Playing By Post

OOC ChatWelcome to a play-by-post game! Play By Post is a form of interactive gaming in which players use a forum or blog to communicate. It is very similar to tabletop play, with a few changes. This is not pure collaborative storytelling – the narrator is the master of the fictional world.

Introduction

Instead of telling everyone at the table what your character is doing, you will write it out in a story format. Each piece of the story that a player writes is put in a post. A post should let everyone know what your character is doing, or in many cases, what your character intends to do. After a player has posted, the post is read by the other players, who will respond with posts for their own characters. Each post doesn’t need to be an entire novel; an average post is generally three paragraphs long.

One of the great joys of the play-by-post format is the ability to give details about your character’s actions. Instead of saying “I attack the wherry with my sword”, you can describe how your character attacks, and perhaps give insight into what he’s thinking when he does it. For example, you might write, “Rolnar smiles wickedly, advancing on the wherry with an air of confidence. His blood-streaked sword flashes in the fading sunlight as he brings it down for a killing blow.

Please read the posts leading up to yours carefully. Your post won’t make sense if you miss a critical clue or an action taken by another player. Some posts will be designated for other players because your character isn’t there. Don’t read these posts until long after the scenes are resolved.

Post at least once per week. All of the other players will be waiting on you, so please don’t procrastinate.  Try to finish by midnight on Saturday.

Using Skills

The narrator will handle all dice rolls in secret. If you think the narrator will make a dice roll for your action, list the skill you want to use and write a conditional post. In the example below, you don’t know if Rolnar’s sword will successfully strike his target. You can write something like this:

Rolnar will attempt to kill the wherry [Sword 11].

IF HE HITS: His father’s sword smashes through the wherry’s chest bone, cutting deep. The wherry stumbles backward, blood gushing from the fatal wound. Rolnar turns away from the crippled foe, smiling victoriously at his companions.
IF HE MISSES: The heavy sword flashes as it strikes empty air, missing the wherry by mere inches. Rolnar grimaces, inwardly surprised at the nimbleness of the creature. He throws himself backward in an attempt to dodge the inevitable counter-attack.

The narrator can read your post, make the skill roll, and remove the text that won’t be used, leaving a clean story that is easy to read.

Be careful not to over-complicate your contingencies. You don’t need to cover every possible outcome. Just make sure that the narrator has a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish.

The outcome of all common actions and combat against “mooks” is up to the player. Try to be fair to game balance – don’t decide that your character succeeds every time. Leave the success of contested actions, complex skill-based actions, and combat actions against named NPCs, up to the narrator.

Improvising

You are are allowed to improvise minor story elements and cosmetic environmental factors. However, do not write a post that attempts to control another character. This includes PCs and narrator-controlled NPCs. You can make some minor assumptions, but expect the narrator to revise your post if you attempt to affect the behavior of another character in a major way. If you improvise your own minor NPC, such as a clerk or a wagon driver, you are free to control them in any realistic way. The narrator may also control an NPC you bring into the story.


How To Post

  1. Find the “Write” button at the top right and click it.
  2. Add a title to the post.  Start with the character’s name, then add chapter and episode number.  Add or increment a numeric suffix to keep the posts in order.  For example, “B’ron: Chapter 3, Episode 4.2 – Visiting The Star Stones”.
  3. Open the Post Settings window using the dial icon.  Open “Categories & Tags”.  Make sure the correct category box is checked — use “Episodes” for game play.
  4. Add the tag  for your character’s name, chapter, and location.  You should not need to create a new tag; try to find the appropriate one on the list.
  5. Uncheck (turn off) the ability to Comment on the post.
  6. Write your post.  (See the guide below.)
  7. After a brief summary or the first paragraph of your post, insert a “Read More” tag.  (Top right editing icon or the More block)  Everything above this line will display on the front page of the site.
  8. Click the “Preview” button to make sure you like the post.
  9. Click the “Publish” button at the top right.

Once you have posted, I may ask you to modify something to make it fit with the story or genre. I may also make small changes.  I won’t be able to reply with the next episode until your updates are complete.  Once I reply, you should not edit your post, except for minor grammar and spelling corrections.

Post Formatting

If you have nothing but questions about an episode post, add those as comments.  Don’t post until you’re ready to take action.

  • When you character speaks, put it in quotes. “I love that song.”
  • When your character is thinking to himself, use italics.  “Is she looking at me?
  • If your character is shouting, use bold text.   “Great shells and stars!
  • When mind-speaking to a specific target, use Sea Green: “Land near me.
  • When mind speaking to your own creature, add italics.  “Are you thirsty?
  • When projecting thoughts over an area, use Royal Blue: “We’re falling!
  • When dragons travel, they go between – the word is always in italics.

(You will see the names in the tooltip when you mouseover the color selections.  You may need to click “” to Toggle Advanced and open the full formatting menu.)

Prefix out-of-character comments with “>OOC:” which should automatically put a box around the text once you press Enter.  (You will only see the box in editing mode.)

OOC: This is an out-of-character comment.

The intent is to make the post as much like reading a book as possible, while still making it easy for me to figure out what you want to do.


Writing Style

Here are some tips to help make the game more enjoyable:

  • Write in the third person. For example: “Sally opens the door slowly, looking cautiously into the bedroom.”
  • Feel free to discuss ideas or ask questions before deciding on a course of action.
  • Break your posts down into digestible paragraphs.  Don’t write a wall of text.  Consider using Justify text alignment.
  • When a Pernese word has a red underscore because the spell-checker thinks it is an error, right-click it and select “Add to dictionary”.  Eventually, you will be able to easily spot misspelled words without false red flags.
  • The quicker you respond, the sooner the story continues and the faster you earn XP.

Here are some tips for overcoming writer’s block:

  • Get a little exercise. It will help clear your mind.
  • Close all other applications, especially other browser windows. They’re distracting.
  • Listen to music that puts you in the right mood for the scene you’re trying to write.
  • Jump in anywhere. You can always go back and write the beginning later.
  • Doodle your contingencies and potential actions on a piece of scratch paper.
  • Don’t over-complicate the situation. The narrator will fill in the blanks.
  • Start on your post right away, then work on it a little at a time. Don’t try to write a lengthy post at the last minute.
  • Don’t edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain. If you try to do both at the same time, it’s harder to stay in the groove.
  • Remember what Neil Gaiman says: “Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”

Here are stylistic writing tips:

  • Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts. Your posts will be confusing if you don’t use them properly.
  • Spelling and grammar are important aspects of your post. Bad spelling is like a cell phone going off in a movie theater – it distracts the reader and makes it harder for them to enjoy the story.
  • Watch out for homonyms. They’re is not the same as their or there.
  • Never use the words “really” or “very”.  Instead, choose an appropriate adjective.
  • Every sentence should do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  • Don’t miss opportunities to reveal aspects of your character – what drives them, how they feel, what they want, and what they fear. The reader sees what your character is made of when something bad happens to them.
  • Read books by an author that writes in a style you wish to emulate. The more of this material you read, the better you can write in that style.

Formatting Dialog

If you want to write like a book author, avoid putting conversation in one paragraph.

“Hello,” The boy said. “Hello,” the elderly healer responded. “I am Niallo of Rivercourse. I am seeking apprenticeship. I was told you might be able to help me.” “What makes you think I will help you?” “You have a reputation for compassion, sir.”

Instead use this format —

“Hello,” the boy said.

“Hello,” the elderly healer responded.

“I am Niallo of Rivercourse. I am seeking apprenticeship. I was told you might be able to help me.”

“What makes you think I will help you?”

“You have a reputation for compassion, sir.”


Dragon Roleplaying Guide

Dragon’s make specific sounds to express their emotions.  Their eyes also change color to match their mood.  The speed of the color change and “swirling” also indicates the intensity of the emotion.

Dragon Vocalizations

  • Rumble – Pleasure, amusement. A staccato rumble is the closest equivalent to laughter. (Dragons can voluntarily imitate laughter, but don’t actually laugh.)
  • Bellow – A “yell” that gets attention or voices frustration.
  • Bugle – Greeting or triumph.
  • Roar – Anger or pain.
  • Growl – Threat, dislike.
  • Moan – Dismay, misery, anxiety.
  • Hum – A low frequency hum, just within human audible range that dragons produce collectively to signify an imminent hatching. It has variable emotional and psychic impact on humans.
  • Keen – A response to death. As with humming, it can spread through a large network of mentally linked dragons.
  • Warble – Gratitude, appreciation.
  • Trill – Excited amusement, enjoyment, satisfaction, intense affection.
  • Croon – Pleasure, reassurance, apology.
  • Wail – Grief, helplessness, fear, pain.

Dragon Eye Color By Mood

  • Blue – Love, joy, or elation.
  • Green – Neutral, content.
  • Grey – Sickness or great pain
  • Orange – Irritation, anger.
  • Purple – Lust, mating instinct.
  • Red – Hunger, hunting instincts, rage, or hostility.
  • White – Terror
  • Yellow – Worry, anxiousness.