# A forum-based RPG (some help, please)

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I've sort of combined my Role-playing abilities with my writing and quickly threw together www.aureliarpg.com in hopes to create a sort of play-by-post RPG, similar to PBeMs only everything will be within the boards. I'd like some ideas on how to make this a fun, playable game. I know the content really jurisdicts that, but as far as the rules go, some help would be nice. Here's an example of how players can create a character: CLick here So any ideas or critique on the system would be nice. The game started a long time ago, I just took out the posts I had to recreate the rules system. Thanks! [Edited by - Dwarf with Axe on July 8, 2004 10:37:04 AM]

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I realize this can be a fairly boring topic, but seriously, I'm tired of trying to work with people seriously asking me the syntax to GL_GetMMORPGEngine(). It's annoying. I love to write, and I've done this before, this is just my own example of it.

I think it's a fairly good idea the way I have it set up with the classes, traits, and your avatar badge. Any thoughts?

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Well it's hard to know how you want it to play since there really isn't many posts up...

But anyways, here is a thread I started once upon a time but I never got around to really starting the adventure. Basically it was meant to be a forum rpg in a single thread where people could create a character and ... well I don't really remember, you're better off reading!

http://www.terra-arcanum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=251&highlight=

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Quote:
 Original post by Dwarf with AxeI realize this can be a fairly boring topic, but seriously, I'm tired of trying to work with people seriously asking me the syntax to GL_GetMMORPGEngine(). It's annoying.

I am so going to use that one. Although another favorite of mine is when someone asks how to:

Dim [New] Game as Counterstrike

in VB :)

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That is a very good point.

I'm trying to get a system set up where there are global users (anyone who signs up for a name) and then are are people actually playing the games. The games are called 'Books of Aurelia', which are basically just their own forums with the users playing belonging to a game-specific usergroup (meaning that only a certain group of people will play in a game. This will ensure that no stray players randomly show up and start posting, and will also ensure that the moderator of the game (who is essentially someone who can keep the plot alive and well if it starts to get boring) can moderate who plays and who doesn't.

The game is similar to a PBeM in that each post represents a little bit of each day from your character's perspective.

Here is an example post.

There's the header, which displays 1) what game you are in, 2)What locale (or city or town) and where in the vicinity you are, 3)Your character's name, and 4) what time it is (24-hr time). Then at the end you have three things.

Then the (posted by ...). This is just a little thing where you get to say you wrote it. I would put (posted by Jesse). It's not hard.

And the (NOTES: ... ) is for anything someone might be confused about while reading your post, or any suggestions on what might happen or what-not.

And the way the storyline is created is, well, creativity. Every post from each character's point of view should add just that much more to the plot.

That help a little? =)

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I've spent a good 9 years of my life (as a teenager) dedicating myself to learning all the ins and outs of freeform online roleplaying games, although mostly in the chatroom setting. I've tried forum games a few times, but they didn't work as well for me... that was likely the players though.

At any rate, I've written an article or two on the subject, and plan to write more. You can find them at http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1503917

See if that jogs any thoughts from you. Unfortunately, I can't play the game myself anymore, for two reasons: 1, I can't find many people who play at my caliber anymore, and 2, I can now see the background meta-game going on, can see the optimal strategy to win, but can't find anyone that'll play to win in such a manner. *sigh*

Basically, freeform writting games like this are strategy games with the competition for limited resources: the attention (and possibly admiration, but mostly attention) of the other players. You have a limited amount of attention to give, but unlimited capacity to receive. In the natural state, most people only give attention to those who first give attention to them. Most people also tend to model their strategy after what they've seen in books and movies... main characters recieve loads of attention from the audience, so players create "Main Characters". The problem is, main characters are good at recieving attention, and suck at giving it. Main characters need secondary characters to survive. Secondary characters are good at giving attention, and bad at receiving attention.

Optimal strategies would call for an equal amount of giving and recieving of attention, but this balanced state almost never happens. One side or the other will almost always recieve more and give less, and this state is a slippery slope that tends to continue to be more and more unbalanced as the game continues, until one player is giving all the attention, recieving basically none, and since the object of the game is to recieve attention (preferably longterm) the losing player will quit (with or without psychodrama) or at the very least, find someone else to play with, leaving the main character high and dry.

Games like this involve heavy emotional investment, and are really VERY tricky to maintain long term in order to receive a substantial return on investment. It's too painful for me to play anymore.

Anyway. Enough rambling.

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I had an idea for an RPG & forumish site at one time. Think of all the people that sit and read forums all day, that is a HUGE untapped gaming market.

The system requirements for a game like this would be REALLY low, almost anyone that can view a modern webpage would be able to play it. I have seen some RPG forums, but they focus on the role playing. There weren't any mechanics/rules/system running the forum, just moderators.

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Okay, here's another question.

As I'm working on this game I was thinking of having this a little more table-topish in that you can have a dice-roller involved, but I'm not sure if this wouldn't make it too boring.

Something like this:

Player 1 would post
(insert long thing here, then)...and decides to hit the man. [roll 1d20]

Then, when he posts, the [roll 1d20] will be replaced with a random number between 1 and 20.

So, the post will read, after actually posted,

(insert long thing here, then)...and decides to hit the man. Rolled 1d20: (8)

Then, the next poster would post according to the dice roll. If it was high, then the success would be proportional to how high above 10 (the middle) the roll was. In the case of the example post, the random number resulted in an eight, so the success would be just under satisfactory (assuming a satisfactory success would be a result of 10).

Does any of that make sense?

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I'd add descriptive labels to the numerical values, or replace 'em altogether. Not everyone plays d20, or dice-based games at all. You may as well abstract it. I.E., "[attempt], (Marginal failure)," not "[roll 1d20], (8)." And if you can, set them off in a way that will be impossible for the users to fake. Otherwise you'll be seeing an awful lot of 20's -- I mean, "outstanding successes." ;)

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Why you need to have dice rolls at all?

I played for years in a RPG round and was gamemaster for myself like half the time. We had several adventures without using any dice at all.

Having a gamemaster you have the one who can decide about the outcome of your actions even without rolling a dice (while he is just deciding how to keep the story rolling), or even roleplay without any master at all, keeping the roleplay between the players.

Have detective-type adventures you don't need to roll, the gamemaster just tells you the outcome of your action.
Have social-type adventures you can even keep the "adventure" between the players. as long they don't try to beat up each other you don't need a dice, neither.

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Nah, from what I've experienced while roleplaying on muds, it's usually way more fun if the involved parties decides on the outcome themself..gives it more of a "telling-a-story-feeling".

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And I too enjoy games without dice and random numbers. I just so happened to be discussing aureliarpg.com with a friend and he was telling me how I could have this intriquite system of numbers and stuff and he would definitely play it - then I realized he just wanted MY site how HE wanted a game. Bastard.

Well there is something I would like to add, but I'm not sure how to execute it. I'd really like the players to have a sense of their character, so maybe they should have, duh, a character sheet. Since numbers and randomness are out of the question, to the left in their avatar box I would list their class, class-specific abilities, and their traits. I created the traits so that people could role-play characters that seemed a little more real.

Basically, for each class you can choose a certain amount of positive traits and a certain amount of negative traits.

The big strapping warrior might specialize with javelins but he can't fight up close very well.

The mage with the ability to memorize almost anything can't stand the color red, or is a terrible fighter, or is allergic to animals.

I'm trying to bring the characters alive a little and, hopefully, promoting more people to come play!

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Yeah, on further reflection, I started to think that using dice -- or randomized conflict resolution, really -- is probably not your best bet. As soon as you introduce that sort of element, you shift the emphasis towards "game" and away from "roleplaying."

Your "Getting Started" page, now that I've had a chance to read it, puts me off a bit. I'll go through and tell you my reactions, so you know why at least one potential player isn't signing up.

First paragraph: This is your first impression, at least for me. Not a particularly good one, at least for me...

"The first thing you should know about creating a character is this: creativity. The second thing, is this: creativity."

I'll agree with the first, but repeating it as the second (and last)? Don't you have anything else to say about it? And you don't elaborate on "creativity," either. You're right, but you're not being very helpful about it.

"Aurelia is not a game for those who are accustomed to being entertained. Rather, it serves as a challenge to those who are used to being the ones entertaining."

This implies, to me, that anyone who isn't already used to your style of play is unwelcome. I also think that roleplaying is about both entertaining and being entertained -- though you do get to that in the next sentence, it sort of contradicts what you're saying here.

"With a diverse group of writers and role-players here you should find the challenge -of- entertaining quite, well, entertaining."

The diverse group of writers and roleplayers would be... you, yourself, and you again? I checked the forum index, and so will any other new players. Be honest. Sell us on the possibilities of getting in on the beginning of a grand adventure, not the fine qualities of your nonexistent established userbase.

Okay. You're putting this first, when to my mind, it's the least important aspect of a roleplaying board. And I'm an artist who probably would get around to drawing & scanning my characters, eventually.

Putting it first isn't a good idea, but making it a requirement is a terrible idea. You are excluding the people who don't have the graphical savvy to create a "150wX300h no ifs, ands, or buts" image. You are tacitly encouraging people to rip off other artist's artwork. You are setting up a situation where people will be judged, at least in part, on the quality of their portraits rather than their roleplaying.

And for what? "Your badge is important to the game because it helps people know who is posting."

If you're playing a web-based roleplaying game, presumably you can read. I repeat: This is a terrible, terrible idea.

"I know you know what this is, just let me explain its uses here."

Not necessarily. Assuming that your players are familiar with the same game systems as you is usually not a good idea. Assuming your players are making the same assumptions about your setting is definitely a bad idea. I wasn't, which was the only reason I got as far as I did...

"For example, a monk is someone who studies the art of the body, so naturally a monk weilding a large axe wouldn't make sense. Likewise, someone who is a mage wouldn't be very proficient with weapons."

Oh. Look. It's another D&D rehash. Allow me to go quietly bang my head against that wall over there...

You asked for ideas on how to make a fun, playable game?

Creativity. Oh, yeah, and creativity.

But getting back to the specific topic at hand. Classes. Well, I just found out that they're optional, by reading "Read this first" on the classes & traits board. Of course, I actually read "Getting started: Creating a Character" first, which is where that information should be. Tell people that classes are optional before you even start talking about classes... although I'm not convinced they're actually necessary. That could be because you don't have a complete example yet, though, let alone a complete set.

Hopefully that will allow you to rethink the whole D&D-esque generic medieval fantasy thing, since you haven't invested much time into it.

Finally: "Traits."

"Traits are almost like a class, but they are not class-specific."

What?

Perhaps you meant "traits are similar to class benefits and restrictions, but they are not class-specific."

"There are two kinds of traits: Positive and Negative, usually under the pros and cons categories, respectively."

Usually? Where are they otherwise? And where are "the pros and cons categories?" (Presumably they will be in the classes and traits forum, but you might want to say so.)

"If classes are a way of describing your character, then traits would be a way to shape and finalize their personality."

Fine... except that you proceed to give an example that has nothing to do with personality: Fishing. You're obviously combining what I'd call "skills" with what I'd call "traits" -- things like "hot-tempered" or "honorable," things that don't fall into you "above average, skilled, or excellent" classification at all.

I think you need to rethink this a bit.

"Excellent traits might look very appetizing, but there is a small catch to all of this: for every trait you have (there should be a total of three so far), you need to have an equal and opposite trait. That means that if you have Above Average Thing1, then you need to have a Below Average Thing2."

I understand what you're trying to do with this, and in theory it's a good idea... but in practice, I think I'd find the implementation annoying. What if I want to have an "excellent" trait, and two "below average" traits? If you insist on doing it this way, at least set up a point-buy system, i.e., an "excellent" trait costs four points, a "below average" gives you two points, or something along those lines.

Oh, one more thing: "The Template"

"<bio, if any>"

If you're going to require anything, that's what you should require. It relates directly to roleplaying, and it's the best way to gauge a propective player's writing skill and roleplaying style, short of actually seeing them roleplay. If someone is writing an obvious "hero" character with no real flaws and improbable skills, it'll show in their bio. You'll be able to explain why that isn't appropriate to the game, and ask them to revise it. It's a lot harder to revise your game's continuity once a player like that has mucked it up.

"<race>"

If you're including race, then you need to describe your races somewhere...

"If somewhere in your past you were beaten and tortured by orcs, then you probably wont take a liking to half-orc players."

Oh, that's right, you're using Tolkien's races, as channeled by Gary Gygax. *coughCreativitycough*

*sigh*

Fun, playable game? Start with a fun, playable setting... and try a little of your own advice. Creativity: It's not just for players. :P

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Quote:
 Original post by LogodaeYour "Getting Started" page, now that I've had a chance to read it, puts me off a bit.

You beat me to it, but this was my first impression. I'd strongly recommend getting rid of the word "crap" and anything crude like it. When you're asking people to risk being embarrassed (creativity except for the really gifted always has this risk at some level) you want to create an inviting atmosphere; so I'd get rid of any judgement laden words you can find.

Quote:
 "Aurelia is not a game for those who are accustomed to being entertained. Rather, it serves as a challenge to those who are used to being the ones entertaining."This implies, to me, that anyone who isn't already used to your style of play is unwelcome. I also think that roleplaying is about both entertaining and being entertained -- though you do get to that in the next sentence, it sort of contradicts what you're saying here.

I also agree with this, it's very judgement laden and unfriendly. If you're not careful, it will convey that this is how people will be treated when contributing.

Quote:
 It's another D&D rehash. ...Hopefully that will allow you to rethink the whole D&D-esque generic medieval fantasy thing, since you haven't invested much time into it.

While I don't see anything wrong with giving people another serving of what they really like, I do have to agree with this: What are you doing that will give players something they can't get somehwere else. Now I know alot of freeform folks play using IRC or chat rooms. Can you give them something different and turn the lack of real-time interaction to your favor?

What spin can you give on the traditional medieval world that others haven't done, or that has been done rarely? I'm not a fantasy guy, so alot of my suggestions may be lame, but what about making everyone dragons, or making the setting a mix of underground oceans and islands, or drawing from non-European mythologies to help offer something new?

Just some thoughts.

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Wow... That was a lot to read. And a lot to soak in.

I suppose I fell into the whole "wanting to be up and running before I put on my clothes" thing. Know what I mean? Yeah. I think I need to work a bit.

Thank you both.

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Well, I just came back to this thread thinking I should probably rephrase my comments a bit, so I'm glad my tone didn't completely put you off. Honestly, I can see why you'd think that avatar badges were a neat idea, although I do stand by my objections. The appeal of generic fantasy is still a mystery to me, but that's just me... I know there are lots and lots of people who apparently can't get enough of it. So maybe you are better off using such a setting. You'll probably find more people willing to play in it than oddballs like me who'd be delighted to find a completely original setting. It's quite possible that the average player wouldn't want to absorb that much new information, anyhow.

Either way, you do have your work cut out for you -- and I entirely sympathise with your desire to get things "up and running." You might consider recruiting some help, because once you've figured out the basics of your system, you're still going to need a lot of words -- even beyond races, classes, traits, you're probably going to want to set up locations, NPCs, and some history. As an added advantage, anyone involved in creating your world (or city, depending on how ambitious you are ;) will probably be pretty interested in playing in it, too, giving you a core group which can then get actual roleplay up and running, too.

For some higher-level questioning-of-assumptions, you might check out The Forge. (The forums look to be pretty active, too.) I only recently discovered it myself, but it looks interesting. Definitely more focused on tabletop, but honestly, I think play-by-post would probably work well with more of a tabletop feel. Too often when I've seen (and participated) in it, the lack of a GM has seemed to be its downfall. I'm not saying that cooperative play is a bad idea, or that the GM should have to narrate every instance of conflict resolution, but too often people were sitting around with nothing to do, or starting plots that went nowhere, and/or revolved around themselves, with few hooks for other players.

Anyhow. I hope at least some of this is helpful, and that your game turns out well. And by "well" I mean "something you'll enjoy running and people will enjoy playing" not "free of any hint of derivitive concepts." ;)

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