Help:Myth-Weavers:The Basics of Play by Post

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The Basics of Play by Post

What is a PbP game?

A PbP, or play-by-post, game is any game that is normally played face-to-face or on a tabletop, played instead by posting to a web-board. At Myth-Weavers, that means exclusively Role-Playing Games (RPGs).

There are two basic variants of PbP games, free-form and rules-guided. Free-form games lack formal rulesets - the GM of the game determines what is possible and what is not depending on the situation and what the players tell him. In short, free-form PbP is sort of collective story telling.

PbP that uses an existing ruleset for tabletop gaming is the second form of PbP, and is more common here on the Myth-Weavers boards. These games also involve collective storytelling, but are guided by some rules for resolving in-game issues. Most common are d20 system games, especially Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and 4e, but we also support and encourage other game systems, such as White Wolf's World of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars RPG, Serenity, all kinds of Indie games, and so forth.

How do you play?

Simple: the DM explains what’s going on, and then players post to the game thread explaining what their characters are doing. PbP is just tabletop gaming expressed through the medium of the forum, with a few nifty tools to make things run smoothly.

If you want to play in a game, go to the Game Advertisements forum and look through the games which are currently recruiting players. Each advertisement should explain the game rules, setting, premise, etc, and how to apply to get involved. Applying to the games that look interesting to you with creativity and enthusiasm is the best way to get started roleplaying at Myth-Weavers.

If you want to run a game, you can make a game forum using our automated game creation system and then advertise to recruit players.

What makes Myth-Weavers special?

Myth-Weavers is a play-by-post site dedicated to a spirit of equality, niceness, quality roleplaying, and making all of the above easy. Even though Myth-Weavers is already the most advanced play-by-post site on the web, we're constantly working to develop new tools for making gaming online fun and to grow a strong, tight-knit community that welcomes gamers and games of all varieties. Myth-Weavers seeks to embody the vibrancy and friendliness of a personal gaming group with the breadth of options and smoothness of play that modern web technology can provide.

General Concerns

Timing

One of the benefits and curses of PbP games is that there is no formal meeting time for games. Players post whenever they are available to check the boards. However, this also extends the time it takes to work through adventures quite a bit. It could take several hours, or even days, for every player to post during a single combat round.

Given this, a few suggestions can make the game run more smoothly. First, state how often you expect players (and yourself, as the GM, in particular) to post at a minimum - once a day, three times a week, whatever works best. If you have particularly prolific posters in your game, especially if the rest of the players don't post as often, establishing a maximum number of posts in a specific time period might be a good idea as well.

Finally, establish a couple limits for non-response from players. For example, if a player doesn't post for two days, the GM may control that PC's actions in order to keep the story moving. Another good idea is to establish a limit to how long a player can be gone (not posting) without providing an explanation before their character is permanently turned into an NPC or otherwise removed from the game. Two weeks is a typical limit.

Absences

The previous paragraph brings up another potential problem of the expanded time span of PbP - player absences. Players might have to leave for a week or more due to vacations, family concerns, work, school, or any of myriad reasons. Generally, if the player contacts the GM, that player should be able to return to the game when they get back, without penalty - though, if the absence is going to be especially long, it might be better for the player to leave the game altogether.

If you as the GM are going to be away for a while, it’s a good idea to post in a noticeable location (the group OOC thread, for example) to let everyone know when you plan to leave and when you plan on getting back.

Dropping and Adding Players

Players sometimes end up dropping out of games due to outside concerns. This is problematic in PbP due to the extended time span the game progresses through. One solution, as a GM, is to designate (after your advertisement/application process) a set of "backup players" who can step in if one of the main players drops out.

Dice Rolling

Though a few GMs may prefer to make all the rolls themselves at home, Myth-Weavers has an integrated dice roller available. The dice roller tags are easy to use by both players and GMs as additions to their posts, and are cheat-proof. The method to be used in the game should be established when the game starts.

Roleplaying

The nature of PbP tends to promote games with an emphasis on roleplaying interactions over combat, though both are feasible. The players have longer to compose their thoughts and responses, and heavy "roll" games tend to go more slowly, so planning a game to include sufficient "role"-playing helps keep things interesting.

Essential Posting Skills for PbP

In-Character Writing

There are two common formats for writing an in-character post. The GM of each game will say which one is preferable, or will lead by example.

Prose format uses 3rd person point of view and past tense, and is often preferred on these boards. The alternative is script format. Script format is called that because it looks something like the script of a play or TV show. It’s generally in present tense, third person perspective. This has the advantage of sounding more like a tabletop game, and not assuming that events occur as written.

Proper grammar and spelling (barring speech patterns as part of a character's defining traits) are a must, since confusion resulting from a run-on sentence could lead to character death. Running a post through a spelling and grammar checker is a good idea before posting.

Text Formatting

The basic post formatting options for Myth-Weavers can be found here. These options are also available as buttons above your text entry field. The most common format is that actions are described with normal text, speech is bold and within quotes, and thoughts are in italics (quotes optional).

Out-of-Character Information

It's a good idea to include the relevant statistics for any sort of significant action you're making. For example, in combat you might list AC, attack bonuses, weapon damage, and current HP. If you cast a spell, list caster level, save DC, etc. There are a number of options for tying this information into your post, including the OOC tag, coloring or putting OOC text in fieldset tags, or even using a separate OOC thread. Again, the individual GMs will set the standard for each game.

If you need to make a dice roll, use the Roll tag to seamlessly add it to your in-character post.

Writing About Other Characters

In PbP, there is a temptation to include the actions or reactions of other characters, PC or NPC, in your own post, in order to move things along in the story. In some places, this is called godmoding or bunnying, and should be refrained from unless you have been given explicit permission by the character's owner or are the GM. It may take a while longer, but waiting for another player to compose their own character's response is generally worth the wait, and the slight acceleration of the plot is not worth the trouble. Also, let the DM resolve anything that needs an opposed die roll. In order to speed things up, it's usually okay to post probable actions your character will take depending on what happens next - a sort of "if, then" statement. Don't go overboard with this.

The exception to this rule is if you have permission from the DM and another player to control another character's actions, or if a DM has taken control of a character from an absent player.