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Play-by-Post Games
aka: Play By Post Game

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They're Role-Playing Games and they're online. How cool is that?

Commonly referred to as an RP, or a forum roleplay, since the majority are played in online message boards.

These aren't MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or EVE Online. They don't have fancy graphics. Instead, they rely on the imaginations of the players. Quite simply, you're taking an online bulletin board and you're running an RPG on it. Some are free-form, others use systems like D20, or GURPS (or create their own system based on one of these).

If dreaded Real Life takes the GM into its clutches, depending on what manner of game it is, the game may survive. If it's an open-ended world, then the players will just play, with the players enforcing the rules (so long as there isn't a Small Name, Big Ego running a massive crime organization/cult/paramilitary group amongst the experienced players; he gets his way) and disciplining the newbies who break them. Also, you have the benefit of being able to ignore their posts if they refuse to change. Alternately, someone else might take over as the GM.

However, if it's a set story with a predefined goal or you're in combat with the Dragon Guardian of the Lost Treasure of the Order of High Knights of the Crown, and the GM disappears, then you can pretty much decide that the game's done until the GM comes back.

Postal gaming predates both computers and role-playing games, incidentally — long-duration play-by-mail chess is an old tradition going back at least to the medieval origins of modern chess, if not further, making this at least Older Than Steam. If you ever see an old movie with a rich guy standing next to a mid-game chessboard with no opponent, he's probably got a postal chess game going with an unseen character. Play-By-Email (PBEM) obviously, is the electronic version of Postal Gaming, and is easily as prevalent as Play by Post games using bulletin board software.

See also Journal Roleplay, which is essentially the lovechild of Play by Post with Character Blog.

In addition to all the various Tabletop RPG tropes, you see a few others prevalent in Play-by-Post Games, including:

  • God Moders and Munchkins: Since Play By Posts are more likely to have informal or diceless systems, or sometimes no systems at all, godmoding (using out-of-character knowledge to make in-character decisions, or calling the actions of something controlled by another player) can pop up at times. Playing on a poorly-regulated forum RP is one of the few times you'll wish for Min-Maxing — since on some forums, there's no minning required.

    These terms mean very different things in these games. A Munchkin tends to be a Heinz Hybrid or a God-Mode Sue in games where numbers don't matter. God Mode is when a player writes the other character as reacting in a certain way or acting in a certain way without their consent. The former is bad writing, the latter is a breach of etiquette.

  • Long-Runners:
    • Pixel-Perfect was founded in 2017. It serves as a directory for forum-based roleplays which use animanga/drawn references for characters. The real life equivalent — in which images of models and celebrities are used — is Caution to the Wind, which was established earlier.
    • Hogwarts By Night was founded in 2003. It closed in 2011 for a 6 year hiatus and is now back refreshed and ready for new players. The game is Harry Potter combined with Call of Cthulhu based in White Wolf's Old World of Darkness.
    • Souls RPG has been going since 2001, through no less than four different forum software types. 'Souls is a play-by-post, post-apocalyptic werewolf and werecanine game set in Maritime Canada.
    • Fizzy Bubbles is a Pokémon RP, primarily hosted on Ultimate Pokémon Network with secondary homes at the Serebii and Bulbagarden forums, that has been around continuously almost as long as the franchise itself, beginning on October 22, 1998note  and still active as of 2023.
    • Freedom City Play By Post created in 2007 has been running for more than 12 years as of early 2020.
    • Halcyon Days is a Bleach RP that has existed in one form or another for almost 8 years. Though both the name, the website, and the people in power have changed, it is still running strong, with new and returning members coming in frequently, despite the lack of any canon characters.
    • Engi No Jutsu is a hypothetically Naruto related roleplay that is more than 10 years old as of this writing, having been first made in 2004 and continuing strong to this day.
    • Dino Attack RPG, hosted on, ended on December 21, 2012 after seven years of a single continuous story. More remarkable is the fact that it was inspired by a half-year Lego line and was kept alive by less then a dozen players.
    • The Darwin's Soldiers trilogy (the source of the page screenshot) ran from 2008-2013, for five years. But if you also include the tie-in stories written by various players expanding the universe or fleshing out their characters' storylines (the last of which concluded in 2022), it's been receiving new content for 14 years.
    • Haven City born from a site called Shinya, Haven inherits members and staff from a site that has existed since 2008. For five years this forum has existed before finally moving to a new location for a fresh start. However, the community is still welcoming to new members.
    • The Vast Empire is a Play By Post game based on a player-created Expanded Universe for Star Wars, for a Galactic Empire splinter faction. The Vast Empire has been running continuously since 1998 on its own site.
    • Realms of Hyrule is a The Legend of Zelda RP that is currently on its sixth incarnation. Its first incarnation started way back in 2003 and it's still going strong.
    • Thar Shaddin is an original fantasy setting which has been active for over a decade now. Its 10th anniversary occurred July 2015
    • Campus Life is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover RP that was founded back during 2007 and, as writing it, is quickly approaching its 10th year anniversary. After several key players left, a Continuity Reboot was attempted but it ultimately died due to lack of interest and toxicity amongst the remaining playerbase.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Visions of Destiny has been going since 2012... and as of 2017 has not even taken its players past the halfway point of Kingdom Hearts 1.
    • We Are All Pokémon Trainers, a Play By Post game on the TV Tropes fora that has been running consistently for more than a decade since 2011. The main plot is all consolidated into a single thread, with supplementary materials on a personal but publically accessible forum and wiki.
    • Marvel Heroes RPG, a Play By Post game through Proboards that has been running continuously since March 2007.
    • Survival of the Fittest is a collaborative play-by-post writing forum that began on June 19th, 2005. It draws inspiration from Kōshun Takami's seminal 1999 novel Battle Royale; however, it takes place in an original world, based heavily on our own, and differs slightly in its mechanics. Its sister site, Survival Of The Fittest Mini has been in operation since April 13th, 2010.
    • Destroy the Godmodder is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover that originated as a not-so-subtle criticism of God Moders, and has since expanded to new horizons. It celebrated its tenth anniversary in December 2022, with surprisingly little fanfare.
  • Orphaned Series: Online Game Masters seem a lot more prone to dropping their campaigns without warning than people who game in person; or perhaps its simply that records of the dead games persist in forum archives. The average lifespan of a Play By Post game is around three months. The lucky ones last a year. A tongue-in-cheek guide to creating a Pbp forum stated, "Once you get your first post in an IC [in character] area, it's time to close up shop. Be sure to blame the members for being annoying and unfaithful."
  • Webcomic Time: after a fashion. Face-to-face RPGs tend to be played for several hours at a shot on a regular basis; Play By Posts usually get much shorter updates whenever their players and Game Masters are available. A six-second combat round can take weeks if someone doesn't log in regularly.
    • Averted by variants taking place as posts over Discord or similar chat servers instead of a traditional forum, as it’s much easier to coordinate activity and post sessions.


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    Play-by-Post Games hosted on the TV Tropes Fora 

    Off-site Play-by-Post Games 

  • These things go back to the stone age, or at least the 1970s. The PLATO computer system had a couple of these, including a long-running series, The Plato Patrol, featuring a motley group of super and non-super heroes and established to take place in the Marvel Comics universe. It started as a satirical gag and ended up as a small community which even got together for a weekend party or two and had its own business cards. You can read about it in Brian Dear's book, The Friendly Orange Glow.

Alternative Title(s): Play By Post Game, Play By Post, Play By Email, Forum Role Plays