Running the game

How to become a PbF GM and set up a Play-by-Forum Game.

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Running the game

Postby Morg » 04 Jun 2012, 18:22

So now your game is running, orders may begin to flow to your inbox (it may be a good idea to create a new folder for PMs related to this game). As the deadline approaches you may notice that you don’t yet have everyone’s orders. It is always a good idea to send players a reminder to let them know you still need their orders. This can be done as a group message to everyone, an individual message to each player who needs to submit orders or a group message BCCed to each player who needs to submit orders (this way you don’t disrupt negotiations by revealing that player A has sent in orders while player B, who may be negotiating with player A, has not yet sent in his orders). You can give further reminders as often as you choose.

By the way – you need to be consistent in things like reminders, otherwise it will be unfair on some players. Tell them when they can expect a reminder, and then stick to it!

Occasionally a player will send you orders that are wrong or unclear. In the beginning stages of the game it can be appropriate to ask for a clarification, but you should encourage them to take responsibility for making sure that they get their orders correct in the future.

Never reveal another player’s orders or give any advice or information to sway a player’s movement. This should go without saying.

Now your orders have come in and you are ready to adjudicate. Although not necessary, it is often best if you put all orders on one page/screen as you view the map (Why not copy and paste them to a text file? Then when you come to post the results, all you have to do is to copy and paste the whole page!). If this is Winter, it should be pretty straightforward, just make sure all the orders are legal. If this is a movement phase, look for bounces, cut supports, displacements, and illegal orders. Of course you need to pay attention to movement as well. Above all be careful and make sure you are sure you have it right.

Speaking of maps you’ll need to update the map – see Map Making. You will need to save the map as a .gif and upload it to the Forum – most GMs use the “Upload attachment” button below the text box of the post, although a few post the map to something like a Photobucket account and post the link; the problem with this is that if you later remove the map from the account then it’s lost for the game’s Archive when people want to review it later. The map file size does need to be 60Kb or smaller. Any larger and we'll start to take up too much space on the server.

Posting a new phase
By this point in time you should have your own forum for your game. Create a new topic. Each phase should clearly have the phase name in its title (Spring '01). In the actual post you should repeat the phase name, post the deadline for the next set of orders, post the new map, and list every country’s/every player’s orders for the previous phase (this also allows people to double check your adjudication {nobody’s perfect}). Clarity is key, I personally prefer to list the countries in their respective font color and the player name next to the country name (this is important, because if players change during the game it can be very difficult to work out who’s playing what afterwards.) Any bounces, displacements and cut supports should be clearly marked (Bold Italics can make it even clearer). If the next phase is a Winter phase, it is also a good idea to list the Build/Disband count for each country. Go ahead and submit your post.

Next be sure to send a communication to all players stating that the game has reached a new phase. Include a url link to the post for the newest phase (copy and paste from the page itself). Repeat the deadline information. If only a few players need to submit orders for the next phase (retreat & winter phases commonly only affect a few players), it is a good idea to list that here. Likewise if it is a winter phase, it is a good idea to repeat the Build/Disband count.

Other
This is the nuts and bolts of GMing; however, occasionally a player will come to you with questions. Whenever possible refer to the game or your GM rules to answer these questions. Be consistent. If it is a particularly good question, you may want to forward your answer to all players (in some circumstances it may be a good idea to repeat the question without revealing who asked it). For particularly tough questions, you can ask a more experienced GM to weigh in either via PM or by directly posting in the forum (though it is best to notify the other GM via PM). Most experienced GMs have no problem lending whatever support they can to those who need it.

Thanks for reading to the end. GMing can be straightforward, but there are a lot of little details which help it go smoothly. Players enjoy well run games and can get aggravated by sloppiness, but by following the advice in this post you can ensure that your game runs nice and smooth. Finally have fun. If you make it fun, it will be fun for your players.
"He says there are no easy answers. I say he's not looking hard enough!"
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Re: Running the game

Postby Morg » 11 Apr 2015, 20:56

4
"He says there are no easy answers. I say he's not looking hard enough!"
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Morg
 
Posts: 3105
Joined: 25 Feb 2011, 22:50
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