Google Wave as an RPG environment

Ars Technica reports on the nascent Google Wave RPG scene, in which wavesters are amusing themselves by using Google's collaboration tool s a surprisingly effective (for some games) means of keeping track of the action in game:
The few games I'm following typically have at least three waves: one for recruiting and general discussion, another for out-of-character interactions ("table talk"), and the main wave where the actual in-character gaming takes place. Individual players are also encouraged to start waves between themselves for any conversations that the GM shouldn't be privy to. Character sheets can be posted in a private wave between a player and the GM, and character biographies can go anywhere where the other players can get access to them.

The waves are persistent, accessible to anyone who's added to them, and include the ability to track changes, so they ultimately work quite well as a medium for the non-tactical parts of an RPG. A newcomer can jump right in and get up-to-speed on past interactions, and a GM or industrious player can constantly maintain the official record of play by going back and fixing errors, formatting text, adding and deleting material, and reorganizing posts. Character generation seems to work quite well in Wave, since players can develop the shared character sheet at their own pace with periodic feedback from the GM.

Unfortunately for those of us who are more into the tactical side of RPGs, it isn't yet well-suited to a game that involves either a lot of dice rolling or careful tracking of player and NPC positions. Right now, Wave bots are hard to get working reliably and widgets are scarce, which means that if you don't want to use the standard dice bot that Wave debuted with (dice bots are an old IRC favorite) then there isn't really another convenient option; rolls are either made with real dice and then posted on the honor system, or they're posted in batches and a GM then uses them in sequence.

Google Wave: we came, we saw, we played D&D (via Futurismic)


  1. Man, as a huge RPG nerd (Player, Designer, Enthusiast…) I sooo wish I could get in on this. Wave is so great for so much collaboration it seems to me it’s only natural RPG’s would show up. I’d love to try running some of my games on this with friends instead of trying to use chat rooms and stand alone programs.

    unfortunately, I fear it’ll be awhile before those invites flow freely :)

  2. That´s a great environment to play role-playing games, tactical or not. I prefer more narrative games, with few or no dice rolling at all, to play in online. And there are some brilliant narrative rpgs out there.

  3. This Wave business really reminds me of IRC. In fact, back in the old days (1992), my friends and I used to do the same thing over IRC, and did have all kinds of bots running to act as NPCs and monsters, and do dice rolls.

    Kind of funny that what is really turning out to be Yet Another Reimplementation of IRC (YARIRC?), is featured on something called ‘Futurismic’.

  4. Personally, I use Showdocument for online teaching and web conferencing. I’m not saying these programs aren’t good,
    But I think a web-based application is always better, since there’s nothing to download or install.
    try it at . -andy

  5. Yes!!! That is the main reason I’m excited about Wave. GoogleDocs revolutionised the RP process for my friends and me. We don’t roll dice, we just write the story together. The simultaneous editing in GDocs put an end to accidental godmoding, among other things, and makes it so much easier to write good dialogue between the characters.

    It looks like Wave will make it even more awesome. Now, if I could just figure out where the invites are in my account…

  6. Ooooo my nerd senses are tingling! I’ll check and see if I have any invites left and if I do, I’ll post back.

  7. This is a great idea, but half the fun of the gaming I used to do with my Firefly group (yes, Firefly RPG!) was feeding off of each other’s out of character interaction. Using this to manage documents, and a voice app (Google Voice, Skype) for the interaction could be a lot of fun.

  8. Guys, I love RPG. I’d love to do this with you — can anyone send me an invite so we can try it out????? Go for it!

  9. That’s nice and all… But it’s not revolutionary. It’s a refinement of using IRC, or mass emails, or chat programs. Something that has been done for years.

    And am I the only one who thinks that there is no such thing as a conversation the GM is not privy to in an RPG? Even if the characters are whispering in dark corners, there could always be somebody else listening that they don’t know about. Or are they talking about private, out of character chats?

    1. Agreed. Not revolutionary, but maybe evolutionary. I’ve used just about every possible option to play or run online games. My first thought when I logged onto Google Wave was, “I wonder if I could run a game on this.” And my second thought was, “Probably, if I can manage to get invites for all of my players.”

      I also agree about private conversations. There could always be someone else listening. In the online games that I play in, we always include the GM in the private messages between two characters. We trust that he’ll use the information responsibly, and he hasn’t failed us yet.

  10. While this is looking to be a great tool for keeping track of a shared campaign log (a simpler wiki interface), the actual game mechanic part of the game is best handled by RPTools ( apps. With MapTool you get a shared game table with all kinds of randomizing options (dealing cards, rolling dice, reading off a table), chat, macros, all in a pretty easy to use cross-platform app. It’s free, open source, and fairly mature.

    For voice, just use something like Skype and for character sheets, Google Docs is available right now and doesn’t require an invite to get to. The tools for online, live play are there and being used.

  11. My character scoffs derisively as he hears this talk about Google Wave. He says “the Boing Boing comment section has served our party just fine through many adventures…how can this possibly improve upon it?”.

    I’d also like to make a web 2.0 knowledge check to see if I notice anything suspicious about Google Wave.

  12. If anyone has invites, I have actually DEVELOPED an open source dicebot and fully intend to port it to wave as a wave bot! This thing has crazy features like aliasing that automatically remembers what dice you roll for a given descriptor, it has a very rich dice syntax, and even stats lookup for spells and monsters.

    It would probably only take a few days to port the fully featured bot to Wave once I have an actual development platform to run it on.

    I’m dying for someone to pass along an invite. it’s cory dodt at g mail dot com if you’re into that sort of thing.

  13. I know I am part of a wave of a group that is trying to use it for Augmented Reality Development, but this is another great use for Google Wave I’ve seen.

  14. Wow. I never really thought about it but this could be sooooooooo good. There is a lot of potential here.

  15. Hi. Im a big RPG enthusiast and reading your post made me interested in google wave as an RPG environment. I used teamspeak with it for much more intensive experience. The only problem I faced was finiding the good dice to use. With a bit of though I made a dice that is both flexible and easy to use. I believe that work should be shared, so if someone wants to take a look and use it in your session, feel free:

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