Whether you play face-to-face, or via email or forum, or even through a service like Google+, there are more ways to get your roleplaying fix than ever before.
And now you can add play-by-blog to that growing list.
For the last couple months, I've been in a play-by-blog game run by the packmaster of the blog A Pack of Gnolls, called The Ruins of Empire and running Microlite74 in 4E's Nentir Vale setting.
Playing by blog means setting up a blog specifically dedicated to the game in question; the gamemaster makes the main posts that drives the game forward, then players post their actions in the comments section of the blog, and generally it acts a lot like play-by-forum. It's slow, but since it doesn't require a massive time sink, it's far easier to fit into a busy lifestyle.
But there are downsides to every dungeon and playing by blog is no exception. For every chest of gold, there's a gelatinous cube waiting in the shadows.
Pros for play-by-blog:
- It doesn't take much time out of your day. Just like play-by-email and play-by-forum, gaming by blog is slow and meticulous, giving you time to respond and think about your actions. This can be a downside for the impatient, but for those of us with jobs, families, and things that squeeze our gaming time to a bare minimum, it's a lifesaver.
- It puts the focus solely on the game. This is great because sometimes forums lead to distractions. You say you'll post your response but then get caught up in a debate on cockatoo training or some such nonsense and, before you know it, you're late to your own game. With a blog, it's one lone thing to check with few, if any, distractions along the way.
- You don't need a bunch of separate accounts. There's a really good chance that if you're reading this you have everything you need to be a player in a blog-run campaign. Instead of creating a new forum account, most blogs allow for commenting with all kinds of different logins, so there's almost no restrictions on entry.
- You can trim your blog however you like. Even if you just use a standard Blogspot blog (and really, why not?), you can set the blog up however you want. Pages for maps, NPCs, anything goes, and it's a snap to add pictures wherever you want.
Cons against play-by-blog:
- It takes planning. As gamemaster, you'll have a lot of the work to shoulder. You may have more time in which to plan things out, but you'll need to work twice as hard as a face-to-face game to get everything situated just right. After all, you can't bribe your internet players with nachos and Mountain Dew.
- Combat needs to be carefully coordinated. We're in our first major combat in The Ruins of Empire and it's been a little messy. Even if you aren't running a tactical combat simulator and have no need for maps, you're going to want to carefully explain where the enemies are. For old-school games, a list of visible enemies is probably as much as you need.
- It's slow. I know I expressed this as a pro, but it's also very much a con. Some people don't want to devote weeks, months, and maybe even years to one ongoing game.
Personally, I've had a really good time with play-by-blog. It has a different feel than play-by-forum, though shares a lot of similarities, and fits in really good with my busy life. In fact, I'm thinking of running a game using this format, as I have a few players in my group willing to game online, but not willing to sign up for a site like rpol.net.
How about you? Have you ever tried playing by blog? Or does it sound like an absolutely crazy idea to you?