Can You Tell If People Are Having Fun Over The Internet?

As I posted about here, I had been toying with GMing a new game.  Well it has come to fruition.  My group has started a PBEM (play by e-mail) game, set in the world of Robin Hobb's Farseer books.
We've only been going for about 2 weeks now, which isn't very long in PBEM time, but I'm already having doubts.  The problem is, I can't tell if my players are having any fun.

The start of an adventure is always tedious.  Players aren't sure who the other PC's are, or where they are supposed to fit in.  As GM, I never know how much infomation to give.  So far my adventure is pretty open.  The King has given the party a task, but how they go about it, and what they discover along the way is up to them.  I do have a general story in mind, but if they take a left turn, I'm happy to adjust and improvise.  And as a PBEM, that's much easier for me as I have time to think about any changes.
Where I think I might be going wrong is that I haven't explained any of the mechanics of the game.  In a PBEM, I do all the dice rolling anyway so I'm not sure how much the players need to know.  I don't want to bog the game down with players starting to ask "Can I reach him?" "How much damage can I do with my longbow of shattering screams?".  I want the players to help me tell the story and act in character. 

Do you need to see this to have fun?

The thing I think I do need to explain, and am probably going to post for the group soon, is the basics of combat (especially as the potential for violence in imminent in the game right now).  Having been the player much more often than the GM, I always like to know how likely it is that my character will die.  Does 1 hit fell me? Or can I take a pounding and just shake it off?
This is all I can picture any time "Niles the Muckraker" speaks

I do have to say, the one thing I'm very impressed with is how dedicated one of the players is to his character choices.  He rolled a 3 intelligence.  I'll adnit if that were me, I would have just re-rolled.  But to his credit, he stuck with it, and is quite entertainingly playing the village idiot.

So tell me: How much would you want to know the mechanics of an RPG?  Would you be happy just contributing to the story, or would you lose interest if you didn't know how things were working?


  1. I'm having fun! Probably BECAUSE I'm playing a character with an Intelligence score of 3.

    Seriously though, it takes a few weeks and posts to get into a groove. If you can get past this hump and people get on a roll, you're going to do well.

    Personally I like to know a little of the mechanics on how things work. We don't need the details of every roll per se, but like you said it's nice to know how "heroic" we're supposed to be. Do we have 3 hit points or 200?

  2. I'm sure everyone is having fun, I think PBEM can be a bit of a slow burn to start. You might want to send out a brief overview of the rules. It's hard to get into character if you don't how the character's abilities/powers/skills/whatever work in the game.


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