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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 145 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: E-mail as a Table-Top Game Tool  (Read 3070 times)
Judd
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« on: April 08, 2004, 04:20:52 AM »

I've used e-mails to schedule games, send in-game letters to player characters, to manage character generation and kibbitzed on the direction of the table top game.  Sometimes we have even set up Yahoo groups for the game.

I've found that in some groups e-mail can be a powerful tool that really get's the ball rolling and getting the players excited about the game and other times they go unanswered and no one responds.  I'm not sure if there is a correlation between e-mail traffic and successful games but it can be a sign of positive energy towards a game.

Any other ideas or uses for or reactions to e-mail in your tabletop game?
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2004, 04:48:06 AM »

Quote from: Paka

Any other ideas or uses for or reactions to e-mail in your tabletop game?


I've used e-mail extensively for all kinds of things in my D&D campaign. Solo adventures can be played with all kinds of fun, cutting edge rules that don't take the time normal give-and-take mail-play takes, for example. Some things I've done:

    Schedule sessions[/list:u]
    Post play descriptions[/list:u]
    Play multiple-choice journey to the Underworld[/list:u]
    Play "steal the magic item from the lab"[/list:u]
    Discuss play experiences, rehash sessions[/list:u]
    Discuss future directions[/list:u]
    Creation and feedback about characters[/list:u]

    We have a mailing list for the game, and make use of it for all kinds of things. The solo adventures are always played on the list, as well as character creation and such, to ensure maximal fun for all.

    As far as I know nobody has any complaints about the role of e-mail. Some players are not too verbose on the mailing list, but they all can read.
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Judd
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2004, 04:57:36 AM »

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
Quote from: Paka

Any other ideas or uses for or reactions to e-mail in your tabletop game?
    Play multiple-choice journey to the Underworld[/list:u]
    Play "steal the magic item from the lab"[/list:u]


So you actually do gaming on-line through e-mail?  How does that work?
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clehrich
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2004, 05:16:29 AM »

I know someone who has one of those wireless linkups in his house, and his players all have wireless-setup notebook computers.  So to send private notes to the GM during play, you could IM him.  I don't know how well this worked, though; it seems rather distracting to me.  Anyone ever tried something like this?
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Chris Lehrich
Sean
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2004, 07:16:41 AM »

That style of gaming (with the laptops open and private IMs running around the party) is popular with a lot of IT professionals who game in my area. I've never tried it, but superficially I find it repulsive: it solves a few problems, but it seems to me that it would vastly decrease the immediate, visceral engagement with what's going on in the game that I like to see in the games I enjoy most. Staring at screens and all that.

Using email to supplement an ongoing game, by providing historical/campaign background information, one-on-one stuff that's fairly simple in nature for individual characters, updating mechanical stuff, giving 'teasers' to the group before play, and all of that is great, though. I used it in my last summer game and will continue to use it in the future.
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2004, 07:48:03 AM »

Hey Judd,

Regarding the use of email for character generation, check out http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=2617">Character Back Story for my conversation with Christopher Kubasik on that subject.

Regarding email for player input into the direction of the face-to-face game, check out http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=1095">on making the same character over and over.

Paul
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Judd
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2004, 07:53:23 AM »

Great threads, Paul.

Thanks.
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Doyce
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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2004, 08:55:19 AM »

Email and other online tools have been critical to most of my games since the early 90's.

Currently, I support my games with e-mail announcements and information, complemented with blogs devoted entirely to the campaigns as a place post announcements, fictions bits, game logs and character diaries (Nobilis one here, for example).  Also, I'm working on wikis for several games (Firefly one here: http://fireflywiki.org).

I even use some web-based calendar software that all the GM's schedule their games on and set up their players emails on so that everyone get's email reminders for the next sessions and whatnot.

We've also reaped the benefit of having computers at hand and online during the game (wireless and otherwise) -- I can think of a number of times when Nobilis game logs and session quotes were posted while we were still wrapping up for the night, which was cool, and I think all of our current GM's use them as their 'screen' for document management and some die-rolling.  (I use my Palm for all of that, actually.)[/url]
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2004, 01:10:17 PM »

Quote from: Paka
Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
Quote from: Paka

Any other ideas or uses for or reactions to e-mail in your tabletop game?
    Play multiple-choice journey to the Underworld
    Play "steal the magic item from the lab"[/list:u]


So you actually do gaming on-line through e-mail?  How does that work?


There's really many different ways, like with normal gaming. Our D&D (or the campaign that uses D20 in it's tabletop iteration, more like) has limited itself to light, fast systems, with funny gamist and narrativist possibilities. The systems are designed by me for the situation at hand, and aren't bad to look at. I probably should write about this in the theory forums, now that I think of it.

Here's one system, called roughly "Hölmganga for rats". Hölmganga was the ritual duel of the vikings, fast and furious. Because I'm kewl this version assumes that the warriors will stand around stubbornly and hit at one another until one falls, without dodging. Usually that's after the first or the second hit. You should understand that the above is just joking, and the system itself is an abstraction suitable for any goal resolution.

What you need: already existing play situation, people on a mailing list.

When a player (or GM, interchangeably from now on) wants to resolve a goal with hölmganga for rats, he devices a bet. The bet consists of fumble, failure, success and critical results. These are results of a character or other actor trying to achieve a goal. Example would be the thief who wants to steal a magic item from a mage's laboratory. The player who initiates will decide on what these results include, like mutilation on a fumble, simple unableness on failure, gaining some item on success and so on. The bet is always pointed at another player who presumably has control of the other half of the resources in the bet. Many times it's the GM.

The second step is an important one, as the other player is not forced to take the bet on. If so, the hölmganga simply fizzles, with nothing happening. This is why the player will have to device his bet to be attracting enough. Many times the two players have to negotiate on suitable bets to get the challenge going.

When the bets are accepted both players will post their first hits whenever they are ready. Hitting constitutes acceptance of the hölmganga. 'Hits' here mean any posting at all that's marked as a "hit", to differentiate it from other discussions. Suitable is any argumentation or description about how a character succeeds/fails or whatever, as long as one doesn't hit below the belt, that is, resort to means outside of game (everyone knows what's acceptable in their group, but unacceptable behavior probably includes bribing the judges, threatening RL repercussions and so on).

Now, after both sides have hit once, the judging will begin. This is simple: anyone on the mailing list not involved in the hölmganga may whenever they wish give a judgement on the hölmganga. This means that such a player (marking his post as a judgement) tells others which of the results defined in the bets happened. Such a judgement is instant, binding and irrevocable. Judgement can include particulars about the result, as well as justifications, or it can be only an announcement.

The judgement may come whenever both sides have hit at least once, but the fighters can hit each other with how many posts they deem advantageous. The goal is to be convincing enough to get one of the spectators to give judgement favourable to you. For the judges the goal is to be fair, as otherwise the fierce vikings they judged upon will not be content, but they will reap their scorn in RL for being bad judges. That's why this is always a fair way to resolve goals, although one that demands fierce writing skills. If there were to be negotiation about the results of judging it would devolve into endless bickering, but now nobody will dare judge without being ready to stand behind the decision.

That was a little short (as always, my original rules are in Finnish), but I hope it got across. The Hölmganga for rats is a short and simple rules system that can be used, like HeroQuest, for anything from single fights to long political campaigns. It's demanding of players, but the audience will presumably give handicap if the discrepancy is notable. The players will have to be ready to take on multiple possible realities when the fighters try to convince the audience about the coolness of their preferred result, and the audience will have to be ready to take on GM-like tasks.

I created this one for the abovementioned magic item stealing and challenged a player to test his thieving skills against the perills of the magical traps. That was a valiant fight, but the player's rousing yarn about destroying earth elementals lost to my rhetorical arguments about the unlikeness of his surviving this particular wizard with the skills and abilities of this character. The character lost a hand when the wizard caught him, and the challenge was thus played within two days in real time.
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beingfrank
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2004, 11:43:34 PM »

Quote from: Paka
Any other ideas or uses for or reactions to e-mail in your tabletop game?


We use email a lot, because it's the easiest method for communicating between sessions.  We have a very small group, with a GM and 2 players.  The other player and I regularly have long email discussions about our characters interpretations of events, attitudes towards things and so on.  The PCs are supposed to be good friends, so we use email to catch up on the stuff that a friend would naturally know that's easy to miss during a session when it's not the current focus.

It's helpful in our case because one PC has extremely strong views about many issues and can be rather fundamentalist in expressing them, and the other PC sucks big time at interpersonal communication, almost to the point of Asperger Syndrome.  Because of both these things it's often not clear why the PCs think various things, but it's crucial that the players (and the GM) have a handle on them so that we can ensure play proceeds as we want it to.

Also, email is a good way to have discussions about broader issues in the game and the game world.  Like theories of art and the attitudes of the PCs and major NPCs towards them.  We can (and often do) do this during sessions, but we usually perfer to play face to face, and discuss other things related to the game by email.
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Neylana
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2004, 10:01:05 AM »

I'm beginning the setup on either message forums or an email group (preferably message forums, as they arent' so invasive) That will be used solely in character to send messages to NPCs.

This is for a Hunter: The Reckoning game I'm eventually going to run (once I have everything set up). I want the characters (players) to be able to get online, go to my version of Hunter Net, and get false or true information from Hunters around the world. These other Hunters will not just be played by me. That would provide only one writing stule and be no fun. I have enlisted the help of a bunch of my friends, who are willing ot write up in character answers to questions, encounters they've had (stories) and all sorts of nifty things. Half of them don't know much about my main antagonists (and they don't want to know), some of them know nothing about Hunters, and none of them know who my main antagonist is or where the story will head. Periodically, for story purposes, I'll tell one of them to "write something like this." And they will. But that's the most input I'm going to give them.

Hopefully, this will provide a new dimension to the game, telling the player characters that there are others out there fighting the good fight, showing them that there are other things going on in the world, and that what's happening here in our game-city is happening other place.

Computers can be wonderful things for games.
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