GreyGhostGames

Some thoughts about PBF

Some thoughts about PBF

Hey,

Just a few thoughts as I've done this Play By Forum games before (designed one that was a mixture of FUDGE and my own creation for a Stargate: SG-1 sim based on Goa'uld Empire.)

Some sections we'll need is a game section (which we have) and a conversation topic so the comments, complaints, ideas, etc, don't get muddle with the official playing threads.

I could pull out my old online play style as an example so we can lay the ground work and get a game up and running.

...I talk to much.

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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

How does one run a play by forum? Are there general conventions for IC and OCC chat? How are resolutions handled?

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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

When it comes to PBF there is really no standard as every group has their own way of doing it. Even more so when you are trying to bring a system on to the web. I consider it still uncharted territory.

The way I have it setup is the GM releases the story to the public, the players post underneath with their actions, after everybody has taken their turns, the GM posts resolution and then the next step. I should have a format example up some time today.

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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

Hi Mark

I've been getting into PbP (Play by Post) games more as my group has been slowly declining to the point we've admitted it's gone.

It is pretty much what Jonathon has explained. The GM sets the scene, almost the same as you would do in a FtF (face to face) game, although you can be a little more florid because you have time, but conversely you can also miss things.

Then each player describes his character's actions and usually rolls his own dice.

The GM takes all of the descriptions and rolls and narrates the results and then the players respond etc.

There is usualy more freedom for player interpretation just to move the story along, so in FtF a player might ask if something is around, in PbP it just is to hand. This can take some getting used to if you're used to checking everything with your GM.

I guess ultimately, there is no getting away from it, it is not the same as FtF, but when it's all you've got...

The disadvantages:

It's impossible to interupt another player (this can be solved through intelligent posting, intent not action, and leaving a post "hanging" i.e. unresolved until the beginning of the next turn when it can be picked up again).

The time lag, it can take a couple of days for everybody to post their turn, and that might just be a new combat roll in some instances and games (this can be resolved by describing a character's ongoing role until something happens to change the scene, or rolling scene based combat (Fudge has a definite advantage there!)).

A very crude (and lazy) example, "I hit beast A until it's dead." or "Your losing the battle but you see Angela impale her foe" this allows Angela the opportunity to change the scene around, and really is an extention of what most FtF battles are like.

Waiting for something to happen, a poorly run game, or even a rushed post can leave players scratching their heads, not sure what they should be doing. This is particularly prevelant in slow burning games where there is a degree of characterisation before any "action" (this is easily solved by the use of in media res, which in my game poses questions, which lead to answers and so on).

Some games run as sandbox, people often have trouble adapting to a true sandbox style of game. For example, in a mean city, the players can do absolutley anything, the GM has provided a few possibilities but they can do their own thing, true GTA-style, it works in that game but the transfer to prose seems to be a rabbit in the highlights moment for some.

Rules heavy games just don't get along, it doesn't stop people trying to run D&D 3.5 for example, but most are drastically pared down versions.

Holidays, everybody has them, in FtF you just do something different, if you're waiting for the player to make the final roll to see if he really can reach the Monkey Idol without setting off all the traps, well it's a bit of cliffhanger.

Drop out, there is something about PbP that allows a player to just disappear into the ether without a word of warning, OK a FtF player may not turn up one week but you can usually contact them, online they're just gone. My pet peeve.

The advantages:

Using a site that has multiple bells and whistles allows seamless NPC changing (i.e. the poster's name changes, the avatar changes, it really is as if a different person is posting), so you can really tell opponents apart and you don't get stuck doing Monty Python-style voices. A lot like Paul's illustrated NPC idea.

You can send secret messages to a member of the party with no-one having any idea you are doing so, great for horror games.

You can post secret lines of text only a certain character can read in any post you choose.

You can segment the party very easily, allowing some to see certain threads and others not, (so Joe and Sue are on Venus, but Mark and Bob are on Mars and they have no way of knowing what the others are doing).

You can have pretty good graphics, if you're that way inclined, to depict maps and characters, just host them on Flickr, Photobucket or Picasa and link. There is a great tool that allows you to create tokens from any picture, and takes the hassle out of cropping etc.

Because of the idle time, and the posting time, you can actually play in a few games concurrently, meaning you can play space opera, a western, and an occult investigation on the same day.

You can see everybody's dice rolls so there's no cheating (although you as GM can still fudge them with nobody knowing).

Actual physical requirements:

What you need generally is an in character (IC) thread, or threads to depict different areas or stories, and an OOC (Out of character) thread or threads for posting holidays, comments etc. into. There's can also be OOC threads for character creation, background, info for Requests to Join, general rules, house rules, whatever. It's all very obvious when you get into it.

I know I've just setup a game, and I'm not trying to pimp it, but if the premise grabs you, apply for it and I'll run it through carefully, explaining good tips, techniques etc so that you don't have a feeling of "what to do next?", the game will inevitably run slowly so there is ample time to pick things up and ask questions, and there really is no way to learn other than to take part in a game, knowing Jonathon I'm sure he'll help along too. Plus it'll take 5 minutes a day tops for you to keep tabs on, where else can you get a dose of high octane Fudge-goodness for such a small time outlay?

The Convenient Skill
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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

If any of you have suggestion of features we could add to the web site to facilitate PbF games, please let me know. For example, it is easy to add a personal image galleries and "walls" (like Facebook's wall) to people's profiles. We have a Private Messaging system with a "buddies" or connections list in place that the GM and players could all be connected.

Beside possible enhancements for PbF games, we could add features for interactive online games. On some of our other web sites, we have a local chat component installed that allows chat on the site and members could post events to this sites events schedule of when they were having a game in the chat area. Some suggestion may be very very easy given the technology we've used to build this site. Other may not be practical. But all suggestions and requests are welcome.

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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

paul wrote:

If any of you have suggestion of features we could add to the web site to facilitate PbF games,

OK here goes...
I've been running PBF games for several years now, and here are some of the features on the different sites I have liked:

* Integrated dice roller (on this forum I'd expect it to support dF)
* WYSIWY editor (check) or markup support.
* Greater powers to the GM in her own game sub-forum (yeah not just a single thread, but a whole forum), with the possibility of creating several threads. I usually have one for world / background info, one for characters or one thread per character, and then one for each in-game "chapter" or adventure in a longer campaign and finally an out-of-character thread, for out-of-game chatter.
* Built-in character storage
* Lockable / password protected threads
* Ability to show content only to certain users.
* Ability to split and merge topics, especially useful when the party splits. The forum is probably one of the few media where a party split is not much of a headache

Last but not least some example forums which I have enjoyed for various reasons:
http://www.myth-weavers.com/
http://www.realroleplaying.com/
http://www.barroks-tower.net/

SirWolf
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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

* Integrated dice roller (on this forum I'd expect it to support dF)

Anyone want to tackle programming one for Agora Forum for Joomla?  current/smile

* WYSIWY editor (check) or markup support.
* Greater powers to the GM in her own game sub-forum (yeah not just a single thread, but a whole forum), with the possibility of creating several threads. I usually have one for world / background info, one for characters or one thread per character, and then one for each in-game "chapter" or adventure in a longer campaign and finally an out-of-character thread, for out-of-game chatter.

We have this, although it's not apparent yet -- I'll be setting a separate forum up for the upcoming Star Patrol game run by Convenient Skill.... there'll be an application form for GMs who want to run play-by-post games that will let them determine whether their game forums will be viewable by the public, by registered users, or by only the players.... and they'll be postable only by the GM & players.

* Built-in character storage

The forums allow attached files (or they should -- I can change that if they're not), would that be sufficient?

* Lockable / password protected threads

Not sure what you mean here. The GM as the forum moderator would have full control over locking threads -- what's the password protection for?

* Ability to show content only to certain users.

PMing via the users' profiles is available....

* Ability to split and merge topics, especially useful when the party splits. The forum is probably one of the few media where a party split is not much of a headache

Also something the GM can do as forum moderator of their game's forum.

Ann Dupuis
Grey Ghost Press, Inc.

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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

ann wrote:

SirWolf wrote:

* Greater powers to the GM in her own game sub-forum (yeah not just a single thread, but a whole forum), with the possibility of creating several threads. I usually have one for world / background info, one for characters or one thread per character, and then one for each in-game "chapter" or adventure in a longer campaign and finally an out-of-character thread, for out-of-game chatter.

We have this, although it's not apparent yet -- I'll be setting a separate forum up for the upcoming Star Patrol game run by Convenient Skill.... there'll be an application form for GMs who want to run play-by-post games that will let them determine whether their game forums will be viewable by the public, by registered users, or by only the players.... and they'll be postable only by the GM & players.

Ok cool. I'll be looking forward to this. I'm about to start a game of Fudged Mouse Guard, and I'd like to run it here.

ann wrote:

SirWolf wrote:

* Built-in character storage

The forums allow attached files (or they should -- I can change that if they're not), would that be sufficient?

I think that should be sufficient. The Myth-Weavers forum has built-in support for D&D sheets (a character editor in the forum). But Fudge is I suppose to generic for that.

ann wrote:

SirWolf wrote:

* Lockable / password protected threads

Not sure what you mean here. The GM as the forum moderator would have full control over locking threads -- what's the password protection for?

I mean the ability to lock down a thread with a password, so for instance only a few players can access the thread, if they go off on their own. Alternatively if it would be easy to create this thing I as GM could post my session notes and plans there, and that way I'd always have access to them, no matter where I am.

ann wrote:

SirWolf wrote:

* Ability to show content only to certain users.

PMing via the users' profiles is available....

Yeah, but showing it in thread is so much smoother, than taking part of the game off-line to PMs. Things like having a general description of a scene, and then including some special detail to players who made their perception (or similar) rolls, is so much better than PMs. Also when the game is finished and archived, the hidden parts become visible, and anyone who reads the thread, can see why some characters are doing something special.

ann wrote:

SirWolf wrote:

* Ability to split and merge topics, especially useful when the party splits. The forum is probably one of the few media where a party split is not much of a headache

Also something the GM can do as forum moderator of their game's forum.

Nice!

Thanks for the response. I hope that my clarifications help you. I'll be happy to help flesh these things out more, but at the moment I won't have enough time to work on the technical parts.

SirWolf
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Re: Some thoughts about PBF

The Convenient Skill has posted some great general information and advice on PbP gaming.  SirWolf also has some very good technical advice for setting up PbP gaming on a forum.  Great stuff guys!  current/smile

The bare bones needed to set up a PbF game have already been covered by SirWolf's comprehensive post, but I just to echo the key points here:

  • Built in dice roller that supports FUDGE rolls:  However, if it doesn't support FUDGE dice rolls it's not that big of a deal since FUDGE has alternate dice methods.  Just a normal dice roller will do to get things rolling here.  I believe that there are some simple dice rolling programs for forums out on the Internet somewhere.

  • Create a sub-forum for the GM that gives the GM Moderator privileges:  This is so the GM can create or delete threads and posts, the GM can create sticky threads, and the GM can lock/unlock threads.
  • No Elves!  Talislanta is now free!  Please visit www.Talislanta.com and explore this wonderful setting and game system.

    \\\"The Dude abides.\\\"

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    Re: Some thoughts about PBF

    Drohem wrote:

    Built in dice roller that supports FUDGE rolls:  However, if it doesn't support FUDGE dice rolls it's not that big of a deal since FUDGE has alternate dice methods.  Just a normal dice roller will do to get things rolling here.  I believe that there are some simple dice rolling programs for forums out on the Internet somewhere.


    Create a sub-forum for the GM that gives the GM Moderator privileges:  This is so the GM can create or delete threads and posts, the GM

    Why did the bullet points show as dark text in the original post?

    No Elves!  Talislanta is now free!  Please visit www.Talislanta.com and explore this wonderful setting and game system.

    \\\"The Dude abides.\\\"

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