[Rats in the Walls] Playtest-by-Post

edited July 2009 in Pitch
Greetings all,

First post here at Snail's Pace, and already I'm propositioning the lot of you. Cheeky? Yup. More seriously, this is why I registered here. I know many of you casually from S-G already, but now I want to engage some of you in a game.

The game: Rats in the Walls has nothing to do with Lovecraft. Sorry. What it is is a spiteful little game about hate-driven timeshifters, who have the means to change their pasts (and thus, each others' pasts) granted by reality-warping hatred and wrath. If this sounds like the movie "The Butterfly Effect", then you're looking in the right direction. Game play in limited playtests has been very dynamic, with players purposely and inadvertently fucking with each other's happy endings.

The game isn't ever going to be a happy game. The chances of your character coming out of it alive and sane are pretty slim. The chances of you ending your play on any sort of win condition is almost impossible. If you want to explore the idea of what you'll do to harm what you hate, and whether or not hatred is stronger than love, then you're probably the sort of playtester I want.

I have run this game successfully a few times. I haven't ever finished out a scenario, but I can say that the game does work, at least so long as I'm present to make sure the rules aren't full of holes.

Why I'm here: It was pointed out by a friend in the initial playtests that the turn structure of the game would lend itself to asynchronous play, and it would allow for better thought-out and more nuanced time changes and consequences. So, here I am.

Disclaimer: I have no experience with asynchronous gaming. I tried to play a game of RitW once before play by post, but before we could even really get more than a few posts into it, one of the players vanished, and there were various technical issues. If people are interested (I'd like 2-4 players, if possible) then we'll have to have a bit of a palaver about exactly how this is supposed to go down, before we get started.

Rules text available here: http://wolvesdenpublishing.com/RitW.pdf


  • So, no one huh?

    What if I offer 5 bucks?

    (buck buck buck buck buck) First taker can just have this, all to themselves.

    Or are we collectively in a fluffy bunny mood, and spitey-bitey rats aren't on the agenda?

    Maybe I need to go pimp it somewhere else, then bring it back here?
  • Hi Lance,

    I'm cautiously interested in this. I don't have a lot of time for posting (maybe one or two posts a day, at most) and I've had really bad experiences with play-by-posts getting really long and gruelling. How much material do you think would be required in each post? The less the better is my opinion. Also, how long do you think the game would go for? It might be more manageable to just test a single scene, or whatever the smallest unit of play looks like. I'd be very interested in that.


  • Simon,

    You probably know the answers to your questions better than I do. I'm a complete newb when it comes to this format of play. I'll try to answer the best I can, though.

    How much material would vary, I think, by what's going on. Setting a scene up would require probably a paragraph. Responses thereafter would probably be fairly short, back and forth kind of affairs, until a conflict of some sort occurs. Then there'd be some dice rolled, and some interpretation of the effects, and a paragraph or two (probably split between GM and player) to show what happens as a result of the die rolls. This is basically true for timeshifting as well.

    How long the game goes on for: I've never run more than 2 sessions of any given set of characters or players, so I can't speak toward how long a 'campaign' would go. I think it would be far shorter than more traditional games, as each character has a built-in death spiral.

    A complete "cycle" of play for a single character would be: setup, escalation (which would include one or more conflicts) timeshifting, results. Results ideally lead right back into setting up for another cycle. The cycles will get muddied a bit as different characters interfere with each other's stories and become more involved, but the basics still occur as described.
  • I'd be keen to play through one cycle of play, and then see how we go from there. The hardest thing for play-by-post is maintaining enthusiasm. I've found that short games, with a clear end-state, are preferable for this, which is why I prefer to do it this way. If that's not what you're looking for at this stage of playtest, that's fine.


  • I'm looking for ANYTHING, at this point.

    Ideally, I want a bare minimum of one more player, as I'm not quite ready to play the 1:1 game yet. If we can get at least one more, I'll be ready to kick this off, and see what happens.
  • So okay, here's what I'm thinking. We'll create characters collaboratively in this thread or another. I'll create a graphical representation of the Hate Web, and post it up somewhere, with a link. Then we'll have a thread for each player character. I will create the thread, starting with the character information in the first post (which maybe I'll edit as stats change?) and the initial situation in the second post. We will reply back and forth narratively until dice are called for, either for in-time conflicts, or timeshifts. Length of individual posts can be handled organically, I think.. Whatever feels right.

    Rolls can be handled either openly in the thread, or in whispers. Or do you think an "OOC" thread to accompany the IC threads would be more appropriate?

    When one character crosses paths with another, we'll move interactions to one or the other thread, until they part ways again. I'll post links to facilitate easier reading of such crossovers.

    Thoughts? Am I missing anything? Completely wrong about something? Questions? Question marks??
  • edited August 2009
    Hi, I'm Danny. I play PbP all the time, mostly on RPG.Net since I know the folks there and who's reliable, but I like playtesting.
    Rather than brainstorming a setting that may or may not be suitable, do you have any suggestions? What's your go-to setting? Like Simon, I'm leery of long set-ups and I'd rather tear through it and get to playing.

    One suggestion: keep everything on one thread. Seriously. I've been in games that used multiple threads for different characters and locations and it sucks the life right out of the game, plus it's hard keeping track of the other guy's story. On RPG.Net, I've even been moving to having everything in one thread and putting the OOC stuff in italics or in a spoiler box. But I think it's really important to keep both character's stories in one thread to keep that Sorcerer-ish way of letting the character's situations reverberate with each other. If necessary, we can head each post with the character's name to keep it straight who's who.

    EDIT: Also, since it's a playtest, maybe putting the rolls right there in the main thread will make it easy for you to see where the hitches and holdups are in play procedure.
  • Hi, just wanted to say I'm still here, still interested. Possibly Lance isn't checking this forum as often as he should be.
  • Hey, I'm here!

    I had some connection issues, and ended up spacing off about checking back here. Dave Younce's post over on S-G reminded me that I needed to poke my head in over and see if people'd responded.


    Go-to-setting is modern day, probably some specific or non-specific American city or town, as most of the people I know are American. If you've any specific ideas though, throw 'em out, otherwise I think we can go with that default.

    Multiple threads -vs- single thread: I suggest this because the abortive PbP we tried used multiple threads, and that seemed like a good idea. The initial part of the game almost invariably starts out with characters who aren't related to each other in any direct way, so separate threads helps keep their initial advancements clean. However I've no experience with this format, so I'll bow to your experience.

    Here's what we can do, then:

    We can use italics for OOC stuff.

    We can bold the focus character's name at the beginning of the post to denote who we're looking at.

    Is that too complicated? Or does that work for everyone?
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