Discussion: is it possible to play a PbP campaign masterless?

Online Campaigns General Discussion

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So, it's half past 1am on this boring Saturday, and bored as I am I came up with this weird thought.

I've been flirting with the idea of soloing Rise of the Runelords for more than a month, but never found enough interest to actually start the project. I have the adventure, I made the party, I read DM Yourself and DM Yourselves to learn how to play solo or masterless, I've even prepared the whole first module on Roll20, but something is stopping me from starting my lonely adventure in the world of make believe.

So I thought "Why not playing the adventure with other people masterless?", and the idea seemed intriguing, but I don't really feel ready to play that way on VTT. So I wondered if playing an AP masterless on PbP would be something possible or just a completely foolish idea.

What do you guys think? Am I a visionary or just mad in the head? Do you have any suggestion for such a game?

Thank you in advance for your answers and time.

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What are the broad strokes of playing masterless? How does it work?

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Andostre wrote:
What are the broad strokes of playing masterless? How does it work?

Well, it really depends on the method you want to use, but substantially can be done either by having no GM at all, and the players use some randomness system to determine outcomes together with a "behavior system" to avoid cheating (like "oh, there was a belt of giant strength +4 in the room, of course I would have checked for treasure so I get it"), or one player takes the mantle of "GM-Lite" and plays the adventure with his own PC, but making it procede in a way that is not too spoiler-y for him and prevents him from cheating. The "rules" (though it would be better to call them "methods" perhaps) are thoroughly described in the two books I've mentioned. I'm reading through them again to have a better understanding about how to apply them to PbP.

So, I think that an AP assumes that a GM has read through the adventure (and possibly the entire AP) before play starts so that they can drop references to other events when appropriate as a party goes through a dungeon. I feel like even with a "GM-Lite" role, that this sort of interaction between events would fall to the wayside. I guess that's fine, as I've also seen dedicated GMs run APs without any interest in the PCs' roleplay... basically just there to run the combats and walk the party from one combat to the next.

So, I think it certainly can be done in that context. It would be an interesting experiment. But I don't think it's a "crazy" idea. Just be up-front about how you plan on doing things with any players you recruit. Make sure that they understand that this is sort of an experiment, and that you don't see roleplay with NPCs to factor heavily into this game (if you also see it that way, of course).

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