I’ve had several sessions that fall apart as Play-By-Shared-Doc right about the time we get into a Conflict. That’s not to say when the group has a disagreement, just when the PCs seem to face a scene that a Conflict will best handle it.
I might be learning the wrong lesson. That is why I need to write this to the forum.
A session can generally handle simple obstacles and complex obstacles. Sometimes a player will lose a bit of time, but they’ll be back and mostly catch up to participate.
In contrast, I’ve found that a Conflict seems to lose steam very quickly. I suspect a few factors. Here is my hypothesis:
[li]A Conflict Goal doesn’t connect (enough) with a session Goal so the player loses interest
[/li][li]A volley of Actions takes too long to adjudicate so a player loses interest
[/li][li]A character lacks the skills so the player feels disinterested or disenfranchised
[/li][li]The topic of the Conflict lacks ties to the major story threads so players don’t want the risks and compromises
[/li][li]The Friends or Enemies are not being drawn into the Conflict so players don’t see the point
So, while I like running sessions on a shared document, I’m frequently left with an impression that I’ll never have a continuous run of sessions that lead to a Winter Session. I get the feeling that I’ll never have a lengthy campaign.
I’m considering a few changes to the playstyle of running a play-by-post or play-by-shared-doc campaign. Here is what I’m thinking of:
[li]Run a solo campaign with a cadre of DM NPCs that accompany a solo Guard member
[/li][li]Replace any possible conflict with a Complex Obstacle or borrow the Linked Test concept from BWG
[/li][li]Reduce the number of untested choices; narrate freely, then place the obstacle at hand; let the player decide how to confront the obstacle
[/li][li]Always have a plan for how an obstacle can be faced; never leave an open question for players to guess; increase transparency
[/li][li]Let loose the meta of sharing the villain’s (whether animal, mice, weather, or wilderness) objectives, thoughts, feelings, or actions; let the player share in the secrets
I might still fail to keep up interest levels. Certainly, unexpected events and stress in the lives of players can derail a session. Overall, I’m most concerned that I’ve misapplied my experiences in the lesson learned.