I finished a successful play by post (pbp) recently and I learned a few things that I think others should know before stepping into a pbp.
Communication and Transparency
This applies to any RPG not just pbp. You need to tell your players and/or MC what’s going on. If you want to see something happen or want to play a certain archetype, be up front about it. Talk to your group like a bunch of civil adults. This will nip most problems in the bud pretty quick. Say you want to play the brooding dark quiet type. That’s great, but talk to the group before hand. Let them know that your character won’t say much when asked. This way the group knows if they are overstepping boundaries or something is wrong out of game. As for GMing a pbp, tell the group what you’d like to do story and tone wise, and listen to them when they offer suggestions. Finally put all of your expectations out there when you are forming a group. I’ll get into expectations I have throughout the article.
Attendance and Planned Absences
With my pbp I ask the players to post once a day Monday through Friday. I’m usually busy on the weekends so I just take those days off from the game. Everyone can post more if they want but I only ask for the minimum. This worked well for my last few games but you can adjust as needed. I put out there that if you are going to only miss a day, don’t worry about it, but if you end up missing more than one, just say something on the out of character forum. This is especially important for the GM. If you are running a game and you need to disappear for a bit, tell your players asap. Nothing kills a game faster than the GM going on hiatus for a bit, regardless of reason.
The End is Nigh
Have an ending to the story in mind. More often than not the game will run out of steam before it reaches a satisfying conclusion. You should aim to hit your ending close to the peak of the story. Don’t keep a game going on just for the lulz. It’s much more satisfying when the game ends on a high note and not “Well I guess no one wants to play anymore.” This will help keep your players focused and when they know the end is coming it will help them stay on track.
Share the Load
Some of your players might actually be pretty savvy at book keeping. Let them help. Last game I ran one of the players actually set up all of the forums for us. This was a huge help. Ask your players who can help and what they can do. This will get them to invest even more into your game and let you worry about the important stuff more such as the story.
I realize that these things by themselves don’t seem like much but these four little tips help. So next time you feel like running a pbp please give them a try and let me know how it went. Thanks for reading.