Chat-based games

photoneater
photoneater
edited December 2007 in General Discussion

Comments

  • photoneater
    photoneater
    Posts: 182
    So, I'm thinking of running a chat-based game, because I can get a better pool of players for Freaking Elves from my friends who do not live in the area any longer than I could locally. I've done online games before, several times, but never run a chat based game.

    What sort of things should I consider, and what are some good tips and tools (aside from OP) to help facilitate a game like this?
  • DarthKrzysztof
    DarthKrzysztof
    Posts: 132
    I know you caught some discussion of the topic in the thread where I introduced myself, but here it is again anyway:

    http://forums.obsidianportal.com/forums/4/topics/166

    Also, there's a summary of the conventions that Jennifer & I use here. From what I'm told, they're in pretty common usage:

    http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/cold-blood/wiki/campaign-web/chat-gaming

    Really, it isn't _that_ different from table-based gaming. It seems easier for our groups to stay on-task, so you'll want to make sure you've done enough prep to last the whole session, unless you enjoy improv. Any time the players go into deep RP amongst themselves, I just pull back and let them - the actual time they spend working on the story is still gonna fly right by.

    If you're looking for totally new players, you'll want to screen them, but that isn't any different from table-based gaming.

    You will probably want to make sure your group has AIM - and - Yahoo accounts, since both services tend to flake out from time to time, and that you've all got each other in your contacts lists. Time spent screwing around with stuff like that during your scheduled session really hurts!

    Obviously, you'll have to examine the rules of your chosen RPG to determine what needs special attention. For example, we don't use anything like a battlemat, so we don't do much with attacks of opportunity.

    That's everything that comes to mind. You're welcome to "sit in" and observe one of my sessions to get a feel for how it plays, if you're interested.

    -Darth Krz
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Posts: 74
    The biggest thing, I think, that makes chat games different from in person games is that *everything must be stated explicitly*. The players are also a great deal more isolated from each other than they are in an in-person game. I have never seen a player in a chat game willing to say "we do that" . . . it disintegrates the "we" of the party.

    This can be both good and bad. It is good if your players are proactive people that take it upon themselves to push the action and RP with the other players. As far as I'm concerned, you can't beat chat-based gaming for that kind of experience. If they are passive, used too much to in-person games where the action is mostly pushed by *one* player saying "we go down the hall" or "we open the door", you can find yourself sitting for literally MINUTES waiting for it to occur to someone that in order to, say, open the door or walk down the corridor, someone has to say, "I open the door and walk down the corridor."

    I know this can happen in in-person games, too, but from my experience it doesn't happen as often.

    One thing you *don't* have to worry about is "you're NOT THERE" syndrome, i.e. people that can't get it into their heads that they don't get to be involved in every single cool thing that happens and that it takes *time* to cross the town when someone else is in a different location. You can just open up a private IM window and no one else even has to *know* that something is happening. I've played in games where we actually made a practice of splitting up the party to make it easier for the GM, because you could take another PC and go off and have an RP discussion while the GM talked with *one* player, thus avoiding a problem that does occur in chat: everyone talking to the NPC at once. They can't talk over each other, so you can't miss a statement, but it feels very much like the NPC has been asked 4 questions in 2 seconds and any reasonable person would be annoyed at this.

    For players: *Asking* the other players for input in a chat-based game is an invitation to spend 20 minutes sitting around doing nothing. This should be discouraged by the GM (something I don't do enough with my own group). No PC should ever say, "Do you guys have any ideas?" or "What do you want to do?" in a chat game. The phrasing should *always* be "Let's do this" or "here's my idea" . . . even if your idea is absolutely stupid. Someone will disagree with you and things will move along.

    Also, if you're going to do any kind of complicated locations with many sub-locations (such as a dungeon with many rooms and hallways), be prepared to just give your players the whole map. Sometimes you have to throw away the GM screen in chat games in the interests of not getting horribly, horribly confused. When you call for people to roll to hit or roll a saving throw, tell them what the DC is up front.

    Equipment and money management can also be a huge hassle with chat games because you lose the benefits of one person at the table keeping a "pool" list . . . the other players can't see the list. I try to handle *all* of this after the session or between sessions. I also use the prices in the PHB without embellishments. If you're in a normally functioning town, you can buy everything for the price listed. End of discussion. I even do this with magic items, setting a cap on the price of items available in that town and simply saying, "if you want it, buy it, don't bother me with it."
  • photoneater
    photoneater
    Posts: 182
    Thanks for the advice and info. Prior to asking, I had decided to eschew the elements of the battle grid, shopping, and tracking gold (I had considered using the d20 Modern/True20 rules for Wealth bonuses, but decided for a 6 session campaign it wasn't worth doing the lengthy conversions). I had also planned on doing all item/experience distribution between sessions, which is something I do anyway.

    The campaign in question here is definitely going to be a bit different, just due to the nature of the campaign, but I'm hoping that the basic rudiments of chat-based play will still be helpful in ironing out the wrinkles.
  • geekevolved
    geekevolved
    Posts: 75
    I think regular AIM has dice rolling functions built into it, but according to Aidan, its harder to cut and paste into it.

    There is something called fantasy grounds, which is a GUI based chat program with grids and all the fancy bells and whistles. Its expensive, but you can find it some places haxxored.
  • photoneater
    photoneater
    Posts: 182
    AIM is a bitch with C&P, having used it in freeform RPGs in the past. I'm not sure if Yahoo does or not. Beyond that, I know a few web-based dice rolling programs that could be used, although it is a bit less elegant to have to be juggling three windows at once.
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Posts: 74
    If you are planning on using AIM or Yahoo! Messenger, I advise getting Trillian. It's free, and it is REALLY nice for managing chat, especially if you wind up having to switch accounts because AIM is having conniptions. You can use the dice code (//roll-dice#-sides#) in an AIM window with Trillian, but for some odd reason it doesn't work with Yahoo! Messenger, even if you're using Trillian. Yahoo! Messenger allows you more words per post in a chat room, however, so it's a bit of a tossup which one to use.

    Our group just rolls their own dice and reports their numbers, I don't worry about people cheating.

    Fantasy Grounds is good 'ware, I had a look at it myself, but it lacks some of the chat features I like, such as being able to open private rooms with different players, so I don't use it.
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Posts: 74
    P.S. If the dice code in AIM intimidates your typing skills and you feel you need to cut and paste, you may want to reconsider playing a chat game. Ideally, the GM should be the fastest and most accurate typist in the group, and 60+ words a minute is highly desirable.
  • photoneater
    photoneater
    Posts: 182
    bq. P.S. If the dice code in AIM intimidates your typing skills and you feel you need to cut and paste, you may want to reconsider playing a chat game. Ideally, the GM should be the fastest and most accurate typist in the group, and 60+ words a minute is highly desirable.

    Eh, it shouldn't be a problem. The dice codes I've used on message board games were more complicated than that. Meanwhile, in previous chat based RPs I've been a part of (which were freeform, which is admittedly a bit different), C&Ping was never an issue. In this case, it's just an unrelated annoyance I have with AIM- and if someone got disconnected and needed a large block of text re-sent to them, it made it awkward because you would need to break up several lines of dialog into multiple messages to catch them up. Meanwhile, I type pretty quickly, so I'm not too concerned about being able to keep up.
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Posts: 74
    Open up an IM window and send it that way, the letter limit is much higher.
  • photoneater
    photoneater
    Posts: 182
    bq. Open up an IM window and send it that way, the letter limit is much higher.

    That thought had never occurred to me, making me feel all varieties of stupid at the moment.
  • geekevolved
    geekevolved
    Posts: 75
    I always try and keep a chat log going anyway, on the side in case of emergencies :D
  • airellian
    airellian
    Posts: 9
    You could try "OpenRPG":http://www.openrpg.com
  • photoneater
    photoneater
    Posts: 182
    I have tried it before, and haven't ever been too satisfied with it. For starters, my computer seems to hate it, and I tend to use so many house rules and variants that it would require more work than I am willing to do, frankly.
  • DarthKrzysztof
    DarthKrzysztof
    Posts: 132
    Another consideration that came up today:

    If your power and internet go out, you might want to have some phone numbers handy so you can let people know the game is canceled.
  • AidanDark
    AidanDark
    Posts: 56
    What sort of schedule would you be working with for this game Photon? (might be better to just PM me so when I log on it will be the first thing I see!)
  • photoneater
    photoneater
    Posts: 182
    I'll PM you and just say it here, in case anyone else is wondering. At the moment, I don't really know. Right now, I'm trying to figure out the best day for everyone, and it is looking like it will be happening on Thursday evenings (if I can rearrange some things of my own), or Saturday mornings.
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