Five tips for forum roleplay

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Forum Roleplay is a wonderful way to continue play outside of the regular gaming session – be it with a Dungeon Master or between players, it allows players who have the time and inclination to spend more time on the game to do so without requiring the whole group to get together at the same time. It can help resolve scheduling issues and logistical problems – like travel distance – and it is very possible to run a complete campaign through a forum.

Even so, Forum Roleplay is fundamentally different from Tabletop gaming and it is important to understand the differences. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of forum roleplay:

1. Set a Timeframe for Posts

Forum Roleplay is far less constrained then tabletop over when people can devote time to roleplay. However, different expectations between players can lead to the slower players feeling overwhelmed or unable to act while the faster players may lose interest if things aren’t moving ahead.

An easy resolution is to determine the timeframe beforehand. Mark a topic as “once-per-day” or “every-other-day” or even “weekly” so players know how often they are expected to post. This way, players know what to expect and what is expected of them.

2. Don’t Overthink

At the table, you don’t spend half an hour thinking up exactly what you want to say and do, or how you want to say it. Don’t think of roleplay posts as formal e-mails where every word has to be weighed. Just say what you want to say and add additional description where you feel it is appropriate or interesting.

Spending too much time on posts often results in postponing a post and slows down forum roleplay. Better to make a good post now then to make a perfect post tomorrow to keep the flow going.

3. Take Complete Actions

As a player, don’t hesitate to take an action. If you want to enter the dungeon, there is no need to make separate posts to tell other characters you want to enter the dungeon, to attempt to open the door, and once the dungeon master informs you that the door was successfully opened, stepping inside. The back and forth that would take a minute at the table, even if you post every other day, can get extended into two weeks of posts in which only one thing happens.

Instead, take the complete action. In a singular post, have your character alert the other characters you are going to enter the dungeon, then have your character open the door, check and go inside. This allows the roleplay to progress more smoothly.

4. Allow Interruptions

With complete actions, something could happen during your action: maybe the door was trapped and the party rogue wants to interrupt and yell “Nooo!” before you try to open the door.

In that case, allow whomever wants to interrupt to do so in the following post. Time gets rewound a bit as if your action was not completed, and you continue from their post (which should of course list where they interrupt).

If your post was interrupted by another player, or the storyteller, you can either edit your post and cut off the part after their interruption, or leave it as is and just continue from their interruption. In either case, if you later – say, after the rogue has disabled the trap – want to enter the room after all, you should post that again to avoid confusion.

5. Limit the Number of Players in Adventures

By their nature, everyone is expecting to contribute at each step of an adventure, which makes it necessary to wait for one another to post. Players who intend to post may find they can’t as they need to wait for others. More players makes this exponentially worse, so smaller groups tend to have a better flow.

In our experience, two to three players with a storyteller is best, though you may be able to handle more depending on your posting speed and the type of game you are running. In either case, small groups will run a lot more smoothly.

And a bonus tip: though it may go against every instinct adventurers have, if you do feel you need to have a larger group, splitting up the party – and giving each sub-group their own task to complete – has the same effect as running for a smaller number of players. It’s just a little bit more work on the storyteller.

These are our five tips for forum roleplay. Do you have any tips of your own, or have you ran into these or other problems during forum roleplay? Let us know in the forums!

As always, the week’s changelog is available for you as well. There are som significant quality of life upgrades in there!