PbP Startup Instructions for GMs


To set up your own Play by Post game on the Atlas Games Forums, follow these directions ...

  1. Post a call for players on the "Recruitment: GMs Looking for Players" forum, following the format given in the instructions posted there.

  2. Send an email to "forum AT atlas-games DOT com" requesting that a new forum be opened up for your game (don't forget the dash in the middle). The email should include your username as GM, the Atlas Games system you're using, the title of your campaign, and a brief description of the campaign (just a sentence or two, which we'll use as your forum's subtitle). Also include any permissions changes you'd like (see below).

  3. Be sure that you and all of your players join the Play by Post Players group, so you can post/reply to the game (https://forum.atlas-games.com/g/pbp_player). To do this, click on the "hamburger" icon at the top right of this page, then the "Groups" link. Then, hit the Join button for Play by Post Players. As GM, you'll also be added to the Play by Post GMs group administratively, which gives you editing privileges.

  4. When your forum is activated, set up your threads. We suggest three to start: "Character Sheets & Handouts," "Table Talk (Out of Character)," and "Story (In Character)." This helps keep out-of-character chatter from being confused with in-character play in your posts, and puts your visual aids and references where you can find them quickly. See an example here.


Also, some ideas for making your play experience better ...

Register for different user accounts for different characters, each with its own avatar picture. This is especially useful for distinguishing between NPCs, and you can set them all up using the same email address if you like.

If separate accounts aren't to your liking, put the character's name in your subject line for clarity, or at the top of your posts in bold, or before in-character speech (Ignatio: "What, ho, rapscallion!"). If a player has only one character, he can put his character's name in the Real Name (aka screen name) line of his user profile.

Use text formatting like color, size, bolding, italics, and underlining to distinguish different types of info in your posts. For example, you could bold in-character info and no-bold out-of-character info, or just precede them with IC: and OOC:. You might assign a different color to each character, or to different languages (Latin in purple, High German in blue, etc.). Or, put unspoken thoughts in italics and in-character speech in quotes. Browse our play-by-post games for more ideas.

Make it clear to your players from the start what your writing expectations are. Some GMs want in-character creative writing from their players, while others are fine with mostly shorter out-of-character directive posts.

Use Private Messages to convey secret info to your players.

Keep everyone involved, otherwise someone could be left out of the action for weeks.

Enforce your game's posting rate. After every GM post, players get a few days (the posting rate for the game, as published in your original recruitment thread) to post a response. If they don't post by that time, you should NPC them and move on so that other players don't get frustrated. Long planned absences might require a character to be written out of the story and brought back later.

Don't let players hijack others' characters by writing their actions for them, even if they seem to be inactive. It's rude. The GM should be the only person who NPCs a character.

Dividing your original Story thread up into different Chapter threads makes it easier to navigate. But be sure to let your players know when you start a new Chapter. (Players using the auto-notify feature may not notice the new thread otherwise!)

Pin your Character Sheets & Handouts thread and Table Talk thread to keep them at the top of your forum where it's easy to find when you have a lot of Chapter threads.

Use a free photo-sharing service (like Photobucket, Flickr, or Google Drive) to put maps and other player handouts online, then use the html "img" tag to make them appear in your posts.

Have a clear policy on dice rolling. If you'd rather not let your players roll their own dice, you can do it for them or use a free online service (like the one at InvisibleCastle).

Combat slows down PbP games more than anything else. Think about using a streamlined combat system so that it doesn't end up taking a month or more ... since this is a good way to kill your game. You could take out initiative and have people act in the order they post while you insert NPC actions intermittently, or even do combat sessions in real time using a free texting service (like Skype or AOL Instant Messenger).

If it's not working, make a house rule!

Encourage all your players to Watch your game, so they get notifications about new posts.


Finally, when your campaign ends please send an email to "forum AT atlas-games DOT com" to let us know, so that we can retire it.