Glutton for punishment that I am, I think I'm going to start up a new play-by-email campaign. If and when I do, I might advertise it here, so keep your eyes peeled.
It's no exaggeration to say that play-by-email is the only reason why I'm still in the hobby. I don't get to play face to face very often, especially over the past five years that I've been in Japan, and with the marital and work commitments I have. There are quite a lot of English-speaking role players over here, but finding the time and opportunity is tough.
Moreover, when I first came to Japan I'd actually been away from the hobby for four or more years, and had lost touch entirely with what was going on. When I first started playing PBEM games back in around 2003, believe it or not I didn't even know that a Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition had been released. I was astonished to find out that TSR no longer existed, that there was no more Planescape or Dark Sun or Al Qadim, that half-orc barbarians were now core rule characters, and that play was now dominated by something mysterious and awful called an attack of opportunity. It was only through a now (sadly dead) site called pbem.com that I came back to the fold and started involving myself in rpgs again. My first game was a 3rd edition one that lasted for two years and was thoroughly enjoyable, mainly because the DM was good enough not to bother enforcing most of the rules. I played a dwarf fighter called Gorky, who spent most of the time insulting his comrades and charging around swinging an axe. I was re-hooked.
Play-by-email is a funny thing, of course. It's not to everyone's tastes. But it would be wrong to call it a poor imitation or alternative to tabletop play. It's just different - like comparing television and radio. You don't remember the great sessions, because there aren't any sessions. Instead, you tend to remember fun interchanges (carried out over the course of a few days!) or great posts people have made. And the brilliant thing is that you can go back and review those great posts in years to come. (I run a game that's now over three years old, and I'm looking forward to one day downloading the 4000 or so posts everyone has made and reading the whole sprawling madcap thing together.) This isn't possible with tabletop role playing, much as I wish it was.
The anonymity is interesting, too. I've 'known' some of the guys I game with for over four years now, but I have no idea what most of them do or even how old they are. They're just "the guys". It's an odd sort of relationship that you develop with somebody who you know almost nothing about outside of the game - not exactly a friend, but a kind of comrade in arms. Surprisingly, it isn't an unpleasant thing. It's strangely pure, in a way. You both like to game, and that's the beginning and end of it.