Countdown: A Play-By-Email Roleplaying Game.

Countdown is designed solely for play-by-email, built to maximize the formats advantages and minimize its problems. Every game is a race against the clock to stop something horrible from happening. The unique situation and characters for each game are collaboratively created, and play covers 8 hours worth of email-timestamp-indicated sessions.

At the top of every email, the player indicates what time (to the second) he begins writing. Most computers should have a function that indicates seconds as well as minutes and hours. At the end of the email, the player indicates the time that he finishes writing, then sends the email. Once the GM has received an email from each player, he composes a summary email for the session with all of the characters actions and their consequences. The GM keeps track of his time spend composing the summary email, and deducts that from the clock as well.When the clock has ticked past a benchmark, he includes that both in the body of the email and in its subject line. Note that the GM does not include his time in his email, though he does keep track of it and subtract it from the clock. He also subtracts time players spend on GMmails from the clock. In this manner, the players can keep track on their own and have a general idea of the state of the clock, but only the GM knows for certain. Note also that only time spend actually writing your email, from start to finish, counts for the session ? not time spend reading others emails, or thinking about your response.

Everyone is expected to abide by an honor code about being accurate with their email times. If the group wishes to play ?hardcore,? use the following system. Each player sends a blank email to the GM before they begin their email, and then the GM compares the timestamps on the two emails. Again, the GM is expected to keep track of his own time.

Any and all communication outside of threats (see below) counts as free narration, which is constrained only by situation and Laws. Players should feel free to incorporate material from the emails they receive into their own emails for a session. Each group will find its own pace and style of free narration.

Over the course of the Pursuit phase, the characters will be seeking their goal, as outlined by the situation they generated, and the GM will be putting obstacles in their way in the form of threats. The GM has a number of threat points that he uses to provide adversity for the characters. He begins the game with a number of threat points equal to 1 x the number of characters. The GM must include his current number of threat points in every session summary.


2 Responses to “Countdown”

  1. Nora Luckritz Says:

    There are some attention-grabbing time limits on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There’s some validity but I’ll take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish extra! Added to FeedBurner as well

  2. Kelcin Says:

    I like it!
    You looked at the limits of playing by email, and ran with them. This is now on my playlist for my next pbem game :D