Non-combat initiative, aka how to spread the PbP love? - Myth-Weavers

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Non-combat initiative, aka how to spread the PbP love?

   
Non-combat initiative, aka how to spread the PbP love?

Outside of combat, where turns are usually prescribed by initiative, does anyone have recommendations about how to allow all players to be able to participate equally without necessarily using some kind of initiative system?

In many of the games where I am the GM, it seems as though there always players who get to post first, whether due to friendly time zone alignment, work schedules, or obsessive/compulsive forum checking. I don't want to punish eager play, as it helps to avoid the momentum die-off that often kills PbP games, but it really leaves other players out in the cold. I have thought about using something like a possession marker, where whichever player currently possesses it and gets first dibs on posting, but I am not sure I like that idea. What have you used to address this in your games?

The short answer from me, because I'm on my phone, is this:

Having mature players who understand that scenes need to be shared. Just because they can post first every time doesn't mean they should. Even those "uneventful" posts don't need to be used just to show you saw it first. Caveat: if the game is lagging, take whatever posts you can get no matter who it's from. Again, the maturity level of your players is the greatest strength of any PbP game.

It's a non-answer to the specifics of your question, but it helps answer the bigger picture.

Keep your OOC thread active too (but not filled with garbage that becomes white noise postings) and that allows everyone a chance to communicate what they'd like to do or like to see in a specific scene. If you're like me and like to play it close to the vest with your character's actions, a simple "please don't push this forward before I get a chance to post unless the scene demands it" in the OOC.

I'll offer a longer version or clarification when I have a chance.

That makes sense. The real answer is managing expectations and communicating what I need to see from players in terms of posting WIP or Placeholder entries in OOC or story threads, and expressing the importance of respecting other players' boundaries in terms of waiting to post, etc. Thanks!

Another tactic that I have found that works wonders is allowing players to call their own scenes. This gives each player a chance to have ownership of their scene, and let's everyone know where the spotlight falls.

GM: We are about to ride into [insert generic fantasy town name here]. You don't have an audience with the king until tomorrow afternoon. What scenes would you like to have before then?

Rogue: I think the Barbarian and I should get into a bar fight with some locals, so I can show him just how well a halfling can hold his own in a drunken brawl. *barbarian player grins and nods*

GM: Okay, that's you two. How about the wizard and the cleric?

Cleric: Well, how about a scene where I meet the local priests of my god and use my influence to get a halfling and a rogue out of jail for brawling? I can score some points with the local clergy and perhaps gather some info about the quest the king has for us.

Wizard: I'll come along for that, but then I'd like to visit the wizards college. I have an old flame who teaches there. I can totally talk dirty to him while the cleric looks on disapprovingly. *cleric facepalms*

GM: Okay, let's start with the tavern . . .

A lot of OOC planning up front lets everyone know what the goal of the scene is (though the dice may decide differently, depending on the game and your play style) and who has the spotlight. The other posters should follow the lead of the spotlight character, even if that means being a little bit patient. When the GM calls for scenes next, she should make sure that the Barbarian gets first dibs at the spotlight, since he took the backseat this time.

Even if you have a GM driven game, giving the players a chance, even if only on occasion, to call their own scenes and take the spotlight, will go a long way toward keeping the slower posters happy for the long haul.

Play in the 'Now':
  1. Make sure everyone stays in the same tense (I ask for active present tense).
  2. Avoid 'rubber banding'. If the Dungeon Master describes a box falling, it only needs to be described once; subsequent players don't have to describe the box falling again in their reaction to the box and their reactions don't have to be described again in reactions to that reaction.








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