Possible PBBB laptop RPG game


#1

I've been thinking about starting a play-by-Boing-Boing RPG game. Kind of like PBEM, but run in the open on a Boing Boing thread.

The way it would work would be that I would post a description of the situation, players would post their responses, then I would post a description of ensuing events.

It'd be kind of half way between face-to-face RPG play and an improvised group choose-your-own-adventure story, with the GM making some assumptions about character behaviour in order to keep the game running at a reasonable pace. I'd pause for player input at major decision points, introductions to important NPCs, the start of a potential fight etc, but not for every micromanaging decision that might come up in a traditional RPG session.

As it went along, the players can give feedback on if their character is behaving as they'd like during the GM-narrated "cut scenes" and we can refine as we go.

I'd be planning on using GURPS Banestorm [1] for the background, but no sort of rules/system/RPG knowledge or experience would be required. Y'all just tell me how you want your characters to behave in plain English terms, and I'll tell you what happens.

Would anyone be interested in such a thing?

[1] Assorted Crusaders get lost and end up in pseudo Middle Earth. Interesting world, medium magic (i.e. wizards exist, but they're not all-powerful), low fantasy (starving peasants as well as shining armour), combat system leans towards "swords can kill you, they're designed for it" rather than "effortlessly plowing through countless mooks". The world is designed to accomodate pretty much any fantasy archetype you can think of.

EDIT TO ADD: game now on at https://bbs.boingboing.net/t/gurps-banestorm-pbbb-narrative-thread/83574


GURPS Banestorm PBBB narrative thread
#2

How would you deal with occasional trolls (like me) dropping by with stupid jokes? You can't ignore them, they could derail the conversation and make the thread unreadable.

PBEM is restricted to subscribers, forums are more like newsgroups so a bit too open for that format maybe?


#3

Don't see it as a problem. In fact, a bit of commentary from the peanut gallery would be part of the fun. Performing for the crowd might encourage the players to feats of awesome or interesting roleplaying.

Filtering the thread down to just my posts would give an uninterrupted narrative to anyone who wanted to read through the backstory. In the event of a persistent and genuinely obnoxious poster, they're easy enough to flag the same as always.


#4

@gwwar made a dice rolling robot that works in Game category threads. It may be down for maintenance right now?

I briefly ran an RPG on BBS and I'm not the first but you can learn from my mistakes ... like not realizing there was a dice rolling robot and trying to allow 24hr/day actions while still sleeping and having a full time job.

The other one is called ... Badass Dragons I think?

(Apologies in advance for Impudence players. If I get another game together, I'll have so many mistakes to improve on. :laughing: But don't worry, I won't try to get another game going while you're working on starting one up.)


#5

Yup, I need to make a few fixes. I'm surprised it worked for this long without needing code updates.


#6

Badass Space Dragon 2.0 was fun!


#7

Always happy to try a game. Although there might be one going on now, not that I really understand it. (@Dungeon_Master?). Am I right, @bit?

If it doesn't require too much effort on my part, I'm up for this. Much as I love @discbot, the games that have required the players to do lots of their own rolling and storytelling seem to have run out of steam.

@patrace's BSD games were easier for us to dip in and out of, although I'm sure they were a lot of work for him (and even more so, @Donald_Petersen's!)


Door Game Meta Topic
#8

I think you're winning it too, so far. I'm feeling like my brain is too fried and distracted to grok it yet. I'm William, trying to see the sailboat.

And I haven't been able to spend a long period of concentration figuring it out. I know I'm missing something that I should be able to see. But I don't feel like I'm allowed to crowdsource figuring out what "it" is through PM threads.

I'm gonna figure it out. I'll see that sailboat if it's the last thing I do.

I can't get into another full-blown RPG a la Badass for a while yet. I'm in crunch time at work for a few weeks, and I need to get on @bit's good side.


The Neverending Journey: Act I. ~CLOSED~
#9

That sounds really interesting. I'd happily contribute or just watch if all the slots are taken. :slight_smile:

It'd be extra cool if the players had to post in-character journals after they find out what actually happened. I was part of something like that once and it came out extra cool. The stupid orc's journal was hilarious. It was a sort of play by post thing a bit like you're describing, but we'd also get together and game occasionally.

Edit: Ooh! And Banestorm sounds really fun. Kind of RIFTs-y but not so overpowered and a bit more down to Earth, right?


#10

Yup. The premise is a world subject to a reality-jumping storm, which transports in people from assorted times and places.

Nothing high tech, but everything from Aztec to Viking to Swashbuckler (pre-gunpowder) is available as a character option, as well as the usual elf/orc/dwarf stuff. The previous face-to-face campaign I ran had a fugitive Eurasian wizard/ninja, a traumatised Elvish bow-sniper, an excommunicated human paladin, a wandering Celtic shaman and a halfling actor/illusionist (who specialised in children's roles, shoplifting and assassination).

So, that'd be the first job for anyone who wants to play: what sort of characters do you want? Just start with broad-brush ideas, we’ll work out the detail as we go.


#11

Hmm...oh! Of course!

How about a Dwelven Life-Whittling Spectrosummoning Teddy Creature Swarmherd?

He's not terribly bright but generally positive and friendly, and uses a combination of golems and robots he builds, summons, and illusions to aid allies and entangle enemies in hugs. He is completely incapable of focusing on just one thing and he travels along the tail of the storms to find anything that he can learn a new sort of teddy-critter-related ability from.

Mechanically we can throw in some creative control limits and such to keep things balanced...and some kind of push towards sticking to a theme at any given point in time...unless maybe there's some quirky penalty/bonus combo for having one of everything active at once? I love having to work around abilities that can backfire creatively and if necessarily GM/plot-usefully (I know when to take a hint if the party needs a nudge and I have the' give the GM the needed excuse to go from near trainwreck to epic moment) and I like things that can succeed or fail spectacularly (but don't punish the party).

He'd be his own thing, but a starting point would be a combination of the robot herder and swarm in Vexille...

And Kronk or The Tick.

And a Teddy Bear Herder

But short...he's not really a Dwelf, he just thinks he is. There's no Dwarf in him and he'd be clueless underground. He's just a weirdly stocky elf (His mom wasn't exactly skinny either) with skinny legs.

Whatcha think? Potentially fun start?

Edit: (improvements and things!)


#12

A bit too high-tech for what I had in mind, although we might be able to tweak it into something similar but magical rather than technological. Elven illusionist/summoner, alienated from his native society as an aesthetic and cultural misfit?

Most of the world is late-medieval; small parts are early-Renaissance, other bits are Bronze age to Stone age. No electronics, no steam engines, no gunpowder, minimal clockwork. There are parts of the world in which magic supplants technology to a significant degree, however.

To give an idea of the cultural background:

The magical catastrophe known as the Banestorm brought countless amounts of people and creatures to Yrth, including humans from Medieval Earth. And as humans tend to do, they soon expanded to take over most of the continent of Ytarria, displacing the native elves and orcs (the dwarves remained safe in their mountain fortresses). One thousand years later, Ytarria is dominated by the East-Coast Empire of Megalos (Catholic, powerful, sorcerous, old and corrupt), surrounded by various nations on all other sides. A significant minority of the Megalan population are goblins, of the green-skinned small-but-clever trickster variety.

South of Megalos lies the independent country of Cardiel (probably the most cosmopolitan society of Ytarria; as well as a nearly 50/50 Catholic/Muslim population, they also have small groups of centaurs and halflings and are one of the only places in Ytarria with openly Huguenot communities). Cardiel was formerly a Megalan province, and before that it was the mixed Islamic nation of al-Kard. West of Cardiel are the Sunnis of al-Wazif (ruled by a Caliph, and tolerant of magic: think Arabian Nights) and the Shiites of al-Haz (the nation guarding the Holy City of Geb-al-Din, controlled by the clergy, and intolerant of magic: think Saudi Arabia).

Technology in Megalos and the Islamic nations is medieval, while the semi-autonomous Megalan archipelago of Araterre in the far South is slightly more advanced (swashbucklers and foppish nobles duelling with fencing weapons, but still no gunpowder). Nearby is Bilit Island; Aztec society crossed with a Sinbad ecosystem. The Nomad Lands to the North of Megalos (Celt/Viking/Mongol: "barbarians" of all sorts) are closer to a Late Iron Age tech level.

West of Megalos is another ex-province, now the country of Caithness, where an unusual local interference with magic defends it against Megalan reconquest (and provides for a more Arthurian ambience than the magically-saturated Megalan culture). South of Caithness is the elf-infested Great Forest, while the mountains to the North hold the dwarf nation of Zarak. Further West the lizardmen of the Great Desert provide a buffer against the tribes of the Orclands on the west coast.

The nations of Ytarria are mostly at peace, but the last Megalan crusade was less than two decades ago, and a civil war has wracked Caithness for years.

Races available are humans (from assorted cultures and religions, ranging from stone age to early Renaissance), elves/dwarves/halflings (all fairly Tolkeinesque; elves are aloof and innately magical, dwarves are miners and tough fighters, halflings are good sneaks), goblins (similar to humans, but a bit smaller, trickier and more prone to magic), gnomes (kind of above-ground dwarves, not as militaristic), orcs (barbarian bad guys, killed on sight in most human lands), ogres (bigger dumber orcs, occasionally used as slave-soldiers in human armies) and reptile men (big and tough but also mostly seen as kill-on-sight monsters).

The campaign would be starting in Cardiel, one of the more cosmopolitan and tolerant of the human nations. Humans or goblins of any culture would fit there, as would elves/dwarves/halflings/gnomes. An orc might get away with it if they're careful to keep their identity hidden; ogres or reptile men are in trouble unless they're part of a powerful noble's bodyguard or somesuch.


#13

Uh oh.

Don't get me ssssstarted...


#14

Ooh, lower tech might be better anyway!!! Yeah, I like where you're going.

A couple of ideas that might add some flavor.

Still a chunky elf with skinny legs..or a pale half-dwarf/half-goblin. He has no idea and we can just treat him like something half-elfish or human and I'm totally flexible there. I'm just having fun with the tiny-Kronk image. Due to certain events (mentioned in a minute) he doesn't remember much about his original home, and currently believes he comes from an island far, far away. His memory is hazy about his past, and it could be as pedestrian or weird as you like.

Behaviorly, still very Kronk-Tick like, except with a bit more of an 'overly optimistic but a traumatized sort of mad' edge to it.

He's a swarm-summoning wild illusionist (summons are a random percentage real) with that same general conceptual structure...nonlethal grappling type attacks in swarms of small creatures (no summons larger than small) and support that has a limiting mechanic that motivates him to stay in-theme with a risk created when he tries to push his luck

He still is a 'storm chaser' in that he's always looking to 'catch' more things to summon. If he kills something or one of his summons goes wild and kills it he can't add it to his collection, so he has to bring others with and get them to do the killing if he wants them...and yes I just realized this has a Pokemon flavor to it. But creepy/happy.

So, every illusion/summon he has was once real, and he's a little bit crazy on that particular subject (he insists they're happy and love to help, but he needs something to be recently dead and they vanish when he adds one to his 'inventory' with a suspiciously splortchy sound. They also look like they're insane and tormented and often their eyes move around or they look like they're trying to make noises but they're being puppetted). Over time it probably becomes increasingly obvious that he's in a crazy sort of denial about them.

That theme is randomized periodically (in his dreams perhaps, and/or sometimes when stressed) and each 'type' can have some strengths and weaknesses of any strength or complexity (as you see fit). Obvious would be fun in itself! But I was also thinking maybe if there were a couple of situationally useful abilities in each type then you could add a mechanic where he could try to shift to a type that he's currently denied or make his illusions more real, but in each case there's a chance they'd become 'real' and turn on him. I can have an evil GM friend put together tables to start with the requirement that he make sure they have evil giggle potential if I fail embarrassingly...and any level of weirdness works. Again, more a bunch of possibilities than a specific plan. :slight_smile:

He doesn't remember much of this because the first several times he didn't limit them to nonlethal and suffered some brain damage/went a little crazy (why did they do that??). Now they're always nonlethal and he has convince himself that's because it's all he can do. He subconsciously mostly just doesn't want to get beat up by his pets again. It is also perfectly reasonable if you think there should be a summon or two that he's terrified of and would never use on purpose but can appear on a critical fail.

Oh, and what if all the summons were initially lethal but were made nonlethal...perhaps he goes off in the night after capturing something and doesn't remember what he does...but when he summons them they come out bound, gagged, defanged, straight-jacketed, made small in a shriveled head sort of way, and/or otherwise and sometimes distressingly with their sharpness desharpped? That'd also fit with his craziness and them being terrified/mad.


#15

The way the magic system works is that creating and maintaining magical effects costs "energy points" (EPs). You can get these EPs from three sources: powerstones (magic batteries that slowly recharge off ambient mana), fatigue or health.

As an example, a spell that allows you to create a "real" medium-sized creature or swarm might cost 3 EP to cast, and 1 EP/minute to maintain. But if you are sufficiently skilled with a particular spell, you can get a discount on the EP cost, potentially reducing the maintenance cost to zero. With that, you could maintain a creation indefinitely...until you fall asleep.

The character creation system is a points-based thingie, where you can get points back by voluntarily taking on social, physical or psychological disadvantages, or spend them on skills, attributes and other advantages.

So, I could make you a half-Elf character of awkward appearance and social habits, who is a magically talented illusionist/summoner that suffers under the delusion that his creations are sentient (maybe also a delusion that they're resurrected?). He can keep a small amount of creations going all day, but they "die" when he falls asleep (your call as to how traumatic this is for him). He's also constantly in danger of prematurely exhausting his magical energy reserves by attempting to keep too many creations running at the same time.

The "gotta catch 'em all" aspect is already covered in existing mechanics; you can't summon something you don't know about, so summoners tend to make a habit of researching weird and dangerous critters. This'd provide a good justification for adding some naturalist/tracker/outdoors skills to the character, which would also fit with the outcast-elf background.


#16

That sounds really close already, and some of the rest can just be role play anyway. I think that's got a good feel to it.

I'm pretty sure I've got all the fantasy books online somewhere too. I got them a year or so ago but never got to play. :frowning: Not that the other games were bad, but GURPS seemed like it could be really fun. I'm just now remembering how customizable it was!


#17

Perhaps I could be the dwarf Ranar Bolijyr who sought adventure because the mines were just so tedious, repetitive, and boring. He used to scout the wilderness in his free time for fun. Then one day, decided to just keep going instead of going home. Ranar gets along better with animals than people - he tries, but never quite says or does the right thing.


#18

First draft at William's PC:

BTW, you've got nearly all those spells at a level that gives a 1 point discount on the energy cost, so anything with a mana cost of 1 you can do at-will, and anything with a maintenance of 1 you can maintain indefinitely.

There are some creative options in there; consider the possibilities of combining Shape Earth with Earth to Stone.


#19

First draft for Daaksyde:

That's one socially-awkward wizard and one socially-awkward fighter; it'd be handy if the next recruit felt like playing a socially adept diplomacy/leadership/con specialist.


#20

That's excellent!

And it all kind of came together at the end with the explanation of the at-will bit. I like how your brain works!

I was going to shoot more for 'braver and with a better self image than he has any right or reason to be or have', but fine with letting somebody else lead the way. :wink: