View Full Version : Roleplaying Tips Magazine Online Playing Article (Long)

March 25th, 2005, 19:59
I have permission to post this excellent article, so here it is.....


March 25th, 2005, 20:02
12 More Tips For Internet GMing

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From: Johnn Four, http://www.roleplayingtips.com
[email protected]
Edited By: Scot Newbury

--> A Brief Word From Johnn

--> This Week's Tips:
1. Call a vote.
2. Start on time.
3. Declare spells before the session.
4. Use complete sentences.
5. Use archaic words and apostrophes.
6. Choose good-looking, not good-sounding, names.
7. Assign a player to handle miniatures.
8. Save logs and e-mails.
9. Cancel a session soon but not too soon.
10. Be predictable; have a consistent schedule.
11. Use formality and capitalization
12. Expect turnover.

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Campaign Suite Extended - http://www.twinrose.net/

Campaign Suite Extended is a complete generation and editing tool for your 3.0, 3.5 or modern role-playing game.
With a character editor, dungeon generator, random treasure system, and complete editors to customize each random portion Campaign Suite Extended is all you need to run any game, no matter how modified. Now with town and city generation and available Psionics expansions.

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Roleplaying Tips Weekly Welcomes Editor Scot Newbury!
I'd like to welcome the e-zine's new editor, Scot Newbury!
He'll be the official victim of my ramblings and is charged with making them fit for public consumption, as well as helping me produce the e-zine in a more reliable and timely manner.

I'll ask Scot to introduce himself in a future issue. In the meantime, feel free to welcome him and send him feedback:


PC/NPC Personality Profiler
Tips subscriber Jeremy B. Seeley has created a cool Excel tool that helps you profile characters and non-player characters. Jeremy would like to thank GMMastery members Palmer of the Turks, Lorele, Rekres, and Adaen of Bridgewater for their invaluable assistance.

First, download the Excel file:


Next, make your selections in the first worksheet. Then, go to the second worksheet for a printable list of the selections you made to get a complete personality profile.

Thanks Jeremy!

Recent Hotmail Issues
It seems Hotmail had some issues of some kind recently, as many Hotmail subscribers have reported missing issues since #253.

If you are missing recent issues, you can get them here:


Also, I'd be happy to supply subscribers with a GMail account (while quantities last) if anyone would like to switch.


Johnn Four
[email protected]

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NEW Sci-Fi Gaming Terrain Available NOW!

*** Free 64 oz. Gamer Mug with purchase! ***

* ALSO, Message Boards, Photo Galleries and News


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A Guest Article by Daniel Howard

Playing over the Internet using ICQ, OpenRPG, or some other Internet chat-based system is similar but not the same as playing across a GM's screen. A few years ago, I wrote an article with 12 tips specifically for Internet gaming. In this article, I'm adding 12 more tips to make Internet gaming easier and more fun.

1. Call A Vote
When players have to quickly decide on a group action, give them 30 seconds or so to type their suggested initial actions, exclamations, questions, and arguments. Expect disorganization, misunderstandings, and contradictions. Scan and pick out sensible actions from their output. Then, construct a simple A, B, or C vote. (If there's a tie, break it yourself.)

Using their decision, type in what happens next. For example, "The oak door flies open and orcs stream into the room, screaming! What do you do?" "Attack!" "Flee!" "West or north door?"

You can then type: "Vote: (A) attack and try to hold orcs at the west door; (B) fight and retreat south to the door that you entered from or (C) flee south and slam the door behind you. Your vote?"

2. Start On Time
Start the game on time, even if only with one player; don't let laggards hold you up. Practice finding easy ways to add and remove PCs as players arrive and leave. "You arise early but the dwarf grumbles, turns over, and falls asleep again. Rather than wake him, you attach a note to his sleeve that says that you've gone ahead to the old fortress."
When the player arrives, you can say, "Amidst the battle, you hear a shout. The dwarf, riding full gallop on his pony, dashes up, leaps from its back, rolls on the ground and comes up with his axe ready."

3. Declare Spells Before The Session
If your players arrive early, have them declare what spells they'll be using. That'll give you a chance to look the spells up and pre-roll effects.

4. Use Complete Sentences
A chat window is a tiny and restrictive space but words can be magic. Complete sentences will make your game feel like a fantasy novel. They also make your session log much more enjoyable and interesting to read. With practice, they will flow quickly and naturally.

5. Use Archaic Words And Apostrophes
Odd spellings, strategic misspellings, and overly formal variations of words can provide atmosphere. For most NPCs, sprinkle them lightly, one or two per sentence. For well- educated, old-fashioned, pompous, exotic, or royal NPCs, layer them heavily and consistently.

Here's a list of unusual words from my campaign:

* agreed
* alas
* alack
* amongst
* aye
* beast
* colors (flag)
* curst
* farewell
* fiend
* fivefold
* fortnight (2 weeks)
* kinsmen,
* magick
* master
* milady
* olde
* slain
* sir
* sire
* sworde
* thee
* thou
* thus
* thy
* verily
* whilst
* woe
* wyrm

For example, you could type: "The mage says quietly: 'Let us camp here tonight. Agreed?' He looks to the party for an answer."

Also, use apostrophes to show inscrutable accents, slang, or ignorance. For example, "'though it'll take 'nother 'our to 'aul 'he men up 'n put 'em in 'he bill'boats, Cap'n!"
("Although it will take another hour to haul the men up and put them in the billyboats, Captain!") Striving to understand can be part of the game.

6. Choose Good-Looking, Not Good-Sounding, Names ================================================
Some names sound good when spoken but look silly when written down. Other names are the opposite. When playing over the Internet, care only about looks, not about pronunciation. Cutting-and-pasting allows complex names to be used with perfect spelling every time. Also, choose names with aesthetic consistency as shown by these names from my campaign:

* Xeleo Saedrin
* Zesura Val
* Rath Zolo
* Verit Gith
* Formian Fellow
* Kragen Wren
* Xithas Sterling
* Mael Goreo
* Yinner Meadowlander
* Uridell Prado

Who cares how these are pronounced?

Similarly, street names in fantasy cities should be interesting-looking and possibly based on a common theme.

In a very superstitious city in my campaign, I have:

* Procession Boulevard
* Prophesy Street
* Fury Row
* Crook Street.

In a guildheld town with frequent street wars, I have:

* Goblinhead Square
* Chance Street
* Quaggoth Prison
* Rot Street
* Sorrow Street

As you can see, integrating fantasy monster names into some names can spark your creativity when you get stuck.

7. Assign A Player To Handle Miniatures
Some over-the-Internet software supports miniatures but a scene with 30 orcs can be tedious to set-up. Finding an appropriate picture for an orc can be even more time- consuming than actually using it. Instead of doing it yourself, draft a player to do it.

8. Save Logs And E-Mails
Half the fun of a role-playing game is remembering the game.
Internet games shine in this respect as every word and action can be saved in a log. Ideally, save three versions of the log; a cleaned-up version without private whispers removed that the players can review immediately, a cleaned- up version with whispers for the archives, and the original.

Use Spell Check on your HTML editor to help you. If you have a PBEM part of your game, collect the e-mails all together into their own HTML file. Finally, don't be like the rest of us; do all this work after each session and don't build up a backlog. Even better, before you start the campaign, plan what you want your campaign history to look like after it's all over.

9. Cancel A Session Soon But Not Too Soon =========================================
If you play every week, don't announce that you are going to cancel the session two weeks from now. People don't read very carefully; some won't show up next week and others will show up on the week after. Make announcements at or after the session immediately before the cancelled session. If you say that next session is cancelled, nobody will be confused. But, if you say the session after next, the message will inevitably be garbled.

10. Be Predictable - Have A Consistent Schedule ===============================================
Show up to your own sessions. How can you expect other people to show up if you flake out? Play at the same time on the same days of the week or month. Don't spend energy trying to fit into everybody's schedules.

11. Use Formality And Capitalization
Ornately decorated and formal addresses really liven up letters sent in fantasy games. Why not write, "To Lanival Donraun, Paladin of Donblas, Resident of Fallwell's Keep, Adventurer?" In my game, the NPC merchant family patriarch signs his letters, "Uridell Prado, Merchant of Skullport, Master of the Fleet, Member of High Council of Skullport Merchantile Interests." An NPC general even requires his servants to announce him as, "Xarus Valerian, Lord General of Mezzonoborrean, Conqueror of Ztal, Victor at Vedrine and Xoss, Sea Commander of the Black Ships." Even advertisements are not forbidden, "Zendel Astri, Mage of Sardion, Dreams Interpreted, Curses Removed, Spells Cast."

Similarly, weird capitalization can provide atmosphere to the letter's body. For example, "If you refuse the First, then, Second, I propose..." and "...this Noble Ship, the Conqueror, sails..." and "...fear of Disease, Plague, Molds, Rot, Rats, Spoilage, Fungus, Weakness in the Planks..."

Laborious elaborations of titles and categories make letters feel more authentic.

12. Expect Turnover
In the three years of my campaign, I went through three full parties of PCs. Over 30 people showed up for two or more sessions. Over 50 people showed up for at least one session. Over 100 people asked about the game. Every month, one or two people would drop out and, usually, one or two people would join. Sometimes, the party would dwindle to one person or grow to six. (One session had 12, which was way too many!)

To keep your game going, advertise for free on message boards or UseNet periodically to keep your pipeline of players full. Make it easy to join and leave the game.
Either skip the upfront PC creation or set-up software so new PCs can be cranked out effortlessly. Only invest more detail in a PC after a player has shown up for a second session.

[ You can read Daniel's original article Internet GM article at http://www.roleplayingtips.com/readissue.php?number=135 ]

May 6th, 2005, 22:23
bumpie bumpie...

Maybe could we make this a sticky? If anyone is interested?


May 7th, 2005, 00:40
Yeah, it looked nice. Truth is its so long I've not had a chance to sit and read the whole thing! :(

Maybe we can post it on adventuresomedreams as an article...?


May 7th, 2005, 07:46
I have the permission to post it... as long as I email the link to the author..


May 7th, 2005, 21:27
Nice article, though I wouldnt go so far to change the names in my campaign cuz they might look better on written text. :lol: