Pathfinder PbP - Tips and Strategies - Myth-Weavers

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Pathfinder PbP - Tips and Strategies

Pathfinder PbP - Tips and Strategies

Hi there and g'day. May I ask the good PF GMs of MW for a bit of their time in sharing some tips and strategies in running PF in PbP form? I mean PF is great and all but I feel that the crunch factor of the rules, especially in combat scenarios, would make things go even slower given the nature of PbP.

Were there any "sacrifices" or compromise, like restricting Feats or certain actions, that you had to take?

I know that tactical game aspect of PF is one of its endearing elements but how would make it run in a "theater of the mind" approach, if it is all possible?

Thank you for all of your insight.

Note: I apologize if this question has been asked prior.

That question has indeed been asked several times, but I only found a couple threads with relevant discussions:

A few tips for speeding play:
Originally Posted by Dalar View Post
To facilitate gameplay (and save a couple of days of waiting for everyone to roll initiative before they can post combat actions), I find it best if the GM rolls initiative or other reactive/passive rolls. This drastically cuts down on the back-and-forth, letting your players keep the action and story moving instead of sitting around waiting for digital dice rolls. Combat already tends to be slow enough without any extra weight added to it.

I prefer to do initiative in blocks; if PCs A-E get a 1, 2, 18, 19, and 20 respectively on their initiative, and the kobolds averaged a 12, my groups would be as follows:
Group 1: PCs C-E
Group 2: Kobolds
Group 3: PCs A and B

Within each group it doesn't matter who posts first, I adjudicate in order of posting (this speeds play IMMENSELY!). Player C could go before player E despite having an 18 initiative vs. E's 20. The players in Group 3 in this example wouldn't get to post until after the kobolds have their turn.

Always ask for things in advance. And make sure to ask. You don't want to wait two days due to "Can I AoO it?" "Which one is it?" "The eastern one." "Yes, make the roll" "<finally rolls>" "Oh that triggers my <thing>."
That kills any system.
If the player if an AoO happy tripper, ask them to roll their full suite of AoOs with every combat post that they want to be AoOing. Spoiler tags are their friend for this.

Don't be afraid to roll for your players if it means you don't have to wait for them. This mostly means saves.

Roll in chunks for some things. Notably, initiative. If you've got three enemies, roll one initiative. If you've got ten, roll for two chunks of 5 enemies each.

Ban Leadership.

Skip theater of the mind if it's gonna be a combat-focused game. Learn MapTool, .mote, or Roll20.

Use Discord or something similar so people can answer questions in real-time.

Create an extra thread for side rolling, for things such as Knowledge checks. So that your players don't have to make a whole post.

Thank you @Dalar and @Veradux for the response and I do appreciate your patience with providing answers to repeating questions like mine. Excellent references as well as tips, especially for the AOO. Hope you'll all have a great week ahead.

Yeah, I forgot to mention the thing about AoOs. Most players who run that sort of character will be more than happy to give you the conditions / their intent so you can roll for them to keep things moving.

If X, then trip.
If Y, then disarm.
If Z, then _____.
Et cetera.

What I've seen is if the DM has some piece of information that would add context but isn't super critical, they'll put the information in a spoiler marked "Knowledge (arcana) DC 25" or whatever. Then players who think they might be able to make that roll the dice when they get the chance. If they make it, they're allowed to open the spoiler and read the information. It's purely honor system, which is why you don't use it if the adventure is on the line.

Also seconding letting the DM roll saving throws for players that happen during the monsters' turns, as long as they're rolled out in the open where everyone can see. There's a variant from D&D 3.5 where the players roll "spell attack rolls" against a monster's Fortitude Defense (instead of having the monster roll a Fortitude saving throw) that theoretically would be much better for PbP, but the one time I saw a DM try to use it, the players constantly forgot that they were supposed to do that so it didn't save anyone any time.

Another tip: Have players roll vs. spell resistance every time they cast a spell that would be affected by it.

The only thing that takes time in PbP is posting. The "crunch level" only matters if it means that you have to discuss things. In fact, things which would be really slow in a regular game are often fine, as doing a bunch of rolls or calculations is still negligible compared with waiting 5 hours for their time zone to wake up, or whatever. However anything which causes more posting or confusion can be an issue - most notably interrupting actions, which in PF means immediate actions and attacks of opportunity. Contingent actions also, like maybe you want to do a second thing only if your first succeeds, but you can often just post a bunch of if/else instructions.

Honestly, I don't find these to be a big deal. People just not posting is often worse, and in fact even combat generally pales in my experience to certain awkward social situations, most commonly the time immediately AFTER a combat, or basically any time players have to make a collective decision. However if you were to remove or limit anything, it would be those things.

And, of course, unnecessary back and forth can be eliminated. Roll initiative and saves for people, etc. PF already allows delaying so let players do that to take their turns in a faster order.

Handle loot distribution OOC. It's WAY faster than taking weeks to decide who gets the +1 light crossbow.

Haven't done much Play By Post, but there's a few things I've done in RL that have made the game go faster as even basic encounters were eating too much time.
- Reduced Hit Points. I give them more powerful creatures to fight, but with around half the regular hit points. Combat became fast and dangerous.
- Ready state. Not sure how applicable this is to PbP, but I had them make Ready State characters. Basically it means all their buffs were active and entering a "Ready State" was either a standard action or full round depending on how many buffs they could utilize.
- Flat saves and initiative. Kind of a case by case basis, but basically they just didn't roll saves or init and just treated it as if they had roll a 10. Any kind roll manipulation bonus, like taking the second, just let them roll if I said they would fail.

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