Archipelago III has ritual phrases other players can say while you are narrating. With a live (or even virtual) tabletop, where the interaction is real-time, this works fine. But some of the phrases (like That Might Not Be So Easy or Harder or Try a Different Way) seem like they work better if you are able to interrupt the narrating player. They could cause a lot of retconning and backtracking in a play-by-post game. For example, if someone wrote a long post and you wanted to apply Try A Different Way to something early in the post, or if you wanted to veto something about the element you own. Is there a way to make this game flow better in the play-by-post format?

I've looked but haven't found any examples of Archipelago III play-by-post games to see how it's been done in the past. (The link in this answer points to an after-play report, not a play-by-post game.)


You can't

Archipelago (and other games with a similar ludonarrative backbone like Polaris) requires that players actively engage in a conversation. That's a requirement, not a suggestion. If you aren't in a medium where you can talk over each other, interrupt each other, or build up momentum off of conversational flow you can't play these games properly. Play by post just doesn't work for this, unfortunately. If you can't all be on at the same time, I'd recommend playing another game, trying to keep as much of what you like of this one as you can but acknowledging that some times there are good things we just can't have right now.

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I can think of two possible ways to do play-by-post games that require interjections, however both veer into becoming live-play due to the system rather than the methods:

  1. Google Documents:

    Using a Google Drive and a shared Google Document, players could write their narratives and other players could see the changes being made in real time, this can allow them to interject via the in built comments, but this might still have the "a lot of retconning and backtracking" problem as it will just prompt users to go back and change what they wrote whenever a "Try A Different Way" phrase pops up.

  2. OneNote:

    Similarly to the Google Documents method, this allows players to see each other type in a live environment using a shared OneNote notebook, however, with OneNote's structure, each player could have their own text box in a sort of split-screen experience, this is more effective than the Google Document comments as a player would see the notice pop up as they are typing on the same screen rather than a possibly miss-able tab. If you choose this method, I would recommend copying over narrative and interjections into a sort of forum or document so you can see the amended history of the game and keep the OneNote notebook clean.

Both of these methods would, as mentioned before, be flawed due to the fact that they rely on players being active enough on the document to actually see each other typing so that they can interject, making it live-play with a text-based format. As mentioned by @lightcat in the comments of your question: "Best solution may be to "hack" the game", it's not exactly a play-by-post friendly system, but I can see it working with some decent homebrew. My methods are listed as a solution if you would like to stick to the rules as written.

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  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The whole idea of play by post is that you don't have to be online at the same time, so this doesn't really seem like a very useful suggestion. It's great advice for people who want to work on the same thing at the same time, but play by post roleplays tend to involve people with different time schedules or living in different timezones, who don't have the option of being online at the same time. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 8 '19 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Theik I understand what you mean, my focus with this answer was more so to show how you can deal with interjections like Archipelago's phrases in a text-based format, but I hit a wall with play-by-post vs live-play, inevitably if it's played as play-by-post with any method, there will likely be retconning required, as OP mentions. \$\endgroup\$ – SamsyTheUnicorn Oct 8 '19 at 9:40

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