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Author Topic: Questions about PbP games.  (Read 11067 times)
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Doomed Hero
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« on: December 12, 2007, 01:03:28 AM »

I've never done a Play by Post game, but I'm interested in learning how they work so I might be able to run one at some point.

Specifically, how do dice rolls work? Do players announce their intents and the GM's arbitrate? Do the players simply roll themself and announce their results themselves (sort of an honor system) Is it something else entirely?

Can someone who's been involved in one or two tell me about their experience?

Thank you.
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2007, 01:31:15 AM »

There are many options.

In "Under a Gray Sky" (the almost 3 years running game we had here that was saddly ended recently), Harrowed rolled the dice for us all, we just said what we wanted to do.

In other games players do all dice rolls.

I played in a Wheel of Time PbP once where we used a dice roller, like Inivisble Castle.

I don't really have a preference, whichever the DM choose is fine by me...
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2007, 05:04:38 PM »

Personally, I go for the 'GM makes all rolls' method. When I'm running a game, I don't even mention the dice, unless they turn up something like a natural 1 or 20, to emphasise how badly the PCs mucked up or how well they succeeded Smiley
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2007, 06:59:14 PM »

Interesting. Don't combats take forever if you have to post the results of every action, and wait for the next guy in the initiative order to react to what's happened? (and so on...)
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2007, 07:14:59 PM »

Interesting. Don't combats take forever if you have to post the results of every action, and wait for the next guy in the initiative order to react to what's happened? (and so on...)

Not really. The system of running in round by round allows for players to break up their actions. Most of my players would post actions to cover multiple rounds.

Example ... Shelg, the Elfing Rogue, will watch the deck of the ship looking for targets. He will favor anyone looking to rally the enemy's morale, or any legates/spell casters.

Here is a round from the above example, this is a bigger than normal OCC [Out of Character] combat post since it covered the PC plus the crews of two ships.. I handled all the rolling, the players just posted actions for their characters ...

Arc of Sennach, 23rd Day
Afternoon
Light Rain
Gulf of Sorshef

Clear Sky and Steel Virgin


Initative

Amara  ... clatter ... clatter ... [20+3=23]
Grrrak ... clatter ... clatter ... [19+2=21]
Red Taleel ... clatter ... clatter ... [17+3=20]
Clear Sky Crew ... clatter ... clatter ... [17+1=18]
Steel Virgin Crew ... clatter ... clatter ... [16+1=17]
Shelg  ... clatter ... clatter ... [8+5=13]
Sareth ... clatter ... clatter ... [9+2=11]

Surprise Round

Amara
Delay until 17

Grrrak
Grrrak activates Rage
10+ Orcs present [+1 attack for Grrrak]
Move onto the Steel Virgin with a Jump action ... clatter ... clatter ... [10+11=21] Success
Grrrak's melee attack ... clatter ... clatter ... [7+12=18] Hit
Grrrak's damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [3d8+10=23]
Sarcosian Crewman suffers 20 HP of damage [20/XX]
Sarcosian Crewman down, and dying.
Grrrak activates Cleave
Grrrak's melee attack ... clatter ... clatter ... [8+12=20] Hit
Grrrak's damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [3d8+10=32]
Orc Marine suffers 26 HP of damage [26/XX]
Orc Marine down, and dying.

Red Taleel
Move onto the Steel Virgin with Tumble action ... clatter ... clatter ... [12+16=28] Success
Moving into Grrrak's Reach area [She ain't dumb]
Red Taleel's melee attack ... clatter ... clatter ... [15+6=21] Hit
Red Taleel's damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [1d6+2+1d6+2d6=21]
Sarcosian Crewman suffers 18 HP of damage [21/XX]
Sarcosian Crewman down, and dying.

Clear Sky Crew

In case anyone is wondering, these are modified Company Scale rules to handle the larger ongoing fight between the two crew.

Move onto the Steel Virgin [Jump/Tumble]... clatter ... clatter ... [9+5=14/20+4=24] Majority success
Char's Command check ... clatter ... clatter ... [8+8=16] Success
CSC moves into melee with SVC#1
CSC had advantage
CSC's melee attack ... clatter ... clatter ... [17or14 +24=41] +6 Hits
CSC's melee damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [1d6+1=5] +5 Hits
CSC scores 11 Hits on SVC#1
SVC#1 Fortitude save [DC26] ... clatter ... clatter ... [12+3=15]
SVC#1 Injured and Shattered

Amara
Amara's moves onto Steel Virgin deck with Jump action ... clatter ... clatter ... [13+11=24] Success
Move into melee with SVC#1
Amara's melee attack#1 ... clatter ... clatter ... [12+2=14] Success
Amara's damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [1d6+2d6=11]
SVC#1 crewman suffers 8HP of damage [8/XX]
Amara's melee attack#2 ... clatter ... clatter ... [16+2=18] Success
Amara's damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [1d6+2d6=10]
SVC#1 crewman suffers 7HP of damage [15/XX]
SVC#1 crewman down, and dying.

Steel Virgin Crew

No action, due to surprise, but the unit commander gets a rally check against SVC#1 Shattered status
Gruntal's Command check [DC15] ... clatter ... clatter ... [15+12=27]
Shattered status removed.

Shelg

Hide check ... clatter ... clatter ... [16+19=35] Success, Moving at half speed.
Shelg's Spot ... clatter ... clatter ... [1+8=9] Failure
Commander of SVC#1 not spotted.
Shelg's ranged attack ... clatter ... clatter ... [14+8=22] Hit
Shelg's ranged damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [1d4+1+2d6=16]
Sarcosian crewman suffers 13 HP of damage [13/XX]
Sarcosian Crewman down, and dying.

Sareth
Casting Summon Monster II

Status

Amara [melee w/SVC#1] [Deck of the Steel Virgin] [18/18]
Grrrak [melee w/SVC#1] [Deck of the Steel Virgin] [45/51/45/51] [Rage 7/7]
Red Taleel [melee w/SVC#1] [Deck of the Steel Virgin] [56/56]
Clear Sky Crew [melee w/SVC#1] [Deck of the Steel Virgin]
Steel Virgin Crew#1 [melee w/CSC] [Deck of the Steel Virgin] [Injured]
Shelg [ranged] [Deck of the Clear Sky] [15/15] [Hidden]
Sareth [ranged] [Deck of the Clear Sky] [16/16] [casting]
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2007, 04:47:03 AM »

Wow, that's impressive. Also, complicated. I'm not sure if it's my thing. I've always found the face to face interactivity of gaming to be one of the most rewarding parts of it. Without that it just seems to lose some of it's appeal. Of course, I'm going entirely of of secondhand info and one combat log, so frankly, I really don't know what I'm talking about.

I think my ideal version of online gaming would be something like a cross between Fantasy Grounds and a Video Conference.

Hmm. I wonder if my computer could run Fantasy Grounds and a WebCam at the same time. Looks like I may shell out for that Windows emulator after all. Sigh. I feel like I'm gaining taint.
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2007, 03:09:19 PM »

Be aware: the way Harrowed formats his games is very, very different than the way anyone else does. When I run games, all that rules crap ( Wink , Har) takes up no more than a line or two of OOC text at the bottom of a post.
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2007, 03:42:37 PM »

Don't suppose you'd mind posting an example for me to take a look at?
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2007, 08:15:06 PM »

It's not from Midnight, but here's a post from one of my supers games:

Quote
Bolt
HP: 2; Status: Bruised, Injured

The sun blazed through the piles of grey clouds in the New York sky, cold and distant winter-fire. As it passed the apex of the sky, the bright light shone off the face of the RiSun building and reflected down to the battlelines below, catching tumbling shards from the destroyed upper floors so they blazed like diamonds, and the coils of smoke from WarGod's armoured carcass cast wispy shadows on the players of the painful game.

A sharply dressed mercenary went down, his windpipe caving in under the edge of a hand moving faster than the eye could see.

Ryan Sanders could not outrun the sun, but as he ducked and weaved through the achingly slow ballet of fists, feet and weapons trying to catch him the broke illumination cast him in strobe light. It was like dodging through the set of some obscure German expressionist theatre piece, with the limbs of black-clad extras casting the shadows of sickle-shaped tree limbs. Through the tangle of clumsy enemies, Bolt zigged and zagged, picking his targets and striking, kicking, clotheslining victims so fast that he was just a blur ripping through their ranks, moving in and out from under the shade of the building's overhang. They were scattering, trying to move away from where he was, where he had been, but it was as if they were marching through molasses.

Another goon dropped to his knees, twisting to clasp at his abdomen, which had been the recipient of a kick that knocked the wind out of him.

Picking his way amidst the bullets that skipped, hummingbird-like, through the air was an almost trivial task. As they cracked through the sound barrier at a relatively sedate 750 miles per hour, Bolt could speed past them even at a stroll. Only the sheer mass of hot lead, coming in all directions from wild-firing Syndicate soldiers made it difficult; more than once, he nearly ran into a line of fire while avoiding another.

Blood erupted in all directions as Bolt's hand caught a thickly-built enemy across the lips, splitting his cheeks open in both directions. The man fell, howling and gurgling, clutching at his ruined face, and the speedster decelerated into view just long enough to flick the red mess from his fingers. He favoured the remaining looters with a feral grin that held little humanity; less pity.

OOC: Bolt disables three enemies.
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2007, 10:15:04 PM »

True, mine is an example from the OCC representing the numbers behind the more descriptive IC posts. I like the numbers, it helps me keep things straight. It works much better in PbP than on tabletop

Arc of Sennach, 15th Day
Early Evening
Clear Skies
Sharuun

Shelg, Grrrak, Daniel, and Basiravia


Shelg silently closed the distance as he kept his focus on Daniel and Basiravia. He was several feet away when Basiravia shifted slightly to the left. Shelg froze in place as she scratch her head, however the shift to the side moved Daniel into Shelg's line of sight. Smoothly Daniel's vision passed over Shelg, without hesitation, and back to Basiravia.

Two more steps and Shelg slowly exhaled as he thrust the thin blade toward's her back ...

[OoC] Since it sounds like a called shot, I'm going to roll it out like that. [/OoC]

Shelg's Concentration check ... clatter ... clatter [17+0=17] Success
Shelg's melee attack ... clatter ... clatter ... [11+4=15] Hit, Called Shot [Automatic critical hit][Automatic Critical Effect - Moderate Slashing]
Shelg's location check ... clatter ... clatter [Torso hit, automatic due to successful Called Shot]
Automatic reduction of movement to half, -5 to attacks and DEX skills, and Heavy Bleeding
Shelg's damage ... clatter ... clatter ... [1d3+1 + 1d3+1 + 2d6=15]
Basiravia suffers 15HP of damage [15/XX] [Mod Sla Crit][1/2 Mov][-5 Att][-5 DEX Ski][Hvy Bleed]


... slipping it smoothly between her ribs his hand stopping as it hit her back. Basiravia coughed once, Shelg could hear the wetness in her cough. Blood, his stike against her heart must have found it's home.

Shelg's Spot check ... clatter ... clatter ... [6+8=14] Failure

As Basiravia started to stumble forward Shelg felt her shudder again as she pushed back against him. Turning she fell to the ground landing on her side. Shelg and Daniel stood staring at each other for a moment, as he glanced down he saw the bloody dagger in Daniel's hands. A wound, across the Sarcosian's neck. Deep, and bleeding heavily from two wounds. The Sarcosian is not long for this world, but she summons up some hidden reserve of strength to curse and mutter, as blood spurts from her mouth.

"How? My spells ... failed?"
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2007, 03:52:27 PM »

See, Har, that 'clatter clatter' stuff and actually writing down the rolls and modifiers? Totally unnecessary, and very space-consuming.
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2007, 07:35:46 PM »

I second that.
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2007, 11:06:05 PM »

Though PbPs I've run in the past were wholly descriptive (all rolls handled by me, and results only visible in the narrative I provided of what happened), I actually found Harrowed's version very easy to follow.

After all, he separated out the rolls from the narrative - skipping the system mechanics report was easy if you wanted to, but if you fancied finding out the details of something specific, you could do so in a moment.

The detailed character sheets Harrowed requested also helped considerably in both GM and players being able to monitor system when required.
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2007, 09:24:49 AM »

See, Har, that 'clatter clatter' stuff and actually writing down the rolls and modifiers? Totally unnecessary, and very space-consuming.

Cut and paste my good man for the common stuff, the rest ... well ... I type like a demon.
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2008, 02:52:23 PM »

I have run a handful of PbP games. I find the best way to deal with game mechanic on PbP is to minimize it. The reason we are all predisposed to the buckets and buckets of mechanics that come along with table top games is that we (the players) want to be successful, and we want to justify that success with numbers. As moderators, we want to keep the game well balanced, and do that with more buckets of math.
Personally, i find the use of dice to be kind of silly for a non-real time game session. Dice and plusses have their place, when repeated on the fly action resolutions are needed. In PbP, i try to make it a bit more cinematic. Sure, you megalomaniac power playing min-maxers won't have your tricked out broken exploits like you do on paper, but I'm kinda okay with that.  Characters have stats, but only in the sense that there are things that they are better than average at, great at, average at, worse than average at, and terrible at. these factors, along with equipment, are considered when resolving actions. Players are free to post decent amounts of information, but they simply refrain from posting the results of said actions. One advantage of this is the fact that players posting "on their turn" is not necessary. An example of this method follows, in which Ignin, Redhowl and Bannik are fighting a group of trolls:
----------------------------------------

GM: As the echoing screams from the ettin disperse into the distance, an unnerving silence pervades the river bar. The only sound is that of your anxious footsteps on the fist-sized stones below you. Redhowl catches the scent of troll filth coming from upstream
---
Redhowl: "Bannik-" Redhowl whispers loud enough to penetrate the dwarf's skull, "do you smell that? Is seems those trolls haven't had enough of us yet. I think we should get back from the river a ways, perhaps try to ambush them." Redhowl motions to Ignin and Bannik to follow her into some foliage away from the river.
---
Ignin: "Trolls, trolls. Never learn their lesson," Ignin says through a sadistic grin as he powders his hands with the last of his ruby dust. "How long do we have?" he says to Redhowl, unsure of the precision of her seemingly super-gnomal scent.
---
GM: Before Redhowl can answer, a volley of javelins is loosed on the three of you from upstream. Redhowl and Ignin notice them just before they hit, and Redhowl manages to get out of the way, but Ignin is hit in the leg and Bannik, blissfully unaware, takes a hit to the shoulder. Both of them are moderately injured, and Ignin is going to have trouble walking untill he gets patched up. A group of five trolls is visible on the riverbar, seemingly coming out of nowhere.
---
Bannik: "OW! ME LEG!" Bannik howls, as his heart fills with rage. "Filthy Orc- er... Trolls! Ill Kill the lot of you before you get another shot like that'n!" Bannik pulls his axe from its frog and speeds toward the group, weapon high over his right shoulder.
---
Ignin: Ignin goes pale as he tears out the weapon piercing his thigh. After a moment of shock, he regains focus and quickly limps further downstream to get a better view of their assailants and some distance, cringing with pain with every step. He pulls a bandage from his belt pouch.
---
Redhowl: Red reacts in an instant, leveling her already readied crossbow at the largest of the trolls. She speaks a phrase that she barely comprehends, and glittering runes light up on the stock of her weapon. The bolt screams out of the crossbow, wreathed in white-hot flame.
---
GM: The Trolls are utterly unprepared for the four feet of fury charging down at them. Bannik picks up speed as he charges downhill, and the trolls not only fail meet him with their weapons, but turn away, as if to flee the enraged dwarf. Attacking the nearest one, your swing finds its mark and severs the left arm of one of the trolls, continuing inward to break ribs, possibly damaging a lung.
Redhowl's bolt screams past Bannik, striking the largest of the trolls squarely in the chest. He instinctively reaches to remove it as a gout of flame explodes out of his back. He screams in agony, but maintains his footing.
---
Ignin: Ignin sees that his partners have engaged the trolls on the river bar, and takes a moment to stem the flow of blood from his leg.
---
Redhowl: Redhowl lets her crossbow drop back under her shoulder and whips her two merfolk daggers from their sheaths. She bounds quickly down the rocks, intent to finish off the brute she hit with her crossbow with a surprise shot to the back.
---
GM: Ignin manages to tie a secure enough bandage to stop the bleeding, though he is still in considerable pain. Redhowl joins the fray, swiftly dodging two clubs aimed at stopping her in her tracks. The Troll Bannik hit brings his club down on Bannik's head with his remaining arm, seemingly ignorant of its new injury. It is a glancing blow, but a blow none the less. Another club finds Bannik's shoulder, a much more solid strike this time, and a third flies past him as he dodges out of the way. Redhowl buries both of her exotic daggers into the back of the largest troll, dropping it after a final twitch.
---
Bannik: "Die fiends!" Bannik shouts as he yanks out his axe and swings it again, a sweeping chop from the side.
---
Ignin: Focusing on the enduring roar of the furnace, the crackle of he campfire, and the thunder of the forest fire, Ignin raises his ruby powdered and bloodstained hands in the air and looses a trio of pheonix at the Trolls, each at their own uninjured quarry.
---
GM: Arriving in an instant, Ignin's firebirds dive with graceful fury into the hearts of three of the trolls. Two of them drop to their knees, screaming smoke, the third falling backwards, its skull finding a boulder to land on with a satisfying crack.


so on and so forth. As the GM, you are in charge of moderating, but I prefer to leave the explicit mechanics on the table. In order to maintain an appreciable pace, I choose to tell a story with my players, considering the probability of success based upon their abilities, but without binding myself to a strict mechanic.

That's how I do it anyway. I might consider running a game on AtS if i continue to find myself with free time.

I realize this is an ancient thread, but it you read this, i'd love to hear some feedback.

 

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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2009, 01:01:21 PM »

Altus,
So when you run PbP games like this, do you still use D&D mechanics, or do you simply have players describe their characters and run with it?
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2009, 03:16:38 PM »

those are essentially the two options. The preceding example is the latter, with characters describing their actions, but not the results. conventional rules may also be used. this is usually slower, but provides a more traditional feel.
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2009, 03:30:23 PM »

D'oh.  I asked the wrong question!  Let me try again!

When you have players make characters for PbP, do you still bother with the D&D mechanics or do you just freeform it?
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2009, 07:45:00 PM »

it depends on the type of game. for a more freeform game, i generally want a description of the type of character, what they can do, some background, and we just kind of wing it. for more mechanically oriented games, it is exactly as in tabletop dnd, but with all the information from the character sheet submitted electronically.

in the most freestyle games, sometimes i just lay down a scenario, and let the players describe their characters as the story progresses. it depends on the type of game people want to play. I am a fan of both styles.
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« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2009, 04:52:01 PM »

I've played in a few PBP games over at EnWorld. I think they're really fun, it gives you an opportunity to do things with characters and plots that you don't necessarily get a chance to do in face-to-face games.

For instance, I was once in an Avengers game (using Mutants & Masterminds) where my brother played Iron Man. Virtually every time he posted he added information about what Stark was doing "behind the scenes" within his armor or with the folks back at S.H.I.E.L.D. He would ask them for technical readouts on various bits of information then my brother would find a way to explain how it happened and how fast the information was coming into the Iron Man suit, what kind of impact that had on his decision-making, and so on. All of this in an effort to explain some of the most basic stuff, like the effect shooting a repulsor ray had on the suit's efficiency and communications systems. It was way more than what was needed, but because we weren't all sitting around waiting for our turn it was enthralling to read.

In the PBP games I've played, the structure is usually fairly basic. The GM posts for the bad guys and keeps track of things like initiative, and everyone reacts with a combination of IC and OOC replies. Like this:

Quote from: Example
Darius shakes off the dust from his hair and slowly raises his eyes to look at the magistrate's young son. "Your sister's honor is all that keeps me from killing you, fool." His words dripping with rage, he keeps his hand off his sword.

OOC: Intimidate check, 5+9=14. Not so hot, oh well. Otherwise I'm being full defensive.

I was in an epic Midnight PBP game a while back. 1 book, 5 chapters, each chapter took months (I was only in chapter 5). That's a lot to read, but the OOC page and samples of the play pages should show you a bit about how a good PBP game can be run.
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