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We've got a lot of PbP campaigns going on in the "Welcome to the Shadows" forum. Having recently started a pair of campaigns with Tabula Rasa, and playing in another by JonathanC, I was wondering about the experiences and advice of others in runing and playing in campaigns.

In my limited experience, there are a number of key factors for PbP campaigns: Ease of posting, frequency of posting, ease of communication between GM and players, and motivation of the participants. The easier it is to post, the quicker and more frequently people post, and the more likely is the campaign to last. And motivated people are less likely to drop out (RL can be a bitch though).

Personally, I found that having a wiki set up for the campaign makes it easier to run it smoothly. I got that idea (and web page) from Abbandon.
As a GM, I can introduce an NPC or location in a post, and quickly copy it to the wiki, which serves as game notes as well.
For the players and for the GM, it serves as a central store for Locations, NPCs and other game information (such as character info), which makes it easier for everyone to check on something before posting. This does not only speeds up posting - no longer looking through long threads for that information about that club or NPC - it also serves as an easy way to communicate rules and changes, post pictures and maps, and add details to something that already appeared, but was not as detailed back then.

Another thing I found helpful is not regulating posting too much, especailly formating. The more one has to work on a post, the more time it takes, and the more delays result from it, driving down the posting frequency - especially if a number of players are in one scene, and need to wait for someone to post to continue. If you can post in 5 minutes you can do it during a break, if you have to spend 15 minutes just looking things up and making sure the formating is correct you'll most likely wait until you've got more time - later.

Communication is key. If the GM and Player understand each other well, they need less questions, and can often anticipate actions and reactions, making longer scenes, especially fight scenes, flow more smoothly and with less delays.

The big random factor are players. If a player drops out or can't access the internet for some time, it can leave an entire group hanging. If a GM drops out, the campaign usually is dead. So, motivating players and GMs is an important factor. While the fun one has in a campaign is probably the most central factor for motivation, ease of posting comes in again. The less work one has to put into a campaign in every post, the more likely one is to keep at it. On the other hand, even if you are having fun, if you have to work too much for the fun, you're more likely to drop it if something else that's also or more fun comes up.

I and Tabula Rasa took this to some extreme by running dual single player campaigns with switched GM roles, Jamaica in the Shadows and Tokyo in the Shadows. So far they are working well though.

What are your experiences?
Commitment: That is the #1 factor in a long term pbp game. Prior to committing to a pbp game, a GM and players should realize that it will most likely take a year (or more). This requires a long-term commitment on the part of everyone involved.

Consistency: The second part is consistency. I check & post at least 1/week in all my games. One game I play in is a long term game that moves closer to 1/month. Most games cannot survive with that rate. For most games to remain healthy, a rate of 1+/week must be established. Since pbp is more of a narrative style of gaming, fluff posts (posts that are either descriptive, informative or simply place-holding in nature) definitely serve to keep players 'in the game' even if they are not part of the action. Remember that combat may take over a month to resolve.
For me, I established that Sunday evenings are my time to catch up all my games. Setting that time aside was a key trick for me to maintain consistency.

Formating: I find the opposite to be true for formating. When scanning posts, I find I can more quickly scan through them and keep track of when/where if the time, thoughts, speak, etc are all formatted.

Tips & Tricks: I maintain electronic character sheets for all my characters. As events occur that I need to remember during a game, I note them in the character sheet. This has been an invaluable time saver for reference. I like the idea of a wiki though. I also have a spreadsheet where I track money, Karma and the basics of each team (I play/run several pbp's).

One thing that many people tend to miss is that each post should set a place for others to reply to posts; To keep the game moving forward.

Communication: "Communication is key". Absolutely! Furthermore, some GM's I have had in the past have said they like the players to be in control, etc... To a degree that works, but in the end it is the GM responsibility to keep the game pace. It is his/her responsibility to set the tone and establish the world. If the GM doesn't set the stage, I can't interact with it.
I just started a new PbP last week called Greenhorns in Seattle so I'll be following this thread with interest. I've never run a long term SR PbP but I was in a D&D one that lasted about a year and a half. I think I've got a pretty good batch of players, they're all new to Shadowrun so they're pretty psyched to be playing which (so far at least) has helped with the commitment problem. Right now I'm planning on running a single adventure (a conversion of Dark Angel) and then playing it by ear after they finish that depending on if they are interested in continuing.

I really should learn how to properly use a wiki, that sounds like a good idea. I wouldn't mind checking out your electronic character sheets and excel sheet Redjack. Right now I'm using a coil notebook and hardcopies of the character sheets to keep track of everything. Having it all in an electronic format would be easier though.

One thing I've found very useful in PbP's that I am normally not at all in favor of in a face to face game is DMPC's. As long as you are really careful to make sure that they never outshine the PC's DMPC's can nudge the story forward if the players start spinning their wheels trying to figure out what to do next. In a face to face game this isn't necessary since planning sessions (in my group at least) are normally rapid fire brainstorms with everyone pitching ideas over a giant bowl of something with far too much sugar in it. IME This slows to a crawl in a PbP.

One thing I do that I feel adds quite a bit of atmosphere is any time the PC's are at a bar, club or otherwise have an opportunity to listen to music I'll hunt around on Youtube and find something that seems appropriate. So far in Greenhorns I've used everything from a lighter industrial song by VNV nation to serve as a stand in for Dark Angels music, some Swedish folk metal (for a troll metal band) and some trance/house mix to add atmosphere to the various clubs. It's not much, but I think it adds that extra little bit of verisimilitude to the game. It helps to have an open mind to various genres if you're going to try and do this. I'll sometimes spend quite a bit of time listening to music I don't personally like to find a song that fits.
I run a PbP on, and have been running games there for about four or five years now.

Wow, how to sum everything up in one post? Not sure. Communication is a huge part, though. I've played under GMs who left me completely stumped as to how their world works and what to expect. Since I didn't even know the most basic aspects of the world, and he wouldn't cue me in, the game was not fun at all for me. Related, writing your posts well goes a long way towards decreasing future confusion.

Establishing expectations for posting rate and post format eliminates a lot of frustration. Patience on both sides is good. Perhaps the most important aspect is persistence of GMs and players, and adaptability.
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