A PA reader and medic stationed just outside Baghdad sent me a mail this week asking about how I run my D&D games via Email. It just so happens that with the new baby I have not had time to run a proper game for my crew. What I decided to do instead is take them through a little adventure via Email until I’m able to get back to the table.
Email can be a great way to focus on story elements in your game rather than combat. Personally I like to make my Email adventures more about decisions and less about rolling.
For example my players have accepted a job that involves them transporting a prisoner. The road is obviously fraught with danger and the prisoner happens to be a powerful illusionist. So even trapped inside her cage she still manages to screw with the party. They are hauling the prisoner in a cage on the back of a wagon. Eventually they came to a huge chasm that had cut across the path. Here is what I sent out to them:
“After a few hours of hiking you reach a wide chasm that has cut across the path and blocked your path. It is 50 ft across here at its narrowest point and plunges an unknown distance down into blackness. It stretches out to either side winding around the mountain and out of sight. You can see the path continues on the far side of the chasm.
You stand staring across the gaping maw as the cold rain beats down around you.
From the cage comes the unmistakable sound of laughter.”
I did not ask for any checks I just presented them with the problem. Here was one of the responses I got from the Gnoll Rogue:
Gnasc leans towards the cage, narrowing his eyes and fixating on the old crone while slowly smelling the air around her.
“Care to let me in on the joke?” he growls quietly to her, then tilting his head and smiling.
**38 insight check against illusion or charm**
You can easily do skill challenge type encounters this way as well. Maybe during the journey they get caught by a storm or a rock slide. I might ask the entire group to make endurance checks. For something like this we use an online roller but if you trust your group there is no harm in letting them role at home and post their results. Combat can be a bit tricky but it is still manageable. Personally I’ve run combat via Email a couple different ways. You can manage the movement of the monsters and the characters with rough descriptions and then ask for attack rolls. I’ve also asked for two rolls from all my characters in advance and then used those rolls to write up the combat in the form of a short story.
I’ve been using the character of the prisoner to really piss off a few of my players. She’s getting into their heads and pulling out some bad memories from their past. I’ve been so successful at this that I’ve actually got them arguing amongst themselves. Some of them just want to push the cage with the prisoner in it over a cliff while the others are intent on seeing the job through. This has given them a lot of great opportunities to role play their characters.
Good luck with your Email adventures!