Author Topic: GMing a forum format campaign  (Read 2350 times)

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GMing a forum format campaign
« on: September 24, 2004, 01:19:26 PM »
So I'm trying to think of ways to improve game play in a forum format RPG. Ideas anyone? Particularly from those who have played in a forum format RPG.

I'm particularly looking for micro-managing ideas. Like what to you do when you expect the character to do A but instead he does Z? Or like how do you properly convey to the player that there character is in a whole lot of trouble?
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The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

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Re: GMing a forum format campaign
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2004, 01:37:24 PM »
It has to start off with a general plan. Just a general one. These things can never be linear. Even less so than a p&d game. If the char does something different, if you know what hte final goal is and the events that lead to it, then you have the NPCs react in a way that adapts to the new problem with getting to their goal.

If the character does something that takes him completely away from the main plot, (say.... The Grey Knight decides to sail off for Greece, or something) then they don't see the plot unfolding. THey interact with people, you improvise new characters. Let him run the show. He can shop, visit, do whatever, but he's not making any headway on the conflict. the player will either eventually realize that he's off course and head back (meaning he has to learn what's changed, which can be fun) or he'll continue having fun doing what he's doing. As long as you both have fun, it matters little that he doesn't come back to the plot. If the player's the only one having fun, you just stop posting anything that happens to him.

And like is beign said in TTT, everyone needs an orientation period, esp the GM. THere should be cake stuff until the GM has a fair idea how the PCs will react to situations in the actual game, not just guesses made from char creation. After that period, be easy on them. DOn't let them make progress, but don't kill 'em. THat's not fun.

There does come a point where the player just isn't working with the story. At this point, you have to tell them straight out. "Your character doesn't fit the story." If they don't work with you, you may have to cut them out.

As for warning they're in trouble, throwing lots of danger doesn't always work. You have to accompany it with meta-comments about the consequences of the action that the character might see. If they still don't respond, well, you may have to kill off a character. This is, of course, long after the breaking in period and at least three warnings about hte destructive pattern. If the player chooses to ignore you, well... the consequences have been stated. They chose them.
I think you eventually have to play hard ball

42

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Re: GMing a forum format campaign
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2004, 06:33:06 PM »
Okay, well here are some more questions.

  • What is the best way to get characters/players involved who have characters not really participating much?
  • What is the best way to describe what is happening?
  • Is posting number, stats, dice rolls or other metagmae info helpful or does it just slow down play?
  • How best to handle declaired actions that show the player may not have read the posts carefully?
  • What is a good game speed for a forum RPG?
  • What would be a realistic amount of time for a GM to spend each week on running the game?


I think I already have some ideas of how I will run things differently if I start another Forum RPG.
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Re: GMing a forum format campaign
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2004, 02:02:09 AM »
A lot of your questions all depend on how you want to run things.  How often you want posts and how detailed is all GM preference, same with die rolls.

I think a good general speed is to have everyone post at least once every 2 days.  If the scene was goign well with a lot of good roleplaying, I'd let it go until it wound down and then move on.  

Remember, running a forum game is SLOOOOOOW.  Anything that further slows down an already slow game (like posting dice rolls,etc), should be thrown out.

I've tried my luck at forum games several times, as evidenced by Avast Ye! and a Buffy forum game on rpg.net.  I got burned out on both of them b/c of the work I had to put in.  It's a lot harder to GM over a forum.

If I could do it again, I'd try for a format that allowed roleplaying with as little structure as possible...but that goes more along the interactive fiction route, I guess.

Just be aware of what you're getting into before you jump in.  Read the ones left here and check out the ones of rpg.net (only visible if you're registered on the forums).  There's also a bunch over at ENWorld forums, but they're all d20, of course.

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Re: GMing a forum format campaign
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2004, 09:43:50 AM »
Quote
*What is the best way to get characters/players involved who have characters not really participating much?

cutting their characters. Unless someone else has thought of something. Pinging people with emails and messages and such doesn't work. Of course, the whole game has to be something interesting. Hopefully that comes out in that only a couple of your players are inactive. If they're all ignoring the game, you have to look at your game rather than them.
Quote
*What is the best way to describe what is happening?

I like using a narrative style. I don't like the second person pronouns, but I fall into it sometimes. Use lots of description to make sure there's no confusion about the setup.
Quote
*Is posting number, stats, dice rolls or other metagmae info helpful or does it just slow down play?

I'm not sure it slows down play, but it does mean you can't scale encounters in the middle of the encounter like I think you need to. Encounters last so long on a forum that you can't just wait for the next one. You need to make the CURRENT enounter easier or harder between posts. If no one can see numbers, then you can do that without anyone getting upset. That's my approach anyway.
Quote
*How best to handle declaired actions that show the player may not have read the posts carefully?

That's the toughest question you've asked. If they're online when you see it, just ping them and let them know. There were a lot of times when I sent someone a message on AIM to let them know they should edit their post. However, that isn't going to be the case most of the time. I can't think of a way to handle this other than to just post that they misinterpreted something. You need to keep the game moving, so I generally assume an action for the character that misunderstood my description on the conditions that my assumed action will a) be in keeping with the most recent posts' spirit, and b) will not be a stupid thing. I have to assume that misunderstanding may have come from my description, so I can't punish characters or players for that. The downside of this approach is that some players resent choices being made for them. There's going to be something unpleasant either way, though, either making everyone wait or annoying one player. One way to minimize the problems, though, is to be a very frequent visitor to your own game. When you see an inconsistency, you can then assume you saw it fairly quickly, and you can just post a note about it, and then it's not a big delay if you wait for that player to post again.
Quote
*What is a good game speed for a forum RPG?

I have no idea how to quantify that. I think a GM should post everyday. Yes, it's really hard to do. BUt at least once a day for the best games. Players should post every other day, at least.
Quote
*What would be a realistic amount of time for a GM to spend each week on running the game?

depends on his other commitments. The fewer players, the less time is needed to make it good. A gm can reduce the time per week if he has a complete outline set up ahead of time AND he's a good improvisor so can handle it when things go other than planned (which is, y'know, always). For a working stiff with a family, the gm needs to narrow down the time he's needed for the game to a couple hours a week at most, plus the time spent actually writing/reading posts.