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View Full Version : Designing an rpg specifically for Pbp



Bhu
2016-06-20, 02:01 AM
I would like opinions on what a system designed specifically for play by post in forums would need,

Stan
2016-06-20, 08:30 AM
One way to go is diceless. Instead players have a resource pool of some sort that they spend to make things happen their way. It's a much different form of rpg than most people are used to, but it eliminates the back and forth of dice rolls and waiting for gm response of what happened. If a player is willing to spend their limited points, things happen the way they say for that moment and play can immediately go on to the next person.

Another option is just less variability, I've used 2d2 (flip 2 coins and count heads) in a FUDGE like system so players have a reasonable expectation of the outcome.

mabriss lethe
2016-06-20, 02:07 PM
Using lightweight rules helps a lot. Minimum number of stats. Minimal dice rolling (or none, as the poster above pointed out) You want to use any and every possible trick to keep things moving. regular tabletop games often have bogged down combat systems. Pbp exaggerates that to the nth degree.

Knaight
2016-06-20, 02:57 PM
Avoid strict turn orders. Situtations where you need people to post in a particular order tend to slow everything down, and the less they come up the better. Similarly, you probably want to avoid extended conflicts.

kyoryu
2016-06-20, 03:06 PM
As others have said, avoid situations where you're waiting for someone else to post.

Ideally, you should be able to resolve scenes with a minimum of back and forth - ideal would be one post per participant, but that might not be fully possible.

Also, a system that allows for player absence is a bonus, as that gets rid of an additional 'sync point'.

thedanster7000
2016-06-20, 03:42 PM
Perhaps an 'abstract time' combat system? Basically, the GM would post the monster's stats and anything else relevant, and then the players would post general strategy/whatever in a single post. Thus, analysing actions would be fairly complex but combat could be resolved with only one post/person, ideal for PbP,

kyoryu
2016-06-20, 03:46 PM
http://www.storium.com/ is an interesting reference point, as they've basically done this already.

thedanster7000
2016-06-20, 04:10 PM
Very very simple, poor system, that shows you what I mean:

Stats 1-10

HP - Hit Points
STR - Strength
AGI - Agility
END - Endurance
WS - Weapon Skill
BS - Ballistic Skill
(OMS) - Offensive Magic Skill
(AMS) - Assistive Magic Skill

Player chooses different options for the fight:
- Which Offense to use
- Which Defense to use
- Fight Agressively/Defensively

Attack:
D4 + Offensive Skill
If roll > Defense:
HP - (STR+WS/BS) or OMS

Assistive:
Ups everyone's HP from his AMS pool before fighting normally.

Modifiers:
- Choosing WS gives +1 END
- BS gives +1 AGI
- Agressively -1 END/AGI +1 STR/OMS
- Defensively +1 END/AGI -1 STR/OMS

Highest AGI attacks first then once that's happened it's been 5 seconds, then it repeats.

Essentially, this allows the GM to carry out an entire fight after just one post from everyone (maybe even use an auto-program) to speed up play. It's simple for the GM but still has some complexity.

Bhu
2016-06-21, 02:34 AM
How does this sound as a possible example:

The PC's are done as a single entity for combat purposes and so are bad guys. For example each PC contributes to the parties Hit Points, Initiative and Defenses based on their class. AC is 10, +1 for each PC in light armor, +2 for each PC in heavy armor, with another +1 for shields. If the bad guys beat that, they damage the group who have a pool of hp. Fights are basically roll initiative, both sides choose abilities and actions, roll attacks. One roll determines everything. For example you roll 3d6 to attack, and need to meet or exceed AC. Each PC with Rogue BAB contributes +1 to the roll, each PC with Fighter BAB adds +2. Damage is either low, medium or high die depending on party makeup and options chosen. If you roll doubles you crit. Class powers activate on specific rolls. For example if you roll a 16+ perhaps the Rogue adds his class level to the damage. If you roll evens the Cleric heals 2d6 to the party. This way you only need one party member to do combat rolls, but they can all participate in the story. All powers will be at will or once per encounter. Skill checks could be done the same with each member contributing to the roll. The goal being while you can all roleplay, combat is a quick thing done by whoever is on line at the time, and maybe both he and the DM do an agreed upon minimum (say 4 rolls) at that time. If both part and bad guys are still standing the DM and whoever is online next do more rolls (but really you shouldn't need more than 4).

Mutazoia
2016-06-21, 03:32 AM
Take a look at this system, designed right here in the Playground. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?290243-High-School-Harem-Comedy-(Game-System-PEACH))

mikeejimbo
2016-06-21, 08:47 AM
I've always wanted a PBP game based on creative writing, where you activate powers and accomplish goals by using different literary devices.

1of3
2016-06-21, 02:15 PM
I've seen the second on a post's timestamp used as a randomizer.

thedanster7000
2016-06-21, 03:07 PM
How does this sound as a possible example:

The PC's are done as a single entity for combat purposes and so are bad guys. For example each PC contributes to the parties Hit Points, Initiative and Defenses based on their class. AC is 10, +1 for each PC in light armor, +2 for each PC in heavy armor, with another +1 for shields. If the bad guys beat that, they damage the group who have a pool of hp. Fights are basically roll initiative, both sides choose abilities and actions, roll attacks. One roll determines everything. For example you roll 3d6 to attack, and need to meet or exceed AC. Each PC with Rogue BAB contributes +1 to the roll, each PC with Fighter BAB adds +2. Damage is either low, medium or high die depending on party makeup and options chosen. If you roll doubles you crit. Class powers activate on specific rolls. For example if you roll a 16+ perhaps the Rogue adds his class level to the damage. If you roll evens the Cleric heals 2d6 to the party. This way you only need one party member to do combat rolls, but they can all participate in the story. All powers will be at will or once per encounter. Skill checks could be done the same with each member contributing to the roll. The goal being while you can all roleplay, combat is a quick thing done by whoever is on line at the time, and maybe both he and the DM do an agreed upon minimum (say 4 rolls) at that time. If both part and bad guys are still standing the DM and whoever is online next do more rolls (but really you shouldn't need more than 4).
Like it! The idea of certain otherwise miscellaneous types of rolls triggering PC-specific abilities within a single mass entity is great.

erikun
2016-06-21, 06:28 PM
I would like opinions on what a system designed specifically for play by post in forums would need,
Are we talking about on these forums specifically (e.g. a forum with a built-in dice roller) or on any potential forum?

I think that the ideal solution would be where the GM can present/narrate a situation, where the PCs are free to talk and interact with it, and where the GM can (with one post) respond to their actions and present the next stage and/or next scene. It is so much more than just combat. I have seen far more forum RPGs die due to everyone waiting around for the GM's post, because interaction with each other is not encouraged - generally due to a round limit or something similar - and they've already done their one interaction with the scene.

For rolls, there should be one clear target number that players can roll against so that it does not require GM action to determine the results. That way, the players themselves can post a follow-up with the results of the roll, rather than waiting around for the GM to post one (and relying on the GM posting results for every roll that round). One possible idea is to intentionally allow a character to take multiple actions, but at an increasing penalty or other negative consequence - that way, a player could choose to do more in a scene than just their "single" action, although with a big consequence in trying to attempt too much.

All the above applies to the GM as much as the players, as well. The GM can make rolls against static PC defenses, and so on, which means they can simply narrate out a scene (or the results of combat, or players' actions, etc) in a series of a few posts - assuming new posts in response to their own rolls - and not rely on waiting for the PCs to respond.

I've considered something similar to Fate/FUDGE for such an idea. dF rolls average to 0, which means you can remove defensive rolls and still end up with the same general chances of success. Also, if the GM and players specifically state Aspects in descriptions - probably something that should be done anyways - then the players are free to invoke and use the scene details in taking actions and making rolls, rather than asking the GM "so do I see a ladder long enough somewhere in the store?"


How does this sound as a possible example:

The PC's are done as a single entity for combat purposes and so are bad guys. For example each PC contributes to the parties Hit Points, Initiative and Defenses based on their class. AC is 10, +1 for each PC in light armor, +2 for each PC in heavy armor, with another +1 for shields. If the bad guys beat that, they damage the group who have a pool of hp. Fights are basically roll initiative, both sides choose abilities and actions, roll attacks. One roll determines everything. For example you roll 3d6 to attack, and need to meet or exceed AC. Each PC with Rogue BAB contributes +1 to the roll, each PC with Fighter BAB adds +2. Damage is either low, medium or high die depending on party makeup and options chosen. If you roll doubles you crit. Class powers activate on specific rolls. For example if you roll a 16+ perhaps the Rogue adds his class level to the damage. If you roll evens the Cleric heals 2d6 to the party. This way you only need one party member to do combat rolls, but they can all participate in the story. All powers will be at will or once per encounter. Skill checks could be done the same with each member contributing to the roll. The goal being while you can all roleplay, combat is a quick thing done by whoever is on line at the time, and maybe both he and the DM do an agreed upon minimum (say 4 rolls) at that time. If both part and bad guys are still standing the DM and whoever is online next do more rolls (but really you shouldn't need more than 4).
I think that it automates some of the things which a PhP board handles very well, while ignoring some of the problems with the forum.

One thing that PBP games do not suffer from are player turns. Players, in general, have all the time they need to make a post. The only times they don't are when the player is absent (either from forgetting, dropping the game, or planned absense) or if a few players/the GM are running away with some rapid posting in the game. As such, taking away the rolls of all the players but one isn't really necessary. If anything, something like that would kill MY motivation to participate in a game. Why bother posting this combat round when I'm just there for the +3 AC and 2d6 random healing? After all, none of the decisions I might make in combat matter.

On the other hand, it heavily weighs on the GM to manage all the numbers, especially since they will likely be the one keeping track of player HP as well. I guess it has the benefit of keeping player-GM questions to a minimum, if only because the only real answer is "No, that doesn't matter to the combat roll."

By contrast, rolls outside combat are hardly touched upon. From my experience, unless your game is combat-heavy, most of the PBP posts end up being outside combat - either PC/PC and PC/NPC exchanges, or PCs trying to do something with their skills. That's something else which would need to be drastically altered, and I'm not sure how your combat solution would help to resolve things. Even if you have some method for combining PC attempts (perhaps along the lines of auto-assisting) the system still relies on GM response, which is what was slowing down the process to begin with.

Vitruviansquid
2016-06-21, 09:22 PM
How does this sound as a possible example:

The PC's are done as a single entity for combat purposes and so are bad guys. For example each PC contributes to the parties Hit Points, Initiative and Defenses based on their class. AC is 10, +1 for each PC in light armor, +2 for each PC in heavy armor, with another +1 for shields. If the bad guys beat that, they damage the group who have a pool of hp. Fights are basically roll initiative, both sides choose abilities and actions, roll attacks. One roll determines everything. For example you roll 3d6 to attack, and need to meet or exceed AC. Each PC with Rogue BAB contributes +1 to the roll, each PC with Fighter BAB adds +2. Damage is either low, medium or high die depending on party makeup and options chosen. If you roll doubles you crit. Class powers activate on specific rolls. For example if you roll a 16+ perhaps the Rogue adds his class level to the damage. If you roll evens the Cleric heals 2d6 to the party. This way you only need one party member to do combat rolls, but they can all participate in the story. All powers will be at will or once per encounter. Skill checks could be done the same with each member contributing to the roll. The goal being while you can all roleplay, combat is a quick thing done by whoever is on line at the time, and maybe both he and the DM do an agreed upon minimum (say 4 rolls) at that time. If both part and bad guys are still standing the DM and whoever is online next do more rolls (but really you shouldn't need more than 4).

Are you trying to make an original system for PbP, or are you bashing DnD 3.5 into something that's friendlier towards PbP?

Bhu
2016-06-21, 10:54 PM
Are you trying to make an original system for PbP, or are you bashing DnD 3.5 into something that's friendlier towards PbP?

Starting with D&D as a possible project, expanding to other genres if it works.

Erikun: This would be for any forum with a pbp section. I started with an idea for combat first because the two major gripes I've found everywhere I ask are as follows:

"Combat screws up the game because it grinds it to a halt."

"Waiting for teh guy who only visits the forum every three days to post while the rest of us visit daily also grinds the game to a halt."

It's why so many Pbp's are combat lite: no one wants to bother with it because it sucks up so much time. A simple fight can take a month or more to do while everyone waits on each other to post, and during that tie people say to hell with it and drop out. The point of this idea is that the people who log in frequently can do combat to keep the game moving, and I'll start with the rest once I have the final idea for this worked out to my satisfaction. Also the GM should not be needed to keep track of the players hp abilities. The sheet would consist of the group as a whole (which will be the same for everyone) and each individuals contributions to it. Effectively all the PC's have the same combat sheet, you just check the online character sheet and teh notes on it when you log on (assuming you're the guy logging in to fight). That means the people who want to rp and dont give a crap about combat can focus on rp.

erikun
2016-06-21, 11:29 PM
Erikun: This would be for any forum with a pbp section.
I asked the question because not all forums have some sort of internal dice roller. On forums which don't, a system that does not rely on dice for resolutions would be considerably better than one which does, and requires players to go off-board to use one.


I started with an idea for combat first because the two major gripes I've found everywhere I ask are as follows:

"Combat screws up the game because it grinds it to a halt."

"Waiting for teh guy who only visits the forum every three days to post while the rest of us visit daily also grinds the game to a halt."

It's why so many Pbp's are combat lite: no one wants to bother with it because it sucks up so much time. A simple fight can take a month or more to do while everyone waits on each other to post, and during that tie people say to hell with it and drop out. The point of this idea is that the people who log in frequently can do combat to keep the game moving, and I'll start with the rest once I have the final idea for this worked out to my satisfaction.
Alright, fair enough.

I think that D&D might be a bit too complex and a bit too grid-oriented to work well, but we can see what can be done.

If players not logging in or posting is a concern, then the biggest question is of what to do with absent players. Should they just be "fighting defensively" or providing support to the others by default? It seems like it might be useful to focus on the active players in that case. Also, providing some interesting options to the currently active players as well. Rather than just flat bonuses based on characters in the party, how about some basic support/"aid another" bonuses unless the character in question is specifically doing something else? For example, perhaps a cleric would add +1 AC and +1d6 HP healing to the most damaged character, but if the cleric player specifically chooses to take an action (like healing a specific target) then those bonuses don't apply.

Turning everything into a single roll could work. However, I'd be more inclined to give more modifiers to what the active players are doing over just the party composition. +2 to hit for flanking that round, which can be done even with an active player specifically choosing to flank even with an inactive one. +1 AC for each shield-carrying party member if they stick together and fight defensively. Attack roll and no retaliation if the party decides to focus fire with ranged attacks. And so on. The tricky part would be making sure the numbers worked together, especially if still using the BAB vs AC system.


Also the GM should not be needed to keep track of the players hp abilities. The sheet would consist of the group as a whole (which will be the same for everyone) and each individuals contributions to it. Effectively all the PC's have the same combat sheet, you just check the online character sheet and teh notes on it when you log on (assuming you're the guy logging in to fight). That means the people who want to rp and dont give a crap about combat can focus on rp.
Well, SOMEBODY needs to keep track of this stuff and it will either be each individual player, or the GM. Given that we are factoring in player absense, this generally means that the GM will be checking on each player and updating their HP. And since they're doing that anyways with the absent players, you might as well do it with everyone in the party.

Plus, player HP will typically be going down when the NPCs attack - during the GM's turn. It would be more practical for the GM to just make rolls and update the player HP sheet all at the same time, rather than making rolls and relying on different players checking in and updating throughout the day/week (and then checking again on their next post to see if everyone updated their section).


I'm just trying to think of the most efficient way of handling things, which may not be the same as how it works in traditional RPGs. If the GM is making one damage roll and there is just one "character" sheet, then it seems more reasonable to have the GM update the sheet once. It also means the GM can give out information about the results of the damage roll, such as specific PCs getting knocked out. Similarly, if the players are making a single damage roll for themselves, it would make sense for them to just update the character sheet directly, perhaps even picking which enemies to get eliminated from the damage dealt - which could mean mechanics for doing so easily.

Bhu
2016-06-22, 12:47 AM
I like a lot of those ideas.

Players in this instance would have an hp pool. They don't need to worry about dying until damage takes their hit pool below the number of PC's (i.e. if there are 5 players, no one is at risk of dying until the pool goes below 5 hp. Thus they don't keep track of each individuals hp, just the groups as a whole. I'll also try coming up with something for those forums with no roller, this was just the easier task.

lacco36
2016-06-22, 03:41 AM
I have the feeling, that HP is one of the points which should be removed from the game for it to go faster in pbp.

I've seen several games, which consisted of players stating their most optimal approach (=using the same set of moves again and again) and just "grinding" the enemy down. These may have been just "black sheep", but I think a system similar (not completely the same) as the VtM has would be more efficient - wound levels. While not perfect, it would speed up the play to just say: you got damage, move to bruised... :smallsmile:

thedanster7000
2016-06-22, 09:54 AM
One thing that PBP games do not suffer from are player turns. Players, in general, have all the time they need to make a post. The only times they don't are when the player is absent (either from forgetting, dropping the game, or planned absense) or if a few players/the GM are running away with some rapid posting in the game. As such, taking away the rolls of all the players but one isn't really necessary. If anything, something like that would kill MY motivation to participate in a game. Why bother posting this combat round when I'm just there for the +3 AC and 2d6 random healing? After all, none of the decisions I might make in combat matter.

Combat takes forever on PbP with turns, so a turnless system would fix that. The issue of players participating is legitimate though, perhaps choice of battle-specific strategy/tactics or which abilities to use in each specific fight adds some choice?



On the other hand, it heavily weighs on the GM to manage all the numbers, especially since they will likely be the one keeping track of player HP as well. I guess it has the benefit of keeping player-GM questions to a minimum, if only because the only real answer is "No, that doesn't matter to the combat roll."

Maybe a program could fix this, would be easy enough to put together considering it's plug-in the numbers and go.

erikun
2016-06-22, 05:07 PM
I like a lot of those ideas.

Players in this instance would have an hp pool. They don't need to worry about dying until damage takes their hit pool below the number of PC's (i.e. if there are 5 players, no one is at risk of dying until the pool goes below 5 hp. Thus they don't keep track of each individuals hp, just the groups as a whole. I'll also try coming up with something for those forums with no roller, this was just the easier task.
My original mention of Fate was in case the topic of a potential diceless system came up. While it's possible to run Fate without defensive rolls, it is also possible to run it without rolls entirely, leaving success up to ability ranks and creating/invoking Aspects. That might need a bit of work to run properly, though - I've not tried it myself. And it requires players thinking a bit differently than they might with a typical RPG.

For HP, I was thinking that PCs might drop at somewhat higher values - assuming a typical D&D HP pool, of course. For a four-character party, perhaps the first PC gets knocked out at 40% HP, the second at 30%, the third at 20%, and the last at 0% (obviously). Healing above those percentages of the max HP pool would revive the character, of course. It means you don't automatically have a fully functional party up until the last blow (unless attacks are dealing 1 HP damage, the difference between 5HP and 0HP is minimal) and it would allow the party to intentionally strike down and eliminate choice enemy units when the enemy HP pool drops to certain amounts. And one thing that the party would like, I think, is choosing which enemies to take out first.

For the PC side, the GM could just give the enemy's HP pool and allow players to pick which enemies to knock out once certain known HP values are passed. On the other end, it should be a PC group decision which character gets knocked out if the party HP pool drops below certain values.

Bhu
2016-06-23, 10:51 PM
I like that. Maybe let the party choose who goes first unless the opponent has an ability to single pc's out.

NichG
2016-06-24, 06:51 AM
I haven't actually done PbP, but based on my impressions on reading PbP threads and seeing how PbP games tend to collapse, I'd say the important aspects are:

- Encourage as much fast-paced activity as the players are willing to contribute. There should never been a situation in the system where a player is waiting to post if it's at all possible to avoid it.

- Give the players as much power to evaluate their own outcomes as possible, relying on the GM only for the injection of novel information. This contributes to the fast-paced activity of the first point. Also, give players lots of things that they can mess with absent the GM's direct intervention so that even in the case of a slow-down on the GM's part, the player interactions can maintain some momentum.

- Create a regular tempo by connecting real-life time to in-game time (could be cinematic time though). Have sensible defaults for what happens if someone does not post in the expected interval. That way, if you go away for a month and come back, you should be able to roughly expect how much in-game time has passed in your absence. This should give more of an impression of stability to the world - it goes on, with or without each player - so no one player can end up causing the game to come to a halt if they vanish for a time, and vanishing for a time directly costs opportunities so as to discourage players from ignoring the game casually.

As to specific mechanics for this, I'd try to design around having a set of 'environs', which change at a particular regular pace and are basically scenes in which there is some degree of free interaction possible. Those interactions would have a pre-specified form that lets players evaluate and narrate their own successes and failures. Possibly rather than a randomization-based system, the system would be based on giving each player some pool of resources to spend on guaranteed-success actions or bidding wars, so the game part is more about deciding how much to spend/bid rather than checking for success/failure, checking the change in situation, and adapting new plans. Ideally the system should have some provisions for players acting as GMs for each-other as necessary to smooth over micro-level actions. Then, at the end of the week, the GM summarizes what happened and as a result presents a transition as well as the next environ. Critical decision points might involve some kind of bidding for narrative control, where players' votes or assembled resources could be rearranged as a result of their roleplay during the preceding period.

Bhu
2016-06-25, 01:14 AM
Thanks much for the input guys. I'll try working something out and posting in homebrew.