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    Default About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Title says it all really. I have a cool idea i want to use, but i dont know if i have time. So i'm asking other DM's. Is it a massive undertaking? Does it only take about as much time and energy as playing them?
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    In some ways it's more work, and in some ways it's less... I'll try to break it down based on my experiences

    Less work:
    Don't need to find times good for everyone
    More time to react to unexpected events
    Don't need to worry about physical items such as dice, grids, and figures

    More work:
    Need to select which applicants will be able to join
    Need to find a way to represent a battle grid (I like using this board's table function)
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    It takes all the work. All of it.

    Seriously though, if you want to compare it to RL DMing, I find that it's slightly easier in actual gameplay, since you have much more time to come up with the exact right way to voice your NPCs.
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Hi Blisstake!

    For PbP DMing I would say that its much, much easier. Due to the slow pace of the game you have far more time to fill in all of the details and also you have far more time to try and give the NPCs more flavour in terms of decsription and speech patterns.

    Given that you as the DM dictate the speed of play you can choose for a fastish pasced game of 1-2 posts/day or a slower pace with 1 post every 2/3 days.

    The only problem I've seen (but thankfully not experienced) is players wanting bizzare, silly and homebrew characters and the problem that its quite dependnat on the DM that the game not peter out.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Main difference between DM-ing in RL and PbP is that you need to prepare ahead of the session for the former while you can do all of that on the fly with PbP.

    More work than playing? Well, maybe, maybe not. If you put high standards on efforts to create backgrounds and disallow anything you are not comfortable/familiar with. Then odds are that players adhering to your standards will work just as hard on creating their characters as you will on designing the story. Rule of thumb, in my experience, is that you, as a DM, is likely going to post two or three times as much as you would as a player. Some things comes easier to a DM rather than to a player, at least assuming the player is invested in his character, while your NPC's doesn't have that much work into them.
    Last edited by Havelock; 2011-10-09 at 04:54 PM.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    I have personally found PbP games easier to run that RL ones, but there is an added level of difficulty in regards to keeping the game interesting for both players and for youself as the DM. PbP games are notorious for failing shortly after their conception. RL games have the advantage of creating a routine that becomes habit for everyone involved. If you don't have time to go to the gaming location (be it a person's house, a cafe, or college lounge area) then you simply can't play in the game. PbP games, on the other hand, appear to take less of one's time. So everyone will claim to be avaliable for them even when their time is very tight. Soon enough you'll start losing players to a varriety of reasons. So PbP is easier to run, but more frustrating if you keep losing players and can't keep a solid game going. One way around this is to run solo campaigns. This seems to make the game last a little longer.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blisstake View Post
    Less work:
    1) Don't need to find times good for everyone
    2) More time to react to unexpected events
    3) Don't need to worry about physical items such as dice, grids, and figures

    More work:
    1) Need to select which applicants will be able to join
    2) Need to find a way to represent a battle grid (I like using this board's table function)
    3) Image uploading
    4) Generally online games will require more detail
    Paraphrased.

    Less Work:
    1) This is huge. Huge.
    2) Also huge.
    3) Really quite trivial.

    1) Not necessarily. If you start with a group of known people, instead of an application this goes away entirely.
    2) Only if playing a system that needs a grid. As a rule, rules light systems cooperate with play by post much better than rules heavy systems.
    3) Unnecessary, but sometimes valuable. Still, this is pretty trivial, unless you feel that you need to personally draw everything.
    4) On the one hand, more detail is required. On the other, you have archives to draw on at all times, because the game is being recorded, so this isn't necessary difficult.

    Now, for the real problems.
    1) Organization is a pain. PbP is liable to crash and burn, as it is slow paced and enthusiasm naturally drops. Still, if you find the right group, this can be circumvented.
    2) Its slow. This can be frustrating, particularly for those accustomed to pacing.
    3) Text has some limits that voice doesn't, and the transition can be difficult. Still, once you have the hang of it this is largely irrelevant.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Note that while PbP is slow here, it doesn't hvae to be. I've been on pages where everyone was in the same timezone and we had three or four posts per player per day.
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Note that while PbP is slow here, it doesn't hvae to be. I've been on pages where everyone was in the same timezone and we had three or four posts per player per day.
    That is still really slow compared to, say, IRC, let alone face to face gaming.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    That is still really slow compared to, say, IRC, let alone face to face gaming.
    What's IRC, if you don't mind me asking?
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    What's IRC, if you don't mind me asking?

    Internet Relay Chat
    . In essence, a type of chatroom, organized by servers with channels in them.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Note that while PbP is slow here, it doesn't hvae to be. I've been on pages where everyone was in the same timezone and we had three or four posts per player per day.
    I can't keep up with games that go that fast myself. I've been in a few and had to bow out early on. They are amazingly fun and addictive, but very time-consuming.

    I've run quite a few pbp games, and my big advice is to use the most lightweight combat system you can find, where positioning isn't that important. B/X is a fantastic D&D system to run for pbp. I can't imagine a 4E game, but I'm sure people do it. It was bad enough when I played in a 3.5 game where each player had to post a copy of the combat map, with a trail of x's to indicate exactly where his character moved.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by ken-do-nim View Post
    I can't keep up with games that go that fast myself. I've been in a few and had to bow out early on. They are amazingly fun and addictive, but very time-consuming.

    I've run quite a few pbp games, and my big advice is to use the most lightweight combat system you can find, where positioning isn't that important. B/X is a fantastic D&D system to run for pbp. I can't imagine a 4E game, but I'm sure people do it. It was bad enough when I played in a 3.5 game where each player had to post a copy of the combat map, with a trail of x's to indicate exactly where his character moved.
    I'd recommend lightweight systems in general. In the case of D&D, that basically means play Warrior Rogue and Mage. It feels more like D&D than any edition of D&D, and is nice and light.

    As for your first point, I can't reliably manage a post a day, let alone several. That said, 5 posts or so a week can work fairly well.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Lightweight/heavyweight doesn't matter as much as speed of conflict resolution in actions for PbP. For example, Mutants and Masterminds is great for PbP even though it's pretty rules-heavy, because its combat system is very fast. 4e is bad for PbP not because it's rules-heavy, but because it takes so many attacks to take an enemy down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    That is still really slow compared to, say, IRC, let alone face to face gaming.
    Not when you compare seven days of quick PbP to one tabletop session (which is a fair comparison, because most groups play once a week). PbP games are slower, but they proceed all the time, while traditional ones go forward in bursts.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Not when you compare seven days of quick PbP to one tabletop session (which is a fair comparison, because most groups play once a week). PbP games are slower, but they proceed all the time, while traditional ones go forward in bursts.
    Alright, lets assume 4 posts per person, 1 paragraph per post, 5 people in a game. These are generous figures. Each day, 20 paragraphs are added, in a week, this is 140. Assume 5 sentences per paragraph, which isn't high, but is probably accurate considering how some posts will inevitably be minor. We are up to 700 sentences per week. That's not insignificant, but a page is about 500 words, and if you assume 20 words per sentence (which is generous), each page can contain 25 sentences. So, 30 pages, ish, per week. From what I've seen of IRC transcripts, 40-60 pages per session is reasonable, face to face is faster, and probably hits 100 pages per session - its not recorded, and given that it is only 20 pages per person, and the games involve a lot of talking that's a reasonable assumption. So it is still over 3 times slower, even given generous assumptions on how quickly each post covers ground, generous assumptions about posting rate, and generous assumptions about group sizes.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post

    Internet Relay Chat
    . In essence, a type of chatroom, organized by servers with channels in them.
    True on the speed, but it's not the same.
    There are some marked differences in style between PbP and Chat/table games. Even in the fastest PbP games, you can take an hour to compose your next post in your head and ten minutes to write it. The writing style also seems to be different, heavier on the description from both DMs and players. There's a tendency towards lengthy monologues, since no one can interrupt you.
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    @Knaight - you're assuming that a sentence will always carry the same amount of information. From my experience, real-time games have a lot more "trash data" flying around. It addition, a large chunk of the time in a combat-heavy game is just people waiting for their turn, a problem that doesn't exist in PbP if all the players are active.

    An additional benefit for PbP is that it's much easier to participate in several games at once, be it as a player or a DM, while having two or more tabletop sessions per week is often too much for most people.
    Last edited by Tengu_temp; 2011-10-10 at 05:52 PM.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Lightweight/heavyweight doesn't matter as much as speed of conflict resolution in actions for PbP. For example, Mutants and Masterminds is great for PbP even though it's pretty rules-heavy, because its combat system is very fast. 4e is bad for PbP not because it's rules-heavy, but because it takes so many attacks to take an enemy down.
    Yeah, and I'll also say that you want a combat system where everybody just declares their actions at the start of every round, then the DM resolves the round without having to stop and ask anybody any questions. It goes *so* much faster than having to stop for each player's turn. Each player should also furnish a standard operating procedure so if a player doesn't post his combat action in the decided-upon-beforehand time limit, the DM can substitute the SOP (like "attack the strongest enemy", "stay in the back and shoot arrows", "start a bardic chant", etc.).

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Not when you compare seven days of quick PbP to one tabletop session (which is a fair comparison, because most groups play once a week). PbP games are slower, but they proceed all the time, while traditional ones go forward in bursts.
    I haven't been in a tabletop group that met every week in over a decade. For those of us with kids, once a month is all we can manage. PBP done with posting a new combat round or new room description reliably every other day goes WAY faster. Once a month sessions of 4 hours get hardly anywhere, but it's still better than nothing. (Of course a good hour of that 4 hours is spent catching up on things, and another half hour eating lunch ...)
    Last edited by ken-do-nim; 2011-10-10 at 06:42 PM.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post

    Internet Relay Chat
    . In essence, a type of chatroom, organized by servers with channels in them.

    I thought it was a way hackers sold drugs from boats without leaving any evidence in behind. I wouldn't bother trying to use it to run a game unless you have a GUI interface using Visual Basic and at least three people per keyboard.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeSwordfish View Post
    Title says it all really. I have a cool idea i want to use, but i dont know if i have time. So i'm asking other DM's. Is it a massive undertaking? Does it only take about as much time and energy as playing them?
    I find real life less challenging. Scheduling isn't so big a deal...but you still need to not let real life entirely crowd out GMing. This doesn't sound hard, until you're a few months into a game, and a coupla days without posting creeps into weeks. Activity is what feeds games, and as the GM, inactivity from you is pretty problematic. I've never, ever seen a game where RL committments didn't cause at least pauses of gameplay...you pretty much have to expect this, and try to communicate when it's happening.

    The speed of RL games is also vastly faster, which for me, makes it easier to fit it all in my head. In my RL games, I only use paper for changing status effects, hp and the like. Entire char sheets are in my head, correct to the last skill point, for important NPCs, and I can at least remember who all is important. I entirely remember what they did three fights ago, and what subplots each of them is pursuing. In pbp, this is MUCH harder, as this probably spreads over months and 10+ pages of posts. Take notes. Take LOTS of notes, separately for each player. Some stuff will STILL get forgotten, but it helps a ton.

    Note that pbp isn't a bad thing by any means, but some portions of it do offer challenges. For some people(those bad at improv, etc), it may actually be easier than RL dming, but I suspect this is the exception.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steward View Post
    I thought it was a way hackers sold drugs from boats without leaving any evidence in behind. I wouldn't bother trying to use it to run a game unless you have a GUI interface using Visual Basic and at least three people per keyboard.
    What. IRC is only marginally harder to use than a normal chatroom.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Quote Originally Posted by mootoall View Post
    It takes all the work. All of it.
    Holy crap that's word for word what I was going to post as soon as I saw this topic.

    We must hang out with similar memebases.

    And now that I've finished reading the thread, why do people think IRC is so hard? Is it just because it has command line-style options? You don't need to use those unless you want to. Just download mIRC (or for the truly Luddite or people in a hurry, go to www.mibbit.com), pick a server (I like EsperNet), and name your channel. Both of these things have GUIs, or you can use /join #channelname. Give everyone else the name of the server and channel and have them repeat. Officially 7000% as stable as AIM chat, and mildly less annoying to look at, depending on client.
    Last edited by Nerd-o-rama; 2011-10-11 at 01:35 PM.
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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    It's not much more work that DM'ing a regular game of D&D. It does take a lot longer since people post only when they're online so events and combats will be drawn out.

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    Default Re: About how much work is DM'ing a PbP game?

    Preparation is more important than you'd think for a PBP game. When you're sitting around a table, if someone gets the wrong end of the stick it takes moments to straighten out; in PBP it can cost days, and that's personally my biggest frustration GMing PBP.

    To that end, wherever possible it's best to have maps, diagrams, props, etc. on standby. You can have as much purple prose as you like (and I'm certainly no minimalist on that front) but somewhere you have to make sure that whenever the PCs might need information, it's presented clearly and comprehensively the very first moment it becomes relevant. An OOC thread is very useful for just this purpose.
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