Play By Post Additional Notes

I’ve used play-by-shared-doc both as player and GM over a number of years. So, I’ve got a page of tips and tricks already, but I recently wrote a note introducing new players into a campaign. I thought this makes a bit of good advice for anyone else considering a play-by-X format. In fact, I’m certain most of this can be used in face-to-face tabletop sessions also. I just haven’t had that for a while.

It is written from the GM point of view toward players. If re-purposing, you may have to revise some areas.

Write your Mouse
I’ve tried to stick with limited text, but wrote a bit of everyone’s mouse; please, feel free to make edits of what I’ve written–we’re all getting to know the patrol. Also, write a bit of your own preparations in Lockhaven for the assignment.

Deeds, Words, Thoughts, Feelings
You should write about your mouse doing things–you don’t have to be hesitant or tentative–rather than trying things. If I have a reason to call a test, I’ll do so; if there’s a bit too much authority taken, I’ll help tone it down.

You should write dialogue or monologue using “quotes” and reasonably proper grammar. No one should feel badly about grammar or spelling; I will make silent edits now-n-then for clarity.

You should write internal thoughts using ‘italic half-quotes’ and reasonably similar grammar as quotes. The italic is more helpful to identify thinking rather than speaking, so if you miss the half-quote marks, don’t fret.

You should write about feelings, touches, smells, sights, sounds, and other details to enrich the world of the campaign. I mostly make up the world, so when players stick up for seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, or feeling something, I really pay attention and stick with their contribution.

Table Chatter
Use [brackets] to denote small portions of table chatter such as clarifying, inviting cross-dialogue, suggesting traits, skills, wises, and such, or other table chatter needs. When/If we have a Conflict & Compromise, I suggest a player build a Table Chatter document and share with other players (but not GM) for holding secret council. Following the Conflict & Compromise, bring the table chatter back into the session doc.

Tests, Dice, Results
When activities in the narration seem to really call for a test, I’ll use table chatter brackets to describe and clarify. To indicate the dice roll and result, I’ll use the Comments feature of Google Docs. After the dice roll, that’s when the result will be narrated.

You can describe a narrative of what’s going on before rolling dice, or roll dice before writing some narrative content. Either method is fine. I find in Conflicts the story-then-dice method is more frequent; in simple or complex tests the dice-then-story method if more frequent. Neither method is specifically better than the other, and neither is absolutely best in all cases.

Helpers, Traits, Persona, Fate
I’m a stickler for the Helper narrative content to be written by the player offering the Helper die. In this case, I strongly encourage the player offering a Helper in a test to write some content, and identify [mouse offers Skill/Wise Helper].

Using a Trait for or against will call for judgement whether it fits. If in doubt, assume it fits, write the content, and watch for feedback. Use the brackets, [Trait providing benefit / detriment].

Persona can give a +D boost or tap Nature. Use brackets to clarify, [mouse gains +1D Persona] / [mouse taps x Nature (persona)].

Fate is always used after a roll, so a good way to show you are thinking of using this is: [blah blah blah (dice pool) +Fate at-the-ready]. This shows that if some 6 pip dice come up, you’ll use Fate to explode those, but if not, the point is reserved for later.

Hazards, Obstacles
The text starts calling out Animals, Weather, Wilderness, and Mice as hazards, then later refers to obstacles.

The general hazard leads to a specific obstacle.

As GM, I start with describing the general hazard, and await some table chatter or narrative content from players. Following, I describe the specific obstacle and finalize the table chatter into a plan, test(s), and we start to narrate/roll dice on the effort to overcome the obstacle.

Once the obstacle is treated, I’ll move the group onward toward another hazard.

Time, Notices
I have the unfortunate bug of checking way too often online. I try hard to maintain patience, and I feel good about my ability to wait. Still, I like to move along with around 3 written content in a week. Could be table chatter, could be narration, could be both, could be rolling a test, etc.

When an event, travel, or other reason will keep you from the game session, just send a simple note to let others know. We won’t mind playing forward a bit, then helping players get caught up.

If I’ve set a test, I’ll place an estimated timeline for completion. There will be times other players want to offer Helper dice, but have not written, and that’s a time you roll without Helper(s).