Cruvis has written a series of GM’s Tips: Ten Things Every DM Should Know About Running a Play-By-Post Adventure, and is sharing them with us as a guest blogger! Please direct questions, commentary and kudos to him.
This week’s tip is Critical Mass and Recruitment
In the world of tabletop gaming, most of the modern RPG rulesets allow for a minimum of four players, and in many cases, you can get along very well with just the minimum number of players. More than six players and the game begins to get bogged down; especially when you are engaged in combat. It’s a pain to wait fifteen minutes to tell the DM which bugbear you are going to attack. In my experience the size of a Play-by-Post adventuring party needs to be larger; I have found that six to eight players is more ideal. A larger party size ensures plenty of rich character dialogue and interaction. Furthermore, it helps to increase the flow of a healthy posting rate. Posting rate matters very much in PbP as it ensures that people are not waiting days to receive some interesting player posts to read.
It is important to know how and when to recruit. I would say that recruitment should be an ongoing effort that moves from game promotion and then becomes player recruitment; preferably before the critical mass is lost. Find ways to promote your game to other players and referees. Tell them about your story. Tell them about the great players. Tell them about your enjoyment as the referee. Invite them to ‘lurk’ or provide them with an interesting synopsis or dilemma that your players were forced to deal with recently. Build your party up by inviting others to join. Do not wait until the roster has depleted to three or four players before looking for new blood. By then, it may already be too late – especially if you have lost the steady posting pace.
There are a number of places to recruit players and it is important to send your call out to as many sources as possible. Check in with members of your tabletop gaming groups. People you meet at gaming stores and people who like to role play or write can also be candidates. In the past I have mostly recruited my players from play-by-post sites. Recently, however, I have brought in players I have met in Facebook rpg, tabletop, and other social media sites. Many of my online players have become real life friends and I have met up with players I had only known from my game in places like Montreal, Philadelphia, and Guatemala City.
Recruit both skilled and new players
Sometimes PbP campaigns can become rather elitist. People recruit their lit. major friends or the other frat guys from their engineering class. The application process can also be a deterrent. A complicated set of requirements, in order to apply, tells players a great deal about a DM’s need for control, whether we realize it or not. This may serve to discourage new players from applying and may deter busy veterans as well. New players bring a sense of wonder, discovery, and excitement your campaign. Do not shut them out! Furthermore, recruiting a few newbies ensures that the PbP genre of RPGs will continue to grow for future generations. Ultimately, role play is about story-telling, and good story-telling must be learned in collaboration with good story-tellers. By all means, recruit your friends, but be prepared to play with some new and unfamiliar people and share your questions, curiosity, and passion for the story.
Having a large enough group of players to ensure rich conversations and interaction is crucial for giving your players the cooperative story-telling opportunities that they crave. Small groups may not pose enough character dialogue and action to motivate and encourage plenty of regular posting. With a larger group of players, you are creating a social environment where even reluctant players will be enticed to join in the conversations and stories.
As always, please feel free to comment, challenge, defend, question, and suggest. I am always eager to hear from you!
…and mind the hippogriff!