Anyone have any success playing forum-based TTRPGS? Help me!
October 8, 2019 2:54 AM   Subscribe

I've always been a fan of TTRPG games, but have always found it hard to get games to the table, as it were. Playing asynchronously appeals to me greatly, but I'm really struggling to find a good group. If you're someone who has succeeded at this, I'd love you advice! Snowflake details within!

I have a pretty standard story. Got into D&D in middle and high school, was also the DM because otherwise we wouldn't play...after high school, I didn't really have many chances to play. Even in high school, I was always interested in exploring different RPGs, but it was impossible to get anything on the table. Since then I have had some chances to play with some different systems (mainly PbtA stuff), but it's been hard to play consistently.

I'm trying to prioritize this as a hobby, but it's been hard. In person play is not an option, and online play is tough because of timezones...but even barring that, I really like the idea of async play by post style play. While it is slower, I like that it can be more considered, that posts can be longer, focus more on description, and also that splitting the group is much easier, and it's potentially much easier to explore every character's interests (though this depends a lot on the game).

That said, thus far every attempt to try and get a game going has failed. The plague of my life, I am always by far the most invested in the game. I try to be nice (maybe I'm too nice!), not be super intense...organize stuff for people, read all the rules, answer questions, etc. Still, eventually post rates start dropping etc etc. I mean, I think this is a pretty classic issue for online play like this.

That said...I want to find my people! People who will take these games seriously and invest in them, but not be jerks about it! I know that in all gaming, that's sort of a holy grail ("take it seriously but aren't jerks"), but I guess I figured that by now, there'd be some healthy only PBP communities. There are definitely a number of them, but it seems that in general game death is still pretty common.

I'm curious what others have done. Are there any communities you know of where people "take it seriously but aren't jerks"? Or am I just doomed to sort of keep rolling the group dice until I get that nat 20?

My game interests are pretty broad...I really don't want to play D&D, but besides that I'm interested in lots of games. My holy grail is Ars Magica, but I also like many PbtA games, and am interested in other games (I'd love to play King Arthur Pendragon, for example). I'm just tired of sort of being the energizing force behind these games, especially when people generally don't show up.

Any advice? I've always wanted to be more of a TTRPG person, but it's always been hard to fit it into my life :/
posted by wooh to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've had great success with DMing a game for a single player just texting on my phone. It's about as intense as either side wants it to be, and there's always time for me (as a baby DM) to really think about how I want to handle stuff. The best part is that it's really easy to slot into my life. I get all the kicks of adventure and cliffhangers without having to block off hours and hours of time.
posted by cr_joe at 4:30 AM on October 8, 2019

A lot of the forum-based games fail because they're trying to stick too close to D&D or other tabletop games (ie those at which depend on synchronous communication that allow a (for example) combat to take twenty or thirty exchanges of information. At even a day per exchange, which is very fast for play-by-post, this is crippling. The successful ones (and even then it's like a 50% fail rate) are the ones that discard tabletop resolution systems in favour of either free-form (like can be found on or use a quick resolution system (such as, where I've had a lot of success). These sites emphasize the strengths of play-by-post, such as the ability to craft your turn and a written story to re-read when you're done, and try to minimize the rapid back-and-forth that tabletop can demand (although some will use Discord or Skype to negotiate a specific move)

Like I said, I've had a lot of success at, which is free to play and has a quick resolution system - a representative combat can be seen here (you may have to register, but it's free and you can use a throwaway).
posted by Mogur at 5:49 AM on October 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, building off cr_joe, have you tried Discord? It’s good because it works well on a phone so it’s easy to pop in a message even if I’m not at my computer (which is most of the day). I don’t have a lot of experience with it for TTRPGs (the one time I did it, it was the DM who dropped out due to life stuff) but I liked it way more than forum based and found it much easier to stay active.

I also suspect there’s a pretty active TTRPG presence on Discord? I’m sure there’s servers you could join, though I don’t know precisely what they are.
posted by brook horse at 5:50 AM on October 8, 2019

In the distant past, I played a successful diceless version of Paranoia via forum. It works best if you're treating it more as a collaborative fiction exercise then something heavily dice driven.
posted by Candleman at 8:11 AM on October 8, 2019

I want to enthusiastically second the idea of doing this with just one or two other people. I've played (rules light) games that way before very had a lot of fun.
posted by Alensin at 8:25 AM on October 8, 2019

I like the overall community, vibes, and culture of, which has what seems to be a fairly active play-by-post subforum.

(Future pony request:
posted by overglow at 9:10 AM on October 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Discord is great fun and very useful for this. I used to play a lot on RPOL, and even had a Nobilis game that lasted for years, but all such games eventually succumb to decay, I find. If you're on Discord with your friends anyway, there's a higher chance of it working out.
posted by Scattercat at 9:15 AM on October 8, 2019

GamersPlane is an excellent site for pbp. I've been running a game there for like four years and I highly recommend it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2019

I'd also recommend giving storium a go.
I'm pretty sure you don't need to log in to read games any more. (Here's one of mine).

My group used it as a follow up to a DnD game that fell apart for a little bit and then for non-dnd thmed games like the one above.

But all these games slowly have succumbed to delay. I think that might be the nature of them.
I have a couple of Roll20 games going at the moment but they're relatively infrequent (once a month or so if we're lucky) too. I think these things are just hard to do.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:02 AM on October 10, 2019

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