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mikeb's picture

John Reyst, the guy behind d20pfsrd.com, played in one of the Dark Golden Age games I ran at Gen Con. He really enjoyed the setting, and he and I have talked about putting bySwarm mechanics and playtest materials on the d20pfsrd.com website.

For now, I've created a page that shows a feed of new content that has been added to our site, but I'd also like to put some things over there and publicize them for playtesting. If we can get a few races and perhaps some spells or feats together, I'll add them to the d20pfsrd.com site and John can promote them to his community to playtest them.

What do you think?


Greetings. I'm arriving via that link.

Hi all,

I'm interested in poking around your site, and possibly contributing towards your projects. I'm posting my first 'hello' here in this thread just to let you know that your association with d20pfsrd.com is what led me here. I was looking through the SRD in a little more depth, since I'm planning on starting a Pathfinder game soonish when I came across your page. So it's working, at least a little. :D

Another site that I think you might want to have a presence is RPoL.net, where I'm a regular. I think that Pathfinder is the most requested game in the 'GMs Wanted' forum, there. You guys might want to run some of your stuff there for play-testing and exposure. I don't know whether or not you make any concessions, in your product, to play-by-post games, but occasional notes in the product on how a GM might streamline some situations for the PbP environment would certainly be welcome -- to that crowd, at least.

Since that is exclusively where I get my RPG fix these days, I have a number of ideas of how published modules and other gaming tools could become more PbP-friendly, if you're interested.

Best Regards,

mikeb's picture

I haven't played anything PbP

I haven't played anything PbP since the 90s, so I don't know what the experience is like at all these days. Do you have particular suggestions?


I've been playing various RPG's since first running into D&D in 1978, but all my gaming is PbP, these days. I don't know any gamers in my age bracket in my area and PbP is just convenient when your time is not always your own. I play exclusively on http://rpol.net, which I highly recommend. (I'm not associated with them except as a satisfied user.)

The biggest PbP support I would want to see in any module would be maps and images that I'm allowed to link to and/or show in IMG tags. RPoL goes to some effort to avoid having copyrighted material inappropriately distributed through their site, and they have a rule that GM's are not supposed to include image tags to other sites except one of the free image hosting sites, but I'm sure that they would allow images sourced on your site if you gave express permission.

I also would love if read-aloud text were available somewhere for copy-paste purposes. Since I assume your stuff is available in PDF form, that is already covered. It wouldn't hurt if you were to have a note somewhere that people playing a game online are allowed to copy/paste certain specific text blocks for the purpose of describing a scene to their players. Your lawyers will probably freak, though.

The biggest drawback to PbP games is how slow they can get, so anything you can do to streamline actions is great. For instance, say my players are trying to cross a fast-moving river, they plan to have one strong swimmer swim across, then build a simple rope bridge on which the others cross, each person with a rope tied to him to rescue him if he slips. In a live game, I would do each step individually, of course. I might say that it looks "challenging" or "pretty easy for you" or some such, but I wouldn't tell the player the exact DC to swim across. In a PbP game, on the other hand, I would give the following response to them agreeing on this plan. Then I would expect the players to do all their own rolls and track their own damage, but they would be fully across the river by the time each person has posted again.

Swim across is DC 20. For each failure, take d6 damage (DC 15 fort save for half) until you succeed, and each failure costs 10 minutes extra, because you've been carried downstream and will have to walk back. Once someone is on the other side, building the rope bridge will be survival skill of DC 25, by anyone (not just the person who swam across). You can take a 20, but it will cost you 2 hours, or it is 15 minutes per attempt. If anyone has a rope use skill or a credible profession skill (like sailor) over 5, they can assist for +2 to the ability. Finally, crossing the bridge will be an Acrobatic/balance roll (or just a dex roll) of DC 15 for each person. (You can take a 10, but not a 20.) If you slip, take 2d6 damage (DC 15 reflex save for half) as they tow you in.

I realize that this sort of thing has to be somewhat in response to the players' plans, but I'm hoping that giving you an idea of how GM'ing is different in that environment will inspire you. :D

There are a few aspects for which PbP is superior to F2F, and I'd love to see a module have some variations proposed that take advantage of those.

1. Splitting up the party is not the painful exercise it is when playing live. The slow pace makes it not especially a problem. Sites like RPoL even support it by allowing the GM to make separate threads which only some of the players can see (identified by group designations). I used this to great effect in my d20 Modern game (set in 1922) when the group was assaulting a gang hideout. They split into three groups, one entering disguised as a mobster and his bodyguard looking to hire some muscle, another with car trouble on the street close by, and a third group entering by stealth. I made three separate threads and set it up so each player could only see one of them. When they made their pre-arranged signals (such as standing in a window and lighting a cigar), I would transfer the information to whichever other threads could see it. The players all said that the added suspense of not knowing how the other teams were doing added to the fun and excitement.

One issue with this approach was keeping the timelines reasonably close without making one group wait for two weeks while the other had a conversation (which can be very slow in PbP). I did this by having several small, optional encounters with which I could keep the faster groups occupied. (Guard dogs and passerby trying to be helpful with the car trouble). If your modules identified the places where the group might choose to split up, and just had a little sidebar of "Play-by-Post Suggestion" with a couple of these ideas (not even fleshed out, just one-liners), that would be great!

I realize that a lot of this was driven by the players, and would be hard to foresee in a module. But soon I plan to have them checking out Tutenhkamen's Tomb (but mine is greatly enhanced, including mummies), and I have some traps in there which will split them up. You normally would never do this in a module, but you could have an optional PbP section in which you do.

2. Secret information to one or a few players is easy to do seamlessly. In a live game, you can pass a player a note, or take a few players aside, but then everyone knows that something is up. This is no problem online, so you can do even simple, little things that are not divisive, just fun. For instance, the dwarf henchman might give a little extra information in dwarvish, or might just be insulting the party's elf; Maybe there is something that only a very short person would notice, or messages that only someone with infrared vision can see. If it is in a situation where they can't easily relay information for whatever reason, part of the challenge for the players can be trusting each other's lead when they realize that one might know information that the other doesn't. It can be very rewarding when it works, and is something that you can't really do live.

Anyway, I've rambled on quite a bit. If you are still interested, I'll come back with some more stuff. I can say with some confidence that, if I were considering which module to buy, and two were similarly reviewed except that one of the reviews says, "One interesting note, this module has sidebars titled 'Play by Post Suggestion' sprinkled thoughout it," that would make the difference for me.

As for play by post - I'm not

As for play by post - I'm not sure we've given any thought that. I haven't, at least. While writing I've been imagining a physical or maybe virtual table top game. I haven't done a lot of play by post gaming, so I'm not even sure what the special issues would be. Feel free to point out where small changes or adaptations would help.


Glad to have you. Poking around and contributing are exactly what this whole thing is about, so welcome to it. There isn't a hard rule about this or anything, but my habit is to post a comment about a change I am thinking of making to a draft for discussion for a while before I make the change. On drafts that I wrote, I feel a little more free to change them when I feel like they need, but even then, I like to invite conversation before I make a change. Sometimes other ideas come and sometimes not, but I try for swarmsourcing, ya know? :)

mikeb's picture

Quick brainstormed list

Base classes:
Witch Hunter - Arcane version of the Inquisitor class?

Prestige classes:
Witch Hunter - Perhaps easier to do than base class
Red Currant Syndicate - see http://byswarm.com/dark-golden-age/organization/red-currant-syndicate
School Wizard - An instructor in a Sascrian school of magic
Beast Wrangler - Someone who was responsible for controlling monsters before the Collapse
Aerial Cavalry - Mounted troops that ride flying mounts like pegasus, griffons, hippogriffs, etc.

Various spells dealing with blood perhaps?
Detect Beastfolk
Locate Magic - A divination spell that points in the direction of magic

Avian Wings - http://byswarm.com/mechanics/feat-avian-wings

Red Currant Seeker, etc.

How about the Red Currant Seeker as a Prestige Class (since the Syndicate is the organization)? Specializing in finding sources of magic; special class ability Secrets of the Collapse, which doubles as a way to reveal aspects of the setting (and reveals ways for the Seeker to avoid the far higher cost of spellcasting)

I like the idea of the Beast Wrangler - what's the concept? How about a class that enables you to take magical beasts and so on as mounts and pets? Maybe they get one of each, a special mount and then a pet, and a lot of abilities - maybe even learning or mimicking magical beast abilities?

Other possible spells -
Echoes of the Collapse: increases the cost of spellcasting for the duration of the spell, or potentially imposes the cost of arcane casting on divine casters temporarily
Life Theft: a DoT which does a bit of damage each round, but in effect 'pays' the cost of arcane spellcasting for it's duration as long as it is dealing damage to the target OR possibly simply steals the target's life every time a spell is cast rather than the caster's life. That could also be a higher-level version

I think the Witch Hunter is easier to do as a Prestige Class, but we could make a try at Base Class. I'll give it some thought.

Big fat yes

I think this is a great chance to be more visible in the PF community, and I think the Beastfolk are a great way to start things off, particularly since you said they were a hit at GenCon.

I was also thinking - do we want to put any thought into a custom class that's somehow specific to DGA? I really like the new base classes they've released, and am integrating them into my race descriptions, but I think that along with some new magic mechanics, the new setting, new races and at least a few new monsters, a new class could be cool.

At the very least, I think that we should shoot for something like Eberron, where all of the major nations and organizations have a Prestige Class of their own. We already have the witch-hunter, sort of like an arcane Inquisitor, which could become a Prestige Class. Maybe a Beastfolk one? Or one from some of the various arcane Schools? Something that is both new hotness and also highlights some aspect of DGA...