First off, if you haven’t seen it yet: CarPG is a new diceless rules-lite RPG framework written by my buddy Matt Bryant (the guy behind Main Sequence.)
While he designed it as a game to play on road trips with your buds, I’ve found it incredibly useful as a mechanic for playing Play By Post rpgs. In my past experience, play-by-posts worked either one of three ways: 1) The dice rolls were either handled completely by the moderator, leaving a sense of control out for the players. 2) The entire game was purely narrative focused, which while fun often felt more like a writing exercise than a game. And then lastly, 3) The die rolls were handled like normal (either on the honor system or with online dice rollers), and as a result the game system itself really bogged down the pace of the game.
CarPG remedies this by using a “Fate’s Wheel” mechanic that replaces dice but still functions as a sort of “d10+bonus” resolution system. The GM secretly picks a random number, then the players choose one. The players get a “success range” equal to their number plus the bonus — if the GM’s number is included in that range, it’s a success. CarPG imagines this mechanic as a ten-spaces dial that moves clockwise (so going over ten resets at one and continues.)
For online play, all I have to do is require the players to give a number anytime they do perform an action or task that would normally require a roll in a normal tabletop RPG. To keep it fair, I randomly roll a 1d10 (or a d20, using only the ones’ place values) and compare it to the player’s chosen number.
Even combat works out really well, since there is no initiative system (using common sense for the turns of action) and it treats two opponents fighting each other as simultaneous actions. The player and the GM both announce their numbers, apply bonuses for the success range, and both are determined together. There’ll be turns where both miss, both hit, or one or the other succeeds. In my mind, it’s almost like watching an aerial dog fight go down.
Easy Rules Calls
It’s purposefully a framework and not a fully fleshed game. Each person will want to add their own rules or guidelines. For instance — magic is only referred to as a vague skill set. When asked how magical attacks will work for damage, I just declared that the degree of success over is the damage for spells. Weapons deal flat rates of damage, so it added an interesting factor to spell casting — sometimes it does amazing stuff, other times it’s a fizzle. Critical Failures result in blowing up in the caster’s face. Meanwhile weapons are reliable and straight forward.
Matt and I have started a small game in a private Facebook Group. Out of character discussion can easily be handled over messenger. The posts themselves are the scenes. I usually set things up by hitting Google Images and finding accompanying visuals while I write up the scene intro. The scene then plays out organically in the comments. Once we wrap up, I’m able to start a new scene in a new post. FB groups are handy as it bumps the most recently commented threads to the top, and also allows us to post images in the comments.
I wouldn’t call this perfect for large groups or communities, but with a few good friends online you’re more than capable of setting up an easy game that can fill the void when face to face or live play isn’t in the cards for your real life schedule.
Questions, Comments, or Ideas regarding CarPG? Feel free to drop a note in the comments!