[RPG] Method for playing an online text-based RPG that doesn’t require everyone to be online at once?


I am contemplating starting up a web-based text game for my D&D group to be played alongside our weekly sessions. The idea would be to play through events related to the main storyline, but not so involved that the outcomes would directly affect our current adventure.

I don't want to require everyone to be online at once (or else this is just another session), so IRC and chatrooms are out. I am looking for a method that allows us to play at a slow pace but gives everyone a chance to respond to what the GM says before moving onward with the story or the combat.

The only idea that comes to mind is a forum-based game with heavy restrictions (e.g. each player must post a response or opt out of responding before the GM posts again). For combats I would post maps with the position of all the monsters and characters between each turn.

Does anyone have any experience running a game like this?

What's the best way to run a web-based text RPG in such a way that not all players need to be online at the same time?

Best Answer

Use Rizzoma. Embrace multi-threaded actions. Assume competence on the players' parts. Avoid boring combats wherever possible. Have the players give commands as a group instead of individuals. Have a timeout on actions of whatever the group decides with assumed actions being whatever's "reasonable" for that time in question, absent instructions. Allow everyone to write boring dialogue. Only block for specific player input when there is an entirely unanticipated and important decision with multiple and non-obvious choices.

I've done quite a lot of Play by "Post" games. Here are some links to successful ones on Rizzoma:

There are a number of matters of import. First, doing turn-by-turn battles is simply annoying. While it's quite possible using the RPG-Bones applet, there is a great deal of group control.

  1. Avoid avoid avoid interrupts
  2. Have players describe their strategies and assume that they're competent. (Describing a square-by-square movement path gets old fast and isn't very fun. Save it for when it matters.) Players should have a turn, then monsters. Players should be allowed to control each other's characters and act in any order, subject to other player veto before the 24h time limit is up.
  3. Use multithreaded adventures to your advantage. Have multiple points in time happening simultaneously. Players can be in multiple places at once and, borrowing from Microscope there are some fascinating levels of fractal reality possible, given that the details of the resolution of one thing are not necessarily needed for the fact of the resolution to impact the next event. For non-combat adventures, multithread as much as you can.
  4. Conversations are good, especially multi-threaded ones. This is a great time for long political discussions (allow editing of discussions to reflect details discovered after writing.) and planning. Combats should be abstracted if possible. (mass-conflict would probably be better than heroic-tactical conflict)
  5. Don't get bogged down in the rules and in tactical minutia. The cost of resolution is way too high. Feel free to use a narrative resource before preparing it, and then start a sub-thread where appropriate to play through its preparation.
  6. Use Google Docs for character sheets. Be as open as possible with what players are thinking, feeling, saying, and planning. Embrace other people using your character and use it as an opportunity to see what others see your character as. Negation and other player-based rejections of action will cause the game to fail.
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