Dungeon World PBEM

  • 8 Replies
Dungeon World PBEM
« on: May 24, 2011, 05:58:15 PM »
So I'm going to run a PBEM Dungeon World game for some old college buddies of mine. I've only had a little experience playing AW, and none running it. Also this will be the first indie-game that these guys will have experience with. They're pretty hard-core 3.5 players and I'd hope that this will be a nice way to stay in touch as well as expose them to some of the awesomeness that is going on outside of the mainstream.

I have the following questions:

Does anyone have any advice on how to run a PBEM game in general, but especially in reference to AW. How do you think it would be best to deal with beginning of session/end of session stuff as there will be no sessions, per-say.

How best do you think to run the first few games for a bunch of 3.5 players? How much should I prep them for how differently AW runs? Should I just throw them in and see how they swim? If you do believe they deserve some warning, what points do you think would be best to give them (without getting too deep into theory knowing that they'll just skip that stuff anyway).

Thanks in advance!



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Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2011, 12:37:48 PM »
I don't have a lot of experience with PBEM, so I don't have a lot of advice there. Teaching new players, however, is something we're adding to the text.

The chapter is still a work in progress, but here's some of the top hints:

-Before you explain anything about rolling, moves, damage, etc. tell them the basic flow of play: You say what your character does, I describe the results. Sometimes the rules will step in to guide the action, sometimes they won't. Your job is to play your characters, say what they say, think, and do. The rules will kick in as needed.

-Give them a quick rundown of how moves work. Roll, + something, 10+, 7-9, 6-, etc.

-Give them a high level idea of how damage, HP, armor, and load work. This will mostly come out in play, and they probably already have the idea.

-Explain that XP is their responsibility, not yours. When they roll the right thing, they get XP. When they fulfill their alignment, they get XP. If they're not sure if they've fulfilled their alignment, just ask, that conversation is usually really good.

That's the high level of the things I would tell experienced D&D-style players about DW to get started. Hope that helps. If you find them asking about stuff that I didn't mention here, I'd love the hear about it.

Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2011, 02:49:47 PM »
It's not quite email, but I've been running a PBF (Play-By-Forum) game for a couple of months now, and I think it's similar.


End-of-Session is whenever you call it.  After you've been playing a long enough that it doesn't feel "too early", choose a time that feels right.  For me, that's usually during a period of down-time, or after completing a significant goal (returned the McGuffin, cleared out level 2, whatever).  Perhaps estimate how much "real time" would have passed if everything had happened "at the table", and end the session near there.

I haven't been doing this next bit, but it looks like I might have to start.  You might, especially if the players are rulesy (4e, maybe 3.5?) roll the dice yourself.  It might keep the play rooted in the fiction and speed things up as well.  Technically that skips some negotiation, but you might have to make that tweak to keep things moving in light of BPEM's pacing.

I personally track all of the PCs character sheet information and XP online.  I can't trust the players to do so quickly or reliably or even to know what to do.  That might not be a problem for you, but it's something to consider.


Don't overload the players with a wall of text, but do try to give them enough details that they can intelligently describe what they're doing ("to do it, do it" and all that).  Maps would probably help, too.  I don't use enough of them, myself.

Anyway, there's my meager insight.

Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2011, 03:01:30 PM »
Ooh!  And I might suggest defaulting (for the first "session") their highlight stats to their +2s (or their "main" stats if they assigned the +2s elsewhere for some reason) so they quickly get a taste of that sweet, sweet leveling action.

Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2011, 03:59:25 PM »
Also, you can't really "see" when they're waiting for you to say something, so you're just going to have to feel out their intent and lob your soft moves at them when it feels right.

Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 11:45:25 AM »
Thanks for the input!

I've taken your advice, especially about the fact of where XP comes from. The cycle of get powerful, kill monsters to get more powerful, to kill bigger monsters, to get more powerful is hard wired into these guys brains and I'm happy to say that at least one of my players is in love with the relationships = XP system.

We'll most likely be going with a play by forum system. Does anyone have any suggestions for which forum to use? How do you you like the play by forum system you've been using Ludanto?

Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2011, 01:50:25 PM »
Glad I could help.

I like the forum I use, but I'm biased, and it's the only one I've used that I can recall.

It allows you to have a different avatar for each game (different from your "normal" avatar as well), it has an integrated dice roller that (mostly) tracks what people roll, and a handful of formatting options.  And the site has an online character database and an interactive, "move your guys around the map" interface, too.

The site's focus is 4e, and some of the tools are a little wonky sometimes or are still in development, but it works for me.

Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2011, 10:32:09 AM »
We'll most likely be going with a play by forum system. Does anyone have any suggestions for which forum to use? How do you you like the play by forum system you've been using Ludanto?

Snail's Pace is pretty good and geared toward small press games.

Re: Dungeon World PBEM
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2011, 01:02:34 PM »
Online play takes organization and discipline.  It can help to have people add a header to the top of each post so that you can keep track of player's names and character's names.  Use consistent formatting, e.g. italics for speech, brackets for out of character, etc so that people don't get confused.  At the end of each session, take turns using cut/paste to make a play summary and/or diary so that its easier to keep track of information and the details of the world.  If you can trust your players, people can post what they do, declare the appropriate move, roll and resolve the move, and narrate parts of the outcome - this will keep the game going at a faster pace.  Google sites are pretty easy to set up and can be a good place to keep lots of different types of info including session diaries, character sheets, maps, custom moves/equipment description, etc.  
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 01:08:08 PM by mease19 »