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Text Based GMing

There are many ways of playing RPGs: With minis, in your imagination, with a voiced Game Master or with written descriptions. This last kind has some advantages and some disadvantages.

For example, say that you're running a game and your crew walks into a bar. You give a description of the bar: Music blares from the speaker, some old rock band. The tables are manned by some tough looking bikers. At the back: a man with curly hair and round glasses. Now, when things go as intended, say the face talks to the man in glasses and he's the Johnson, you can give narration and wait for choices. This relies on two things: One, you giving a uninterrupted speech without stuttering or any other complications and Two, the crew talks to the Johnson. If you get thrown off, you could stutter, laugh and have to regain composure or whatever else.

In a text based game you have a few advantages. If you write descriptions beforehand, then you can copy and paste it in chunks that give players time to read it, not needing to worry about pronunciation or how you sound. You do, however need to worry about the spelling and grammar of the piece. If one of your players hits you with a curve ball, then it will take some time to write out a response. You also lose the ability to act out dialogue to show information.

All in all, it comes down to personal preference. Some love the ability to act and give on the fly reactions, others prefer the fact it's harder to be thrown and can pack more description.

Please bear in mind that text runs will take longer than a voiced run, making it ill suited to longer runs. Furthermore, if you're the chatty type, or the person who prefers to wing dialogue, you may prefer the voice option.

Finally, players can get distracted more easily with Text sessions than Voiced Sessions, be it by Reddit or otherwise. There isn't much to counter this in a text session, but one thing you could try is running over Skype using Roll20 for die rolls. Skype tells you who's typing, which can encourage players to pay attention when they see the prompt; Roll20 only displays the 'typing' information if the user is typing a message, rather than a command (i.e. the message doesn't start with a slash) - commands include /me and /roll, which in text-based sessions are very common.

Preparing & Playing the Run

Okay, so you've picked text. What now? Well, it might be sensible to do some preparation, possibly more than you usually do. So, usually, there's a scene that's happening at the start that players cannot miss. It may be wise to at least type up a bare bones description of the opener. Then, when you give it to the players, give it in reasonable chunks. Too much text can be a pain to read. It also couldn't hurt to prepare for some outcomes. For example, the face tries to bring up the reward. A prepared response can save you time. This is a running theme. Prepare some responses and descriptions for things so you don't end up typing as much. If you would rather type on the fly, that's fine, but it mightn't be beneficial to game time.

In Character & Out Of Character

There are a few ways to distinguish between In Character and Out Of Character talking. Using just plain punctuation marks, E.G: 'the Johnson blinks. "I don't know what you're playing at".'. This is a simple way to type, but if you'd rather all players constantly be in character then you might consider any Out Of Character chat being in two brackets, ((This would be out of character)).

Page last modified on November 14, 2016, at 02:57 AM