I'm very new at being in control of the story line and my first time at pathfinder or anything close in many years. I have started with Murder's Mark. The players have wandered about so I've added a lot of random vendors in the winding market. Cheese mongers, tea stalls, alchemy carts and even a man named Billy Bugbear selling meat on a stick who's yelling things like "it's not your aunt Astrads Kobold stew". I'm enjoying it and so are they.
So here is my issue. There's one (never played anything like this) character who's having a great time. She smashed a cut purse with a wooden spoon and has two pounds of cheese and a loaf of bread. The other (well seasoned gamer) is like me in an Opra interview..yes, no, left, right. Should i give him food poisoning, give him a good shiv, or have wild monkeys attack his nethers? That was long winded. Please help.
Sit down and talk with them. Ask what their expectations of the campaign will be. Do they want to smash and dungeon, or are they looking for something light and silly? I suppose none of them are the role-play-y type as much as the gamer type? In any case, frankly discuss what you expect, what they expect, and make sure you're on the same page.
Also, if you want to control the game, set an atmosphere. If you want them to roleplay, insist they talk in character. If you want them to be serious, remind them to cut the jokes and the silly actions. If you want them to be suspicious, pull some of them aside and quietly tell them something nobody else knows and make sure they don't share it. If you want them to be strategic, encourage them to speak out of turn, between turns, etc. and plan. If you want them to reconsider, ask them, "Are you sure you want to do that?".
Honestly, just keep doing what you're doing. If everybody's having fun, then you're doing it right.
If you want them to act in character more just keep providing lots of background to interact with. And if they nibble at something, run with it. If interacting leads to better story and more fun, they'll do more of it. Positive reinforcement is the best.
Thanks a lot. Very good advice. I should have mentioned that it has to be conducted through emails. So far it's playing out as a novel with all actions, npcs, and surroundings written. Hopefully with the players having a good chance of filling in anything i might leave out. One even saying it has replaced his bedtime reading. Perfectly right to ask expectations and watch for nibbles. Thanks again for the help.
I'm with lynora: if everyone's having fun, then you're doing it right. If they're not having fun, then the other advice is great.
The only thing I should add is that, in my experience, play-by-email games really give a lot of great opportunities for creativity, and they're a blast to play as long as the GM gives the players the breathing room to participate, and they seem to provide some of the best character interaction I've ever seen. But, I've never seen a play-by-email game ever resolve any major plots: they're frustratingly like reading the first few exciting chapters of a book, only to find that the authors abandoned the story without finishing it. Real Life takes over, players or GMs get distracted and wander away, and the play-by-email game just fades away after a while. It seems to be the nature of the thing, and if it happens to you, don't take it personally.
Good luck in any case, and have fun! :)
Thanks yronimos. i understand getting into this through email was going to be difficult. Keeping a consistent entertaining narrative together and keeping everyone interested enough to be part of it is very uphill. Any advice on combat narration? Combat needs blood, sweat and speed. Seems a hard thing to accomplish through emails.
for kyrt-ryder: I have a couple of my own characters mixed into the npcs for good measure. One's a Grippli. Maybe i'll find him a hat. I believe in this module there's a scarf of suggestive dance too. So...a little whistle and it's a win for everyone.