) your perception check. Or you might ask how Hektir knows what goblin farts smell like. Or comment on Hektir sniffing. When you reply, you should try to leave a hook (or 2) of your own.

Always look for other people's hooks when you're setting up your own. Try to respond to them in a way that can both encourage their character to elaborate while expounding on yours. An excellent Play-by-Post isn't simply the combats, with each characters' stories bordering it like a frame- it is a rich tapestry of a thousand threads, woven together to create the beautiful whole.

Embrace the Important Soft Push/Hook: There are times when you are just waiting for the GM or the other players to post, but 24 hours have passed. That's the time for the Soft Push/Hook- a post that doesn't do anything but bump your interest in the thread and what's happening. They are important to show that you're still alive, engaged and helping others stay engaged by giving them something to react.

Good soft push/hook post #1.

Good soft push/hook post #2.

#2: Social Skills: Acknowledge & React:

Pathfinder is a social game. Pathfinder involves interactive social skills whether it's around a table or over the Intratoobz. Your ability to work with others, create trust, and thank others will go a long way towards making your game better. These skills apply in real life, but tend to show up differently in PbP.

Acknowledge & Thank Awesomeness: When someone does something awesome, acknowledge it. Great roleplaying? Say so. Something make you laugh? You blew coffee all over your keyboard? Put in an LOL! or LOL@<name> into your next post. Use the "favorite this post" to show your appreciation. It matters. You'll know when you start getting them, and you'll feel inspired to create better posts. Start today, by thanking and acknowledging good posts in your PbPs. Others will feel it too...and reciprocate.

React: There is a static and boring trope about being stonyfaced and unreacting when things happen. Well, it's boring in PbP. Good stuff happens when people react to things that are happening. Reacting gives others hooks and creates interest. Reacting ties your character to other characters. Find ways to react. Find ways to interact. Interaction is part of the social nature of this game.

Socialize, dammit!: Remember that you and your fellow players are people that have come together to play. Find ways to talk to others outside the IC and OOC threads. In most of my current games, I have connection with players via GoogleChat (via Trillian) or a Facebook Private Group that we can about in-game and out-of-game stuff. Getting to know the other players has only enhanced my connections to their characters and to the roleplaying.

#3: Roleplay with no limits:

Character Tips:

  • Embrace the depth of your backstory even if no one else will read it: In F2F, it can be hard and time consuming to explain how one's childhood and upbringing lead to the creation of the character before you. In PbP, you can explore those experiences and expound on them, drawing upon them when needed. Some of your players will read it, some won't...but that's neither here nor there. What matters is how much background and color you want to add. Stick your long history in spoiler or on your alias.
  • Be 'humanly' wrong sometimes: Be humanly imperfect (even if you're not playing a human). Imperfect characters draw in the reader and create a connection that is common amongst us all. Imperfection is relate-able and you can use those imperfections in your roleplaying. Be an elf chauvinist pig. Or a deeply narrow-minded religious yahoo. Or a salty sea elf. Take the gloves off and be something.
  • People aren't perfectly static: Neither are good characters. The PbP format is a perfect chance to establish a narrative that shows change over time. (You can go from good to bad or bad to good, but do something!)
  • Find motivation: Having 'real' motivation for your character is extremely important- the answer to the question: "Why are you here risking your life?" I want to play with characters who truly believe that they need to save the Princess/World/McGuffin based on strong motivations for wanting to do so...and they should be interesting and relevant.

Play Tips:

  • Painlord's PbP First Rule: Post something everyday (unless it's a known hiatus). Even if it's a null post, put something up. Remind others that someone is waiting on someone. Keep your momentum going and your thoughts on what's happening. I sometimes fail at this, but I try. Everyday.
  • Painlord's PbP Rule of Two: Designed to reduce dithering, this rule suggests that after one character has suggested an action (or course of action) and it is seconded, that's what the party does and the GM should go along those lines. The other players are still welcome to post other actions, but the GM may assume that the seconded action is where/what the party is going/doing. This helps keep momentum moving AND reduces the stress on the GM on knowing when to proceed.
  • RAW vs. RAI (hat tip: GM Evilan): My GM has this statement and it's a wonderful one: "As a rule I play the rules as intended rather than strictly as written. There will be exceptions of course and we can’t always tell what RAI is supposed to be. More importantly I may change a rule now and again for the story. The story is what is important - the story the players and I are writing together. If that story conflicts with a rule now and then, I’m likely to ignore or modify the rule for that instance. However, the rules are there so we all know what to expect out of the environment, so it will not happen with any frequency.""
  • Give detailed actions when you post in combat: Don't make the GM (or your fellow players) guess at what your are doing. When attacking, you should have your location marked and both your standard and move actions accounted for. Your attack strings should have all the modifiers laid out so that it's clear how you are getting your conditional modifiers.

    Two good combats posts in a row.
    Good combat post.

    The point is that you want to make this easy on your GM. You want to be great at PbP? Make it easy for others to play with you.

Create trust by giving trust:
Trust is like the rope bridge across the chasm; it really doesn't matter all that much who goes first, but if no one does, the group doesn't get anywhere. Someone HAS to go first, so it might as well be you. The other players, including the GM, are most likely there for the same reason you are- to have a good time! Just like you, they're going to do their best, and just like you, they're going to screw up once in awhile. And all of that is OK because the real secret to Play-by-Post fun is that the story is more important than the rules!

A Play-by-Post will survive bad rolls, bad calls, and bad builds, but mistrust can suck the life right out of the game. Most GMs are open to questions, but extended arguing slows an already slow process and shuts down trust. Trust the GM to listen to what you have to say, then let them make the decision. Trust the other players to play honestly. Trust yourself to be able to roll or role with whatever comes out of it.

Roleplaying doesn't work if your fellow players don't trust you...and if you don't trust your fellow players. A *huge* part of roleplaying is trusting your fellow players to respond in kind, not take in-character things too seriously, and understand that this is a game.

Part of me believes that overcoming fear of failure is essential to roleplaying. Personally, I would rather fail in my task/mission than fail to act in-character. I have to trust that things will work out in the end...and if my character would do X (within reason), he should probably do it and rejoice the earned outcome rather than metagame towards what will earn his 'reward'.

PbP-The Bug is a Feature:

Of course, there are some "negatives" to PbP play, but how you handle them is more a function of you as a person than anything else. Some players see the slow play as a negative: always waiting for someone else to post. I see slow play as opportunity to craft a better response or focus on next actions. Down times and slow periods are opportunities rather than problems. Use downtime to ponder your responses or open up other avenues of RP. Or just be patient. PbP isn't an immediate gratification game...it's a long con that you're writing with others.

As always, your thoughts and thoughtful disagreements are welcome.

-Pain

p.s. Thanks to GM Angry Ankheg and GM Evilan for their help with this. Also, thanks to The Rat for his chitterings.

Grand Lodge

Thanks for this, Pain. ^_^


Most excellent Painlord. I already do a lot of this stuff, and have decided the discussion threads are as if not more important for generating cohesion.

Sometimes I post nothing that is a push, but it is always an intended non-push, in line with the character.

I am currently in 6 PbPs - 2 have completely stalled with no GM input for over a week, one is sailing along (Razor Coast), and three are in their infancy but are engaging, if slow at times. As someone who is able, interested and willing to post multiple times per day most of the time it is sure frustrating to have to wait on folk who have unspecified hiatus or in the case of the two that are mysteriously shelved GMs who are M.I.A. I have actually found GMs to be the main reason I am dissatisfied - I have now been in at least 5 that have folded not long after inception (less than 200 gameplay posts and usually before or just after the first combat/few encounters.

There is nothing I can think of equal to the sadness of a bunch of folk who have taken the time to create their characters, roleplay interactions in the starting phases, become invested in the story AND their characters and possibly said character's relationships only to have the GM either disappear completely or flake out after much disapearance and wondering/confusion and finally prompting from the players. It's getting to the point that I want to see bona fides from prospective GMs...

I really want to find a great group of role- and roll-players that are active and engaged.

I think I'll have to be the GM myself. And try to find folk who have a history of decent posting rates.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Good topic, Painlord.

Linking

One thing I'd add would be the helpfulness of linking, using the [ url ] feature. Embedding a link or two in a post to a previous post that is relevant is a great way to jog other players' memories about what came before, especially since the character development point, earlier GM ruling, or character action may have occurred a year or more ago, real-time.

As Painlord notes about responding, this is also a good way to demonstrate to others that you're listening to what they have to say. It also saves the time of performing the usual exhange of "When did I say that?" and "You said it right here."

Predictive Posting

Predictive posting--the act of writing out what your character will do assuming circumstances go a certain way--can be a good way to keep the action moving if you expect to be away for a while (especially in a fast-paced combat). When posting predictively, I find it's good manners to acknowledge that your prospective action might not happen and that it's alright if others act in such a way as to make it not happen. If you assume that your predictive post will become reality, in a way you're informing the other players that they have no control over the action.

Example of Predictive Posting
And Painlord considerately considered what I was trying before saying that he was still going forward with his action. No harm done.

Addendum to Socializing

One nice thing about socializing is that you build trust that translates to unexpected bits of the game. Through socializing, I know at least one fellow player's phone number, and if one of us seems to have disappeared or is experiencing internet issues, we can send a text saying "Just have me keep attacking the demon" to keep the action moving.

Save and Read your Work

Using the "select all" and "copy" function before clicking Submit Post can be a serious timesaver on those occasions when the messageboard might otherwise consume your post. If something does go wrong, your a few keystrokes away from pasting the whole thing back into a new message box.

I find it's also very helpful to re-read what I'm about to post to ensure that it's clear and grammatically correct. You don't have to be a expert of the written word to play a PbP game, but aiming for clear writing and good spelling helps others to understand exactly what it is that you're doing and saves the time of asking for clarification. I catch a lot of errors in what I'm typing for a game in this way.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Reading all this makes me want to try out PbP. :)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

John, if you use Firefox then the Lazarus add-on means you don't have to select and copy all the time. Just right-click on an empty field and all of your past typing is there.


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Painlord wrote:

...

React: There is a static and boring trope about being stonyfaced and unreacting when things happen. Well, it's boring in PbP. Good stuff happens when people react to things that are happening. Reacting gives others hooks and creates interest. Reacting ties your character to other characters. Find ways to react. Find ways to interact. Interaction is part of the social nature of this game...

I would like to second this. The "strong silent type" just doesn't do well in PbP. (Personally, I don't think it does all that well in FtF either. But that is a separate subject.)

I have seen it 'ok' if the player puts in a huge amount of effort.
Describing facial expressions.
Putting down the internal monologue.
Internal thoughts that lead to his decisions and actions.
Flashbacks to show why experiences in his youth led to what he is doing now.
Etc... (Note: a huge amount of effort does not mean copy-paste the same description of impassive indifference due to X over and over again. It has to be fresh and interesting. Otherwise everyone learns to just skip it and it is no different than posting nothing.)

Even then it was only 'ok,' because if the other players are staying IC then they still don't know any of that stuff and can't react to it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Agreed, Jiggy... I am definitely interested in trying this out. My only concern is how long a typical scenario would last (since your PFS character would be out of any other action until complete).

I've tried PbP in another genre (Champions super-hero game) a couple of times (once PbP, once play-by-email)... both games died after a couple of months.

But, I'd really like to try this now! :D


Silbeg wrote:
... My only concern is how long a typical scenario would last (since your PFS character would be out of any other action until complete)...

I have 4 PFS characters. I try to keep 1 or 2 in a PbP most of the time. Then I still have 2 or 3 to choose from for PFS local events.

I know at least a few people have created another PFS character that they only use for PbP.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Silbeg wrote:
Agreed, Jiggy... I am definitely interested in trying this out. My only concern is how long a typical scenario would last (since your PFS character would be out of any other action until complete).

Yeah, that's the catch for PFS. On the other hand, maybe a campaign-mode run of Dragon's Demand would be a good candidate? That way an existing PC isn't tied up, and at the end you can pile on (almost) all those chronicles.

But I wonder how long THAT would take. Could I stay committed that long...?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Lot of good points here. I'd add to John's notes about linking that it's also really helpful for yourself. A PBP game (especially an Adventure Path, which seem to be the most popular) can take months to finish sometimes, and it's easy to forget details. I put a Story Details tab in my alias profiles (see Calla, though beware of Second Darkness spoilers) with story details that I want to make sure I don't forget. Takes just a moment or two to copy and paste but saves me a lot of time later. My two attempts at playing in a Skull & Shackles game both petered out, sadly, but I had a running list of the NPCs I'd met (since there are a ton), and their reactions to us and interactions with us. As a GM, I try to give players a list of the NPCs in the campaign tab to also help keep things clear.

I also really like John's last suggestion. I've lost more posts than I can keep track of because I have to do a lot of switching tabs as a GM and sometimes will close a tab or navigate away from one I don't mean to. I'll even copy and paste into an email or other document, since I've lost more than one while intending to copy a map URL or something into a larger post. Geraint, what's the Lazarus add-on?

My additional point is HELP YOUR GM.
Running a PBP game is a LOT of work. You have to keep track of everyone more than you would in a tabletop game, and for me at least, I'm switching windows all the time to see what modifiers are in play, etc. etc. Even with some dice strings saved, every dice roll involved some typing that takes longer than simply tossing a d20. It's simply time-consuming to do each round of combat in a way that it isn't at the tabletop.

I really appreciate the players that make my life easier. Have your ACs and saves where I can see them without opening your character profile. Remind me if you've got effects up (especially because I'm actually running five games at once, so I'm keeping track of 20-plus PCs and you may have cast a defensive spell 5 rounds ago, but it's been a week since then).

Take this post, for example. Nic was posting for a player who'd let us know she was going on vacation, which certainly made me pleased since there was a lot going on and DMPC'ing her would've taken more time. But more importantly, he told me how everything was working, which was especially helpful since we're playing with the new mythic rules, which we're all still learning.

This is the first time I've played with the players in the campaign, but several of them I'd consider inviting to join the next time I've got vacancies in my ongoing games simply because they've made things easier for me.


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I like this thread. One thing I particularly noticed is your Rule of Two.

Painlord wrote:
Painlord's PbP Rule of Two: Designed to reduce dithering, this rule suggests that after one character has suggested an action (or course of action) and it is seconded, that's what the party does and the GM should go along those lines. The other players are still welcome to post other actions, but the GM may assume that the seconded action is where/what the party is going/doing. This helps keep momentum moving AND reduces the stress on the GM on knowing when to proceed.

I see one potential consequence of this rule, though I am undecided on if it is necessarily a bad consequence. Let's imagine that the first two to post are the most reckless PCs of a PbP group who could care less if the door is trapped or warded. The more cautious PCs might find it annoying if they are getting dragged around without a say. The rule of two doesn't really give them any option to hedge in reckless PCs (though I suppose the GM could give more time for someone else to act if this truly becomes a problem). Now I did say that I wasn't certain this was a bad thing, and I'll address that by saying this: if Pippin hadn't dropped a stone down the well in Moria that would have made for a boring journey.

I think that a GM should make it clear to his Players what motivates their PbP game to move on, and I have used a similar concept in some of my PbP games. I asked if the group would like to determine 1 or 2 "party leaders" that everyone agreed would make the decision on direction.

Upon consideration I think there could be a third option: majority rules. Once more than half the group has decided, then the group goes that way.

Breaking these down, I would liken them to government organization.
Painlord's "Rule of Two" - Anarchy (very fast decisions, but you need to trust your party).
DM Rah's "Follow the Leader" - Republic (still pretty fast, but trust is only required for one or two leaders).
"Majority Rules" - Democracy (Slow, becoming more so depending on the size of the party, but most get their voices heard).
"Unanimous Vote" - actually, I don't think any government can operate like this, and no wonder games run this way move so slow.

Upon consideration, I think I might give my players two options: 1. Choose Party Leader(s), or 2. Suffer the consequences of Painlord's Rule of Two.

The Exchange

DM Rah wrote:
Upon consideration, I think I might give my players two options: 1. Choose Party Leader(s), or 2. Suffer the consequences of Painlord's Rule of Two.

As a player who is unapologetic about liking a fun, quick games, I think this is a good plan.

In the big picture, one of the more annoying things for good players and good GMs is discovering time and reducing dithering. It can take an eternity of slow posts for a group to decide to open a door or choose a path.

Painlord's Rule of Two is designed to end that dithering and give a bit more control/permission to the GM to move things along as well as help players move thing along.

However, in the even bigger picture, let's unpack this:

DM Rah wrote:
I see one potential consequence of this rule, though I am undecided on if it is necessarily a bad consequence. Let's imagine that the first two to post are the most reckless PCs of a PbP group who could care less if the door is trapped or warded. The more cautious PCs might find it annoying if they are getting dragged around without a say. The rule of two doesn't really give them any option to hedge in reckless PCs (though I suppose the GM could give more time for someone else to act if this truly becomes a problem). Now I did say that I wasn't certain this was a bad thing, and I'll address that by saying this: if Pippin hadn't dropped a stone down the well in Moria that would have made for a boring journey.

You're the GM right? And you and your players have some trust built right? And you know the story you want to tell? And you know that the story (and moving it along) are more important than the rules (especially any rule I came up with)?

Dude, I trust you to make rational and intelligent decisions on when to push things forward. Since you're the GM, it's your game and your responsibility to keep things moving (while encouraging others to help). I'm sure you can use this 'rule' to your advantage.

-Pain

The Exchange

Jiggy wrote:
Silbeg wrote:
Agreed, Jiggy... I am definitely interested in trying this out. My only concern is how long a typical scenario would last (since your PFS character would be out of any other action until complete).

Yeah, that's the catch for PFS. On the other hand, maybe a campaign-mode run of Dragon's Demand would be a good candidate? That way an existing PC isn't tied up, and at the end you can pile on (almost) all those chronicles.

But I wonder how long THAT would take. Could I stay committed that long...?

Jiggy, I have no idea why you'd want to sip from trough of PbP PFS when you could dine at the table of a full PbP AP. PFS is a fine, but overall storyless and confined space. Get into a real PbP. Build a character and start creating a rich tapestry with new and old friends. Go build something amazing.

And, for you, I'm sure you'd be more easily committed than most. You practically live on the boards and it'd be easy for you to check you PbP threads often.

-Pain


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Jiggy, I had a friend who ran a PbP of one of the PFS First Steps scenarios for myself, my wife and three other players.

Most of us were new to PbP (including myself) and found it an awesome introduction to the genre.

I am now playing in a Wrath of the Righteous AP PbP which has been great fun to this point but I found the experience I gained through doing that one scenario (as well as the reading/research I did before/during it) to be invaluable.


Great post Painlord. I'll definitely be adding my thoughts and showing my players this in the morning.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Painlord wrote:
Jiggy, I have no idea why you'd want to sip from trough of PbP PFS when you could dine at the table of a full PbP AP. PFS is a fine, but overall storyless and confined space. Get into a real PbP. Build a character and start creating a rich tapestry with new and old friends. Go build something amazing.

Agreed. Granted, I'm not a huge PFS guy, but I played in a couple scenarios via PBP and I think it's one area where I'd actually lean more toward in-person gaming. I think it's just designed more for the four-hour bite of time and works well there, but is a little too short/streamlined for PBP.

I have found that the ADventure Paths tend to do much better -- of all the games I've run, I've had by far the most difficulty with non-APs (players just don't seem as invested in them, generally). (I suspect a "super-mod" like Dragon's Demand would work well, though. Maybe I'll try to run that once a couple of my current games wrap up next year.)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Painlord wrote:
Jiggy, I have no idea why you'd want to sip from trough of PbP PFS when you could dine at the table of a full PbP AP.

Because I'd rather ease into the format than suddenly jump from "a few hours a week with no commitment" to "dedicated to consistent involvement for I don't even know how long"?

Quote:
Get into a real PbP. Build a character and start creating a rich tapestry with new and old friends. Go build something amazing.

Is that an offer? :D

Quote:

And, for you, I'm sure you'd be more easily committed than most. You practically live on the boards and it'd be easy for you to check you PbP threads often.

-Pain

But for how long? Would I get burned out or lose interest? I imagine I could get to a place where a PbP AP was wonderful, but I suspect a bit of whiplash if I jump right into it, of a sort that would probably cause a sour experience for myself and others. A shorter entrance into PbP would probably be a wise investment. Maybe I could get someone to GM a Dragon's Demand PbP, since that's kind of "in the middle", length-wise. (I'm also very curious about that module.)


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Painlord wrote:

...

Jiggy, I have no idea why you'd want to sip from trough of PbP PFS when you could dine at the table of a full PbP AP. PFS is a fine, but overall storyless and confined space. Get into a real PbP. Build a character and start creating a rich tapestry with new and old friends. Go build something amazing.

And, for you, I'm sure you'd be more easily committed than most. You practically live on the boards and it'd be easy for you to check you PbP threads often.

-Pain

Couple of points. PFS doesn't have to be a "storyless and confined space" experience (although I agree that it sometimes is). I actually think PFS in PbP actually helps people to stay away from that type of thing since they have the time and anonymity to get more involved with the role and storytelling.

Part of the reason I have not been thrilled with the AP's is the extended time. I like the concept and I've tried a couple (still trying one at this time). It is not that I have trouble committing to a long game. But it seems like often since it is a long game no has any actual commitment. Everyone knows it is going long, no one is concerned that it is dragging out, no one does anything to try and keep it from dragging out, and then it dies since nothing is happening.

Some that even the GM posts only twice a week and won't respond to all the questions that were asked. So they get asked again. People don't post because they are waiting for others to post something interesting. Or then again maybe they dropped out and we can't tell.

I've seen a couple where the GM (and at least some of the players) expect everyone to get into complex love-hate relationships with the other players. They appear to be very disappointed when that doesn't happen. I personally have not desire to have a online pretend romantic affair. I don't have a problem if others do, but it is not something I am interested in. And I can't see many likely reasons I would volunteer to travel the world trusting and risking my life for someone I hate. It doesn't make much sense to me.

I don't see that happening in PFS. It is expected to move quickly so everyone seems more likely to live up to the expectations to get involved and post daily. No one expects me to have a romance with another PC (though I don't think it would be a problem if I did). I get in some other scenarios with some of the same players and learn how they will react and what I can count on them to do.

I like the concept of a long detailed AP or open ended home brew and I'm still trying to find one. But I haven't seen them working out that well in the ones I have been permitted to join.


A few more cents to add to the kitty . . .

Thanks once again for this Painlord; there’s a lot of great advice here. I agree with your assessment of the PbP – for me, after well over a decade of gaming, I feel like I’ve just begun to experience the immersive, narrative driven games I’ve wanted to run since getting into PbP.

My campaign’s just hit a thousand posts after nine months gaming. On one hand, our PCs have only reached second level, fought only five combats, and only a week has passed ‘in-game’. On the other hand, I alone have written in the region of 80,000 words in the gameplay thread, and with the contributions of the players it’s much larger. I feel I know the personalities of the PCs far better than I’ve done in FtF games, and the campaign world is alive with plot hooks, adventure seeds and fun little details. The pace may not be for everyone, but as a ‘grand story’ it’s a very enjoyable experience.

Of course, if it runs to 20th level we’ll be at it for about a decade! This doesn’t bode well for the long list of the other campaigns I’d like to try!

The hook/push concept is a really important one, and just as valid for DMs as it is for players. I realise I sometimes fall down on this one, and need to be more consistent in providing hooks for my players.

It’s also useful to keep in mind that hooks don’t have to Plot related with a capital P. It can be something incidental or amusing happening in the background that nonetheless prompt your players to react and keep the game moving forward. As you said, I believe posting once a day (as much as possible) is vital in keeping momentum.

John’s thoughts about linking are useful and something which could help my own campaign in the future. To help me and my PCs navigate our own PbP, I’ve used the Campaign tab to create an index of posts summarising what happened on each page, as well as diary of daily events and a summary of all the NPCs so far mentioned or encountered (I can’t be bothered to count the last but it must be in triple figures by now!). Link to Follow the Flood Road campaign page.

Predictive posting is also a great way to being efficient as possible in the action/posts ratio, especially in combat.

As for post loss, almost all my posts are written up in word docs then transferred to the forum to avoid those dreaded ‘eaten by the forum ogre’ moments.

Again, thanks everyone for the advice and the observations.


Painlord wrote:


You're the GM right? And you and your players have some trust built right? And you know the story you want to tell? And you know that the story (and moving it along) are more important than the rules (especially any rule I came up with)?

Dude, I trust you to make rational and intelligent decisions on when to push things forward. Since you're the GM, it's your game and your responsibility to keep things moving (while encouraging others to help). I'm sure you can use this 'rule' to your advantage.

-Pain

Very good points. For a group I know well the rule of two would likely be just fine. I should have clarified that I'm using PbP entirely for PFS at the moment, with one game created through the Online Gameday event. In that situation I wasn't familiar with all the players and so had no idea what playing style they used. Because PFS games tend to shift, and you don't always have the same group of players, you end up with wildcards which is where my comment was mostly directed.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
Painlord wrote:
Jiggy, I have no idea why you'd want to sip from trough of PbP PFS when you could dine at the table of a full PbP AP.

Because I'd rather ease into the format than suddenly jump from "a few hours a week with no commitment" to "dedicated to consistent involvement for I don't even know how long"?

Quote:
Get into a real PbP. Build a character and start creating a rich tapestry with new and old friends. Go build something amazing.

Is that an offer? :D

Quote:

And, for you, I'm sure you'd be more easily committed than most. You practically live on the boards and it'd be easy for you to check you PbP threads often.

-Pain

But for how long? Would I get burned out or lose interest? I imagine I could get to a place where a PbP AP was wonderful, but I suspect a bit of whiplash if I jump right into it, of a sort that would probably cause a sour experience for myself and others. A shorter entrance into PbP would probably be a wise investment. Maybe I could get someone to GM a Dragon's Demand PbP, since that's kind of "in the middle", length-wise. (I'm also very curious about that module.)

I run four PbPs here, all of them long campaigns rather than short adventures. To be honest, I doubt there is much difference in running a PFS adventure for workload vs a full campaign. The only real difference is how long the campaign will go on. My longest is now over five years old. How much work you put in will vary but actually a single PbP will probably be maybe twenty minutes work per day, maybe more and maybe less depending on what's going on, what preparation you have to do and so on. The impact will be less for a player.

Whether you get burned out will depend on a few things: most important for me, is the adventure compelling? Given you will be in its company for years, you need to like it, and you might find you don't. I started a Kingmaker campaign and discovered I didn't really like the AP, so in the end I ended it. I find a self-penned thing is very rewarding in PbP, especially as it gives you time to think.

Next, the players. I'm lucky in having had a good troop of committed PbP players, all of whom I met by simply recruiting here. They've made it a lot of fun and rewarding, and have given me ideas for campaign arcs which have lasted years. As mentioned above, roleplaying in PbP is brilliant. But I also had a campaign effectively wither away because the players didn't get into it or post much, and again I got a bit bored waiting for them and it folded. That's luck of the draw, but in general the players lacking real commitement will probably filter themselves out. Player churn is inevitable in something that lasts for years. It's a shame when a good players goes, but others will come to replace them.

And you may find that other stuff in your life dims your enthusiasm for sitting alone at your computer desk and pounding away. But I find that's a temporary thing, and if you have good players it's fun to get online and try and surprise them.

Something like the Dragon's Demand is probably a good thing to try out. A full-on AP will probably take a decade or more to play out, whereas a large module like that will be shorter (but still years, probably). But it given continuity to let the PCs grow as characters, which is one of the benefits of the medium.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Some of this is good general advice even at the table. Well done.


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Good posts, Painlord and John... and good thread in general.

Having completed Skull & Shackles in its entirety as a play-by-post (in four months, no less), I'm with Painlord on enjoying fast-paced games where everyone's involved and posting regularly.

Jiggy and Silbeg, try it out!

I'll add one thing to Painlord's excellent post; namely, Know Your Pace. This is part of finding the right game (which really is a topic all its own; be picky!), but it's one I don't see many people doing. What do I mean?

There are a few bad pacing scenarios that happen in PbPs, and knowing your own pace can help you avoid them. One is that you get into a game that's too fast for you, so you constantly feel like you're playing catch-up. That can work, but it can also be really rough. If you really, really want to play in a game that's too fast for you, you need to be okay with missing some interactions. Whatever you do, don't ask the rest of the group to slow down!

Momentum is King
Momentum is the lifeblood of PbPs. Just like Painlord says, things should always be kept moving through acting, reacting, and providing fodder for others' reactions. Artificially slowing the pace is a death sentence for a PbP.

Again, this doesn't mean you have to be posting at a rate of 100 ppd (posts per day) — though as someone who's been in games like that, I'll put a huge plug here for them, if you can pull it off. It just means things need to keep moving, and everyone needs to understand that it's everyone's job to keep them moving... not just the DM's.

That's all for now! Feel free to PM me if you have any questions about PbP, or if you'd like the "stats" for a game you're in. I have a nifty script that calculates them for me. ;)

The Exchange

DM Tadpole wrote:

The hook/push concept is a really important one, and just as valid for DMs as it is for players. I realise I sometimes fall down on this one, and need to be more consistent in providing hooks for my players.

It’s also useful to keep in mind that hooks don’t have to Plot related with a capital P. It can be something incidental or amusing happening in the background that nonetheless prompt your players to react and keep the game moving forward. As you said, I believe posting once a day (as much as possible) is vital in keeping momentum.

I'm glad you like the concept. Not saying I created it, but after looking at my successful PbPs and my less-good ones, the hooks and pushes are the difference. Without hooks and pushes, the GM is dragging everyone along...and it's tiring and tough for everyone.

If you're a PbP player, you need to realize that your job is to make things easier on the GM and other players. And if the GM is doing all the work, the game is going to fail. As such, you *must* make it easier and keep momentum.


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The title of this made me laugh so hard.

The Exchange

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Aubrey the Malformed wrote:

Whether you get burned out will depend on a few things: most important for me, is the adventure compelling? Given you will be in its company for years, you need to like it, and you might find you don't. I started a Kingmaker campaign and discovered I didn't really like the AP, so in the end I ended it. I find a self-penned thing is very rewarding in PbP, especially as it gives you time to think.

Next, the players. I'm lucky in having had a good troop of committed PbP players, all of whom I met by simply recruiting here. They've made it a lot of fun and rewarding, and have given me ideas for campaign arcs which have lasted years. As mentioned above, roleplaying in PbP is brilliant. But I also had a campaign effectively wither away because the players didn't get into it or post much, and again I got a bit bored waiting for them and it folded. That's luck of the draw, but in general the players lacking real commitment will probably filter themselves out. Player churn is inevitable in something that lasts for years. It's a shame when a good players goes, but others will come to replace them.

And you may find that other stuff in your life dims your enthusiasm for sitting alone at your computer desk and pounding away. But I find that's a temporary thing, and if you have good players it's fun to get online and try and surprise them.

This.

All this.

If you're a player, you should read this and read it again.

This is a top PbP GM explaining what makes their job easy and they expect from their players.

If you want a good game that lasts more than 1000 posts,
If you want an inspired and motivated GM who wants to delight their players,
If you want a campaign that ranks among the best on these boards,
If you want to tell a story worthy of the group you are in,
If you want to create social relationships that will last...

...you'll read and understand what Aubrey has said.

You get what you put into PbP. Make it easy on the GM.


@Aubrey - great notes from the front! I can really empathize with finding an AP or adventure no longer compelling - the PbP I'm in with the most "traction" at the moment suffers from some spotty posters and I find a few other aspects aren't optimal for me - the GM's style is a little hidebound to the rules, and the plot is far too nebulous/open and I feel little engagement with the actions of the other characters or their motives.
Don't get me wrong, sandbox can be great, but you need engaged and engaging plots and players within that open framework.

@Oladon - As you can see in my comment to Aubrey above, I'm definitely feeling some pain in the pacing dept.

Basically I'm really wishing I could find a PbP that also had players who were engaged and interested in posting at least once a day, if not more. I think in some of the PbPs players think "once a day" means, if someone else has posted today, you can wait until tomorrow... and so on. Five posts in five days is a crashing bore...

Added to this are GM's who wait too long for *all* the players to do something or say something....

I guess this is all coming out of the fact that I recently got tired of really slow, intermittent games, and went on a splurge of applying for 6 PbP's on top of the long standing one I am in (my physical and mental limit I felt) and was accepted into five of the six with compelling and well thought out characters - only to have two die out before 100 posts.
- The third is only now back on track (hopefully) after some bumps. Very basic dungeon crawl concept, should be lots of fun.
- The fourth is lots of fun if a little slow. A mix of intermittent and engaged posters.
- The fifth is really sloooowly getting somewhere. Again, intermittency is a problem.

The problem is that the intermittent/laggy ones kinda feel like they could die at any moment if the GM doesn't corral the players. I guess it is really incumbent upon me to do a bit of gentle PR to see if anyone feels the way I do, and if so, try to improve the situation rather than be a party to a game's demise through group apathy...

As I said above, my experience in 10 or so PbPs is that the GM is the comptroller of the overall pace - without good direction, poor players/player-posters really bring it down. The GM really needs to be on top of the timing/pacing, and move things on. I really think the rule of two could work well for some groups - where there are great posting rates, it is not always necessary, but I do see a lot of instances where two people post, and then nothing - not always the same two posting, but sometimes it is. Almost like a *natural* rule of two, but where no one is picking up on the fact that this is what is essentially going on - not even the GM!

And I've had three or four just go belly up with no word or belated word from GMs - sometimes for very good reasons. Taken altogether though it is really frustrating to create the characters (without Herolab BTW. :p), invest in a character only for the story to disappear. Yay! :)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Well, I've gone and joined a WotR game; my first PbP, my first AP, and my first mythic game. *gulp* Wish me luck!


Jiggy wrote:
Well, I've gone and joined a WotR game; my first PbP, my first AP, and my first mythic game. *gulp* Wish me luck!

Go Jiggy!

I wish you a wonderful time, an excellent DM, and much enjoyable character development/interaction. And again, if you need anything or run into any questions about PbP, shoot me a PM. :)

The Exchange

Jiggy wrote:
Well, I've gone and joined a WotR game; my first PbP, my first AP, and my first mythic game. *gulp* Wish me luck!

Why would you need luck? If you follow this guide, you will have something far better: skill. ;)

I think issues might arise with other players not responding as often or as well as they could, or the GM being unable to keep the commitment, but if you and your fellow players do what you can to make it a fun, pushed game, you'll not need luck. ;)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Painlord wrote:
Why would you need luck? If you follow this guide, you will have something far better: skill. ;)

Sure, but luck and competence bonuses stack!

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

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You're doing wonderfully in it, too, Jiggy.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Aw, thanks!

The Exchange

I asked a GM why this stuff is important:

Painlord: "Do hooks and pushing and social stuff makes things easier for the GM?"

Awesome GM: "Yes, it does make things tons easier for the GM.
Everything that you do is something I don't have to worry about doing quite so much.
I'm a fairly creative person, but working in a vacuum sucks. You make sure I don't have to.

Yay for hooks because it gives me something to grab onto... yay for pushing so I don't have to do it all, and yay for social stuff because well, social stuff is what takes the game from good to great."

DM Alexander Kilcoyne wrote:
I recently read Painlord's Building a Better Doomed Hero topic, which is a guide to PbP built off the truly excellent topic made by Doomed Hero (Link). His anecdote Always be Pushing strikes particularly true; its not purely down to the DM to be giving the game momentum. We're all in this together :).

+1 to this. Another premium GM chimes in on how to be a better player.

You, as a player, can make your game better.

Push. Hook. React. Socialize.


DM Tadpole wrote:

Pyotr wrote:

Just waiting on someone else to post so I don't dominate the thread.

Alagor wrote:

You know trying to stick to PbP etiquette - giving everyone a decent chance to post at least once, before you post again. Sometimes I think I could do 2-3 posts a day, so you see how easy I could go overboard :-)

These are noble sentiments, but I think this particularly piece of PbP etiquette is counterproductive to the health of the game. If the regular posters slow down their contributions to account for the tardy ones, the entire pace of the game suffers. It's much better to stick to the general rule of a post-a-day as much as possible.

That way the other players look at the increasing post count and think "oh s&%&, I'd better get involved" rather than "oh well, things are going slowly here, I'll make a post tomorrow". From the DM's point of view, I can pull back on the reins at the moments when it's necessary to give everyone an opportunity to contribute. Also, if players missed a particular interaction that is relevant to their character we can always cover it with spoilered 'flexitime'.

Something I just posted in Discussion to the fantastic players in my own campaign. What do others GMs think about this piece of PbP etiquette?


DM Tadpole wrote:
DM Tadpole wrote:

Pyotr wrote:

Just waiting on someone else to post so I don't dominate the thread.

Alagor wrote:

You know trying to stick to PbP etiquette - giving everyone a decent chance to post at least once, before you post again. Sometimes I think I could do 2-3 posts a day, so you see how easy I could go overboard :-)

These are noble sentiments, but I think this particularly piece of PbP etiquette is counterproductive to the health of the game. If the regular posters slow down their contributions to account for the tardy ones, the entire pace of the game suffers. It's much better to stick to the general rule of a post-a-day as much as possible.

That way the other players look at the increasing post count and think "oh s&%&, I'd better get involved" rather than "oh well, things are going slowly here, I'll make a post tomorrow". From the DM's point of view, I can pull back on the reins at the moments when it's necessary to give everyone an opportunity to contribute. Also, if players missed a particular interaction that is relevant to their character we can always cover it with spoilered 'flexitime'.

Something I just posted in Discussion to the fantastic players in my own campaign. What do others GMs think about this piece of PbP etiquette?

Yep. See my post on pacing above. :)


Only just saw this - but a good guide Painlord and I agree with a lot of the sentiments expressed. I've had some incredibly good times with PbP and it's given me the only real chance that I've had to actually play the game given that I live in an RPG wasteland.

I'll try to chime in with some more thoughts a bit later... but have to update my PbPs first :P

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Painlord wrote:
working in a vacuum sucks

Am I the only one laughing my head off at this?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Jiggy wrote:
Painlord wrote:
working in a vacuum sucks
Am I the only one laughing my head off at this?

Not anymore :)

The Exchange

DM Tadpole wrote:
DM Tadpole wrote:

Alagor wrote:

These are noble sentiments, but I think this particularly piece of PbP etiquette is counterproductive to the health of the game. If the regular posters slow down their contributions to account for the tardy ones, the entire pace of the game suffers. It's much better to stick to the general rule of a post-a-day as much as possible.

That way the other players look at the increasing post count and think "oh s&%&, I'd better get involved" rather than "oh well, things are going slowly here, I'll make a post tomorrow". From the DM's point of view, I can pull back on the reins at the moments when it's necessary to give everyone an opportunity to contribute. Also, if players missed a particular interaction that is relevant to their character we can always cover it with spoilered 'flexitime'.

+1 to what Alagor wrote, pretty much.

I'm very much pro-momentum, but recognize that there are combat/timed replies and then there is just open, free RP times. During combat times, I pretty much wait for my turn to do actual stuff, but will occasionally post in-between my turns if there is something worth responding to (a cheer for a crit, a quick answer to a question, snark, etc).

However, outside of combat, I say to go and run with things. Sure, keep in mind your other players, but if you and a few others want to RP or do something, I think you should go for it. Like Alagor said: 1) The GM can slow you down, roll you back and 2) the other player(s) can RP in retrospect.


Well! This all inspired me to give it a try - I made myself a character and applied for a Wrath of the Righteous campaign (this will also be the first time I'll be playing an AP, rather than DMing it). Hopefully, I make the cut.


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Edit: Removed my obnoxious and unproductive rant.

Please be considerate and courteous of others.

  • If you will not be posting for an extended period of time but don't want to quit the AP/campaign/module. Please make a quick post in the discussion thread. If your computer or ISP is down try to get to the library, borrow a computer, borrow a smart phone, or something. The occasions when it is really impossible to make contact for 10 days should be pretty darn rare. Especially if you are the GM.
  • If you are going to only post every 2-3 days, please don't join or start a PbP that is advertised as "This is gonna be quick moving, so I would like everyone to check and post at least once and preferably several times a day."
  • As has been said many times, even if you don't have anything major to contribute, post something so others no you are still there. The push/hook suggested by Painlord above would be even better.
  • If you are the GM please read and respond to the players questions. If a player wants an answer to decide on an action, needs to post the question 3 times to get it answered, and everyone is posting once a day; that just made a single action take most of a week.
  • If you are GM you certainly have to check and post at least as often as you expect any player to do so (if not more).

    I am trying to not be too negative, but come on people.

  • The Exchange

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    Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
    I am trying to not be too negative, but come on people.

    Lol. No explanation is necessary...bad players make it harder on the GM. When even a single player fails, that makes it harder for the GM to maintain momentum.

    I, for one, think GMs are way too lenient with bad/rude players. In all truths, a good PbP GM is worth 20 players. And if a GM has a player that isn't pulling his RP weight, they should be quick to try to resolve the issue quickly/quietly (a personal message usually works) and, if that fails, find another player.

    GMs don't have to put with bad players within Paizo PbP...there are many more players than good GMs. A GM should be able to find people who fit his playstyle and run an awesome game.

    Let's look at this from the GM side. What makes PbP harder than in real life?

    • No immediate feedback. When there is a problem or a mistake, it can take hours/days to find and fix.
    • A GM cannot read facial expression of players. Hugely important. Some things are easier in person. But it's easier to identify points of confusion in real life.
    • Not knowing when to push, pacing is harder. This is the single hardest thing for a new GM to figure out. It's hard to know when to let RP flow and when to push sagging action. A GM will occasionally 'herd cats' to get the party back on task...it happens in every group.
    • Online map work. This is another issue: figuring out how to give strong and fair mapped combats. Sure, Rolld20, Googledocs, pic hosting all work, but what best fits your skillset? Which one are you trained in and feel comfortable with? It's a bigger issue than you think.
    • Having to read and respond to everything. A real life GM (usually) gets questions one at a time and can focus and prioritize how and what to answer. In PbP, it requires reading every post and seeing each post for what needs to be responded to. Kydeem touches on it above: it's very frustrating as a player to have to ask the same question post after post. It's easy for a GM to miss things in PbP that normally wouldn't be missed in face2face.
    • Difficulty in describing your story/action/environment. Hand gestures, intonation, inflection all matter in communication...but are much more difficult in PbP. A map with two or three dimensions is a lot of PbP work...a clarification on a map might be two quick pen strokes to fix and explain in real life, but take a lot of map time to fix in PbP. In PbP, you need to be able to explain story and setting via the written word. That can be much harder in PbP for some people (some people are not strong writers, or English is not their first language). Some people are better storytellers via the spoken word.
    • Focus. The good DM must be more focused than the players, more on top of the game, more energetic - everyday for years. If the DM falters, the whole game falters - much more severely than when a single player drifts for a bit.

    I'm sure there are more reasons why GMing is harder in PbP, but the real point is that, as a player, you need to help make the GM's job easier by being clear about what you are doing and being responsible for timely posting.

    Sovereign Court

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
    motteditor wrote:

    I also really like John's last suggestion. I've lost more posts than I can keep track of because I have to do a lot of switching tabs as a GM and sometimes will close a tab or navigate away from one I don't mean to. I'll even copy and paste into an email or other document, since I've lost more than one while intending to copy a map URL or something into a larger post. Geraint, what's the Lazarus add-on?

    Lazarus


    Painlord wrote:
    Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
    I am trying to not be too negative, but come on people.
    Lol. No explanation is necessary...bad players make it harder on the GM. When even a single player fails, that makes it harder for the GM to maintain momentum...

    Yeah, sorry about the attitude there. I've been feeling pretty frustrated about it lately. And some of that was leaking through.

    I've tried 4 different PbP 'campaigns' and each have been dismal. I will admit that one seems to be a long term success. But it was not my style of group.

    I guess I will stick with the PFS PbP. Those are short enough that everyone seems to stay connected to the game without disappearing for days.


    Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
    Painlord wrote:
    Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
    I am trying to not be too negative, but come on people.
    Lol. No explanation is necessary...bad players make it harder on the GM. When even a single player fails, that makes it harder for the GM to maintain momentum...

    Yeah, sorry about the attitude there. I've been feeling pretty frustrated about it lately. And some of that was leaking through.

    I've tried 4 different PbP 'campaigns' and each have been dismal. I will admit that one seems to be a long term success. But it was not my style of group.

    I guess I will stick with the PFS PbP. Those are short enough that everyone seems to stay connected to the game without disappearing for days.

    Don't give up... just keep looking around for a group that does fit your playstyle. Like I said above, be picky about the games to which you apply. Figure out what questions you need to ask the DM (and other players) so you'll /know/ whether you can game happily with them... and then ask those questions early on (during recruitment).


    Oladon wrote:

    ...

    Don't give up... just keep looking around for a group that does fit your playstyle. Like I said above, be picky about the games to which you apply. Figure out what questions you need to ask the DM (and other players) so you'll /know/ whether you can game happily with them... and then ask those questions early on (during recruitment).

    What I'm looking for is fairly clear to me. Unfortunately, I can't get answers or the answers don't match what really happens.

  • At least a moderately paced game. If it is too slow, I can't stay interested. It is like trying to read a book 1 paragraph every other day.
    "Fast moving campaign, everyone should post at least once if not a couple of times a day." -> reality, many including the GM post about once a week.
  • I need to feel like I can meaningfully contribute. It doesn't have to be a true sandbox, but if I'm just slowly watching the GM tell a story, I might as well read a novel.
    "Dynamic world relying on the PC actions for direction." -> reality, GM ignores most of what the players post.
  • To me Pathfinder is much more than just a combat simulation. There should be investigations, social interactions, goals, etc... At the same time combat is a central part of the game system. There should be something the players are trying to accomplish (along with others that don't want them to) and progress toward that something. I have zero interest in imaginary romance with some other player/PC/NPC.
    "This will be an even mix between role and roll, action and social." -> reality, posting for weeks of page after page of love/hate relationships between characters having little to nothing to do with the story arc or campaign.

    {{ Obviously there are people that enjoy those types of games. But if that is what it is going to happen, be honest about it so you can find like minded fellows not those of us that don't like it. }}

    I am at least going to take a break from trying any for a few months. I think I'm too aggravated to give an honest try at the moment. Maybe later I will come back and try again.

    I would prefer to be in a campaign from the beginning, but I'm beginning to think my only real shot is to look for campaigns where they are seeking a replacement character for someone that left. Then I can read through part of it to see what they really do as opposed to what they say they do.

  • The Exchange

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Re bullet 2, the trick in a campaign for a DM is to keep reasonable fidelity with the overaching plot while allowing the PCs scope to do stuff. It's primarily about decent hooks, and also about rolling with what the PCs do while gently nudging them in the direction of the "good stuff".

    (There is also a degree of player responsibility in this too, though. I remember reading here about a group about to set off into the Whispering Cairn, but the players said, "Hey, I don't wanna go down no stoopid cairn," and basically managed to short-circuit the whole of the AoW campaign as a result. The poster thought this was great, the DM didn't mind and improvised something for them, but it probably wasn't as good as the actual adventure and campaign. I would argue the players' approach was quite destructive, but it is in the end a question of play-style.)

    PbP, of course, gives a DM plenty of time to think. That actually makes running a plotted campaign that meaningfully includes player actions easier because the DM doesn't have to make immediate decisions if they are surprised by what the players do. It also, of course, makes for good roleplaying, too, but that can be a bit dependent on the writing ability of the players and DM.

    You might consider looking to get into a game that is already running and has a decent history behind it, but maybe someone has had to drop out, in order to get into a well-run game.


    @Kydeem - I can well empathize and sympathize. I had a *lot* of problems with GMs wigging out and dropping the ball. Some GM's are however really onto it and have fantastic post rates. I'm slowly developing a list of the GMs who do PbP well, and where I can I'll PM you and let you know when they are recruiting and you can see if the campaign suits.

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