Running a Play By Post RPG on Discord


I found out that I love playing role playing games. I don’t have a ton of time to add another 3 hour gaming session to my week. I tried my hand at creating a Discord channel and becoming a Dungeon Master. Discord offers a lot of great tools to help with Play-By-Post games. Mine game is still running. Though we have dropped a few players. If you join or create a game, remember to post, and have fun! I’m rooting for you!


Running a Play By Post RPG on Discord

I have a bi-weekly group that gets together and plays Dungeons and Dragons (D&D for short). This was my first real introduction into tabletop role playing games. It turns out that I really love RPGs at the tables with friends. One of the biggest things I like is being able to create a story and play in a world with almost limitless possibility.

But there is a catch. Our sessions last around 3 hours, and we don’t get that much time in the month to play. Schedule conflict, people get sick, the weather decides to drop 18 inches of snow on you (perks of living in Minnesota). Finding time to play is probably the most difficult part of actually playing one of these games (or doing anything with friends for that matter).

To help get a quick fix of the RPG goodness I turned to an idea I tested out with a buddy of mine. I described a situation over text, and he responded with his course of action. We carried on a somewhat successful Star Wars RPG game completely via text for about a week and a half. No dice rolls, or fancy things, just pure Action and Response.

This was great and really opened my eyes to what someone can do. Then I came across this little app called Discord. Discord is a free text/voice app that lets you setup servers dedicated to whatever you want. It also allows you to setup different text/voice channels to separate specific topics, general discussion, VIP zones or whatever.

It’s a great tool to start up a community chat room with specific roles and all that great nonsense. This is the piece of technology that I needed to super charge my play by post games.


Starting the Game

I finally bit the bullet one day and decided to post on the ICRPG Google Plus group to see if anyone would be interested in playing in this type of game with me as the Dungeon Master. (I picked ICRPG as it is a fairly streamlined version of ICRPG and was going to be easier for me to run without looking up rules constantly. I’ll touch more on this in a future article.)

To my surprise I had a lot of interested and before the day was up I had 4 players ready to go and on my Discord channel. At this point I was pumped. I did all sorts of setup, each player got special permissions, they were added to a player group. I uploaded some custom Emojis. Setup all sorts of text channels to help separate the actual story from general table talk, etc.


How is it Going?

So by this point you’re probably wondering, how is all of this actually going? Are you still running the game? What are the pros and cons to such a game?

In short, yes the game is still alive, and posts come in roughly once per day. The pace of the game has slowed down a bit, but it has taken on a pretty consistent basis. You can even check out our server here. If you’d like to ask questions you can also hop on the Game Design Notes Discord server.

I am down 2 players. There was a week where activity got really sparse. People got busy including myself, and I was not able to keep up. I’m not sure what happened to the players but they have not since responded to any of our posts. I have continued to play the characters to the best of my ability, keeping them in the story as long as possible in case they one day desire to return. All I can do is wish them the best of luck, and accept them back if or when they return.

On the other hand, having only 2 active players has made responses much easier and provided quicker turn around for the group as a whole. I think 2 players with a few NPCs (non-player characters) can really help flesh out the party even when there are less actual players.


Pros of Play-By-Post RPGs on Discord

Easy to setup

These games are crazy easy to setup. In fact I run most of the game from my phone. Want to play in an RPG instead of Candy Crush? That’s actually possible through Discord. One feature of discord lets you change your name for each server, this is super handy so you can change your name from Brock to Theren Ironheart for example. This makes it much easier to know which character is talking.

Another great feature is the dice rolling bots that you can invite to your server. My server uses Sidekick which offers multiple ways to roll dice and even remember dice rolls with variables. There is also D1C3 if you use the Star Wars RPG system or the Genesys system by Fantasy Flight Games.

Sidekick Dice Bot in action

Easy to Play

Playing via Discord is very easy. Since the game isn’t running in real time, you can look at the last response, and take some time to determine what happens next. As a DM this is great because I don’t need to come up with a response immediately, I can look at what my players did, think about it for a bit, and then respond. It helps me come up with better responses than just blurting out the first thing on top of my head. I think this will help me to be a better DM in the future.


Cons of Play-By-Post RPGs on Discord

Easy to Forget

The ease of use is also it’s greatest downfall. It can be such a casual thing that it can be easily forgotten. As I stated above I’ve lost 2 players. Talking with others, most games just fizzle out after a few weeks if you’re not careful. As a player this can be discouraging.

My advice to you is to stick with it! Keep posting and have fun. The more fun something is for others, the more likely they are to stick around and keep coming back!


The Final Note:

If you’re looking to join a game or start one, do it. Jump into Discord, it’s easy to use and a blast when things are working. Just remember to stick with your posting. Have fun with the people you meet. And tell great stories!

Have you tried to a Play-By-Post game? What was your experience? Is the game still going strong? Let me know in the comments below!


Have fun,