Yahoo! Groups gives you the tools to keep your campaign connected online, but its up to the game master to make it work and get people posting to it. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:
- Post campaign news to the group: If you have news about your campaign world that can be handled outside of the game — such as between session updates — post it here. Also use it to post summaries of what happened during the last session. This gives players a reason to use the group and gives them something to think about between sessions.
- Move planning online: Most sessions GMs have some idea what their players are going to do next, but posting this question to the group helps refine their goals while promoting online conversations. For my weekly game I usually post a message telling folks when the next game is going to be and briefly summarizing what they’ll be doing based on conversations after the last session. This gives players a chance to change their minds and to debate new courses of action.
- Encourage out-of-game rules discussions: If you’ve got rules lawyers that are disrupting your game, banish extensive debates from the table and to the Group. This keeps your game flowing and gives everyone involved time to research the rules in question … and boosts traffic to the site.
- Recruit help: GMs have enough to do without playing nanny online. In addition to your own posts, ask someone in your group to help shepherd the online conversations by either responding to your posts or posting suggestions of their own online.
Between its founding in December 1999 and the time this article was written in February 2002, the Yahoo Group for my campaign has seen more than 4,700 messages posted, and averaged about 200 messages a month. It’s become an integral part of our campaign, and an all-but-indispensable organizational tool.
Of course, your results may vary. Sometimes getting players to post to the message board can be like pulling teeth. But I think that most GMs will find that posting even minimal news and updates to a Group will help keep them organized.