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We've just finished our 8 week slot at my local university gaming society, and I feel like events were unresolved. I'd like to transition the game into a play by post option on the society forum so we can get some resolution.

What are the best practices for doing this? I'm not expecting everyone to be interested in this so I don't want to 'force' people into doing this, at the same time I'd like to make this as appealing to them as possible.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I have never tried this transition from the player side, but I have done it once as a GM.

The first thing, is to make sure there is interest. If most of the other players are not interested in play by post, then it is probably best to move on or start a "spin-off" with those that are.

If you know there is interest, then you need to get consensus on how things will change. There are all kinds of play by post styles available, but for me I find running traditional combat very slow and boring in that situation. Instead I look at options like letting the gm make more of a summary style where combat is handled in just a few posts mostly by the gm, or even a sim-style where there is no rolling or dice at all and everything is by consensus. There are other options and some people do run close to traditonal style combat with turns and dice rolling, but I find it painfully slow. Regardless of which method you choose you will need to get buy in from the gm and other players on what method you will adopt.

Finally, the best way to keep interst strong and encourage others is do the hard work. Of course a game can continue with nothing but a forum (or e-mail mailing list, which I prefer personally) and setting up a forum (or list) is fast and easy. But if you want to encourage less-than-enthusiastic players you can do some of the nice, but not strictly necessary work, like:

  1. Create a page with a summary of what has happened so far.
  2. If appropriate for your game, create sub-forums for things like out of character chatting.
  3. Create a summary every so often (monthly is good, but depends on your speed of play) to help people get caught up.
  4. Depending on the game and group, it might help to have someplace to post character sheets, character pictures, and maps.

If you get player buy in, work out the details, and then do the hard work to get things set up, then there is a good chance that the others will go along with it. But it is also possible you can do everythign right and still have things fall apart if the other members of your group do not like play-by-post/PBEM.

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I would suggest is focus on the roleplaying part of your game and not combat. PbP games are great for character interaction and development, but go very slow for combat and can even be very complicated in grid heavy games. Depending on the patience of your players, they may get bored of combat heavy PbP games.

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I have played in a wide variety of PbP games, and the most successful ones are pretty much like the old improv game where the next person continue the story. In games involving mechanics, they slow down heavily when rolls and conditional questions become involved as per the answer above. The more free-form PbP games are simply free form writing and don't even need to be interwoven narratives.

The other trouble that I've encountered with PbP games is when a player's life catches up with them. When you have your players around the game you can practically run game in a near vacuum such that while they are there they are focused on the game, and you as the DM/GM/ST/etc. have control over good start and stop points, and to a degree distractions. With PbP you will end up waiting for a critical player to post and even if you bump into them, it can turn into a procrastination problem (I have both witnessed and been a part of this, admittedly)

Perhaps what might be called for in this particular instance is to write an epilogue for the characters to provide them at least temporary closure, but throw in a cliff hanger bit so you can pick up the game later with player interest and proper scheduling. "Baron von Villain was defeated in his Castle of Doom. In the next year, Butch the Fighter started his own training school, Maggie the Mage found a new library of tomes in an archaeological dig... (etc. ad nauseum) ... Baron von Villain's body was never found."

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