So: if I want to join a game, is it enough to know how the system functions or do I need extra material? Do I need material for specific campaigns? What's the appropriate length for a post and what kinds of things can I choose to do without godmodding? Will the GM tell me when to roll checks?
I would agree that all of these questions vary by, not only the GM but also, the specific game or campaign they're running. And even varies by scene within a game.
At it's core, pbp is no different than irl play except for one crucial thing: communication is inherently greatly reduced. Right? You can't read people's body language, the GM can't easily tell you everything you might want to know (too long of posts and ppl start skipping and missing things), you can't really get a feel for how your GM/players are feeling about a situation unless they tell you, the exchange of information about any given scene is just greatly reduced both by logistics and necessity.
So, generally just treat this like if you had sat down at an irl table of complete strangers to have fun, but just communicate with words even more.
How that applies to your questions, IMO, is something like as follows:
if I want to join a game, is it enough to know how the system functions or do I need extra material? Do I need material for specific campaigns?
Most commonly, people will put up "interest threads" in the Tavern. People respond to say "I'm interested!" If the interest thread isn't explicit about expectations and what you need, be up front with what you have, or how you can/not meet explicit expectations. "I've played this system, but don't have any books myself. Is that ok?", or, "I've never played this system but have always wanted to and I have the book. Is that ok?" And the GM will let you know.
Just ask the questions you have in your head, on a game by game basis.
What's the appropriate length for a post and what kinds of things can I choose to do without godmodding?
So, there's a lot here to unpack. Not only do different GMs have different expectations, but different types of games might have different needs, AND different points in any given story require different types of posts. This is no different then IRL play, right? Sometimes you need to be elaborate, sometimes a single sentence will do. You're just a bunch of people having the conversation that is at the core of roleplaying games - except you're doing it in written text, asynchronously. So just respond with what that conversation seems to need in that moment to have meaningful development.
Until you're more comfortable with getting a sense for what a game needs, it might be easiest to just try to mirror the GMs posts in length and detail.
As for "godmodding", if I understand your meaning, this is highly GM variable (so ask), but a good starting point might be: I personally try to advance the plot with every post, and I like my players to do the same. That said, there are many ways to advance the plot, particularly depending on the in-game situation. That doesn't necessarily mean you should be taking some sort of action and rolling dice every post (unless the situation calls for action). Advancing the plot can be as simple as broadcasting your PC's intent or thoughts/views on a situation, so that everyone else knows what you want to do, if for example a group decision needs to be made. If that's the case, putting in your 2 cents is advancing the plot.
However, because the communication and description of any given scene in pbp is generally much less than in an IRL game, and the flow of information is less fluid/greatly time consuming, I personally like to give my players some amount of "artistic license" to create the things in a scene if they need something to make their narrative work. I want my players to be reasonable, and not try to take advantage of a that license though, right?
My tastes for "godmodding" can probably best be summarized as: "put your GM-hat on" and be reasonable, don't try to give yourself an advantage but create the small/reasonable narrative details you need to move the situation forward, and when you have any doubt if what you want/need is ok, just ask.
Say we're in a tavern, at the start of the game, you want to show what a free spirit your Bard is. I didn't mention anything about barmaids when I set the scene, but don't ask me if there is a barmaid for you to start dancing with. Of course there are barmaids, it's a tavern, and you're just creating narrative to characterize your PC, so do it. There's no risk to the situation, just create the barmaid with your narrative.
But say later we're out in the city, and you're being chased by the Watch, and you want a barrel to stash that thing you just stole, I didn't mention a barrel when describing the scene, can you create a barrel? Yes. Don't ask me if there's a barrel around - it's a city, of course there's a barrel around. Just create that barrel with your narrative. But
you probably should not, say, create a carriage riding by that you just jump in the trunk of. Instead, express that that is something you're keeping an eye out for (maybe even roll an appropriate check?), which can lead me as GM to create gameplay around it, if it's appropriate. Right?
So... It's complicated. Both of those things would reasonably be in a city street. But one is creating a greater advantage, and should probably involve gameplay (a dice roll(s)) to make it work, right? Either to successfully get on the carriage while it's moving, or to not be noticed, or both. That's for the GM to decide. There's a chance of failure, there's risk, the dice are needed, so put it in the hands of the GM. If you don't feel like you have a very good GM-hat, then always just ask. But before creating a post just to ask a question, that's something you should instead have been trying to anticipate that you might need in your previous post, and you should have been asking that question as a follow-up after you've already done something to advance the plot. Always be forward thinking: where does this post lead the story, what options does this post create (or take away), or what options might I reasonably have? Post questions, and contingencies in an ooc blurb about those things, "I want to do this
, but if I can't, I'll do that
, or generally just try to achieve the other thing
.", foreshadow your wants/needs, give ppl (other players and/or the GM) something to work with, just try to make a post that doesn't create more questions, or leave previous questions unanswered, or that doesn't inform the situation...
Well, that's probably a way too long way to say, "every GM, and every situation is different, so communicate".
Will the GM tell me when to roll checks?
Again, completely variable, so ask on a game by game basis. But I prefer to have my players just go ahead and roll the dice, without asking, either
when they want to evoke the game mechanics and thereby try to give their narrative "mechanical weight", OR even when they just aren't sure if a dice roll is needed. Best case scenario, we eliminated a back and forth and therefore potentially an entire DAY of "lost time", or worst case I can always just say, "no roll was necessary, this is what happens".
As GM, I'll always tell you when to roll the dice when necessary, but again, try to anticipate, give me something to work with.
So yea, this is just the same ttrpg "flow" as normal, except there is less flow. So, anticipate, communicate, give contingencies, be patient, and have fun.
Last edited May 5, 2020 3:34 pm