I'm wondering if anyone has any experience running games over Facebook, successfully or otherwise. When I search on Google, I tend to get back info about Facebook single-player or MMO RPG apps/games, which is obviously not what I want.

Can we get some information here about what works and what doesn't? Or is it just generally a bad idea in the first place?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking at PBEM style play-by-post (slow posting speed, larger messages, replies next day or longer) or chatroom style posts? (all playing at the same time online) ? \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Jul 1 '13 at 10:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OP: Why specifically use facebook? There are so many older and well tested alternatives (e.g. email for a slow game, or IRC for real time). \$\endgroup\$ – Hennes Jul 1 '13 at 12:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hennes: Honestly, curiosity. I'm looking for something with which I can run a game asynchronously, and while I know that there are alternatives, I suddenly thought about facebook, and was curious if anyone had tried it. \$\endgroup\$ – AlbeyAmakiir Jul 1 '13 at 22:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rob: I thought PBP meant the kind of asynchronous gameplay you get in PBEM, except in, say, a forum. So, PBP is a wider term than that? \$\endgroup\$ – AlbeyAmakiir Jul 1 '13 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlbeyAmakiir PBP is generally for the forum/irc type games, wikipedia is fairly accurate. However I've heard it used to describe PBEM games as well, the problem being from "old school" PBEM when it was actually sent by Post, so Play By Post could mean getting a stamp. So it can be a bit of a nebulous term. \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Jul 1 '13 at 22:32

I would be very reluctant to run a game via Facebook, I've played plenty of PBEM based games and chat-based (IRC style) games but I can't see Facebook as an ideal medium for this; I'll go through the reasons why for each style:

PBEM style

I'd recommend looking at This Question for more details about how Play By Mail games work.

  • Post-size limitations: Facebook has upped it's maximum post size to 5000 characters, which sounds lots - but it's not. Any in depth PBEM style game can easily exceed this several times over in some cases.
  • Character ID As mentioned by @DavidBall facebook doesn't like you creating character profiles for Facebook, you may well end up with deleted characters or indeed groups that you're using to store posts to contain the information if you're unlucky. This really won't help immersion if you're posting as "Bob Smith" rather than "Commander Jackson of the USS Apocalypse".
  • Formatting Facebook really doesn't present a good medium for reading vast amounts of text, which is the core of the story based PBEM, the whole page is crammed into only a relatively small amount of screen and you have pretty limited options for changing font size, etc when reading it. Quite often different coloured text is used to indicate new parts of a message - facebook won't help you there.
  • Got to sign up This is a biggie for some people, I know quite a few people who object (for many and varied reasons) to Facebook and refuse to sign up to it in any fashion.

Play By Post

Play by post is generally where players post in real-time about their game, mechanics (dice) may or may not be involved or it can be entirely freeform. I've mostly played the latter, I've generally found voice chat to be better for live (ie tabletop style) games.

Facebook is actually a bit better medium for play by post; but you do have the same problems as PBEM's and as well you have some other problems:

  • Minimal support for utils Yes you can install apps for this, but you can't generally share things easily between people or roll dice for everyone if you need to.
  • Distractions When you're playing a play by post you want people to be concentrating on the game, Facebook is going to be pretty bad for other people messaging them, post updates being lost or people just plain getting bored and playing FarmVille or something instead - yes people can switch tabs if they want to do this with other systems but having it available on the same tab as the one you're trying to play is really not a good idea.


I really can't recommend Facebook as a RPG play-by-post medium; it's not set up for it and there are lot of websites, systems or just email lists that are much more suitable for it.

If you're doing immediate style play-by-post find a website or use IRC.
If you're doing Play By Mail style use an email list.
At least that's my recommendation!


I think this is a bad idea only if you create a profile for your character. Facebook don't like you doing this; here's an article about some roleplayers who have been burned by Facebook when their accounts were closed down. It includes some helpful hints if you decide to go that way anyway.

But as long as you use your own personal profile, it might work. I'd use a discussion group which allows group interaction.

In my opinion, there are much better places than Facebook to run a role-playing game.


Here's my advice:

  • First, use a synchronized dice roller. I was actually just pointed towards CatchYourHare's dice roller in my last question. This service is fantastic for synched rolling.
  • Allot more time than you'd expect. It takes a long time for players to type and speak, and will take longer for you to respond.
  • Be accommodating for players who have to leave for a few minutes. It will happen, and, depending on the group, could happen frequently. This parallels with allotting more time; plan for your players' delays.
  • Respond to actions from the top down. Process the messages as they come in. Don't even think about responding to the most recent messages; always respond to the earliest one first. You are a First In, First Out (FIFO) buffer for players.
  • Be explicit with your descriptions. Don't leave things vague, unless you're doing so by design. People have a nasty habit of describing in less detail over the internet than they do in person; this couples with typing speed.
  • Roll less often than you would on a table. Rolling takes more time than you'd think, so use it only when simple roleplaying does not suffice.
  • Be stricter (but not too strict!) about off-topic communication. Players on the internet are distracted much easier than players in-person, so give them time to socialize before the session begins if need be. Other than that, off topic communication can derail the entire session.

Most importantly, do not get distracted. You are moderating a game. You are in control of the game, and if you become distracted, your players will too. Keep them engaged, understand your party, and limit time-expensive things like rolling, and you'll be good.

It's harder to give advice without knowing what game you're playing, but here's some general advice. If you're playing a more character interaction-driven game, then be sure to work specifically towards developing the characters. People will slack off otherwise. If the game is driven by fetch quests and dungeon crawling, then you should be good, but if I were you, I'd still push for character development.

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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 A nice answer... but, he asked specifically about experience on Facebook. This is more of a generic PbEM/PbP list. \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee Jul 1 '13 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wraith Since Facebook works the same as any other play-by-post à LA IRC, Skype, the generic advice is suitable. \$\endgroup\$ – user8248 Jul 1 '13 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ if it was just a question about basic PbP/PbEM, then it would be a duplicate, as we already have a question about that topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee Jul 1 '13 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @wraith Then it's a duplicate, because FB is the same as any PbP system. \$\endgroup\$ – user8248 Jul 1 '13 at 17:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to agree with @wraith. The OP wrote a nicely focused question and a generic answer that doesn't mention the reason they asked the question is misplaced. It's good advice, just not here or by itself. This could become a very good answer if you rewrote it so this advice was just an afterthought to a direct answer about Facebook's advantages and flaws as a PbP medium, though! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 1 '13 at 20:50

I came across this on a google search and since it's an older post I wanted to add how I've worked with Facebook on stuff like this:

I create a simple group for people to join using their regular public profile. I develop an excel spreadsheet to track stats, do dice rolls, etc. and then usually design some simple maps on Power Point.

The game works like this: I post a Poll to the group with a long description of the who/what/when of the game and provide them with a number of options to select in the poll (you can allow them to add options, have multi-option polls). They discuss the situation in the comments and put in their votes. After a day or so I see who has/hasn't seen the post, who has voted, and close the poll. I roll for their selected option and post the next description + poll.

The format is sort of a group based, choose your own adventure but it can be as simple or as complex as you'd like to make it. You can style it as a small group, the actions of one person, or as a civilization/government taking actions.

The one's I've run that have been successful were a small stone aged tribe in which players were the "Council Elders," and decided what the tribe would do. We did a sort of senate-style one for a bronze age civilization and then one in which we were guiding a roman-style legion during a wider civil war.

Included in that, you could allow for individual characters and rolls in FB messenger chat (which I have seen done in other games) but come back to the main "poll" as sort of what your party decides to do if you really want to provide the single player character experience.

Thought I'd add that since it can be done in a variety of ways as folks have mentioned. It works for our group on FB because we have a lot of casual people and nearly everyone checks FB regularly, so we can get through 1 or 2 polls a day and move it along. If someone misses a vote the game goes on but the group page makes it easy to go back down the threads and posts to catch up.


I use Facebook for out of game chat, side missions and exposition between sessions. it works really well for that. I try ad leave a session where they have much to talk about, then they can chat to their hearts content in facebook chat between sessions and then when we get back together again we can get right into the story.


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