Monday, June 28, 2021

More Play by Post Thoughts

 I'm nearly finished with the player-oriented material for The Vaults of sha-Arthan. The four human classes – adept, scion, sorcerer, and warrior – are more or less done but for some tweaks and I should have the sorcerer spell lists done in a couple of days. That leaves only the equipment list to do and I'll have a solid "player's guide" to give to anyone participating in the campaigns I plan to run.

However, as I mentioned previously, I'm seriously considering refereeing two campaigns, one in real time via Discord or something similar and another asynchronously in a play by post format. I'm still weighing the pros and cons of the various platforms suggested for the PBP campaign – thank you to everyone who offered them. At the present time, I'm leaning somewhat toward Unseen Servant, which looks pretty easy to use and is similar enough to things I've done in the past that I don't there'll be much of a learning curve.

Another possibility, though, is Discord. I've used Discord extensively for my ongoing House of Worms campaign, but never for play by post. Occasionally, I'll post information for the characters in a channel set aside for that purpose, but 99.9% of the campaign is played out in the voice channel every Friday afternoon. Since I'm already decently familiar with Discord and its quirks, I wonder if it might not be simpler just to use it for the play by post campaign too (especially since I already have an Advanced Grognardia server set up for related purposes). 

Do any readers have experience with using Discord for this purpose? If so, I'd like to hear about it. Similarly, I'd be interested in hearing about people's experiences with Unseen Servant, including any downsides. Bear in mind that I'm somewhat technically inept and this colors my preferences. 



  1. Of the two options, I'd much prefer Unseen Servant - discord makes it so much harder to track old conversations when you want to work on previous posts for your current ones. I haven't used US before, and it doesn't look as functional as (no secret posts to particular players, spoilers, etc), but it's at least easier to deal with than discord.

    1. I must have overlooked RPGCrossing. I'll have to take some time to review it before deciding.

    2. If there's anything I can do to help there, let me know. I've been using it for a year and a half now.

    3. While Unseen Servant doesn't allow secret posts in main threads, they are happy to set up sub-forums under your game forum for individual players.

      On the other hand, all the games I play in have just used spoiler to share information with players that the other players shouldn't peek at, or at least should consider outside their character's knowledge.

      Personally, I prefer games to keep as much as possible in the open and trust the players to be considerate and not act on information they shouldn't.

      And yea, Discord can be used for play by post, but you lose threading. All the forum games I have participated in have started new threads for each scene or some such breakdown (I assume the use of separate threads for chargen, OOC, rules Q&A etc, would be done on Discord with separate channels). But it still seems like it would be easier to find old stuff on a forum (I haven't looked at what Discord offers for search and such).

      Another problem with Discord. ALL the Discord servers you participate in show up with a single "alert" notification in the browser tabs. So I HAVE to read everything to clear that if I want to be aware that something else has come in. And I have turned off Discord notifications on my smart phone because they had my phone buzzing constantly (because of this, despite setting up my own Discord server, I'm asking players in my Roll20 games to continue to use Google Chat for logistics questions, the Google Chat notifications on the phone are quite manageable).

  2. James, I used Discord extensively for my latest campaign. When we could make it, we used the voice channel, but when we couldn't (which happened amazingly often), we continued the game as pbp, on Discord. Worked very well.

  3. For pbp I recommend
    It has separation between a character section, a "discuss" forum, a wiki, and "roleplay" - where the sessions happen, these sections are unique to each of your campaigns. It has a simple integrated dice roller. There are no mechanical connections between things like character sheets and the die roller function, so it is pretty manual, but I have found it works great. Although the section separations might seem like overkill, they are useful and there is nothing complicated about using them.
    From the Roleplay section -
    Character sheet -
    Rolls can be annotated and replied to.

  4. I've played a half-dozen or so PbP games using Discord (GMing two at the moment). Especially with DiceParser installed for rolls it is easily the best platform I have used for such.

    We usually split into several text channels (one for the story, separate threads if the party splits, one for OOC dicussions, another specifically for rules questions/documented rulings, etc). Also, the ability to private-message any user, or even setup channels that are private for only the DM and 1-2 users, makes "passing notes" or running side/solo content much simpler than most forums.

    Discord (in a browser/desktop rather than mobile at least) also has an excellent Search function. All of the text is indexed and quickly searchable, so finding and referencing a post from 6 months ago is relatively simple without having to actually go back and read them all.

    The biggest advantage is simply that it is something everyone is already using. Most gamers in the world have a Discord account at this point and are used to lurking there, so they don't have to be convinced to setup accounts and login to a different service, and are more likely to actually see and post on a consistent (we usually require once or twice daily) basis.

  5. I've used Discord for PbP games both as a GM and a player. I found it works really well for both roles...easy to organise different channels, post images/maps, send private messages and use dice rollers. I actually prefer it to RPOL which is the other way I play PbP games.