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I'm creating an Obsidian Portal for my players as I wind up to actually running my game, naturally I'd like to get the players involved in this too so they can write up game diarys, update their characters backgrounds and so on.

So regarding this:

  • What can I do to encourage players to add things to the site?
  • What sort of information on an online aid site have you found useful as a GM?
  • What sort of information on an online aid site have you found useful as a Player?
  • Any tips or suggestions/pitfalls?
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Lots of good answers and ideas here; hard to pick just one! The overriding answer does seem to be "use it yourself and demonstrate that you do." I'll be filling the wiki with juicy titbits of infomation that the players can read to get extra info about things going on. Thanks all! –  Rob Jun 22 '12 at 7:57
    
@Tridus Do we really need an [obsidian-portal] tag? What's wrong with [online-resources]? –  SevenSidedDie Apr 15 at 0:40
    
@SevenSidedDie I don't know if we need obsidian-portal or not, but it seems relevant since it's actually about that. Been trying to thin out online-resouces, may have overreached on this one. Feel free to put it back if you think it belongs. –  Tridus Apr 15 at 2:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Encouraging players to contribute

I do this mostly by having them enter the information while we actually play. It's hard to get players to do those things afterwards. When we play online, one of the currently less involved players is encouraged by me to enter the information in real time (raw shape is ok) into a wiki of sorts.

Doing this in between sessions is most likely only going to work if you do not only let them document but also let them create content, putting new stuff into the game world.

Offering them a reward for documenting might work for some time, but they will get used to it and it will get dull and not get done at all because a reward was introduced in the first place, thus, diminishing the intrinsic value of contributing.

Updating character sheets should be out of question, I guess.

Useful information for the GM and players

If you are referring to non-secretive information, I don't think there should be a distinction between GM and players.

I think of the following bits:

  • places and their characteristics
  • maps
  • NPCs (sorted by affiliation or location) and their characteristics (maybe stats, if you need them)
  • very important objects and their characteristics, if any
  • a log of the events, divided into sessions and scenes (with titles each)
  • player character sheets

Tips

  • Be easy on them, don't force them into it.
  • Frequently, make the benefits apparent to them (do not simply tell them, but make it evident through usage).
  • Make it as accessible and easy to do as possible.
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do not simply tell them, but make it evident through usage Heh. "Oh no I forgot my character sheet...No wait, it's right here on the website!" –  deltree Jun 22 '12 at 18:23

Getting players to use it is always a bit tricky. One of my DMs only gives out the XP for the game session if you post a recap on the forums. This is a bit extreme, but it works fairly well about half the time. The best thing you can do though, is impress the value of the resources on your players. Explain how new players are suddenly able to play bards because they can actually KNOW the stories of old game sessions by reading the forums, instead of the standard bard becoming the DMs character whenever storytime starts. Talk about tactics on the site. Allow players to plan out future battles, or deal with the slow stuff like castle building. Most importantly, USE IT YOURSELF. Leading by example holds a lot of value in the gamer world.

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1  
+1 for 'lead by example.' My DM also only gives out XP when a proper adventure log has been uploaded. –  madrius Jun 19 '12 at 14:28
    
I'm conflicted about this answer. On the one hand, that's some useful information for setting up online resources. On the other, they're completely off-topic for the question and my editorial reflex is to go in and delete all but the last paragraph. Would you consider removing those paragraphs and using them to answer another question, such as What tools are useful to organize a GM's campaign notes?, or asking-and-answering a new question about collaboration resources? –  SevenSidedDie Jun 20 '12 at 18:18
    
@SevenSidedDie Posted to the other thread per your request. –  deltree Jun 21 '12 at 14:29

As a GM or player I find having most of the information accessible from anywhere as highly valuable. If I have an idea at work or on the move, I can pull it up on my smartphone and even make notes. Just being able to organize documents is nice and recording milestones and notes in a permanent place (instead of that scratch paper that gets lost) is vital.

The biggest benefit to using Obsidian Portal over say a Google tool (docs/sites) is that it's tailored for campaigns and the presentation is very nice. I especially dig the map utility.

To encourage your player's to use it, definitely lead by example. Use it yourself and and use it often. Drop Easter eggs or clues in the wiki or logs that the players can find and use (and make an impact on the game)... let them know they are there to find. Give rewards for posting information (equipment, experience, or the last one to post has to pull some duty at the table). Use the the online aid site to manage all the mundane tasks like awarding treasure & experience (so they have to go their to get that information).

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I can answer about Obsidian Portal from a player perspective. I have talked about it before in this answer regarding rewards for contributions.

The best thing about Obsidian Portal or any wiki, in my opinion, is allowing for collaborative world-building. The GM can world-build - writing up about the geography, history, and culture of the world - and put it up on the wiki for the players to see. The players can also contribute - write about their character's backstory, their hometown, things unique to their character (profession, class, etc). So a wizard from the city of Cornath could contribute an article about Cornath, the wizard guild there, and about the customs and practices concerning magic in the world.

Obsidian Portal has some decent tools for coordinating meetups (calendars, email notifications, etc) so you can update all your players about when the next session is, what they should bring, etc.

Pitfalls - OP does not seem to have a good system for filling the nitty gritty numbers and details on character sheets. You can create a sort of template for players to fill in but you're still reduced to using tables with wiki-markup and it's a pain. So store your character sheets elsewhere. But you can still put things like player bios on there (including "public knowledge" and "secrets" kept between one or more players and the DM).

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We've had a forum for our group for years that players could use to post both in and out of character. It's nothing as immersive as a full wiki like Obsidian, but I think a forum setting well represents the base level of getting players involved in online building up of your campaign.

What we've found is that some players take a very active roll in participating in the forum, posting frequently and some of us have very in depth in character conversations in between game sessions (we game weekly). Other players almost never participate in the forum. I think you'll probably find that this behavior will be common across most groups.

We take turns being DM/GM and each of us has approached this a little differently. Some have offered minor XP or other bonuses of various types to try and encourage participation in the forum. But in general I think we've found that offering bonuses really doesn't change who takes an active participation and who does not. I'm sure your mileage will vary, but I would bet that you'll find most groups will turn out like this. Some will participate without extra incentives, some won't participate much no matter what, and you may get one in the middle who can be swayed with little bonuses.

Obsidian Portal, however, with it's numerous features ready made for game groups, may provide more motivation for groups to participate more fully since they can expand upon much more than just character interaction in a forum. And it's an advantage for the DM/GM, allowing them to add their own notes to the various pages that only they can see. The downside of that is that for groups like the one I'm in where the GM/DM rotates, it doesn't really work well. A group would have to set up multiple portals in order to have different sections that only the DM of that section has control over.

At least, this was the case last time I looked into Obsidian. That was a year or more ago and may have changed since. For a group like mine, where we have rotating DMs but essentially are all operating in the same campaign world, it's not quite right for our use. It may be great for yours.

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