3) Foster A Sense Of Community
The lesson we learn from Facebook and social media is that people like to connect with each other. For a long-lived game, provide ways for your players to become friends rather than just gaming acquaintences. Encourage out of character chat, jokes, and stories. And in game, look for ways to foster in-character friendship as well.
In the Wold, there are out-of-character boards for real life chit-chat, as well as a weekly lottery to encourage posting. There is a board to discuss rules, and another to debate politics and other controversial topics. There is an in-character board where characters from different games can meet, get to know each other, and even play games and mini-adventures. Whenever a new person joins, every member is encouraged to send the newbie a welcome letter with some personal details about themselves. Also, GMs are rotated every so often from game to game, so that players get to experience different GM styles and so that our GMs get to know more people on the site. The fact that the Wold is entirely free (zero cost) also makes the members “friends” and “volunteers” rather than “customers” and “staff.”
4) Offer Rich Content To Keep Players Interested
For a short game, a prepackaged module set in a bland generic world is fine. But if you do not offer your players a rich gaming environment, with a detailed setting and interesting rules options to explore, they will get bored.
The Wold has a decades-long history of creative development, with a unique cosmology, 20 gods and demigods, two new base classes, four unique races, 28 Woldian prestige classes, 14 campaign feats, new spells, magic items, monsters, and more. The vast majority of that content is found in . The Wold has also evolved with the game, from D&D 2.0 to D&D 3.5 to the Core Pathfinder flavor of D&D. This richness gives players a feeling that the Wold is a special place, not just a bland clone of a packaged setting – and that keeps them coming back.
5) Embrace Churn
It is inevitable that players (and game masters) will come and go. Some game organizers try to ensure stability by setting a high barrier to entry. If a player has to submit an application, or pass a test, or submit references, then the players who jump through the hoops will prove that they are devoted. However, my experience is that even devoted players may come and go.
There is another philosophy. People will rotate in and out of your games – that's a feature, not a bug, because with time you select for players who do well in your setting. Let players enter your game freely, and leave freely, and eventually the ones who like the game and do well in it will stick around. The Wold, for example, features a "no application or tryout policy." It is easy to join, and easy to leave. Those who end up staying prove themselves just by staying. In time, your stable of stable players grows.
For more information on play-by-post games or the Wold, contact Cayzle at cayzle at domain cayzle.com. If you are interested in joining the Wold as a player, contact site owner and Campaign DM Jerry at gericko at domain gmail.com.
This is part two of a three-part series on how to run a successful long-term PbP D&D game. Check out Part One and Part Three.
This article originally appeared in Issue #3 of a new gaming zine, "Suspense & Decision." Check it out! And I got a mention in this Greyhawk Grognard review of the zine.