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Play-By-Post vs. Real Life


by Chock Schmidt

Work schedules suck. Do you ever have a group of gamers that you absolutely can’t get together at the same time? I’ve always wanted to play a game of Pathfinder with don't feed philPhil, but it was always a bit on the side of difficult due to when we were seeing each other, we had three kids to watch over as well. Speaking of Phil, don’t feed him.

So, what did we do considering the difficulty of getting together for any stretch of time to make it worth a feeble attempt to make a Pathfinder campaign? We turned to none other than the wondrous internet in all of it’s ominous being. In reality, he said, “Let’s do a play by post campaign on the Paizo website.” The old codger was right. Play by post was a great solution, right? Kind of…

Here’s the problem with the internet-it’s distracting. We got together a group of friends that I normally play Pathfinder with, but it didn’t seem to do a lot of good. The rules of play-by-post are pretty simple, you use the computer to type in some codes for your rolls, you stay in character, basically everything you’d do at a table, you do at a computer.

The hardest part is checking to see if it’s your turn, which when most of us are logging on to our home computers, it’s going to feel more and more like a chore to keep playing this game that requires no human interaction and you still have to use your imagination. Pretty soon, a lot of people end up booting their computer up just to watch cat videos in the constant procrastination that plagues the general population.

So, can a campaign run with little to no human interaction?

Yes. The key is having the will to do so. Nothing ever substitutes sitting at the table with all your friends, but you can still play a game the way you want. Sure, they’ve made all sorts of games to play solo. Skyrim being the number one that comes to mind. I’ve played hours on Skyrim, and after a while, I get to the same point. It’s always “I’ve played this game for 6 hours now, and really could have done something else with my time.”

Well, with some imagination, if that’s your thing, you can do it. Play-by-post campaigns are tedious by the fact that they require you to check in periodically (an agreement between the DM and players), but allow you the freedom to play whenever you get the chance to check it. Sure, you might have to spend 20 minutes on your turn typing it all out, but the general flow when it is flowing and everyone is posting goes pretty quick.

Instead of an active way of playing the game and carving out all sorts of time, you can do this at work instead of checking your vacant e-mail box for the 1000th time that day. It’s a passive way to play and keep in contact with each other when physically, it just isn’t happening. Most gamers are guys, and guys don’t really keep in contact with each other unless there’s a reason. This gives you a reason! It’s a constant break from reality that’s available anytime you need it.

In conclusion, play by post is second to playing a real game. It’s a good substitute if need be. Also, if you see Phil, don’t feed him.



© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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One Response “Play-By-Post vs. Real Life”

  1. Phil
    January 23, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Do feed Phil. Phil likes food…
    Playing online play-by-post lends itself to some excellent shared story-telling experiences. Posting, by its very nature, allows for time to really craft responses that can be extremely creative and rich. It lacks the spontaneity of live sessions but makes up for it in being able to really think about what your character/NPC really wants to state and do. And, of course, allows friends that are too far-flung to meet in person to once again roll the bones (virtual) together.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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