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Play, By Wiki

April 1, 2010

Playing, By Wiki


There are a multitude of different ways to play traditional tabletop role-playing games over the internet – from MUSHes to MUDs, PbEMs, PbP to the more sophisticated real-time solutions like Fantasy Grounds and Battlegrounds. Recently, I read a few comments people had made about playing a PbW – Play By Wiki.

It makes sense – a wiki has, built into it, all sorts of options for putting together a great resource site for an RPG. You can post adventure logs, game setting information, characters, NPCs, maps… the choices are endless. So, I was thinking… why not just run the game there, too? Players and GM alike would have the ability to post, create, cross-link and edit pages in the wiki. If run as somewhat of a collaborative fiction using an RPG rule set as a controlling mechanic, it should in theory work well. There is in fact a website that already offers free wikis for RPGs, and the resources it offers with it’s free account make setting this up even easier. I’m talking about Obsidian Portal, and I’m not sure if there are other options available. OP offers GM-only page wiki areas, well organized PC and NPC character information sections, and a slick java-based die roller. For it’s paid account you also get access to email notifications for your players, a message forum, and multiple Google-esque custom maps which you can drop markers on that then link to existing wiki pages.

I’ve been building and running my game using Obsidian Portal’s free account – I simply don’t have the expendable income to pay for the upgrade. The game is running fine, though, with a few outside additions to our PbW arsenal.


Taking some hints from Nuketown’s post on the subject, I’ve asked players to mark their edits with the current date and time. This stamping helps keeps things in order and running smoothly. It also helps mark the start of each edit so it can be easily scanned if I need to scroll through a large wiki page.


I have allowed players to help build the world by giving them access to templates for adding their own locations and personalities to the game. While this kind of collaborative game increases the amount of player investment just by the nature of what it is, player-built locations and personalities increase that investment and will hopefully keep players interested longer – these kinds of online games can have players lose interest quickly, so you’ve got to keep them involved.



Aside from what’s available on the site, we’ve also put into place a mailing list using Google apps. With the OP free account, there’s no easy way to notify all of the players in your PbW that a addition or change to the wiki has been done. So, a simple mailing group takes care of that issue. While OP offers a comments section, only the campaign administrator gets a notification whenever a comment is made. The Ascendant account offers an option to notify one or all players whenever a section is updated, and there is also the option to send out a broadcast to Twitter or Facebook to let the world know you just updated the NPC page for “Professor Simian” or “Luscious McGee, Madame of Doom”.

A message board or Google Group would work as well for notifications, but if you’ve got a message board already, you might as well be running a Play by Post game.

Image Hosting


I’m using my Picasa account to host and share any images beyond the main city map. They can be embedded as thumbnails into your wiki posts with a link out to the original (re: larger) image. There are more image hosting sites on the internet than you can shake a stick at (whatever that means), so if you’ve got a favourite, use it. They usually all have options for sharing different image sizes across various means. and are two free, unrestricted alternatives.

Check it Out

If you’re interested in seeing how things are going, you can check out my play-by-wiki game – Freedom City: Shades of Grey – here.


From → Tabletop RPGs

  1. This is really interesting…I’ll look into it for my own online RPG. Thanks!

  2. Mike Lafferty permalink

    so – when are we starting back up? 🙂

    • accidentalrob permalink

      I sent out an email and did an update to the game a while back, but got no replies. I figured it had died!

  3. Mike Lafferty permalink

    I updated with Molotov on the latest scene but didnt hear anything after that. About a month ago

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