How can I set up interactive spoilers for a PBP?

I am setting up a Play by Post forum to manage a large mystery/exploration based campaign. But I want to set up a way to give the players a direct response when they perform a suggested action that warrants such a direct response.

For example

  • Pull lever B
  • Grab treasure
  • walk around said corner
  • put head in hole to investigate noise

My main goal is to reduce the amount of single line posts by players. I dislike the one line responses of players that sometimes happen because they need to wait for an answer from the GM, and such I want to avoid them in the case players trigger said scripted events.


Explanation to my setup:

In my Play by Post each thread represents a place rather than a separate instance of this world. All players play in the same world at the same time. Thus each player begins and ends their post with the time they are in approx. and if they transition to a new floor/new site they write Last seen in … or a to be continued in …

Each site/thread has a map and as the players progress the map gets revealed (I upload a map with more stuff unveiled) and describe as a normal DM would do.

The one thing I want to add is to add a spoiler named after an action the character can perform, which a player can claim and open.

Each player can then read the note (which tells what happens in keywords e.g. rumbling noises – ceiling starts to collapse) but the player who claimed said note performs said action (e.g. pulling the lever) and can directly act with the consequences.

Of course this will mean I will have to write out these events, but I am planning to release my campaign as a module later on and play it several times – as such each spoiler and description is something saved for the next iteration of this module. Thus I don’t mind the work.

Naturally players will not be limited to those spoilers. It still will be a back and forth between players and GM. Those prompts/spoilers are meant as a reminder what obvious things actions can be performed in a location. And those prompts/spoilers are good reminder what has been left untouched in a previous visited location. Yes – player still could cheat. With my example of the lever which result in the cave in of the ceiling – a player is committed to use perform the action “pull the lever” and he can just write that his character was careful and thus decided to use a rope and pull the lever from a distance and so on.. – but this tools is not meant to prevent all cheating. I still want to operate mostly on a basis of good faith.

(And I will add some spoilers in that say that nothing happens – so players will not be certain that something good/bad will always happen with they chose to follow a suggestion action. The standard buildup of anticipation as the character grabs the lever – expecting the worst – just for nothing to happen at all.)


Technical requirements:

  • As I have not chosen a forum-software for my PBP yet, thus the software is only limited to be any free or one-time payment forum software will do that can be hosted on a private webspace.
  • The Spoiler/prompt tool can either be a plugin to the forum or a simple script hosted on the same webspace. (Each spoiler will be a link named after the action; I imagine some kind of simple PHP-Script can do that?)

Either way the user will have to confirm that he wants to perform which will unlock the note for everyone to read and display who claimed it. It will grab the username from the forum. (Only players will be able to read – no guest are able to click on links to mess up stuff!)

  • I want to be able to see in a list which of these spoilers are available/unclaimed and an easy way to lock them. (When the ceiling of a room collapses they will not be able to pull Lever B anymore) In the case of links that lead to a script all scripts can be in a folder of my webspace and I can delete those which are not valid anymore.
  • I don’t need any fancy GUI