Wilmannator's Guide to Successful Play-by-Post Recruitment

Online Campaigns General Discussion

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I’ve been musing over Painlord’s fantastic Guide to PbP GMing. If you haven’t read it, please do so. You don’t need to read it before reading this, but if you want to be a PbP GM I doubt that there is any resource on the web that is better for it. When I started, all I had to go on was Doomed Hero’s Guide To Play by Post gaming and Painlord's Advanced Play-by-Post guide. Both are great resources, but if I’d read the later released GM guide before starting, I’d have been able to do a much better job from much earlier on.

So, Painlord’s guide touches on recruitment, but I would like to contribute some more detailed thoughts on how to do it successfully for PbP (apologies for any repetition). Most of this, admittedly, is from what I’ve seen rather than done - but when it came to put these ideas into action, I ended up with an absolutely stellar group of players in my PbP games. I would strongly recommend you see what you like from the below guide, and use it as you see fit for your own recruitment. My ideas won’t be for everyone, and your feedback is more than welcome in comments - after all, it’s why I’m posting it! Hopefully together we can make this whole process easier, and easier to get right.

For this, I’m going to adopt Painlord's formatting as best I can.


PbP Recruitment

Recruitment is something that I firmly believe can make or break a game. Get the right players, and you can constantly inspire each other to do great things, both as roleplayers and as PbPers. Get the wrong players and everyone can become demotivated. “Wrong players" doesn't even have to mean “bad players" - sometimes good players don't mix with other good players. Attitudes and posting styles can clash even amongst the best of players.

For those interested, this is the recruitment thread where I managed to recruit what has to be the best group of PbPers ever (certainly feels like it to me). While I don’t use all the techniques I list here in that post, it does cover the main points. Many of these points are things I’ve picked up later down the track from reading others’ recruitment threads and discussions like Painlord’s GM guide (linked above).

1. The Golden Rule: You are aiming to have fun:
This might look silly, but some people who roleplay seem to forget this. PbP players are no exception. When you recruit players, more than anything, try to recruit players who you believe you will have fun with - and who will have fun with your other players. Always, always, always keep that in mind when recruiting (and while playing!).

Importantly, post recruitment: If it's not fun, fix it. If you can't fix it, end it (politely). This is a game, and you really want to be having fun. If you’re not having fun, why are you bothering to play at all? Also, if you’re not enjoying things as a GM, chances are your players aren’t enjoying it either. This isn’t a reason for you to just pack up and leave as soon as you stop enjoying yourself, but you do need to take steps to correct things. If all else fails, though, do stop playing rather than wasting your time in an activity you don’t enjoy.

For more advice, especially on how to fix things, see Painlord's Guide to PbP GMing and section 1.4 on Training, Bad Players and Trimming Deadweight. If you get recruitment right, though, you’ll hopefully never have to worry about it!

2. Introduce and promote:
The first thing on your recruitment post needs to be an introduction to the game you are running. It should cover the public adventure summary, setting (as appropriate) and other salient details about the game you will run. Make it sound enjoyable, too. You really want to draw good players in. Promote the game as much as possible and get players excited about playing.

Don’t forget to introduce yourself, also! It’s just as important for players to know what to expect from you as it is the adventure content. This is a social game and this is your first social interaction. Make an impression.

While you’re introducing the game, also include your game’s character creation guidelines - after all, you want them to submit their character as well as themselves for your game. For PFS games, this is almost always just level requirements, PFS #, chronicle sheets and inventory tracking sheets. For APs or other games, you’ll want to include:

  • Starting level;
  • Starting wealth;
  • Ability generation system (eg. dice roll, point buy, etc);
  • Hit point generation system (eg. roll ‘em here, PFS-style);
  • Alignment restrictions;
  • Number / type of traits allowed;
  • Resources characters have access to;
  • Source material restrictions;
  • Any other custom rules or restrictions you’re introducing (eg. no technology, must be elven); and / or
  • Anything else essential creating a character in your game.

Consider this post from Robert Brookes for his game. The introduction is beautifully laid out and goes into much detail about what flavor to expect in his game, character generation rules, and what he wants from his players. Heck, I’d be excited at the prospect of playing (where was I when this was posted?), and just look at the number of responses he got! He also does a pretty good job of setting character creation guidelines, and he links to obscure rules where appropriate.

Robert Brookes also got everyone to participate in the gameplay thread as a bit of an audition. It’s a very interesting idea (and especially useful for first timers), but I think a truer test would be stalking them (see below). After all, they’ll be more on their guard on the audition thread and it doesn’t say much for their longevity or posting consistency as players.

3. Invite players you like to come back:
Played a game with someone you enjoyed playing with? Ask them if they want to join your new game. You already know you enjoy playing with them, and asking them personally is so easy. Don’t by shy: you may be pleasantly surprised by the results - most often players will rather play with an existing acquaintance than an unknown. If do they say "no", don't worry - ask others you know and like, or just use the other techniques to recruit unknowns.

These players offer your absolute best chance of getting a good group together. After all, they were great in that other game you played, there's no reason they won't be great in this game.

4. Be selective:
Do not, under any circumstances*, recruit on a first come first served basis. There are some real fools out there. First responders are rarely the ones who have put in the most thought and effort into joining your game. Also, the players who reply first may simply just not fit your style.

Take Painlord's advice and get them to follow some instructions to recommend themselves to you. If they can't do that, then what kind of player will they be? Not likely one you want around.

Things to ask potential recruits to do (I would recommend asking for all of these things):

  • Introduce themselves (who are they, what do they enjoy about roleplaying, etc);
  • Read a guide (like Painlord’s or your own guide) and answer a question in a PM about that guide;
  • Create a character background;
  • Post about themselves (nothing personal, roleplaying preferences, PbP experience, etc);
  • Put their character stats in their profile; and/or
  • Just some simple stuff like PFS number or timezone.

Each answer (or lack of), even how they format their answers, gives you a glimpse into how that person will be as a PbPer. Be choosy!

* Okay, so maybe under some circumstances you can do first come first served - but make sure they meet your requirements! If someone says "dot" or "I'm in", they are not "first in". They have just expressed interest. Wait for them to answer your recruitment questions before putting them in "the" line. Be clear that this is what you'll do in your first post, too. That way it's all fair and above board.

5. Stalk your applicants:
Most PbPers play on the same forums you are recruiting on. Check their games out. See if they post often, respect others and most importantly: check to make sure that you actually like their posts! It is such a simple thing to do. Yes, it can be time consuming, but it is far, far better to spend that time up front in reading over PbP games than in fixing your own one because the players don't fit your style (or are just plain bad).

Also a very important thing to do: go to the end of the gaming threads they are involved in and find out if they finished the game. You want players who are good posters, sure, but you also want players who will see your game through to completion.

Oh, and if you can't find their games (ie. because they are on another message board) just ask them to link to them for you and tell you their character name. If they won't tell you, then it's probably a red flag. Why wouldn't someone who had nothing to hide point you to their game? Private forums is the only acceptable answer I can think of, but most are public.

6. Recruit first timers:
I wholeheartedly believe that we need to give first timers a chance. We were all there before. I strongly encourage GMs to allow one or two into their game (but would caution against more). The big thing with first timers is this, though: they simply must go through more hoops to impress you. It's just their lot (sorry first time folks). They haven't got any previous posts for you to refer to (it's like having a blank resume for a job interview), so they need to tick all of your other boxes. First timers who are worth your time will realize this and have no trouble doing it in return for your genuine consideration.

Make it clear that you will be accepting first timers and how many you will accept. Don't get hopes up, but do let them know they have a chance.

The first timer we have included has made me laugh and enjoy PbP more than any other player in the group. He's just that funny and fun. Big props to TheBobJones for stepping up in a big way. So happy we gave him a shot. I mean, just look at this guy’s post for standing up from prone with his uncoordinated and haunted nagaji. Literally had me laughing out loud.

7. Tell your players when you will start:
If you set a start date, players will know when they will need to set aside their character for (especially important for PbP). This helps to make sure that, when it comes time to say "you're in" they haven't decided to play something else instead.

While you're at it, also tell players when you hope to finish. If nothing else, this will help to set something of a deadline for you. For my first ever PbP game as GM I aimed for 6-8 weeks, but because the group I recruited (which included 5 complete strangers) was so good, we finished in under 2!

8. Party composition:
In short, I prefer not to recruit based on character build. Why? Because that might artificially exclude a player who otherwise would have been fun to play with. I'd rather have a fun group than an optimal group any day. With the right players, you can have a great time creatively overcoming any perceived lack in party balance. In the long run, player skill and party cohesion more than make up for a lack of any given character class.

You might be saying, “but what can be more fun than playing with a character who makes it a well-built party?” Easy to answer: it’s more fun playing with someone who is enthusiastic about roleplaying, who is good at roleplaying, who is sociable, who posts often and well, who keeps things moving and, in general, makes it a joy to read their posts. Also don’t forget that much fun can be had from inventively getting around tricky problems.

If you are truly worried about party composition, consider asking the players you like to roll a different character rather than be excluded. This is a trickier ask for PFS legal play, since they can’t just “roll up” a character unless it’s 1st level. Remember, however, you're recruiting players not characters.

Consider also the situation about table size (and my thanks to Silbeg for this awesome contribution). Many GMs want to recruit a “full” table (especially in PFS play). Sometimes, however, you might not have a full table (let’s say 6) of players who you would enjoy playing with. You’ve got more potential recruits, but none are of the right caliber. What to do? Just play with fewer players. So long as you have a legal table (4+) for PFS, you can always adjust for level… and again, you’re aiming to have fun not blast through things as easily as possible.

Fictitious Example: you've got a group of five players ready to go, and a sixth posts to your recruitment thread. His character, Bob the Basher is a barbarian, and your group is currently sadly lacking in melee power. However, when you read a thread that Bob has played on, you see him often berating players, and using his overpowering build to dominate all combat. He also demands that other players pay for his healing (Bob runs around with an AC8 while raging since he's wearing nothing but a loin cloth... all of his points went into STR and CON). You don't care for his play style, so decide not to invite him. Sometimes it is better to do without than to ruin people's fun.

9. Keep the thread alive:
Make sure your recruitment thread sees regular activity by posting to it yourself (hopefully with something useful) even if no-one else is. It doesn't take much for a thread to get lost beneath the vast number of forum posts. Make it stand out by having at least one post at least once per day, and make it at a time when you want your players to be posting (since people who see it, by default are able to post at that time of day).

Just as important is answering players’ questions quickly. You want to make sure they check back often, and you want good players to see that you’re the kind of GM who answers their questions promptly, politely and comprehensively.

While posting, be sure to tell players when you like something that they’ve posted (eg. “great background!”) or simply hit the like button. This will help get them excited about being recruited as well as showing others what you expect (or even just enjoy) from a potential recruit.

An interesting suggestion I’ve had from Painlord was to ask potential players to “like” other players’ posts, in a similar fashion to a voting system. It would have to be non-binding (the GM’s opinion matters most) but would be an interesting way to help players to decide who they would have fun with, allow an extra way to provide feedback and also encourage applicants to really put that extra bit off effort into their application. It might not be for everyone, but if ever I need to recruit again, I’m doing it! Thanks yet again, Painlord.

10. Put in restrictions (if you like):
It is nice to be inclusive, but it is even better to have fun. If you prefer to play with players closer to your own age (or above a certain age) then there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to do so. If you like to play with people close to the same timezone as you? Great. Want a group of players who all speak German as well as English? Warum nicht? Only want players who have seen the Schwarzenegger version of Conan the Barbarian? Strange, but fine. Want players who can promise to post every night at least once between 8pm and 10pm EST? That’s your prerogative.

Remember, these might be Paizo’s forums, but it is effectively going to be your table. Don’t be afraid to ask (and require) what you want for your table.

11. Start small:
Pathfinder scenarios or modules are ideal ways to start PbP. It is a good chance to test the water as a PbP GM before leaping in to something bigger. You may find that it is far too much effort for you to keep going on a regular basis, and it is much better to find this out during a module than an adventure path!

From a recruitment standpoint, it's very similar. If you end up with a bad group, it's at least only for a short time. If you end up with a great group who all have fun, invite them to play again! If you find just a few good players, invite just them back and recruit again for the remaining spots.

12. PM players when they're recruited:
This is a minor thing, but if you send a player a PM to tell them they are recruited before posting it on the thread, it gives you a chance to double check that they are available. Make sure you also put a response time limit on the PM (same time as your required posting frequency seems reasonable). This way, you don't send players who didn't make the cut away prematurely.

After your players have confirmed, post a list of those who are and aren't successful in the thread.

Appendix A: Recruitment from a player's perspective:
Players can use these techniques too! Stalk your prospective GM online, find out if this GM posts often, finishes games, has a style that suits you and follows Painlord's advice! Also, is that GM being picky about the players? If it is first come first served, avoid it unless you really need to get a PbP game under your belt so you can be recruited in another game. Otherwise, the GM just isn't taking enough care to ensure your fellow players will be good ones.

As a prospective player, the absolute best thing you can do for your PbP gaming career is to read Doomed Hero’s Guide To Play by Post gaming, which also contains a very detailed section on the best way to join a game, and Painlord's Advanced Play-by-Post guide. Both of these guides are essential reading for anyone who wants to be a better than average play by poster. While some things might seem obvious to some players on the face of it, please don’t dismiss them as such: there are many key insights littered throughout these guides. There is a reason they still have people posting responses and “thank you” messages to these guides 2+ years after they were written! If you survey the PbP games currently running, you’ll note that most (if not all) of the best PbPers out there conform to the conventions laid out in these guides.

Appendix B: Where to post for recruitment:
If you need to know where to post to recruit for your games, perhaps you’re not ready to run your own game just yet. Then again, maybe you're new to the Paizo forums. In any case, for the sake of completeness, here’s where to post your recruitment topic if you want to recruit for PbP on Paizo:

  • Online campaigns forums: This is the standard place to recruit. Once you have a recruitment thread going, you can easily add in the gameplay thread, discussion thread and start your game. Don’t forget to fill out the Campaign info tab so that people know about what you’ll be running.
  • Grand Lodge for online play: For Pathfinder Society (PFS) games only, ie. PFS scenarios and any module or adventure path you’ll be running and reporting under PFS play. I would put a post in the online campaign forums first, and then post about it here with a link to your recruitment thread. That way, you get the most exposure. Please make sure to conform to the standardized subject line (sticky post).
  • The Grand Lodge (above) will also from time to time link to an Online PbP Gameday (also only for PFS games). These typically run for about 3 months and will have their own recruitment mechanism. In past events, this involved posting your game to the Gameday game list and linking that to your recruitment thread (which can be the online campaign forum thread above). For an example, see PbP Gameday 3.


Thanks for reading! As with anything I put out there, your constructive comments and opinions are more than welcome. Let’s help get this difficult and important aspect of PbP gaming done right. I hope it helps you to recruit better players and to have more fun in your games! Best of luck.

I’d also like to give special thanks to my PbP Superstars (alphabetically: Acre, -Karma-. Lufien “Silvertongue” Loamin, Papasteve08, Silbeg and TheBobJones) as well as Painlord for providing me with invaluable input and feedback on this guide. You guys rule.

Awesome!Thanks Willmannator!

At first I was, too, thinking about making a guide about recruitment threads, but the fact that I never GMed and holiday season kept me busy. I've lurked around the recruitment forums every day for about a year, and I agree that Recruitment are mighty important.

I agree with all of your points, but I feel that I must echo how vital is point 2 (and 4, 4 is a given): the first post in the recruitment thread is what makes me decide if a game is worth applying for. I've seen a huge number of threads where the first post are four lines without even the bare minimum of information: that sets off all of my alarm bells.

Man, this is excellent! Apparently my recruitment thread was born a couple days premature. I could have REALLY used your wisdom.

I'm constantly impressed by the quality level of posts and guides that come from these boards!

You give great examples and the background necessary to understand the why the examples work and what is useful for your own game/post. Some folks just know how to recruit and set games/expectations/rules down into a single post that just get players all giddy with excitement and now I can see why and how they do it. Thank you for doing this.

I have a question, should you as a GM cite examples of your intended posts (or previous posts if you have any) as a sort of an expectations litmus test?

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A lot of good information in the guide - with the keys being to attempt to establish your expectations and stalk your prospective players.

First past the post recruitments don't have to be horrible (I'm in an 8,000+ post PbP coming on four years running that was selected on first past the post); though they do have a tendancy to be hit and miss.

In your second point you allude to and reference the potential for pre-selection RP or 'Auditions'. These are probably one of the most polarizing choices in recruitment - some people like them... they make me want to puke blood and I instantly avoid any thread that proposes them.

To me it's enough of an imposition to request prospective players to put forward a character concept plus a bit of background.

Grand Lodge

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Mark Sweetman wrote:
To me it's enough of an imposition to request prospective players to put forward a character concept plus a bit of background.

This is an excellent point to make and let me say that I agree completely.

Different GMs will value different things...and different players may or may not match what you are looking for.

If you're a GM who values RP, and wants an RP focused game...and you want players and characters who value the same, then ask for RP in the thread.

If RP isn't that important, and you're more focused on the combats and builds, then just look over builds and hope for the best in terms of their PbP skills.

PbP skills (RP, pushing, social interactions, etc.) and builds (optimization, classes, balance, etc.) are pretty non-correlational. Just because you have one, it doesn't mean or not mean that you the other, they are separate and distinct...so if you want good PbP skills, you should ask for it in the recruitment.

If showing your PbP skills in a recruitment is an imposition, then yeah, it's better just to skip it and find another more tailored to your individual play style.

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verdigris wrote:
If showing your PbP skills in a recruitment is an imposition, then yeah, it's better just to skip it and find another more tailored to your individual play style.

Not necessarily, I love to RP... just not in the recruitment threads.

An example - here's a recruitment RP thread that I was involved with.

It's a fairly straightforward one for CotCC, with the applicants asked to RP out within a tavern. However the problem comes in several points:
1) It's mixed in with the OOC posts - which makes it hell to actually follow and read what's going on.
2) You'll find it gets dominated by a few more prolific posters.
3) If done wrong it can promote wierdness - such as broody loner ish types feeling like they have to engage off type to get seen amongst the rest.
4) If done this way - do you then reset the clock for the main campaign? - or do all the characters now know each other, etc.
5) It's a lot more work for the players to do... which is fine in some respects, but also means that as a DM you're imposing more upon those that you will eventually regret - which leads to a I just spent two weeks RP'ing and still didn't get picked, bugger this I'm giving up. feeling at times.

A different option would be to do something like: This - where the request is for a single IC post to show a small taste of both character and posting ability.

But the best information is going to be obtained via Player Stalking (ie. researching their other PbPs or posts) for the most part.

The Exchange

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Mark Sweetman wrote:

It's a fairly straightforward one for CotCC, with the applicants asked to RP out within a tavern. However the problem comes in several points:

1) It's mixed in with the OOC posts - which makes it hell to actually follow and read what's going on.
2) You'll find it gets dominated by a few more prolific posters.
3) If done wrong it can promote wierdness - such as broody loner ish types feeling like they have to engage off type to get seen amongst the rest.
4) If done this way - do you then reset the clock for the main campaign? - or do all the characters now know each other, etc.
5) It's a lot more work for the players to do... which is fine in some respects, but also means that as a DM you're imposing more upon those that you will eventually regret - which leads to a I just spent two weeks RP'ing and still didn't get picked, bugger this I'm giving up. feeling at times.

But the best information is going to be obtained via Player Stalking (ie. researching their other PbPs or posts) for the most part.

Ah...let's be honest, Sweetman, you were also pretty awesome in this RP thread too. There are times when paths cross and there are opportunities unmet.

Olondir was there too. Oh man, what a cast we had there.

However, I tend to prefer RP recruitments because I value PbP skills so much. In counterpoint, I might argue:

  • #1: In my experience, you can figure out what's going on. I mean, a GM who is interested in RP will figure things out.
  • #2: Yes, just like your game could be overrun by the same 'dominators'! For me, pushers (those that make things happen in PbP) are gold and worth it. However, a GM can manage the thread and learn a lot from how others react and play off them.
  • #3: Yes, totally! Broodish loners are not the kinds you want in PbP. You want social interactives. So...great! Break them out of their shells, if you can.
  • #4: Uh...a GM can erase and reset at will...or they can build off the RP. This is not an issue.
  • #5: This is the part that sucks. Totally...I've felt it. However, you have to use that experience going into your next recruitment. Find a way to polish that character and make it better.

And yes, stalking is best...however, new players can't be stalked. Which is why we need to have RP recruitments. We *NEED* to have new players in this format all the time. It makes it all worth it.

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Painlord - indeed, that particular incarnation of Hathin would've been interesting over time... but such is PbP :)

I agree mostly with what you're saying - just that they are polarizing and you'll get some solid PbP'rs who will see it and not consider any further... plus if you have a completely new player come onto an RP thread and see a couple of profilic posters dominating the back and forth that can also be a turn off.

One of the other issues can be the sheer number of players that apply sometimes. I ran a Reign of Winter recruitment that ended up with over forty applicants. As a DM it took me damn near a week from memory just to read the applications and ask a few simple questions of each of them. Having an open RP with that sort of number would've been chaos unadulterated.

So yes, an RP thread can be a good thing and it works for a goodly number of people... but it's not and shouldn't be seen as the only way to do it. I'm not implying that you said it was the only method, just reinforcing that there's multiple ways to skin a cat.

Other options:

  • The method I put above, where you ask for a single IC response to a posed question.
  • Question and answer - where you ask a few directed questions to the player on their background / character and measure them on the response.
  • Picking six players for a five player game - and making a conscious decision to give the sixth spot to a newbie. That way if it works - great, if not, then you still have a functional party to move forwards with.

Other things that a first time player can do to be involved and put their hand up a bit higher is things like:
1) Answering straightforward questions in the Recruitment thread. Ie. if someone asks 'What's the starting gold?' and it's clearly stated in the first post.
2) Putting together a list of applicants.
3) Checking in on the recruitment thread regularly over time and remaining engaged where appropriate. Not spamming it obviously, but showing that you're there, engaged and keen.
4) Paying attention to what the DM posts and indicates. Read and re-read the guidelines, double check what's been asked and answered before - and take that into consideration before posting.

Thanks for the positive feedback, all!

@Adahn_Cielo: would you believe that my original draft didn't even have #2 as a specific point? So glad I had such great reviewers. Promotion is key to getting great players. Introduction is so important to get sociable players.

@Olondir: thank you for the compliments, and I hope this helps you (and all readers) with their next recruitment thread!

Olondir wrote:
I have a question, should you as a GM cite examples of your intended posts (or previous posts if you have any) as a sort of an expectations litmus test?

That's a great idea. I've been of the opinion that citing guides on how to post (like Doomed Hero's guide) is the way to go, since they are littered with links to examples of good play. However, it's not a given that your players will read the guides - or even follow the links. Putting in some example expected posts is an excellent way to make things a bit shorter and sweeter, and also to ensure that your expectations are met (and not the expectations of the authors of those guides).

Now... regarding RP recruitment:

Is it weird to agree with both sides of the argument? It's one of the reasons I made the reference to RP recruitment in the guide an "ooc" comment, referring to another GM's style rather than my own. I do (still) advocate stalking players over RP recruitment (for reasons stated in my OP).

However, for first timers... how else can they prove their worth? I understand we don't want to clutter up gameplay threads, and we want to be respectful of potential players' time. Perhaps requesting that any first timers who would like to be considered make some in-character posts under an open gameplay thread (like the Flaxseed Lodge). The gameplay thread is, sadly, littered with ooc and recruitment style posts, but getting your potential first time players to "hang out" there and wow the lodge with their posts is not unreasonable. You could even make your own version with a more specific purpose (ie. just for your first timers).

Nothing, I'm afraid, will help to determine commitment or posting frequency from a first timer. Just make sure you get your expectations around those out up front, and make sure they explicitly agree to them. We also need to be conscious that first timers likely will need some help to get their posts up to scratch. Don't expect a perfect PbP post from them first time out, just look for the potential.

Mark Sweetman's suggested Other options seem like a very reasonable compromise also. The third one (making a conscious decision to allow a first timer in) is, as I now realize, the option that I was (by default) recommending in my guide. There's nothing wrong with it, either, but if you really want to recruit quality, some kind of trial is likely necessary.

In the end, though, it is always GM's choice!


Well, as always, I wrote more than intended. Thank you to everyone for the feedback, and for all the passion and thought you have shown in your comments.

Nice guide, thank you!

The Exchange

Wilmannator, Color me impressed by how much time and effort you have put into this.

Not sure how much it matters here but I see recruitment for homebrew games, Pathfinder, 5e, Savage Worlds and within that a number of different modules and APs. Does this matter where your recruitment guide is concerned and how do you maximise your pool of good applicants?

Also what do you guys feel about assigning reserves or not?

I'm not looking for an edition war here just some good clean advice from different perspectives.


@DMG: Thank you for reading! Glad you liked it.

@French Wolf: I don't think it really makes much difference as to what system you're playing - the advice in my guide should be generic enough to cover any system

If you're posting on Paizo, you're clearly going to get more interest for Pathfinder games. There are other forums out there that are more popular for other systems, but you can (seemingly) host whatever you like on Paizo. If I were to, for example, run a Savage Worlds PbP, I'd quickly Google "savage worlds pbp" (or "pbf" as it is sometimes called) and see what the top result was. That would likely be your best bet for where to host. If you're married to Paizo's forums (eg. because all your characters are here or you don't like multiple logins, etc) then your pool is clearly limited by to the number of PbPers on Paizo who want to play that system.

The best way to maximize the number good applicants really is point #2 Introduce and Promote. The sexier and cooler your game looks from that first post, the better (and more) players will be applying to play.

Assigning reserves is okay, but it can be frustrating for the reserves. You're better off to just recruit more if you need it. If you mean "reserves in case some of the chosen players cannot play", then see my recommendation on point #12 about PMing players before announcing.

Best of luck, and I hope that helps. I also hope someone posts a different opinion to mine. ;-) I have never recruited on Paizo for anything other than Pathfinder.

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I'd like to thank Wilmannator for pulling all of this together. I think using a vast majority of this information and taking into account is what gave my Giantslayer recruitment thread such a huge list of really strong submissions.

Hey DM Bigrin! Great to hear you used my guide and had such a good response. 200 posts on a recruitment thread for 2-3 extra players is extraordinary! I loved your recruitment post, too. Makes me wish I had the time for another PbP adventure path. My favorite part was the "have fun" rule. It's my personal number one rule of life and the most important rule of roleplaying, especially on PbP (where it can be easy to forget that fun is what you are trying to have). The second most important rule (of course) is Painlord's Always Be Pushing rule.

Really well done on the recruitment post and I'm sure your game will be awesome with you at the helm!

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Hi all! Well, I finally got a chance to use my own guide on a game.

I recruited a game completely filled with new players for a PbP Gameday run of the Confirmation. Recruitment thread here.

To get an idea of how well they could play, I got them to jump through some hoops on the gameplay thread. I was shocked and amazed by the quality of posts going on, especially after a bit of coaching.

We then went on to have not one, but two tables* of the Confirmation run for these players. To have 12 (well 11) completely new to PbP players available for recruitment who did well, posted regularly and followed instruction after a single recruitment was so gratifying.

* Big thanks to PapaSteve08 for running the second one!

Most of it, seriously, was down to the tips I put in my guide. I'm sure there were plenty of players who read the first recruitment post and just said "nope, not for me". Of 18 players who applied, we selected 11 and I really wouldn't have minded playing with 13 of them. The requirements I set out meant that time wasters and tire kickers weren't constantly "dotting in" to recruitment, and I could easily see who was properly interested (and capable) from how well they followed instructions.

Truly a great time... I may even recover enough from it to try again next PbP Gameday. ;-)

Awesome! Do you only do PFS games?

Not at all! I'm currently running only two games, neither of which are PFS: Isle of Dread (old D&D 1st ed module, converted to Pathfinder by me) and the Reign of Winter adventure path. Both are going pretty damn well (if I do say so myself) but both were recruited with my existing group of players and people we already know.

I am playing in 3 PFS games right now, though.

Cool. I've followed this thread since its inception and I wholeheartedly endorse it as a longtime PbP GM.

(My longest game is a little over 2 years going with nearly 8k posts in it.)

I like to see someone bringing new players into the PbP format.

I'm thinking of doing a module for only new players sometime in the near future. Or maybe the first book in an AP.

Thanks for then endorsement, and great to hear you're keeping track of the thread. Not much activity since it first came out - but such is the nature of guides, I guess.

I'm seriously impressed with your 2+ year game. That's some serious commitment. We're nearly up to 2K posts now with my RoW game, which has been going for only a paltry 7-8 months now. Fingers crossed it'll last to the end of book 6!

Well, if you decide to go the new player route, feel free to blatantly rip off anything you like from my Confirmation game for recruitment. Whatever I did - it worked! I think having the PbP Gameday blog post out there to announce it from really helped, too. Oh, and nice one on supporting the community like that. It feels good, and we've currently got two of the new players now participating in one of our other PFS games.

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Wilmannator wrote:

We then went on to have not one, but two tables* of the Confirmation run for these players. To have 12 (well 11) completely new to PbP players available for recruitment who did well, posted regularly and followed instruction after a single recruitment was so gratifying.

* Big thanks to PapaSteve08 for running the second one!

Just for the record, Wilmannator - AKA GM Damo - did all the hard work and did an amazing job recruiting and coaching so many newbies throughout the recruitment process that he had laid out. Thanks for the nod though, I had a great time and was just amazed at how well so many newbies could do.

The guide really does work. If you set out as a GM to finish a game, however big or small the scope is, (Coffee is for Closers!) then you couldn't pick a better method to set yourself up for success. It takes more work than throwing a recruitment thread up and taking first come first served, but the effort put in with something like this will pay off massive dividends in the quality and longevity of your game.

Another thought I had as I read back through this thread:

Mark Sweetman made some comments higher in the thread (and several months ago) that talked about how to get yourself more noticed in a recruitment, a couple of which centered around reading what is already posted.

This was one of the biggest things that GM Damo (Wilmannator) and I used to weed out the handful of newbies that didn't end up making the cut. I was surprised how many people asked questions that had already been clearly answered. It just made me feel like they were being lazy.

Don't get me wrong, I have been guilty of reading over information, or reading to fast and missing things myself. Its human nature. But when you are trying to get noticed it is important to put the effort in. If you as a GM are going to put in this much effort to get a quality group of posters, then it isn't unreasonable to expect effort out of your players in return.

As another side note, I personally think it is important to open yourself up to offering feedback to those who didn't make the cut. Be constructive and considerate, but be honest. The player can't improve if you don't tell them what they missed out on. And that is my favorite part about all of this - helping to improve and expand the PbP community here, so we all have a bigger pool of quality players to choose from in our games. That kind of stuff just naturally feeds back into the #1 rule - HAVE FUN!

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I find this guide very useful, and it's such a shame that so few games follow its guidelines. I'm going to do precisely that in my next recruitment! Thank you!

You are most welcome, GM Giuseppe! Be sure to drop in here and tell me how it went after you use it. Always looking for feedback and ways to improve.

That goes for anyone else out there using the guide, too, of course!

Well, I've put your tips to use in my new recruitment thread. I'll report my results as soon as possible.

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The recruitment went great, totaling the impressive amount of 300+ posts for a Core Rulebook only module. Having the PCs roleplay in the recruitment thread has helped me out a lot in making better decisions. Also, the voting system proposed by Painlord has worked pretty well, except maybe for the fact the people began voting almost every single character submitted. By the way, it was a good sign to know who where the characters most people would like to play with.

The recruitment has been a huge success, and many players have congratuled for its quality. Everyone has had fun roleplaying a bit, and I saw that no one was frustrating for not being selected, because they have had the chance to actually use their character even if not for a long time.

Thank you for your wonderful guide Wilmannator: now I'm even more convinced that if every recruitment thread would follow your guide, ours would be a better RP community.

Dot. I'll wanna read this later for sure.

@GM Giuseppe: Wow. Lovely work on the recruitment thread, and what a great response you received! The hard work has surely paid off. Very cool to see the voting in action (I just couldn't pull the trigger on giving my players control over recruitment in my last game... but then again, that was a game for first timers only).

Only bit of feedback is I might have considered using spoilers for some of your text to make the original post a bit easier to navigate, but that's a minor thing and your formatting got around that nicely in any case. Just great work, and really glad my guide proved of use!

By the way, I love your GMing style. The Leave Off™ at the bottom of each of your big posts should really help keep things moving.

I want to thank you for putting together this thread. I just finished my first real recruitment for a game that I was running. Your advice made it run much more smoothly!


@Hmm! Great to hear from you, and sorry it took me so long to respond, I've been really reducing my PbP load of late.

Fantastic that it has proven useful to you. I love your recruitment thread, and looks like you've got some quality players there.

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Here's an aside to players trying to get into recruitments.

Builds aside, there are a number of things that a potential GM could be looking for from you:

1) Are you a consistent poster? Do you keep up posting frequency? How about post quality? Are most of your posts fun, with RP as well as die rolls?

-- This is likely one of the top things that a GM might be looking for. --

2) Did you read the recruitment, answer my questions, build an appropriate character? This is the number one place where players will get themselves eliminated. If you can't follow directions, I'm not going to select you for my campaign.

3) Do you engage the other players, and build relationships with them? I'll admit that I'm a lingerie-checker. I go through people's posting history, and look for posts that provide RP hooks for other players. This is a rare quality in PBP, and it really helps to build chemistry.

4) Do you push gameplay and move the story forward in interesting ways? Once again, a rare quality in PBP that I am always searching for.

5) Do you have a strong sense of your character's personality, and does it come out in your posts? I like players who know who their characters are, and who have a strong feel for them as people.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

Generally speaking, I usually pick one or two candidates that appeal to me for some reason, and then build the rest of the team around them. I look for personalities that spark off of each other, and might build a shared chemistry. It's more art than science. A lot of it is guesswork. In the end, I usually have to reject a number of solid applicants because of how I envision the group's chemistry.

If you get rejected, keep at it. Apply for the next PBP to come along, and good luck! Remember that everyone gets rejected, but eventually you'll find the one where you click.

Yours sincerely,

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