When I discovered the OSR and got back into RPGs a few years ago, I mostly played with my kids (and sometimes their friends or my wife would join us), as I noted in my first post. At the time, I hadn’t played with anyone my own age since the mid-80s, and although I was having a blast with the kids, I still missed the adult interaction and the more sophisticated roleplaying you get with experienced gamers. My wife never played RPGs when she was younger, and the few friends I still kept in touch with from those days were no longer interested. What could I do?
I went online to the various OSR forums, lurked for a while and eventually decided to join a play-by-post (PbP) game at the Goblinoid Games forums (note as of March 2017 – the Goblinoid Games forums are offline for good, replaced by a smaller discussion-only forum). My first post in a play-by-post game ever was a little over a year ago, at those same forums. Since then, I’ve made almost 400 posts, joined four other games, and I’m having a blast. PbP games are by nature slow, I’ve only averaged one post per day for the past year. Still, that’s not much of a time commitment for a whole lot of fun. Many people don’t like PbP games, I was also dubious at first that the format could work, but I was wrong. Some of the advantages I can think of:
- The slow pace is amenable to adults with little bits of free time. Most PbP DM’s would like to see you post every other day or so, this is workable for most people.
- The format fits well into the old-school archetypes of player not PC skill and tactical thinking vs. kill-all-the-monsters.
- Role-playing is much easier in this format, I’d say it’s almost impossible not to role-play. This adds to the character and setting, and can really immerse you in the game.
- If you like to write, you’ll get plenty of practice.
- You can play at work (at least, if you have a job where lives don’t depend on you paying attention – air-traffic controllers, do NOT play PbP games), during those little breaks you get where you would otherwise be surfing reddit.
There are some disadvantages, here are a few I can think of:
- You can sometimes lose track of where you or various other characters are, especially in long-running PbP campaigns or where the game has been on hiatus for a while. This necessitates reading back through the posts to see what was said or where you were before. A good DM can alleviate this a bit, with separate threads for maps and player status.
- No real-time, face-to-face play. Not much you can do about this one, some people just like to have the direct player interaction in a three or four-hour session and call it a night until next week or next month or whenever. I would love to play this way too, and if you have a gaming group that meets regularly, consider yourself lucky (although I would still play PbP games even if I had such a gaming group).
- The format doesn’t lend itself well to more modern RPGs, for those you’ll definitely want face-to-face or virtual tabletop gaming.
In the end, if you like to play old-school RPGs, you should give PbP gaming a shot. Here are a few other forums with active OSR PbP communities, the games offered range from OD&D to Delving Deeper, to Labyrinth Lord, AD&D 1e and Swords & Wizardry, and even some of the non-D&D TSR classics like Boot Hill.
- Original D&D Discussion
- Swords & Wizardry Forums
- Dragonsfoot Forums
- The Unseen Servant
- Immersive Ink Forums
- RolePlay onLine