Greetings, and welcome to the In Character section of EN World, the Talking the Talk and Playing the Game forums. This is the place to be to get in on all sorts of Play By Post (PbP) action. If you're new here (and hey, we were all new here at one time or another ), you may have some questions. This thread is here to help you with those questions. If you have a question that hasn't been answered on this thread, post it and I'll do my best to help.

Q: What is "Play By Post" gaming, anyway?

A: It's roleplaying, just like you do with your "real life" friends when you sit around a table. The difference is that it's done on this board.

Q: How does a game on the board work?

A: It's very similar to a face to face game. The gamemaster relates what the characters encounter, and the players respond in character.

Q: So, what's the difference?

A: For one, you don't have to all be on the boards at the same time, like a chat-based game. The players all pop on and respond at their own pace. An example would be as follows:

Posted at 1 PM - Dan the DM: The party opens the door and finds a 10 x 10 ft. room. Inside the room is an orc and a pie. Actions, please?
Posted at 2 PM - Bob the Barbarian: I enter a pie-induced rage and move forward to attack the orc.
Posted at 4 PM - Walt the Wizard: I cast detect magic on the pie to see if it's a magic pie.
Posted at 5 PM - Roger the Rogue: I move silently to steal the pie and put it in my backpack.
Posted at 8 PM - Carl the Cleric: If Bob gets hurt, I'll heal him. If not, I'll attack the orc as well.
Posted at 11 PM - Dan the DM: Bob, you connect with the orc, but he's still standing. He also lands a strike on you, and hits for 6 HP of damage. Walt, you determine the pie is a mundane pastry. Roger, you step on an empty pie tin and the whole room turns to see you slipping the pie in your pack. Carl, you cast cure light wounds on Bob for 5 HP of healing. Actions, please?

Q: I like pie.

A: Me too - and that wasn't a question.

Q: Sorry. Okay, back to the questions: So, does it really take ten hours to resolve a round?

A: Yes, it can sometimes take that long, or longer, depending on how often the players check the game. PbP games typically don't move as fast as live games. It can take a month or more to complete an adventure.

Q: Then what would be a "fast" PbP game?

A: If a game has a post per player per day, then it's relatively fast. Some go faster than that, many go slower than that.

Q: Why should I play a PbP game, then?

A: For one thing, because people have more time to think about things and compose their reply, characterization can be easier than live games. It's similar to how a book has more time for backstory and character development than a movie.

Q: Does this mean I have to be the next Shakespeare?

A: Nope. You don't have to write long and involved prose, and many games are more "quick and dirty." But the option is there, and most GM's will say what sort of game they're looking for when they recruit.

Q: Is there any other compelling reason to play a PbP game?

A: Because a PbP game can bring together a group from all over the world to give you an experience broader than just playing with your friends from across town.

Q: Hey, what's wrong with my friends?!

A: Nothing. But you know and I know that they'd never go for that all-gnome game you've been wanting to play. Here, drawing from a worldwide pool of players, you can probably find four or five people who like gnomes.

Q: Any more reasons to play PbP?

A: One more quick one is that you don't need to set aside 4-8 hours in a block to get together with 4 or more people. It's much easier to schedule a few minutes online!

Q: Say, in the example above, I didn't see any dice rolling. What's up with that? It ain't D&D if I can't roll my lucky d20!

A: Due to the internet format, most GMs will do all the dice rolling themselves. It's not that they don't trust their players, it's just that... well, they don't trust their players. Some GMs will let you roll your own dice, though, and they'll let you know when the game starts how they'll do it.

Q: Okay, sounds interesting, I think I'll try a game. How do I join one?

A: The easiest way to find a game is look for threads with the words "recruiting" or "looking for players" in the title. Recruitment takes place in the Talking the Talk forum.

Q: All the games fill up too fast!!

A: In the form of a question, please. And just keep trying, you'll find a game soon enough.

Q: But none of the games are they style/campaign world/yaddayadda I want to play. Now what?

A: If you're set on a certain type of game, just post a thread titled "Player looking to form a FR/epic/political/supers/gnome/psionic/whatever game." Like-minded players will show up, and often a GM as well.

Q: How do I create a character?

A: Same as any other game. The GM will outline their character generation process in their recruitment post.

Q: What about rolling for stats?

A: As noted above, players usually don't roll the dice in a PbP game. This typically extends to stat generation as well, where Point Buy is the standard method.

Q: What level do we start at, what books can we use, and how much gold do we start with?

A: All those sorts of campaign elements are set by the GM, and typically covered in the recruitment post.

Q: Do I post my PC online or send it to my GM?

A: For most games, characters are usually posted either to the planning and recruitment thread or a designated character thread in the Rogue's Gallery forum. Sometimes, GM's will prefer their players not to have access to each other's character sheets, and they'll ask you to send them your PC. They'll let you know in the recruitment post.

Q: Say I'd rather run a game. How do I go about being a GM and getting a game together?

A: Then post a "Recruiting for a drow/Star Wars/Cthulu/swashbuckling/blahblahblah game" thread in the Talking the Talk forum. There's no shortage of players, and I've seen only a few games not get off the ground due to lack of player interest. Trust me, a GM finding players won't be a problem on these boards.

Q: Is it okay to run non-d20 games here?

A: Sure. There are at the time of this writing a White Wolf "Vampire: the Masquerade" and a Decipher "Lord of the Rings" game being either played or planned. The hitch, though, is that most folk here prefer d20, so you may have trouble getting enough people together for a non-d20 game.


Updates!! 7/24/03: In addition to the new questions below, original questions regarding game recruitment now point the reader to the Talking the Talk forum.

Q: What's the maximum number of games someone can play in?

A: Honestly, there's no fixed limit. However, it is wise to make sure you don't take on more games than you can maintain. If you end up not being able to keep up, it simply isn't fair to the DM or other players. Also, don't add too many games at once; if you add 10 games in a week, you might regret it. Take new games on gradually. Finally, if you're already in a lot of games and a newcomer wants to play in a game you're interested in, let them play. New blood is good!

Q: How do I map combats for my games?

A: The most common method I've seen is using a spreadsheet program such as Excel to chart out the grid, walls and combatants, then taking a screenshot, cropping down to the relevant area, and attaching it to a post. Poke around a bit, and you'll likely find examples of this fairly quickly.

Q: Is there an example of a PbP game everyone thinks is an example of it done well?

A: This is a pretty subjective area, but generally, look for threads that are in the hundreds of posts long, or say "Chapter 4" or something like that. Any game that lasts that long must have something going for it.

Q: I would love to take pictures of miniatures in the scene I am describing and then update the scene as it moves along - is it permissible to ask for players with fast connections only?

A: If you make it clear upfront what you plan to do and why you're asking for high-speed connections only, that's absolutely fair. Just don't spring this on a poor dial-up player after the game's already started!


Updates!! 11/16/03: Edited the links above to be new board URL compliant. Added three new questions.

Q: What's this Living Enworld thing that's all the rage?

A: Living Enworld (or LEW, for short) is a dynamic PbP game world that's equal parts Living Greyhawk and Everquest. It's open to all who want to create a character, and one can also DM an adventure upon adventure approval by a council of LEW Judges. Players and DM's create the game world as they go along, making it truly a community project. Further, participants are encouraged to create prestige class, feats, spells and the like for community review and Judge approval - and once approved, those new inventions are available to the entire PC population! Living Enworld has its own forum. A more detailed explanation of the project, including how to get started, can be found here.

Q: Is it okay to post right after I've just posted, or should I give someone else a chance to respond?

A: In general, it's best to post all your comments or character actions at once instead of a "reply" to each post. One possible exception to the "post and post again" suggestion is if you were the last person to post, and it's been a few days with no response - in that case, bumping the thread is usually acceptable.

Q: Any other etiquette pointers to share?

A: Creamsteak has compiled a list of etiquette guidelines here.


Q: What should I do if I have a question that hasn't been answered here?

A: Ask below, and I'll do my best to answer it!