5E How to better PBP - a controversial suggestion (all systems)

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Hello

So I've been doing this playing by post thing here for oh, maybe 2 years now. I've seen a few games succeed, a few fail, some peter out... and I think I've realized something important.

(tl, dr: Small groups are better)

First, the biggest threat to a game is loss of momentum and interest. As long as everyone is excited and motivate about the game, it can move fast (... well fast for a pbp game). But when posting slows down, the odds people dropping out for various reasons, including "life happens" increase because it takes longer to complete an adventure. There was, last time we discussed this, general agreement that big adventures are not really feasible, and that there has to be concrete goals in view.

A piece of common wisdom I see here is to recruit large groups, that way when some people drop out there can remain a core of dedicated players to carry the game through.

And... I think that's the mistake. IRL, a small group is "vulnerable" because just one person missing can be cause enough to cancel a session. If you have 6 players and one isn't there, you can just play. HOWEVER, the odds of one player missing on any given session increases!

And in PBP, almost every day is a "session" - it's a game you devote a few minutes every day instead of a big session every week or 2. So if you have a large group, it's almost *guaranteed* that on any given day, one player is "missing" - they are busy, their internet is down, whatever. It's not because they are "bad" players, it's just that life happens. I've been guilty of slowing down the game a few times. So doing a round in 1 day is almost impossible, because there is always one player missing. The game slows down, momentum is lost and...

So wouldn't it be better to have a small group, and have the game move at a faster clip? Of course, if someone is missing, skipping their turn may have a larger impact, and it might be better to wait for them, but that will happen more rarely. This way momentum is conserved, the game moves quicker, and the initial enthusiasm may last longer...

I'll note that a balanced 3 people pary, even duo, in 5e is quite achievable.
 
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Fradak

Explorer
I agree, I prefer small groups.

As you said, it moves faster. There is a stronger bond between characters, it favors interactions. You have more "room" to develop characters personality and everything is more challenging. All of this helps to keep players motivation high.

But at the end, it's the DM and his dedication who drives the story. And players just need some gentle reminders from time to time.
 
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jmucchiello

Adventurer
The solution to larger groups is just to skip people's turns when necessary. Most GMs are loath to upset a player by skipping their turn. In Forum play, if you don't log in for a week, you should expect to be skipped. "Roland stands there unsure what to do." Next round.

The other problem with larger groups is initiative: Ditch it. Side versus side in first-to-post=first-to-act order.

The main problem with smaller groups is the same problem that exists in live games: Not enough GMs. If GMs accept fewer players, fewer people can play.

The main flaw with fixing all of this is people generally ignore the game maker when they say, "I'd like everyone to log in and post at least 3 times a week."
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
PbP is worse than glacial, it is tectonic. Probably the only way to have a "fast" game is to recruit people who have proven speeds. And even then... I refresh way too many times a day...
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
...A piece of common wisdom I see here is to recruit large groups...
I have found that the same few people seem to respond to all requests despite the number of available members on this site. I have also observed that unless the offer is from 5e or PF it will get no traffic.

Ancalagon said:
...And in PBP, almost every day is a "session" - it's a game you devote a few minutes every day instead of a big session every week or 2...
The application of play has to be adjusted to the PbP setting. This is the burden of the GM / DM. In video game versions like Neverwinter Nights, bingers can elevate characters 10 levels or more in a single sitting, even with the mechanics changed to award about 1% of the usual XP of a table-top session. In a PbP, I have found that the offer needs to be increased. I tend to offer XP once a week or once every ten posts, depending on the participation of players. This seems to fix the sigma that characters are never going to advance since a single combat can take more than a week to complete.

Ancalagon said:
...So wouldn't it be better to have a small group, and have the game move at a faster clip? Of course, if someone is missing, skipping their turn may have a larger impact, and it might be better to wait for them, but that will happen more rarely...
As a player, I have found that it takes about 15 minutes, tops, to make a post. As a GM, it can take hours. As a GM, I try to post on a regular schedule, the same day each week. This gives players a full week to find a mere 15 minutes to allocate to the game. Some players will always find more excuses than time. I idle their character in the next post.

The solution to larger groups is just to skip people's turns when necessary...

The other problem with larger groups is initiative: Ditch it. Side versus side in first-to-post=first-to-act order..."
I agree. I make use of both of these ideologies.

PbP is worse than glacial, it is tectonic...
This is not true at all but is seems to be the common opinion. The perspective of players and referees needs to be adjusted to fit the venue. A PbP game is an action-based presentation rather than scenario or event-based. Response and advancement should be measured upon the value of each single input. This alleviates the time perspective because it provides actual reward for what can be accomplished.

The biggest advantage of a PbP setting is that it allows players from all over the world to interact. A feat that would not be possible, otherwise.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
I don't give XP. I use threshold leveling. The object is to set a good short term goal and when they meet it, they level. (Of course, I do this face-to-face and have for the last 15 or so years... so....)
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I have found that the same few people seem to respond to all requests despite the number of available members on this site. I have also observed that unless the offer is from 5e or PF it will get no traffic.


The application of play has to be adjusted to the PbP setting. This is the burden of the GM / DM. In video game versions like Neverwinter Nights, bingers can elevate characters 10 levels or more in a single sitting, even with the mechanics changed to award about 1% of the usual XP of a table-top session. In a PbP, I have found that the offer needs to be increased. I tend to offer XP once a week or once every ten posts, depending on the participation of players. This seems to fix the sigma that characters are never going to advance since a single combat can take more than a week to complete.


As a player, I have found that it takes about 15 minutes, tops, to make a post. As a GM, it can take hours. As a GM, I try to post on a regular schedule, the same day each week. This gives players a full week to find a mere 15 minutes to allocate to the game. Some players will always find more excuses than time. I idle their character in the next post.


I agree. I make use of both of these ideologies.


This is not true at all but is seems to be the common opinion. The perspective of players and referees needs to be adjusted to fit the venue. A PbP game is an action-based presentation rather than scenario or event-based. Response and advancement should be measured upon the value of each single input. This alleviates the time perspective because it provides actual reward for what can be accomplished.

The biggest advantage of a PbP setting is that it allows players from all over the world to interact. A feat that would not be possible, otherwise.
I find personal that a one post per week is too slow, but as I haven't run a game yet via this method, perhaps this expectation is unrealistic.

The players all over the world is a nice feature indeed! But I would love it if we could play online in real time instead. But given time zones...
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
I find personal that a one post per week is too slow, but as I haven't run a game yet via this method, perhaps this expectation is unrealistic.

The players all over the world is a nice feature indeed! But I would love it if we could play online in real time instead. But given time zones...
I, too, would love for games to progress faster, but I have resigned myself to the week pace. On a good note, this should be a trivial amount of time for anyone wanting to game, at all.

I have tried to coordinate an online, active game twice, since I have been a member of this site. Both failed to come to fruition for at least one player was a no show, each time.

To increase my personal activity, since I have the time, I am currently running three games and playing in two others.
 
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Kaodi

Adventurer
In both games I am in there are players who have not posted in three weeks (or more) . Well, technically I am in a third but it has gone without updates for months and I have no interest in getting back in. I am pretty much at the point where I am looking to bail at a reasonable juncture because there is so little satisfaction to be had for me in PbP.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
If you want games that play live, go on Discord. You can chat any time you want during the week and you can have a set weekly live time with voice chat.

I'm joining a game like this now. The game will be live in the chat with a weekly live night.

I was in like 10 games when EB was here. Miss them.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
Maybe. I have never used Discord thus far, though I used to play in the TSR/WotC and EN World chats back in the day. If I had decent Internet like my Sister has at her apartment I would probably explore live "face to face" gaming more, but what we have at the house is just satellite and WiFi.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
Oh, yeah, I am sure Discord would work fine. I was referring more to streaming and Skype and stuff like that.
 

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