Thursday, 24 March 2011

RPG Play by Forum

I've now played in two Dark Heresy campaigns, one Deathwatch campaign and I'm currently GM'ing another Dark Heresy campaign. Play by forum can be very enjoyable, so I thought I'd share some tips with you based on my experience in case you ever want to run or take part in your own campaign. Obviously to do any of this you'll need a forum of your choice to do it on ;)

PBF takes time: When you're planning your campaign bear in mind it's going to take time. Alot of time. What you'd manage in a session or two face to face is going to take several months most likely. Our first DH campaign (Maggots in the Meat from the Games Master's Kit) ran between July and October to finish was should be doable in a single evening session. Be prepared for it to take time and plan for the long haul.

Get reliable players: When recruiting players or thinking of being a player yourself, think about the first point. Am I willing and able to run or play in this campaign for the amount of time required? Is it likely that real life stuff is going to get in the way of me playing? Obviously if something unexpected happens, or you have to go on holiday or something then these can be handled, but if you're just going to lose interest then don't bother starting.

Post often: One way your campaign will stagnate is if people aren't posting often to keep things moving. A lack of posting is going to slow stuff down, people will lose interest and things will fizzle out. My advice would be to look for people, or plan on posting yourself, who can post every 24 to 48 hours. This sounds like quite a commitment, but if you think of how many people have smart phones these days, it's not too arduous (Tapatalk is your friend by the way if you're forum playing by phone).

Fudge things: Let stuff slide and things happen without rolling to keep things interesting. Unless it's really vital or unavoidable don't let people die, no one wants to lose weeks of work and have to re-roll.

Don't enforce a posting order: Out of combat, things will slow down if you're all waiting on one guy to post. Let people post when they want when not in combat to keep things and the roleplaying flowing.

Don't be waiting on one player: Try and avoid situations where you're waiting on one person to do something or post. If the majority of players have decided on a course of action, go with it rather than waiting for a unanimous decision.

Have everything ready: If you're GM'ing have all your major posts planned out and ready to hand when you need them. Same thing for player character sheets, reference tables, NPC stats and so on. When you've got it to hand you can quickly copy and paste the next part of the post (especially if it's a long one) and you're away. I've found Google docs useful for this, so I carry all my major posts in one document that I can cut and paste from even when I'm using a mobile device like my iPod.

Credit for many of these insights is also due to Aaron from the Mystical Throne who has GM'ed two of the three campaigns I've played in. Many of these tips I learnt from him so go check his site out.

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