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The Play By Post FAQ: Last Updated 11/16/03


First Post
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!
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GaryH, these are the things I've plucked from the (now unstuck) pbp Etiquette Guide. Now we need to prune some of these (I already removed a couple, obviously), clean up the wording, and condense any similar points. Then I think we should tag it on as a little side-bar for the FAQ.
Compiled List of Etiquette Suggestions
1. Always let people know when you're going to be unavailable for posting.
2. Always follow the rules the GM gives out, even if you don't agree. Its okay to tell the GM that, but in the end it is the GM's game and her/his final decision. If you don't like it, don't play it.
3. Resolve player disputes in email and do not post them on the boards. Basically if you don't have something nice/polite to say, don't say it. Its okay to disagree and criticize.
4. Be careful of the language you use. What may seem ok to you maybe be offensive to someone else. Keep in mind that this is a multicultural community. My suggestion is to keep it as neutral as possible unless you know the person and know it is ok for them.
5. Refrain from personal attacks...even if you try to do it subtly.
6. allow time for the other players to post, keep in mind the flow of the game. Problems can flare up when people post a second time before the other players have a chance to respond
7. Editing of posts: be upfront and discuss the rules of your game as far as editing posts. Be sure you posted what you want to, editing grammar and adding explinations is ok, but you should do it before other people post. Once others have posted their responses to your actions, changing what you do WILL screw up the continuity of the game. Once you edit, others will have to edit theirs, forcing others to edit their's. Its a big headache that can be solved by looking over your post and being sure about it before you click submit.
8. If you can no longer devote the time to games that you once could, be honest, let people know. Slowing peoples games by posting infrequently affects everyone in the game, not just you. Be honest, and don't ruin things for other people. Its better to leave a game if you post infrequently then ruin it for others.
9. Common courtesy: Remember, in every game there are more people involved then just you. You need to respect the time they put into the game and be mindful of how what you do can affect the fun of others. Not everyone has a ton of time to invest, and they maybe putting it all in one game. Ruining a game not only ruins it for you, it ruins it for others as well, and if thats their only game...
10. Remember, people can have different perspectives in a thread. So, try to respect the opinions of those who disagree with you or who may be playing an opposing faction in a game.
11. Remember, people are NOT who they play, don't take IC actions personally, and do not apply OOC emotions to IC posts. Look, we are all rolepayers here, we are all mature enough to know that just because my character hates your character, it doesn't mean that I hate you. Keep your emotion, and that of your characters seperate.
12. Remember, we are here to have fun. So, try not to ruin someone else's enjoyment of a game. Try to make the game enjoyable for everyone in it.
13. Remember that in real life, people may come from very different gaming groups / traditions than you do. Consider trying other takes on gaming - you might find a whole new world of role-playing goodness!
14) Don't be too bossy of player. Nobody likes a spotlight-hog.
When you find your character taking the fore-front of almost every scene they're in, think twice before dominating yet another scene.
15) If you DM other games... PLEASE take it upon yourself to ratchet back in the games where you are only a player. Take cues from other players sometimes, and above all else, Follow the DM's Lead!
16) Don't base a character in a game on your own looks, or your own RL background, or your own RL experiences, unless you are danged sure not to take things personally about that character.
It sets a way-dangerous precedent to have players over-identifying with their character in-game.
17) Stay the Course:
It's better to post regularly, over the long haul, perhaps only a handful of times a week, and stay in character, and 'in the scene', than to post a ton, pushing the action past a comfortable speed, pushing out other players.
18) Make sure that when you join a game, there's no other character already in it that you are stepping on the toes of.
Each character should probably stake out its own turf, and not have other players infringing on its specialties.
For example, if you're going to be playing a cleric, at least make sure it's not of the same diety as someone else's, or don't have the same interests and skills as the other guy's.
19) Don't make a character that has a blood hatred of another character (elf hating half-orc), and then have a problem when there's problems between the two.
20) Don't drag your IC buddies from game to game with you.
Each game should try to have a different mix of players - what's the point of playing with the same people over and over again?
Plus, you risk making a hegemony within the game (in other words, a clique of players), who hedge other players out, and force sides to be taken.
21) Differing opinions are an absolute certainty in games.
WHEN (not if) they occur, do everyone a favor, and don't escalate them whenever you can.
Make sure not to post right after reading the other post.
Make sure you read the post at least 3 times, to be sure you are reading what they've written, instead of reading what you think you're seeing, and having your brain fill in other, harsher details than what are intended.
Always ask yourself : is there another way this sentence could have been intended?
22) When length starts to become an issue with threads, contact a moderator to have the old thread closed, and open a new thread.
23) We're all equal on the boards. No one is better than another so don't be afraid to speak up (respectfully) to your DM when something bothers you. Keep in mind that you might not always get what you want, but never be afraid to let whatever bothers you be known. Its always unhealthy to let it simmer and who knows? Maybe it will work out, after all misunderstandings can't be resolved with silence.
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First Post

Could you be more specific on how to link maps and images? can I upload something from my PC (I"m assuming no), or do I have to give a link to the image on the net?

Sorry, found it, didn't read faq closely enough :)
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Knight Otu

First Post
There are two ways:

First, if it is an image on the web, you can use the {img}url of the image/map{/img} tags (replacing the {} with []). However, many people dislike it if their bandwidth is leeched this way, so you might want to check if it is ok with the host.

The second is to attach the image from your computer. Below the reply box, you should see a box titled Additional Options. The second portion is titled Attach Files, which lists the valid file types, and the Manage Attachments button. If you push that one, a window will pop up with which you can browse your computer for the file you want to attach.
Note that the various file types have size limits. I don't know them exactly, but you'll get a warning message if the file is too big. If that happens, try to convert the file into another format (jpg usually works fine for the forums).

Edit: OK, seems your problem is taken care of. :)
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Hand and Eye of Piratecat [Moderator]
By the way, in case some wonders how to post in color, use an sblock [sblock]Which are handy to store text, so the thread isn't cluttered up and/or to address only select players, etc.[/sblock], or other code tags that are handy for PbP, I'm posting a direct link to the appropriate help page here for reference. :)


First Post
I have a question that is unanswered in the above.

I have a game, Dark Soviet, that I am designing and want to develop as I GM it.

See here: http://www.esprawl.com/bpg/spacepunk/darksoviet.htm

Any players will get a greatly web supported game with interactive maps and game content displayed at my mock Cybernet and will get credit as testplayers in the finished books.

What does Enworld think of companies doing this on it's boards? I don't want to step on it's toes. I do however have a complete lack of local players here where I live due to the very religious nature of my home city.

Ether way yes or no an answer would clarify this point of policy of Enworld and it's PBP games.

edit: I must add ... the players all get a character sheet and quickplay rulebooks to start.

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Knight Otu

First Post
Doing so is ok, but we'd like to see them marked with the Playtest category, or a Playtest tag where it doesn't exist yet. I'll create Playtest categories for TtT and PtG.

Hi Creamsteak,

I am the *master* of the dablackmoor.com - PbP boards and I quote your code of conduct there as a perfect example of what newbies have to respect and to rethink when the join such a game for the first time. The board engine doesn't allow quotations with names attached, but I posted a direct link to this page here. - Just to let you know I haven't *stolen* it, but fully respect your authorship.

(Oh, and here's the link: http://www.dablackmoor.com/MMRPG/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&t=139)



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