RPGs on tabletops that are easy to play through text messages

Online role-playing games have grown in popularity over the last year and a half, with some tabletop players using virtual tabletops like Roll20 to play classic RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons. Others, however, have begun participating in narrative “Play By Post” RPGs on forums and chat clients like Discord. The RPG systems below are particularly good choices for players who want to participate in a role-playing game session through written text messages and narrative vignettes.

The big advantage of text-based adventure games and RPG promotions is that players do not have to worry about scheduling game sessions and instead posting irregular updates inside the game’s chat room or on its forum page. On the flip side, “Play By Post” RPG campaigns are often slow and may even stop if one or more players forget to post or do not see an update. To keep the plot dynamic and interesting, both players and GMs need to make sure the “posts” they write are concise, grammatically readable, and give other players a chance to respond and embellish.

Related: Role-playing games that are “driven by the apocalypse”

In general, “Theater Of The Mind” style narrative RPG systems work better for role-playing sessions in a text medium, where “Powered By The Apocalypse” and “Forged In The Dark” games have been popular choices recently. In addition to fitting this narrative model, the RPGs below also have rules and digital aids designed to complement the action with text-based correspondence; some even go epistolatory and have story scenarios where both players and their game characters talk to each other via smartphones and computers.

Alice is missing is an immersive RPG made by Hunters Entertainment, designed to be played and completed in 90 minutes. This game, which is similar in tone to video games such as Life is strange or Ox-free, takes place in the small town of Silent Falls, where a high school student named Alice Briarwood has recently disappeared. In both remote and personal sessions, players take on the role of Alice’s friends, relatives and classmates and communicate silently through entered messages on group chat clients or phone text chains while trying to figure out where Alice is.

Our time on earth, available on itch.io, is a two-person tabletop RPG about a couple of aliens who visit and try to understand a small blue planet called Earth. As standard for a narrative premise for this freeform role-playing system, each alien player figure, separated by distance or duty, reports their findings and thoughts on the Earth’s strange, harsh beauty through out-of-character text messages and a more advanced state of alien communication in character.

Table top -RPG Beyond The Rift, designed for 1 to 3 players, takes place in a fantasy world that is literally separated by a magical war. The survivors of this war seek comfort by ritualistically telling stories of friends, family, loved ones and comrades trapped on the other side of the gorge. In a session of Beyond The Rift, each player assumes a specific role as a storyteller – one describes the world outside the rupture, another describes the dangers and dangers there, and a third describes the actions that the heroes of history take. Narrative prompts are generated and solved by rolling dice and drawing cards from a poker deck, while HTML applications on the itch.io site help players play online via Discord or other group chat services.

Fireball, currently in beta, is a specialized group chat client and phone app designed to streamline the process of playing text-based fantasy campaigns using Dungeons & Dragons 5th set of rules. The detailed rules for D&D 5e is made more accessible using a computer-RPG-style interface, while a prototype matchmaking service lets Game Masters promote their games and recruit players to fill their open slots. Game Masters using Fireball also has access to various tools for reproducing places and dangers in a classic fantasy world, while players can tell character actions through text entries and a digital dice roll.

Next: Table games about writing beautiful letters

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