From the Game Table: Play by post

An occasional post from Robert

Interested in role-playing games (RPGs), but having trouble scheduling a several-hour block of time into your regular schedule to play? I recommend that you try a play-by-post game. What’s that? Play by post is an age-old method for playing games asynchronously that has improved with technology. An abundance of forums, websites, and Discord servers dedicated to playing RPGs asynchronously through text have proliferated across the Internet. For example, RPG Geek has a play-by-post forum, while Gamers Plane and Tavern Keeper are two of many RPG play-by-post websites. Many play-by-post sites have tools for rolling dice and creating character sheets, so everything you need to play is self-contained except the rulebook. The Gamers Plane FAQ page has a brief overview of what play by post is about and some guidance specific to Gamers Plane, however, this guidance is somewhat universal and applicable to play by post sites in general.

To get started, players connect with each other through one of these sites, agree on a game to play, and commit to a certain frequency to post (once per day or X times per week). Some play-by-post sites host games for beginners, or short tutorial sessions. You can also find “how-to” videos that explain the general concept, play-by-post etiquette, and the technical ins and outs of the particular site you are interested in. Again, Gamers Plane has a brief introductory video.

I started playing in a play-by-post game in February and it’s been a lot of fun. While the slow but steady pacing took a little while to get used to, it has allowed me to fit in some role-playing for just a few minutes per day, rather than trying to schedule a few hours on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I found a game that was open to new players and connected with the organizer who welcomed me into the game. I then created a character that would fit the game’s themes and tone and then introduced my character into the story.

For this game, the expectation is that we post at least once a day, but people are understanding if life happens and you are unable to post on a particular day. It’s good etiquette to let your fellow players know in advance if you are going to be unable to post for a few days for some reason (travel, illness, or what have you). Occasionally, I post multiple times on the same day. At other times, I’ve had to wait for others to post their reaction to my previous post before making my next post. It’s a collaborative storytelling process, so back-and-forth is essential. In this format, it’s a slow process, but since the story is created through text, it’s very well documented if you need to go back to refresh your memory on what’s happening or what’s been said.

There are so many ways to play games – find the method that suits you and your schedule. Sean Kelley’s How2RPG video Guide to Playing RPGs Using Play By Post provides an in-depth (27-minute) discussion of playing RPGs by play by post. If playing by post sounds interesting to you at all, I highly recommend you check it out!