Hello readers and fellow Ghosts. Last time I wrote, it was about board games and the positive inpact they’ve had on my life. If you read ‘A Life of Boardgames‘, you may remember me writing about how I have come to enjoy a different kind of medium to get in even more gaming with my family and friends.
Its called Play by Post, and today I wanted to go into more detail on just how it works, and what our group has done to make it work for us.
Would you please define Play by Post?
Well of course dear reader! Play by Post, henceforth referred to as PbP, is a text based medium used to play roleplaying games. It is great for people who love to write and tell stories just as much as playing them. Several individuals come together with a set of rules and a theme or genre, and aided by a moderator, play characters that take part in a story written by the players and moderator together.
Some game rules, also known as mechanics, will leave much of the creative power to the moderator. Like the Dungeon Master in the game ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ by Wizards of the Coast, the story is mainly written by the moderator, while the players play within the world created for them. While other game mechanics will give the players more of the creative power, similar to the game my group is playing.
These games can span over a long period of time, leading to a need for a defined response time per individual taking part in the story.
That’s cool and all, but why play this way?
Like I mentioned in my last post, and what the title of this post hints at, PbP is a great way to play without the required place to meet, or a designated time to be there. Now, Im not saying its a cure all be all way to play. Or that it should replace the face-to-face gaming night. I am a big supporter of sitting around the table with loved ones and spending time with one another, but when you need more games and have responsibilities that can make that exceedingly more difficult, PbP is a great supplement.
Ok Rob, so how do I startup a PbP game with my friends?
I’m glad you asked. First thing you need to do is decide on the game you want to play. Typically for Role Playing Games, games with heavy mechanics are not the best choices for PbP, though many tools have been in development by enthusiast in the hobby to help curb this issue. Dice rollers, forum threads, hyperlinks to rules and character stats and much much more can take allot of the leg work out and leave you more time to write a meaningful reply.
Once you’ve decided on a game to play, you can move onto a platform to play on. My group chose to use a game called World of Dungeons by John Harper.
It was a Kickstarter stretch goal for a game called Dungeon World by Adam Korbel and Sage LaTorra. Its a simple game with a focus on story and the fiction rather than raw numbers. A great pick for our group within this medium. We then decided on Slack as our platform to play on. It has useful tools and has its own application for mobile phones. And most important, it has the ability to reply and embed threads. Organizing your posts and threads are crucial to record keeping and allowing for proper communication between players. Confusion can be a game killer. Slack also supports ‘bots’. These little AI’s that do simple tasks for you. We use ours for rolling dice. Its easy and visible for everyone participating.
Finally, the group creates their characters following your games rules and starts playing. As the moderator of our game, I leave a lot of the creative power in the hands of my players. As a group, we have come up with a solid story flow and have maintained decent momentum. As Moderators, it is our job to keep everyone participating. Participation is the biggest killer to PbP games and should be avoided whenever possible. Its why I have a rule of one post per day. This isn’t a hard fast rule that would have you kicked from the group if you don’t follow it, but its strongly encouraged and if someone’s participation begins to slow down over an extended period of time, then a discussion can be had about having their “seat” swapped out for someone else interested. Its amazing just how many people want to give PbP a try.
That’s all that’s to it. Find some interested players, pick a genre, find the right mechanics for you and a platform to go with it. I hope this has enlightened all of you who may never have heard of Play by Post before, and maybe encourage you to play that game you’ve been wanting to play and couldn’t find the time.
Next, I’ll tell you all about my groups story and the antics they’ve gotten themselves into.
Good luck to all of you and happy gaming!