Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stupid Ideas Of Mine

Would it be stupid, I wonder, to attempt to play D&D through a blog?

I have no doubts that others have tried it. The problems are immediately evident: commitment, commitment, commitment.

Because everything would be so slow, with only a few basic decisions being made per day, any in depth combat would stretch out interminably over a period of at least a week. Character design might be managed in a day…but I would expect most who might try to play would lose interest in less than a month, making all the effort up to that point worthless.

Still, I wonder.

I mean, I can sit and write and pundit about D&D forever and a day, but really what I’d rather be doing is A) playing D&D; and B) actually preparing my world for play.

Off hand, here is what I think I’d need.

Five extreme nerds. I don’t see a lot of women commenters online, but I really don’t care about that. I’d need people who had a lot of time, or knew how to make a lot of time (I work two jobs and yet I’m always writing). People who don’t get bored, who rush to check their blog five or six times a day for responses (or their email inbox). Adaptable people who could play my system and not get hung up on proposed rule changes…as a five day dispute about…well, whatever…would be impractical.

I say five because that’s a place to start. I probably wouldn’t consider trying anything with less than three people, and I might be able to manage as many as twenty—but I wouldn’t want to start with that number.

I would need people who could roll their own dice and be trusted to roll their own dice honestly. Now, how would I know? I wouldn’t. I don’t see any point in running if I’m rolling all the dice, and I can’t be bothered with the inconvenience of online die rolling systems (so please don’t suggest any links, I won’t follow them). What I might do would be to go over the last forty or fifty rolls and notice things like a player never rolling less than 7 on a 20-sided or having an overall average of 15.2. Honestly though, I just don’t care. If you are the sort of person who needs to cheat to feel successful, and gets a thrill out of thinking that no one thinks you’re cheating, then you won’t last long in my campaign anyway. That sort of smug, smarmy behavior will get you killed, no matter what you roll.

People like that always seem to expose themselves, anyway.

I could run the campaign on a blog—but not this blog. I’d simply make up another one on blogspot, and use it to upgrade the pictures for combats as necessary and run most of the moment-to-moment events through the comments. If people failed to post their decision before the end of a given period (say a day), then they’d lose their turn and I’d just do the monster side. That would likely get rid of any malingerers pretty quickly.

As far as fluff goes, well, this blog might suffer as I did some lengthy descriptions elsewhere. I think I’d try to keep the excessive fluff to a minimum, since…after all…a thousand words are equivalent to only 8 minutes of talking.

I suppose I’d have to get back on some kind of system for chat, so that if a specific time were arranged most of a combat or a session could be managed through an open room and general discussion. I’d leave it up to my players to figure out how to communicate with each other while I wasn’t specifically online…but there are so many options (including the phone) that make this far easier now than ten years ago.

Other problems…well, only about a hundred, most of which I can’t dream of now. Mostly, however, I think its possible. The game would have to be somewhat open—such as providing players with a general map of travelled-through areas rather than having to describe them over and over again until my fingers dropped off.

But what do any of you say? I’ll provide my end for free, and if any of you want to give it a try, we’ll make a go of it. You’ll have to surrender some of your privacy (I’ll have to surrender some of mine); but if it goes well and its exciting for others who might drop in to read of your exploits your characters could all get famous.

Remember that I run a highly adapted version of first edition AD&D. If I get deluged with volunteers (and I don’t expect to be), then I’m sorry I won’t just take the first five who answer. I’ll consider it for a couple of days and see who bites.

And for the record, if it is just simply beyond me, I reserve the right to quit—but I will give it my best for at least three months.


  1. Sounds interesting. I'd be game to give it a try.

  2. Sounds interesting! I'd give it a try, if you don't mind. (And according to the random captcha, I'll be named Defli)

  3. I'll try it out, if you'll have me.

  4. I'm interested (hell, I thought about applying for the secretarial post you were on about a few posts ago). Pretty fascinated by your setting, and approach/philosophy/whatever it is called (i.e. have read you blog).
    So, yeah.
    And I don't cheat.
    Not with dice...

  5. I hate to say it, because I loathe it, but Twitter would almost be a much better way to do this than a more traditional blog, since it's designed to handle lots of short-length content.

  6. I'm curious to see how you're thinking about adopting your card-based equipment system to blog play. Best of luck! Can't wait to see this in action.

  7. I've not tried twitter but am addicted to status updates on facebook...i've wondered how play-by-blog might work...never tried to play on-line in any capacity really...

  8. Badelaire,

    I loathe Twitter too. Or at least those who use it, shallow punks all. I’m not sure it meets with the primary requirement--that the online running be fully visible to everyone, not just those who are playing.

    After all, a fishbowl more clearly defines my strategies as a DM than do blog posts.


    Obviously, there won’t be any cards. But you bring up a point. There is more than just dice to trust players with. Do I trust the number of arrows they claim to have?

  9. If you feel the need to track every arrow and flask of oil, you might try using Google docs ( for the character sheets. That way, both you and the player can edit them.

  10. I am in the process of developing a web based system that will allow for all those things you want to do, but it's not ready to go. The chat room will allow for dice rolling, but it's only at v0.7 right now and more than a little buggy.

    Another option might be to try out:

    As for presentation of the game material, a blog isn't bad, but I ran one such game online using a Forum and it worked quite well.

  11. How is it different the a play by mail or play by post game? People have been running those since the 70s, and 90s respectively. Heck, I'm running a forum game of Keep on the Shadowfell right now. I think forums work better then blogs as most of the good ones have die rollers, maps and PMs built in. even has 4e character sheets & power management.

    I did see another blog doing the same things, you might want to talk to that guy about challenges and such. I can look up the blog if you want.

  12. I was about to say the following when I noticed that this is a year old:

    I'm running a play by forum game and playing in another. I try to hit them up once a day, but sometimes I've gone half a week between updates, when something comes up in my life. If I tell the blog to email me when new things are up, I might be able to manage more frequency. If that's good enough for you, I'd be interested in trying it.

    (@dorfird on Twitter)


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