Monday, April 25, 2011

GMing Play-by-Post Games

My friends over at The Disciples of Grell seem to have discovered my humble blog, so hello to them!  I now feel the pressure to, ahem, post something.  And since my new readers have a play-by-post gaming site in common, i will blog about GMing play-by-post games.  Heck, maybe i'll even do a series on it.

For now, just some basic tips:

1. This may be really obvious, but create or choose a forum site that will allow you to edit or otherwise moderate posts.  (It's easy to set up your own free site somewhere like if you don't know someone that'll give you a spot on theirs.)  Forums are by far the simplest and most flexible medium of play.

2. Choose a system that all of your players have access to or can obtain easily.  It's rude to pick something that's $75+ for a used copy and otherwise unavailable.  If your prospective players have no prior experience, be prepared to answer a lot of questions.

3. Choose a system with a simple combat sequence. It is infinitely simpler to use systems in which characters do not have variable amounts of attacks that must be performed in a convoluted sequence. If a round is a round and everyone takes a turn during each (characters with multiple attacks simply make them all on their turn), you can establish the combat order and then just post for the opponents and NPCs as needed.

3. Check the math on your players' character sheets.  Trust me on this one!

4. Use as many visuals as possible.  It's more difficult to immerse over text, so consider providing pictures or art for major NPCs as well as maps and photos of places.  Google maps has a feature that allows you to mark places in real cities and share your edited versions privately.  If you don't want to search for images (or your forum settings don't support it), provide a lot of details.  It's better to explain too much than too little.

5. Have a plan, but be flexible.  Give the players enough room to effect the plot and interact with each other.  You're not limited to weekly sessions, so take advantage of the slower pace.