[PbP] Many Games, One Collaborative World

Hi! I had an idea for a play by post game - perhaps a little different to the way these things are usually done, in my experience?

I thought instead of me choosing the rpg to play and creating a world that suits the game, we could instead begin with one of the world creation rulesets - I am familiar with Microscope, but maybe we could start smaller, with something like The Quiet Year and just create a very small and limited part of the world. I just think the important thing is that the world is created collaboratively and through play. Then, we can choose a ruleset to base a campaign or one-shot in the world we have created. Naturally, the players of that campaign will add to the world as the game plays, this gets fed back into the creation and so the world grows and develops and is there for anyone to play any rpg that makes sense. I do think a game of Microscope should be the “holding game” for the world, if only because it’s pretty much designed to hold a world of fairly vast scope if necessary, and it’s easy to add in snippets revealed by playing other games.

Is this an idea that interests people? If so, I would really welcome your ideas and criticisms. In my head it feels really clear how it would work, but of course, no plan survives contact with reality!


That sounds extremely neat - I’m certainly on board. Don’t know what Microscope is, but I’m sure I’ll get it. I’m all about worldbuilding!


Love microscope!

1 Like

Microscope, written by Ben Robbins is described as “A Fractal Role-Playing game of Epic Histories”. You don’t have your own character, you don’t play in chronological order. You start with the largest chunk, you know how your world begins - and it doesn’t have to be it’s creation, you start at the beginning of the story you want to focus on - you also know how your world ends. The examples from the rules are:

Humanity spreads to the stars and forges a galactic civilisation
Fledgling nations arise from the ashes of a ruined empire
An ancient line of Dragon Kings die out as magic fades form the realms

So you don’t necessarily have to encompass the entirety of the world’s history, but you focus on a story of that world - say in the first example, we start with the launch of Sputnik and end with the creation of Star Trek’s Federation.

You then drill into it fractually, adding smaller and smaller details as you play - putting parts of history under the microscope - you always know where the end point will be, but not necessarily how you get there.

And you can see how, in the first example, we could run a campaign with a cold war spy ruleset, then a game using the Star Trek rpg rules, then a modern day vampire game could be used, then a cyberpunk - each building up the world in various parts of it’s history. and making our games, uniquely ours. If we played the vampire game first and establish rules for how vampires exist in our world, how does that change the cold war spy game when we play it? Or, if it’s too disruptive, we then define that Vampires are hidden, unseen and unknown to humanity until after, so we then start to build an event, when Vampires come out of the shadows - and so on and so on. I’m rambling now, but hopefully you can see what’s going through my mind!


So is this largely a world building thing? How do stories emerge? In any case sounds quite fascinating.

1 Like

World building is definitely an important part of it, but this all started when I noticed, and felt myself that people seem to love playing a variety of games, almost as much as they love a single world that they build and grows with them. Sometimes these two loves come into conflict, how can you give a new rpg a go if you have to stop development of a world that you love, and want to keep building. So what I wanted was to pull both these things together, to have people able to play a post apocalyptic world that is rising from the ashes of the ancient undead empire, then flip over to a space opera, and yet have those two entirely different games build the same world, so characters in the space opera can have knowledge of the undead empire, reference it and have it make continuous sense.

So I do think pure world building games will be important at the beginning especially, but later on, the rpgs we play in this world will naturally build important - or completely obscure and unimportant stories in that world. And it doesn’t have to be so wide ranging, we could restrict it to pure fantasy, or pure sci fi, or modern world, etc. Maybe we will return to the world building games later if we find them fun, or want to set up a game that would otherwise be incompatible. But the basic concept is always to play what you want to play, but still get to play in the same world, maybe even with the same characters.

The other part, that appeals to me as well is in finding a part of the world that we want to explore more, and finding a new game that is the best ruleset to explore that story - and introducing people to a game that people have never heard of but is brilliant is something that appeals to me!

1 Like

I love the idea. I’m down for it. I think it could be amazing to even jump back or forward in time with different games, and then even more game to fill in between. Maybe even have multiple thread going at the same time?

1 Like

Awesome, so definitely 3 of us, maybe I could cheekily conform @RossM and @yashima as well?

I do think that we could have multiple threads going, if the sites admins are OK with it, it would make it easier to organise.

Call me confirmed.

Multiple threads are fine, but please tag them with the ‘pbf’ category so people can easily mute them.

1 Like

Ah, OK. Would you be able to edit this post’s title for me? I used PbP because this site seemed to use it, but I’m happier using PbF because it’s what I’m used to!

Glad to have you aboard!

Nope, you’re right, I’m wrong, it’s correctly tags.

1 Like

Should we start with a game of Quiet Year?

It feels small and contained enough that most games would fit into this idea, gets the ball rolling nicely and easily and defines a local part of our world that is almost ‘spiritually’ important if that makes any sense - a place which everyone knows the history of, but no-one really knows why. Perhaps it won’t be a real in our world, perhaps it will be a myth everyone knows but has forgotten the meaning of, a story passed down that everyone can put their own interpretation onto.

Edit - I see there is already a game of Quiet Year going on, perhaps we should instead start with a game of Follow? It’s a game about working together to achieve a common goal. It’s a game by the same author as Microscope, and is in a similar, maybe smaller scope to Quiet Year so I think it would also make for a good start


Never heard of it, so yes!

1 Like

On the off-chance that everyone agrees to Follow, I’ll write out an explanation of the game here:


Follow is a game for 3-5 players. You will need stones in different colours, a cup to draw stones from, a dozen index cards, pens and pencils. For PbP I think we can manage the stones and their drawing with dice rolls and PMming. The index cards will be replaced by posts.

Follow is a game about working together to achieve a common goal. Slay the dragon. Cure a disease. Overthrow a tyrant. Get your candidate elected. We’ll pick a quest together to decide what kind of game we want to play.

Can we stay united and succeed, or will our differences tear us apart? We’ll play and find out.

Follow isn’t about us coming up with the best plan or a clever solution. It’s about seeing what these characters do, for better or worse. We may even intentionally make bad choices because they seem like decisions our characters would make.

But even if we do everything perfectly, our quest may fail. As players we can push for the outcome we want to see, but we cannot guarantee it. Our story may surprise us, and that’s part of the fun.

Picking a Quest

The game suggests we start with one of these four quests, and it is clear that it is better to choose a quest that everyone can play than someone loves but someone doesn’t want to play, so it suggests instead of picking your favourite, we instead remove the ones we don’t really want to play - then pick our favourites from what is left. If none are left, I have many more after these four.

The Colony: Build a colony and make it flourish
The Dragon: SLay the beast (not necessarily a dragon) that terrorises the realm
The Heist: Get the loot and don’t get caught
The Rebellion: Overthrow our oppressors

What makes our quest difficult?

As a group we will next brainstorm two things that make our quest difficult. Each quest comes with suggestions, but we can make up our own.

Our Fellowship

The group of characters working together to complete the quest is called the fellowship, we’ll each have two characters: a main character and a minor character. Both are part of the fellowship, but our story is about the main characters.

We’ll make our characters together, discussing our choices so everyone knows what each member of the fellowship is like. There are four choices to make about our main characters and two about our minor characters

Major and Minor Characters:

Who are you? What is your characters role in the fellowship? There will be sample roles for each quest, but you can make one up as long as it makes sense that you would be involved in the fellowship. You must also want (at the start of the game) to succeed at the quest, this may change later.

Major Characters Only:

What do you want from the quest? Beyond success, why are you a part of the fellowship? It could be something you get out of success or how you want us to get success. No two wants should be the same, if they are, then discuss until you find the difference that sets you apart.

What do you want from (the player to the left - we’ll figure out a seating order!)?
Pick something that’s important to you but they are unwilling to give you, and discuss with them so that you both agree.

With all of the above choices, flesh out the details, write as much as you want around these points!

I’ll get on with how to play if we agree on this game, and once we have all set up!

I don’t think I can commit to a forum game for January, as I have made several time consuming resolutions for the new year including one that will need the same part of my brain as an RPG namely the writing/creative part. I am very sorry. It is the same reason my MotW group didn’t continue in November. I wish I had more of that energy… obviously I can be wrong about myself but I don’t wish to test the theory and then leave everyone hanging for a month (and if I for other reasons I don’t make my end of January deadline even longer).

1 Like

That’s fair enough, don’t worry I completely understand!

I understand very few words I’ve read above, but want to explore RPGs more so multiple formats sounds fantastic. If there’s room for one more I’m in.


Would also be interested in this, if more players are needed, or later on with other games!

1 Like

Delighted to have you both @Captbnut & @GabrielH - that brings the total to 6, a pretty good number - I know it’s one more than Follow recommends, but the only reason I can see for it is to keep within it’s 1 session playtime - something that isn’t really relevant for PbP. If it does turn out to be a problem, I’ll sit out and “GM” the game, even though it’s technically GMless :slight_smile: Essentially, I’ll be playing the cup :rofl:

Alright, let’s call seating order the order in which we joined, with me going last so we have:

@Sagantine, who is seated to the left of:
@RossM, who is seated to the left of:
@Cokho, who is seated to the left of:
@Captbnut, who is seated to the left of:
@GabrielH, who is seated to the left of:
@ABitWhippet, and I am seated to the left of @Sagantine

So in any order, don’t stand on ceremony, are there any of these quest types that you don’t really want to play:

The Colony: Build a colony and make it flourish
The Dragon: Slay the beast (not necessarily a dragon) that terrorises the realm
The Heist: Get the loot and don’t get caught
The Rebellion: Overthrow our oppressors

For any reason, no explanation necessary unless you want to! For example, I would have said to remove The Cure, if it were one of the four suggested starters - in which you must work together to cure a terrible disease - probably for quite obvious reasons, it just might lead to gameplay that is going to be difficult for some of us to read or play at this time.

I’m happy with any of the four starter :grin:

1 Like