Four day encounters?
One of the reasons I have not been my usual proliffic self is that I have encountered gaming online, in both the game systems that I play with (Star Wars Saga Edition and Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition). I have signed up for a total of six games now on the Giant in the Playground forums and the forums of Enworld, and the latter has proven the most resilient though probably due to the amazing system they have on there to compliment the game.
I know I promised an update to the last post, and it’s coming once the few things I have put in motion have come up with some answers, but in the meantime here’s a little review of what I have been doing in the realm of online roleplaying gaming.
Firstly, it’s a little bit more casual as well as somewhat more organised than when it is done face to face, that sounds rather paradoxical but makes sense in context. On the casual side, there isn’t the level of commitment displayed online as in regular games, usually because on the Internet it’s relatively easy to disappear without a trace. In real life you usually have to put a bit more effort in not wanting to be contacted by a certain person, pariticularly in a gaming group where you know each other (or a few people do anyway).
So this leads to players abandoning the game unexpectedly or they announce it or even, the GM leaving the game or just not updating. The best case of the latter scenario, that of the GM leaving, was in the D&D game I play on Enworld. I had just been recently introduced to the game mid-campaign as other players had left, and then the DM announced that he had to leave for a few months. However, things worked out for the best and a new DM stepped up to the plate, and despite another player leaving unexpectedly the game is still going on and is the best run of the online ones I am involved in.
Secondly, there’s also a little bit more attention to story than you might suppose, even for self-confessed hack-and-slash sort of players. The game goes on for a lot longer than your average role playing game (for reasons I will go into later) so there needs to be quite a bit of fluff to tide over to the minimising of the crunch. Also, the game sometimes has to sell itself to the players to sign up as well as keep them playing, this is one way that it can do this.
Yet somehow this can be a bitter disappointment when the game grinds to a halt. I know, I’ve been there.
Thirdly, there’s also some related technological issues to do with the mechanics of the game. Namely character sheets and dice rolls. Not all forums are helpfully equiped with a dice roller in the actual message board. A lot of them rely either on exterior web dice rollers or, if worse comes to worse, the DM rolling for you. The former, like Invisible Castle, is not as reliable as you’d might think. More than once when posting my actions (usually during an encounter) the dice roller has been down and I just need to post the statistics so the DM can roll for me. Not happy.
And as for character sheets…well, it depends on the site. Some are merely content with a quick crunch courtesy of D&D Character Builder as well as an actual sheet on Mythweavers, and others take Wiki-ing to a whole new level of angst. I was up until 11pmfinishing that sheet for Enworld, no wonder I made mistakes. Firete has to be my favourite character to play and I have started to really love Bards, and not just for Elan’s sake.
Finally, there’s gameplay itself as it’s quite a different animal from the normal action at the table. There’s what’s called group initiative, borne out of the necessity of different people posting at different times. Basically, the DM’s post will finish the round and you don’t post your next action until then, as that’s when the mooks have their turn. This can mean that there could be one entire day for a single round of combat that usually takes me a bit over a minute to do in person. And this means that the encounter could not just be for four days, as the title of this post says, but for a fortnight.
There’s another thing, you tend to spend more time on your actions than you usually would. This can be a good things, as I often forget things but there is such thing as over-planning. There is also the temptation to fudge your rolls, even with the external roller sites.
Anyway, I have found it rather useful to get my RPG fix between session. As it’s been…what, almost two months since the last game…jeez.
And more on that hiatus of real time RPGs at another time.
~ by katanageldar on November 9, 2009.