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Play-by-post role-playing game

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Play-by-post game)

A Play-by-post game (PbP) is an online text-based role-playing game which is played in a turn-based manner.

This is a niche area of the online roleplaying community which caters to both gamers and creative writers. PbP games are often based on other role-playing games, non-game fiction such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or original settings created and expanded upon by system administrators, moderators and players. This activity is closely related to both interactive fiction and collaborative writing.


Play-by-Post games are usually written in the third person perspective. This allows the players and gamemasters to write in the personas of their characters. This is the best way to separate the player character from the person playing the character (the typist). Sometimes online game terms such as OOC (Out of character) or OOG (Out of Game) are used to differentiate character vs. personal posting.

The first message posted onto a thread of that nature is usually one person laying down the scenario, starting a story about their character and inviting others. If successful, the thread then becomes an ongoing story in which players periodically advance the plot by reading the latest reply and then typing a short paragraph or two about what their character does and how the environment changes in response. These replies are often open-ended so that other players can continue.

Depending on the rules established on the forum, roleplaying and story can be pushed forward through moderation by a gamemaster, specific rules (often existing role-playing game systems), or by mutual agreement between players. Role-playing of the latter type does not rely on statistics or visible die, and this can sometimes render combat situations difficult for players used to such props. Any combat is usually written in entirety by one or two players; and in some systems will be allowed to include the actions of another player in their post. Commonly this practice is considered cheating in more established play-by-post games, where players are responsible for their own characters. Any form of this cheating (automatic hits and controlling another player's character) is commonly referred to as "god-modding".

In certain Play-by-post gaming circles larger-scale boards exist where the entire board is devoted to advancing a single storyline, rather than many different stories proceeding in separate threads. They vary in organization, but many include a full set of rules governing roleplaying and combat between players, threads detailing a set storyline (often contributed to by plot-advancing, staff-organized events, or player roleplays), character approval forums, and a full staff with admin(s) and moderators. These types of games then vary from that groundwork; some games go as far as to include a virtual "world" to roleplay in, by cutting up the entire game universe into separate forums, each based on locations within that universe. All games set in a particular setting are played in the corresponding forum.

Many message board based games establish a hierarchy of moderators to manage plot flow and continuity. To keep story threads organised the message board is often organised into forums based on geographical location within the game setting.



Play-by-email games are played as other play-by-mail games, using email as the postal medium. Players email their moves to the gamemaster, who collates them and resplies to them, again via email. Play-by-email games are often slow, since the gamemaster must wait for each post before replying, but have the advantage that replies may be tailored to the players, allowing the gamemaster to keep information secret from the other players.

Message-board role-playing

Internet forums are the most common medium for Play-by-Post gaming. Some online forums provide benefits such as online dice rolling, character profiling and game history. Others, such as Alleria in the fantasy genre, and New Worlds Project in the science-fiction genre emphasise the use of free-hand and the absence of dice and chance. Thanks to online forums, players can easily keep track of all aspects of the game, can see what is happening elsewhere and can re-read anything they have previously written. Many online services provide free game hosting for gamemasters.

Message-board role-playing is faster than play-by-email, but since posts can be seen by all players, information cannot be hidden unless the forum software supports private messages.


Play-by-internet (PBI) refers to fully automated games which take place using server-based software. Play-by-internet games differ from other play-by-post games in that, for most computerized multiplayer games, the players have to be online at the same time, and players can make their moves anytime independent of any other players in the game. The turn-time is usually fixed. A server updates the game after the turn-time has elapsed evaluating all the player's moves sent to the server. The turn-time duration can be hours, days, weeks or even months.

Play-by-internet can be considered an enhanced version of play-by-mail and play-by-post because it doesn't require manual labor to send out moves, or as an enhanced version of message-board role-playing which allows information to be hidden from players.


A play-by-wiki game is played using wiki software instead of a forum. Because players' previous posts are editable, plot holes can be avoided. For this reason, writing skills aren't as important for every writer. The gamemaster takes responsibity as the overall editor of the story.

Wiki space provides not only a means of communication, but also a permanent archive and a designated off-topic discussion area for each page. Players can edit information freely, unlike most chat boards, because change records are automatically maintained and changes can be easily undone.

Role-playing blog

The role-playing blog (RPB) is a game which is played out online using posts within a blog. Unlike play-by-post gaming or message board role-playing, a role-playing blog is generally restricted to one gaming group, and the blog contains static files such as maps, archives, and character sheets specific for that group.

External links

  • Open Gaming World - Play-by-Post User Group with hundreds of members.
  • RPG Gateway > Play by Post - Directory of PbP games.
  • Pbem2 - Directory of PbP and related games.
  • Rpgee Services - PbP game listing and classifieds.
  • DragonMuseNetwork - General information for running PBP's
  • PlayByWiki - Free and open wiki for playing text-based PbP games using the rules of any RPG system.
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