Online Play Structure

What follows are guidelines for how to structure your posts and live play so everyone has a consistent basis for play.

This page is likely incomplete and will be updated as I think of more important notes for play or we figure things out once we’re actually playing.

General Guidelines

  • In all formats, contributions should be Present Tense and Third Person Novel style.
    • For example: Sinclair flips through a pile of papers before handing over a manilla folder, “Take a look through these.”
    • If a majority of players are more comfortable writing in Past Tense (i.e., standard novel style), we can change. In general, I find present tense to be easier to use in an RPG scenario, but I’m not locked into the concept.
    • If you use paragraphs in a post, or when we’re all working in a shared live document for real time play, remember to double space between them to make it easier to visually keep thoughts separate.
  • Mark out of play thoughts in in play threads with double parenthesis and keep them separated out of the main text whenever possible.
    • For example: ((Wait. Who’s in the room right now?))
    • Feel free to include details in these blocks that request followup from the GM or other players. For example, ((Feel free to make up Sinclair’s mysterious and noncommittal responses to any other questions you have.)) or ((What do I see with Aura Perception?)).
    • Do try to avoid it wherever possible, however, as it can quickly turn posts from actually looking like a novel to a strange concoction of markup. In live play, we’ll probably edit these out once they’re answered.
  • Be flexible about your character.
    • Other players may frequently need to assume something minor your character does to keep their posts moving. Don’t contradict them unless it deeply goes against character concept, even if it’s not exactly what you would have had your character do.
    • That said, try to be sparing in your use of other characters in your posts. Your goal is to do the minimum with them that lets you continue your own thought, not remove their decision-making options.

Play by Post Guidelines

  • I will generally start several threads that are functionally concurrent.
    • These will have a similar naming scheme, such as “Week of 3-1-92: Night Fires” and “Week of 3-1-92: The Pack.”
    • Even if there appears to be a good degree of downtime, these threads are happening simultaneously and you can only participate in one at a time. If you’re posting in “Night Fires” you cannot post in “The Pack.”
      • If you have a pager, giant 80s cell phone, or are near a landline, you can likely communicate with people in the other threads, but this should be handled out of play (via private message or email between you).
      • In your thread it should simply be something like Alexander goes off to make a call. and in the other Helen says, “I just talked to Alex, but he can’t get over here right now.”
    • I will periodically note a downtime pause where all the threads hit a lull in the action at the same time.
      • This will be something similar to every thread getting a time update (e.g., It is now midnight on Tuesday).
      • You may switch threads immediately after one of these pauses.
      • Just start posting in the other thread with a lead-in explanation for how you got there and how you were aware of it (e.g., Alexander talks into his handset, “I see you, I’m pulling up now,” before parking next to Helen at the pay phone.).
      • There’s no particular need to call out your leaving from the original thread. Others still in the thread can make note of your absence if they want to.
  • All conflict and actions in Play by Post are narrated, and there are no combat rounds.
    • We’ll use the average success charts as a guideline.
    • Against unimportant opposition, generally feel free to narrate success in a way that makes sense for your stats.
    • If you’re acting against another player or an important NPC, feel free to leave your stats for what you’re doing in an OOC block at the end of the post (e.g., ((Trying to drag her away with Str + Athletics + Potence 6))).
    • The defender should then narrate what happens based on his or her own stats, being as fair as possible. As with all examples, try to think of this as improv style and go for maximum fairness. If your character would be overwhelmed, just go with it. If you think your stats are good enough to successfully resist, try to turn it into something interesting rather than just blocking the other player’s actions. For example, Even with his Potence, it’s like trying to drag away a traffic bollard. But after a second she sighs and allows him to pull her to her feet and starts running away from the sirens with him.
    • I know all your stats, so I may take a little more for granted in GM posts to keep things moving. I’ll still try to leave room for reactions most of the time, as tactics matter.
  • Posting frequency:
    • You should post no more than once per hour unless everyone in the thread is posting fast and furiously. We don’t want someone to get left way behind just because a couple of people aren’t busy at work. If nobody is responding, don’t make a series of back to back posts.
    • Conversely, if you’re only able to post once or twice a day, expect to have players make more assumptions about your actions and move the plot onward. When you do post, make sure your response catches you up to the present rather than just responding to something that happened several posts ago but not something that just happened.
    • If you think you’ll be unable to post very frequently at all (less than once a day), make a note of it in OOC when you join the thread. For example: ((I’m really busy this week. Just assume I’m following the leader and not saying much. I’ll check in if I have a chance.))
    • In general, your character agency in a scene will improve if you are able to post regularly. Maintaining momentum for the scene is going to be a tricky balance, so try not to feel like you’re being deliberately left out by people that can post a lot.

Live Play Guidelines

  • If you’re going to do any live sessions, make sure you have access to an email address that can log into Google Drive/Docs. It will be important to be able to identify you in the document as more than just “Anonymous User 3.”
  • We’ll schedule a timeframe for the session in advance, and everyone should strive to be in the document and have as few distractions as possible for the duration.
  • Unlike posting, keep your writing fairly short (a sentence or two) and be cognizant of others’ contributions.
  • Unlike a traditional chat game, you’ll have to manually move your cursor to the bottom of the document rather than just firing text into the chat room by timestamp. This also means you can edit previous text to make it a better fit for followups.
  • If there’s any resistance at all, propose your action in OOC and then we’ll edit it based on the response. For example: ((I’m going to try a punch; Str + Brawl 5, Potence 2)) ((Successful, big hit, he goes flying)) edits to With a mighty punch, he decks the ghoul, sending him sprawling halfway across the room.
  • We’ll still use the success guidelines for most things, but I may insert some randomness from time to time.
  • We will generally use combat rounds in this format, and we’ll hopefully be able to use live sessions whenever there’s a chance at a big fight, depending on schedules.

Online Play Structure

Children of the 80s samhaine