Play By Email Guidelines

Since this is a Play By Email campaign with a large number of players, it would be good to settle on some ground rules.

First off, there are 3 or 4 main ways that our various groups have settled on for keeping emails understandable. Here is the one that I like best:

((Out of character conversation))
Semi-OOC narration
“In-character text *stage directions*”

In other words, random conversation and such is in double parentheses, actual in-game but OOC narration is in plain text, and dialog is quoted. It is just the cleanest way, and most of us are already trained in it.

Also, when typing on a phone with lack of italic support, I usually imitate Obsidian Portal markup: _Italics_. Since I rarely use bold, the collision with stage directions is evaded. Other people do /italics/. I don’t have much preference either way, just so long as people know what is intended :)

Language: If you are going to say something in a non-Common language that not everyone in the party speaks, please single-reply it to me and I’ll distribute gibberish to everyone plus the true text to those who speak it. So far, it seems like everyone speaks elven, so if that ends up being a language everyone knows, it can always be sent in plaintext. We’ve settled on using different quotes for different languages, and «these» are what we have settled on for Elvish. You can also use <<this faked method>>. Again, this is just to make sure people understand what means what.

Timeout due to inactivity: Due to so many people, we have to be able to keep up some kind of schedule. So, here is what I propose: In combat, everyone has 24 hours to respond. If you do not respond in that time period without saying “I’m gonna be busy for X days, so and so play for me” or similar, the next person may continue. I will assume that your character Delays for as long as is SAFE, but as soon as they are in danger or their turn comes up again, I’ll step in and play them as faithfully to their character as I can. I will do my best never to be away for that long without explanation, but if I am, you may proceed without me, assuming that enemies always roll the worst possible result. Out of combat, I will proceed at the rate of whoever is most important. When traveling early on, this will be the druid, so I’ll proceed at the rate Ethan replies. If there is an important conversation between an NPC and a PC, I’ll proceed at the rate that the PC’s player responds. If no one is particularly important, I proceed at the rate of whoever responds fastest. If you find that you get skipped and want to do something, you can retroactively insert things. I just like moving along as fast as possible, and also I compulsively respond to emails.

Speed round-tripping: If you declare an attack, even if you are unsure if you can get there or whatever, roll your attack roll. If you think the attack has a chance of hitting (usually a modified roll > 10 or > the highest miss you remember against this enemy), also roll damage. If you roll a threat, roll your confirm roll and roll damage. The best way to do damage in this case would be a format like:

Attack roll: 20+5=25
Confirm: 10+5=15
Normal Damage: 2D4+3={3+1}+3=7
Extra damage if Crit: 6D4+12: {1+2+3+4+1+2}+12=25

That way I can decide what to apply (notice that the crit damage is stacked on top of normal damage). Also, when rolling multiple dice, I really like to see all rolls, and it is nice to group them. What I do is group dice rolls in curly brackets or parenthesis, with modifiers outside. So, I would write 3D6+2D4+D3+4 as, for example, {6+1+2}{1+3}{2}+4=19. You can do anything roughly equivalent, I just like to see raw rolls and such. The best option is to just use the dice roller built into the character pages I will make and copy it exactly.

Perception: In combat, whenever I say “Roll initiative”, please also roll a Perception check. Then, at the end of each of your rounds, please roll a perception roll that I can use if I need it until your next round. If you are in a position where you expect to make an AOO, please roll those ahead of time to. I will not react to their contents, but that way I do not need to delay for a “Roll a spot check!”, “Roll an AOO!”, etc. If you forget perc, it’s no big deal (I’ll assume taking 10). If you forget an AOO roll (or do not expect it’ll be needed), I’ll stop and ask you for one, though that can take some time. There may be times where I’ll also ask people to always roll a Fort/Ref/Will save at the end of their round (if enemies obviously have abilities that could need those!). Basically, the more rolls I don’t have to ASK for, the faster it can go.

Disputing Rules: I’m the first to admit that I am the noob of the group when it comes to D&D in general. Thus, I tend to append a paragraph explaining the rules of what I have done where I feel rules are vague to the end of emails. But, if anyone thinks I’ve done something wrong, PLEASE call me on it. I make mistakes, I don’t know anything. If you have quotes, that is helpful, but if not, that’s ok. Even if I just do something that violates your assumptions as to what SHOULD happen, mention it. Except when I am trying to be surprising, I don’t want to shock people with totally unexpected rules interpretations. So, call me if I do something wrong or stupid, and I’ll do the same. This still holds if you are mostly versed with 3.5. Call me if something feels wrong. Maybe it was a change in the rules, or maybe I screwed up. Either way, it’s good to know!

I’m sure there are other things to streamline things that I can say, but that is off the top of my head.

Play By Email Guidelines

Into The Wild dylanryan