About GM Damo the Fourth
This play guide has been compiled from my own experience with PbP (things I liked and things I didn't) and also from my favorite tips from the following excellent guides:
Doomed Hero's Guide to PbP An awesome introduction to PbP. Don't miss his second post on that thread with some "advanced tips", too.
Painlord's further tips builds on Doomed Hero's work.
I strongly recommend reading these in addition to my guide below. They contain much more rationale and detail than mine does.
Things I expect
These are more of a requirement than a guide. Players who do not comply will be asked to improve and eventually asked to leave. Think of these things as non-optional "table" etiquette.
No, seriously, have fun. If you're not having fun, why are you playing? If you find you're not having fun in one of my games, please send me a PM and I'll do my utmost to rectify the situation. If it can't be resolved, I'm perfectly happy for you to leave the game. This is about all of us enjoying ourselves.
Be ready to post every 24 hours. This doesn't mean you have to interject with nonsense just to keep up posting every day (though a quick post to describe your character's demeanor, reaction to the last action, or something of the like is always welcome). The main thing is to ensure that no one is waiting more than 24 hours for your action. If you take longer and we are in combat, I will place your character in delay. This would be the equivalent of what I would do in real life if a gamer went for an extended toilet break, took a long phone call, ran off in search of caffeine or something similar that takes them off the table in the middle of things.
Unusual real life events notwithstanding, I will be prepared to post at least twice a day. If there's nothing for the GM to add, you may not see anything - but I will check the gameplay thread 2 or more times each day. I will try for more often during combat.
You will each have my cell number. If you cannot post within 24 hours for any reason, please let me know. I will be happy to bot you as required until you're back to normal.
Put your vital stats, expended charges and active conditions in your forum tag line. It really helps for those situations when a GM needs to make a roll for the whole party (eg. everyone makes a reflex save). That means I can easily do the rolls, resolve all the effects and move the game along in a single post.
How to post vital stats:
When you edit the profile for your alias, anything that appears these fields will appear on your tagline in posts on a PbP thread (in this order):
All you need to do is put your vital stats in these three fields and you are good to go.
To help me out with readability, and to keep things consistent, you must use this tagline template for your character.
The following PC rolls will always be made by me to keep things moving:
3. Sense motive
4. Saving throws
5. Group diplomacy*
Player dice rolls of these types will be ignored, unless specifically requested by me.
I may make the following where appropriate, but you may request to make these yourself (let me know if you prefer to roll these yourself):
2. Survival checks
3. Individual diplomacy*
Further, I may make a roll of any kind on your behalf if you do not post within the 24 hour timeframe (see above fore more on this).
* Where the group is involved in a diplomatic action and a diplomacy roll is required, I will roll using the PC with the highest modifier for the group as the primary roll and the next highest modifier for an assist. Depending upon roleplaying and other circumstances, I may allow multiple assists also, or require someone other than the PC with the highest modifier make the primary roll. Otherwise, the players roll these individually.
Finally, a convention I have adopted (mostly for rolling during combat) in PbP games that I run is as follows:
2. Always roll for actions in the order in which they occur. When in doubt, roll reactions to GM first, reactions to players next and then your actions. This should help minimize players swapping over save throws for attack rolls (and the like).
3. If you do want to make an "actionless" skill check, ask the GM to roll it for you. He'll have to post to tell you the results anyway.
How to roll:
In case you didn't know, you can make a dice roll using the bbcode [dice=Roll type]NdX+K[ /dice] where "roll type" is replaced with the roll you do (eg. "stealth" or "attack with power attack"), "N" is the number of dice you're rolling and "X" is the die type. Try to put most of the description in the main text (like who you're hitting), but out of character roll stuff like power attack, expertise, etc can go in there.
Eg. [dice=Climb check]1d20+5[/dice]
Tips and advice
These pointers (gained from my experience and the above two guides) are aimed to help you to make the game more fun for everyone. Key to this is readable descriptions and posts that help the game to flow and progress.
Doomed Hero's Commandments:
These are so good, that I've included these verbatim (except for correcting his "Ye Olde" English):
Thou Shalt Avoid Walls Of Text
Thou Shalt Not Hog The Spotlight
Thou Shalt Not Assume The Actions Of Others
Thou Shalt Not Assume Outcomes Of Actions
Thou Shalt Not Derail Gameplay
Thou Shalt Use The Discussion Thread
Formatting your posts:
Format speech in bold with the quotes still there. This helps to draw attention to what the character is actually saying (as opposed to what you are saying about the character).
Eg. Jambon the Ranger runs back to the party. "Goblins around the corner, beware!"
Use "ooc" tags to say things out of character. It puts your post in blue and helps GMs and players alike to tell when you are talking about mechanics and when you are talking about your character.
Eg. Jambon tries to squeeze through the door. Do I need to make an escape artist check or something?
Make sure to use the discussion thread for "ooc" text that is not relevant to your current post.
For some cool ideas on how else to format your text, see Doomed hero's advanced tips
Use Third Person Limited and write in the Simple Present* tense. Full stop. If for no other reason, it will keep everyone's posts consistent. It is also what most PbP posters use.
* Note that we are specifically using the Simple Present to describe something that 'is true in the present' (ie. what our character is doing).
Keep it moving:
Painlord says "Always be pushing" but I think "Keep it moving" captures it a little better. After all, you can pull as well as push. The main idea is to always provide a hook for another character to pick up on and keep the game moving towards the goal. If your post doesn't provide a way forwards, consider revising it. After all, we do want to finish the adventure some time this century, right?
Eg. Post that doesn't keep it moving.
Jambon sits down, head in hands, heavily wounded and exhausted from the fight.
Eg. Simple modification to the above that keeps it moving.
Jambon sits down, head in hands, heavily wounded and exhausted from the fight. "Well, friends, looks like we all need a rest. Shall we set up camp for the night?"
For all my games, I use Google Draw to simulate minis and a play mat / game board. They are publicly editable (with the link) and you shouldn't need a Google account to use them.
Everyone needs to update their own positions as part of their posts. Where this isn't possible, please describe where you would like to move to, and I will do it next time I'm near a laptop. If anyone is able to do so before me, please do feel free to move them for me! This is known as "a Lockwood" or "Lockwooding". eg. "Please Lockwood my token to just north of the werewolf", "Sure thing, just Lockwooded you."
Please, please, please write about how your character moves in the post. Don't just say "see my location on the map". That will help to maintain the roleplaying flavor and also make sure we don't have to constantly flick between the map and the gameplay thread to find out what's going on. It can also help me to adjudicate what happens as you move. But the most important reason is: your position on the map will change over time, but your post will not. Describe your movement.
Finally, in adjudicating movement (mostly for attacks of opportunity and traps) I will assume you take the most direct route to an enemy while still avoiding attacks of opportunity and hazards. If you close to a square and you can't get there within your available movement without provoking, I will make an AoO against you. Otherwise, though, I will assume your character doesn't move like a brain-damaged zombie and avoids such things. If you would like to specify how you move, please use a dashed line to show where you moved (or describe it if you're posting from a phone).
Thanks for reading. If you are trying to get into one of my games, please PM me for a special question that (if answered correctly) will rocket you to the top of the selection list. Of course, everyone who wants in on one of my games should send me a PM, but I'm realistic. Doesn't mean you shouldn't be rewarded for reading, though!