Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Trials and Tribulations of the Play-by-Post Game.

As of yesterday, my play-by-post game of HackMaster has been going on for five months. Five months is not an inconsiderable amount of time as far as role-playing games are concerned. Typically, a character advances in level once every four to five weeks of real time. By the end of level one, players will have received at least one decent magic item. Then you take into account the the amount of "game time" spent traveling, training and recovering from wounds and you would expect that in the game world the PCs are level six with some really good items and a year has passed since the campaign started.

In reality, exactly one day has passed in game time. The party has fought exactly one battle and haven't found any treasure. I have accomplished in five months what most campaigns get in their first hour. It has been so slow that at times I have had to railroad the party just to keep things going.

Another problem has been player attrition. I have had four players drop out of my game since it started in April. And out of that four, only one had the courtesy to give me a heads up. The rest just disappeared, never to post again. Fortunately I have been able to get the party back up to five players. Unannounced dropouts happen in normal games, particularly ones at game stores. But on a message board where a quick PM to the GM to say, "Sorry, I don't have time to do this anymore," is quite aggravating.

That's not to say it's been all bad. One thing I have enjoyed about the game being play-by-post is the amount of role-playing the players have put in. For example, out of the five PCs only one (a dwarven Cleric of the Guardian) doesn't speak a common language with the rest of the party. While there are two other characters that speak dwarven, one is a soft-spoken dwarf that rarely says more than a few words to anyone, and the other is an absent-minded mage that forgets to translate for the party unless prodded. It has led to some entertaining conversations to say the least.

Also, the pace has allowed me to flesh out some of the backstory for the archipelago. It has also allowed me to make changes to the setting that weren't part of the original concept. It's nice to come up with adventure ideas without feeling rushed.

Ideally, this would be a weekly game played either in-person or through something like Skype or Google+. But since I have to make due with what I have, I might as well make the most of it. I'll try to keep everyone appraised of how things go as the happen, no matter how long it takes.

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