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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Good Systems for PbP

    So I play and run PbP games really often. I've played in them for most of my RPing career, and these days generally prefer them due to scheduling problems making it difficult for me to set up more traditional gaming. Not to mention that it's much easier to find players when time-zones and location make no difference.

    For the most part so far, I've run a slightly modified 5th edition D&D, as well as some very rules-light homebrew systems. However, lately, I've been wondering about expanding my horizon, and started looking for systems that work well in PbP while also allowing me to run a more versatile range of stories.

    I looked at FATE first, since that is the system that most often gets recommended when anyone is looking for a new system and because its mechanics did intrigue me. However, I found myself driven away from it a little bit when I discovered how much back and forth between GM and player it's Fate Point and compel mechanics required. When me and my players live in different time zones, and might only get off one post per day, exchanges like that can potentially take up most of a week, which is not conductive to a good gaming experience. I don't know if other people who have run FATE via PbP have different experiences there, though, or if they have some houserules for that. I'd be interested to hear them in any case.

    But either way, I was wondering if anyone here on the forums could recommend me some systems that work well or only need some minor adjustments for PbP gaming. As far as my personal preferences go, I am looking for systems that:

    1: Are relatively rules-light. I don't mind something with a little bit of complexity, but I only have so much time to learn new systems, and it's always difficult to advertise more obscure systems to players if they are rules-heavy. Not to mention that in my personal opinion, rules-heavy systems add very little fun and balance for the sheer amount of complexity they add.

    2: Do not require too much back and forth between GM and players. Again, when you and your players are awake at different times of the day, and you potentially have to wait 10 hours before getting an answer to a single question, it's difficult running a game where those kinds of interactions are common.

    3: Allow for different approaches and methods for dealing with scenarios. I once tried Mythender in PbP. Let's just say that was a mistake and leave it at that. >.>

    But yeah, I am definitively not looking for systems that take a more board-game or war-game-esque approach to things.

    4: Are generic. This one is not required at all, but I like the idea of being able to cook up whatever setting I like, and have a system in which it functions reasonably well.

    5: Have strong settings. Yeah, this one runs completely counter to point 2. But if a system is not generic, I'd at least like to have an actually good setting that comes with it. One that also allows for the player characters to have a good amount of agency.

    6: Allow player characters to be semi-competent outside of their specialisation. Some of the rules-light systems I've seen so far make so that a character can only perform tasks relevant to their archetype or build. One of the most enjoyable parts of GMing to me is watching my players come up with creative solutions and seeing how they approach scenarios in ways that I've never planned for. I'd rather see them being able to utilize their powers in creative ways than making them their only way of interacting with the world.

    7: Are free. Yeah, I'm a cheapskate. Sue me. I've only got so much money.


    Again, those are just my preferences. They are not required. In fact, 5e D&D checks barely any of those boxes, and it's still my main go-to game right now. I'd be glad to hear about any and all systems that, in your experience, work well in PbP. Anything goes, really. I don't really plan to run a new game anytime soon, but I just want to hear what options are out there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    This is something I'm wondering as well.

    After not playing any RPG'S for decades, I was privileged to play a little "table top" 5e D&D in 2015, and it was at least as fun as any RPG I played before with the possible exception of the D&D I played in the very late 1970's and very early 80's, but that's probably because fun was more fun for me before High school.

    With 2016 increased work and a newborn baby means no time for physical table-top any time soon, but my craving to play D&D is still strong, so... I've used a smartphone to play 5e (and a small bit of B/X) PbP D&D at this Forum, and I post during idle moments.

    I still love the lore of D&D, and especially that they are actual other people who want to play D&D, the problem for me is that what takes a few seconds, (looking at my PC's character "sheet") and is a minor inconvenience, or is actually a joy (rolling dice) with physical table top is a hassle, or even something that can't be done most of the time (looking something up in the PHB is not something I can pretend is "checking work orders") with PbP.

    Being able to "Alt-Tab" with a desktop computer instead of my using a phone, and having a printouts and rulebook's near me when I post would make PbP better, but if I could do that I would play using Skype or Roll20 or something.

    Any ideas?
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    I mean, if homebrew is okay, I'll happily throw my personal system, STaRS, into the mix.
    • It's rules-light, but tries to avoid being too narrativist or fiat-dependant.
    • It's "roll under your skill," so players will know whether they succeeded or not instantly and can post accordingly.
    • It's highly generic-- the power level is set at the start of the game and everything scales by that, and the core conflict rules can be used for everything from fistfights to social scenes to "escape the burning building" type scenes without too much work.
    • You're not pigeonholed by your build. Characters have ten abilities ranked 3-8, and a check is 1d10 roll under. At worst, when attempting a normal check you have about a 30-40% chance, and with clever play you can earn an ad-hoc positive modifier* that gives you 5e-style Advantage.



    *Difficulty basically scales by stacking Advantage and Disadvantage-- within a given power level, all non-opposed checks start as a normal check, and the GM assigns a single ad-hoc modifier to make it harder (Disadvantage) or easier (Advantage). Skills, injuries, and aid/complicate checks can alter that further, but that's the basic idea.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2017-03-19 at 04:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I still love the lore of D&D, and especially that they are actual other people who want to play D&D, the problem for me is that what takes a few seconds, (looking at my PC's character "sheet") and is a minor inconvenience, or is actually a joy (rolling dice) with physical table top is a hassle, or even something that can't be done most of the time (looking something up in the PHB is not something I can pretend is "checking work orders") with PbP.

    Being able to "Alt-Tab" with a desktop computer instead of my using a phone, and having a printouts and rulebook's near me when I post would make PbP better, but if I could do that I would play using Skype or Roll20 or something.

    Any ideas?
    I've seen some of your posts around and dang, it sounds kind of rough to find something for you. I personally would never think about even trying to do the majority of my PbP gaming via phone, for the reasons you've just mentioned. Not being able to look up mechanics or campaign notes easily while typing up a post would be ahuge hassle for me, and being unable to edit my posts easily as I write them would make them a pain to write.

    I suppose the best thing I can recommend for you is to memorize the mechanics about your character you'll need to know on a regular basic. Ability scores, which skills you are proficient in, to-hit and the damage of your weapons. Though that only is band-aid on the problem for you, I think.

    Maybe what you want is a diceless system? Those are certainly out there, though they tend to be more on the obscure side. Freeform Roleplay might work for you. It places a lot more responsibility on your shoulders as you have to decide what your character is capable of doing, since it involves no dice or mechanics, and it requires a lot more roleplaying on your part, but you'll still often see other players who run longer-lasting story-archs where they essentially take on the role of a GM, and write up small adventures for other players to explore. Heck, I'd be kinda interested to see someone try to get a freeform dungeon crawling game going.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I mean, if homebrew is okay, I'll happily throw my personal system, STaRS, into the mix.
    From glancing over the basic rules, this looks pretty interesting and solid. I especially love the idea of competencies, since those sound like they really allow for some huge increases in character power over the course of a campaign. That's a really clever, elegant way of going about that. I'll definitely keep an eye out for the finished version.

    That said, I'm not to sure about the fact that players need to make checks to defend themselves. I've faced this sort of issue with saving throws in D&D before, and in that case I've solved it by rolling for my players and having them roll for me, and also rolling for any potential damage in advance. That would work for attacks here as well. But I'm not entirely sure about complications. From what it sounds like, the player needs to come up with a way for his character to get through them, and then roll the relevant Ability check? That does sound like it'd require me to approve every attempt to overcome complications personally, as I'd have to decide what course of action is or is not appropriate. Or do I as the director set down in advance what checks can be used to overcome a complication?
    Last edited by Theoboldi; 2017-03-20 at 04:09 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you like Competence levels so much; I've put a lot of work into getting those to work like I envisioned. I'm still dragging my feet on art, but the rules are all done-- I'd be happy to send along a pdf.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    That said, I'm not to sure about the fact that players need to make checks to defend themselves. I've faced this sort of issue with saving throws in D&D before, and in that case I've solved it by rolling for my players and having them roll for me, and also rolling for any potential damage in advance. That would work for attacks here as well.
    It shouldn't be much back-and-forth. Players make defense rolls INSTEAD of the enemy making an attack. The worse they fail, the more damage they take. Enemies are really just a collection of modifiers saying "melee attack and defense checks against this guy are harder, physique checks against him are easier. " (along with notes about what powers and such they're capable of). I imagine you could easily post that info in the name of speed.

    But I'm not entirely sure about complications. From what it sounds like, the player needs to come up with a way for his character to get through them, and then roll the relevant Ability check? That does sound like it'd require me to approve every attempt to overcome complications personally, as I'd have to decide what course of action is or is not appropriate. Or do I as the director set down in advance what checks can be used to overcome a complication?
    You could easily set up concrete rules when you inflict the Complication. "You have sand in your eyes-- that'll make Agility (Melee Attack), Agility (Melee Defense), Awareness (Perception), Dex (Catching), and Dex (Ranged Attack) checks harder until you make a Physique (Fortitude) check."
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2017-03-20 at 06:55 AM.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

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    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    My go-to for PbP is anything based on the Apocalypse World engine; Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, Sagas of the Icelanders, Masks: a New Generation, Black Stars Rise, World Wide Wrestling, and more (including Dungeon World although I don't think it's an especially good hack).

    1: Are relatively rules-light.
    Check.

    2: Do not require too much back and forth between GM and players.
    Huge check. If you're going to do it, do it. And the structure of the moves (except in Dungeon World) is such you roll when you'd hand over the narration anyway.

    3: Allow for different approaches and methods for dealing with scenarios.
    Huge check.

    4: Are generic.
    Partial check. None of them claim to be generic, but I can do more with AW than I can with almost any "generic" system.

    5: Have strong settings.
    Kinda. In most of them you create about half the setting as you're creating characters but the settings are certainly strong.

    6: Allow player characters to be semi-competent outside of their specialisation
    Yes. And the more they go outside their specialisation the more XP they get.

    7: Are free.
    Afraid not normally.
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by neonchameleon View Post
    Yes. And the more they go outside their specialisation the more XP they get.
    Really? When I played AW I didn't even feel competent IN my specialty.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Really? When I played AW I didn't even feel competent IN my specialty.
    That depends heavily on the MC - who is directed specifically to "Be a fan of the characters". If they are handling things that a partial success is deemed to be incompetence then yes it does feel that way.
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    ....I suppose the best thing I can recommend for you...

    Thanks for the suggestions.
    For whatever it's worth, I'm impressed that you've DM'd a 5e Pbp that's continued for much longer than most at this Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by neonchameleon View Post
    My go-to for PbP is anything based on the Apocalypse World engine;
    Apocalypse World....

    .... Sagas of the Icelanders.... and more (including Dungeon World....

    I'm laughing at myself, in that I bought both Dungeon World, and Saga of the Icelanders, without realizing that they used the same rules system.
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Legend of the Five Rings 4th edition I have played for years over PbP and find it works very well for the format.

    Did one game with Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars (Force and Destiny) over PbP and it worked very well too after some minor houserules to help things run smoothly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions.
    I'm laughing at myself, in that I bought both Dungeon World, and Saga of the Icelanders, without realizing that they used the same rules system.
    They don't; they use the same basic engine - making them about as similar as D&D 3.5 and D20 Modern or Star Wars Saga edition.
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you like Competence levels so much; I've put a lot of work into getting those to work like I envisioned. I'm still dragging my feet on art, but the rules are all done-- I'd be happy to send along a pdf.
    That'd be lovely, actually. I can't promise that I'll have time to run a game anytime soon, or that I'll be able to give a thorough review, but the design of your game does intrigue me a lot.

    And thanks for the clarifications regarding your rules. That does sound like it'd run pretty smoothly, while allowing for a lot of creative problem solving at the same time. There's still some things I'm unclear about, but I imagine all of them are explained in the full rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by neonchameleon View Post
    My go-to for PbP is anything based on the Apocalypse World engine; Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, Sagas of the Icelanders, Masks: a New Generation, Black Stars Rise, World Wide Wrestling, and more (including Dungeon World although I don't think it's an especially good hack).
    I've checked out Dungeon Worlds a while back, though I've never had the chance to run it. The other PbtA games I stayed away from mostly because I was uncertain of whether the game was a good fit for me.

    If you don't mind, I'd like to hear the opinion of an experienced PbtA player on two questions I have.

    1. I've heard a lot about how the gameplay of Apocalypse world revolves around something of a downward spiral, with complications and more complications slowly stacking up over time as you continue to make rolls, until eventually it all comes crashing down on them in one way or another. Is that actually an accurate description of how the game is run? And if yes, how do these complications eventually get resolved?

    2. How do PbtA handle short-running games and one-shots? I'm not always in the mood for lengthy campaigns that might take years, and just run a short adventure or story or whatever sometimes. What I've read so far seems to imply that PbtA is entirely focused on longer-running campaigns.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions.
    For whatever it's worth, I'm impressed that you've DM'd a 5e Pbp that's continued for much longer than most at this Forum.
    I think that a lot of it comes down to staying in contact with your players and enforcing a steady posting schedule. Not a quick one, necessarily, but it has to be a reliable one. If you can't get your players invested in keeping the game going on their own, you've already failed.

    Of course, by this point I have almost ten years of experience with PbP, and I've done them since I was a kid. I just learned a little bit from what I've seen over the years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Legend of the Five Rings 4th edition I have played for years over PbP and find it works very well for the format.

    Did one game with Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars (Force and Destiny) over PbP and it worked very well too after some minor houserules to help things run smoothly.
    I've only ever played one of Fantasy Flight's games, and that was a Star Wars one-shot at an actual table. It was a long time ago, though I remember it being pretty fun.

    Out of curiosity, what kind of houserules did you use?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    I've only ever played one of Fantasy Flight's games, and that was a Star Wars one-shot at an actual table. It was a long time ago, though I remember it being pretty fun.

    Out of curiosity, what kind of houserules did you use?
    One of the houserules was a new race, Sith Purebloods, since the game took place in The Old Republic-period, based on the MMO.

    Another was the limit to how many Destiny Points one could use in a single In-Character day, since we were around 16 PCs, without specific GM permission. One exception being Combat, since GMs and Players trade Destiny Points back and forth all the time there.

    I found that doing that system over PbP was also a great way to learn it, since the Orokos-dice roller automatically shows you your Successes/Failures, Advantages/Disadvantages and Triumphs/Despairs, and calculates which ones get zeroed out and such, so as long as you had learned your dicepool it was really easy to get into the dice-system.

    Lastly, we basically just flipped the Force-system around too, since the game took place on Korriban with Sith Academy students, so all PCs were Dark Side Force users.
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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    If you don't mind, I'd like to hear the opinion of an experienced PbtA player on two questions I have.

    1. I've heard a lot about how the gameplay of Apocalypse world revolves around something of a downward spiral, with complications and more complications slowly stacking up over time as you continue to make rolls, until eventually it all comes crashing down on them in one way or another. Is that actually an accurate description of how the game is run? And if yes, how do these complications eventually get resolved?
    That's a description of how the game can run - and generally the early stage of a game will create complications (many of which can be resolved either by talking it out or putting a bullet into the right NPC - and some get resolved simply by lasting through the lean times into the times of adequacy). It's a description of how the game almost certainly will run if a Hardholder is on a bad strategy or being played badly.

    To unpack, the Hardholder is the person who runs the town - it's an allowed class. And if the hardholder is failing the town normally erupts in open warfare. There are two common Hardholder strategies for new players that are almost doomed to fail; if the Hardholder is a "I rule this town. My way or the highway" type jerk then they simply don't have the soft skills and investigation skills they need the other PCs to provide, and the town's going to fall apart. On the other hand if the Hardholder is a "Why can't we all be friends" type who tries to run an enlightened post-apocalyptic commune then their enforcers are going to take them apart and try to take over. Both these are intentional outcomes.

    Yes, complications stack up over time; dealing with them is a big part of the game and is one of the things that means the GM should do very little prep in advance. But they don't necessarily come crashing down although this is always a possibility.

    2. How do PbtA handle short-running games and one-shots? I'm not always in the mood for lengthy campaigns that might take years, and just run a short adventure or story or whatever sometimes. What I've read so far seems to imply that PbtA is entirely focused on longer-running campaigns.
    Honestly pretty well and far better than D&D. In real life I've a couple of times said "OK. Two players are no shows so we're going to try something else today" and broken out Apocalypse World for a one-shot with entirely no plan and players who've never played before - and it worked. The characters in most games of the AW family are evocative enough that everyone understands theirs, and the resolution mechanic's simple enough no one is going to forget (even if they may find Read A Sitch & co. awkward at first). On the other hand for a one shot with the AW rules you as the GM don't have a clue where it will end up and just have to trust it will end up somewhere.
    Currently in playtesting, now with optional rules for a cover based sci-fi shooter.
    Games for Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and Silver Age Marvel. Skins for The Gorgon, the Deep One, the Kitsune, the Banshee, and the Mad Scientist

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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by neonchameleon View Post
    *explanations*
    Thanks! That actually does sound pretty interesting, even if the idea of having to improvise quite that much sounds a little intimidating to me. I guess you get used to it with a little practise, though. Maybe I'll try and look for some World games around (once I've got time again, I mean), and check out the gameplay for myself. It's certainly very different from most other non-freeform RPGs I've played.

    Though I do wonder. What makes you say that Dungeon World is not a particularely good hack? So far, it's the only one I've looked at, mostly because the basic player rules are free. So I can't really compare it with the other ones and the original.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezekielraiden View Post
    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    I've found that many of the OSR systems run really well in pbp. I usually run ACKS -- which offers a fair amount of customization with Proficiencies and the excellent Player's Companion supplement -- and can often roll out several rounds of combat at a time, given coordination with my players.

    I've also played in, but never run, Stars Without Numbers, an excellent OSR Sci-fi game that uses B/X as its chassis. It's published by Sine Nomine and they've got free versions of most of their games on RPGnow (including SWN and Godbound).

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    Though I do wonder. What makes you say that Dungeon World is not a particularely good hack? So far, it's the only one I've looked at, mostly because the basic player rules are free. So I can't really compare it with the other ones and the original.
    Basically it feels as if it was put together backwards and lacks the rhythm of most of the best PbtA games. Most good PbtA games have the rhythm of freeform with the rolls interfering at the least awkward times and are based on what the game is about (even in the case of Monsterhearts with its "broken" moves that tend to get you into a mess even when you succeed). And it doesn't tie so closely to the world as most PbtA games.
    Currently in playtesting, now with optional rules for a cover based sci-fi shooter.
    Games for Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and Silver Age Marvel. Skins for The Gorgon, the Deep One, the Kitsune, the Banshee, and the Mad Scientist

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Troll in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    Not sure what's accessible for free, but Storium (www.storium.com) is probably my preferred setup for PbP, since it was explicitly designed for it.

    (And, if anyone wants to give it a try, I'm certainly up for it)
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2017-03-21 at 02:22 PM.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Lacuna Caster's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    I dimly recall that someone recommended Wushu to me for the purpose, since you essentially describe actions first, then roll for success afterward? The topic does interest me, so I'll have to catch up on this later.
    Give directly to the extreme poor.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    30.2672 N, 97.7431 W
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Good Systems for PbP

    I find the D6 version of Star Wars to be PbP friendly, as it is pretty fast and easy to learn and play, and only uses D6's (duh), which works great with many online dice rolling thingamabobbies.

    Or, you can give High School Harem Comedy a try.
    "Sleeping late might not be a virtue, but it sure aint no vice. The old saw about the early bird and the worm just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed."

    - L. Long

    I think, therefore I get really, really annoyed at people who won't.

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