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-   -   After-action report: first use of Realm Works in game (http://forums.wolflair.com/showthread.php?t=52253)

Barwickian February 20th, 2015 01:30 PM

After-action report: first use of Realm Works in game
 
Had the first session of my new Rise of the Runelords game today, run using Realm Works and Hero Lab.

I had 6 players, which is many for Runelords, so beefed up the opposition a bit.

I've spent the last 3 weeks getting Sandpoint background and the Swallowtail scenes into Realm Works, using a mix of story and world topics, storyboard and mechanics. The cloud enabled my to input data on my desktop, which I much prefer, but run from the laptop, without faffing around creatig Dropbox folders for my notes.

With up to 8 players for any given session, management both in game and outside it is a big issue.

Today, I basically ended up running the game from my laptop. I picked up a rulebook once, only once, to check a rule on a combat manouevre. Aside from that, even though I had a stack of rulebooks (and the adventure path) within arms reach, I didn't need any of them.

Although I could have linked the laptop to the TV to display player view, I elected not to. I had enough tech to learn. I did reveal info as the players found it, so they'll get it after they sync.

We spent a lot of time at the Swallowtail Festival. I'd pre-written speeches for the dignitaries, and designed half a dozen festival games for PCs to try, each designed to introduce them to some of Sandpoint's citizens as opponents or bystanders. Not everything went as planned, due to PC interaction, which is great.

On the whole, it was an amazing experience. I don't think I've had a game go as smoothly for a long, long time. Usually, after a long session, I'm exhausted. Today I wasn't.

The integration with Hero Lab worked brilliantly. It's the first time I've used HL as a combat manager as well, and I was impressed. The ability to keep the PCs portfolio open, load opponents from Realm Works and keep track of the tiniest details with relatively little effort as a joy.

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant experience. I hadn't expected to use Realm Works quite so heavily in-game. I had expected it would be useful for players to keep up to date on what they'd found between games.

But the ease of use of hyperlinked articles and opening new tabs meant I could find information quickly, rather than hunting for the right page.

Add to that the ease of having Hero Lab automatically roll initiative for upwards of a dozen combatants, keeping track of statuses and the like, and yeah.

Added bonus: getting in all the information about Sandpoint NPCs really made me think about how to put their stories on the table.

Two downsides.

(1) It took a lot of prep time to get everything in. I don't normally do as much prep as this. It paid dividends at the table though.

(2) One of my players can't get Realm Works running under Wine on his Mac. Once the web aspect of RW is operational, that won't matter so much, but it means he doesn't get the between game updates (yes, it might work on a different emulator, but he doesn't want to install a new one just for this, and I can't say I blame him).

Overall, this was a 5-star experience. I'm thrilled with the way it worked.

Farling February 20th, 2015 02:23 PM

That sounds brilliant! I'm due to run my first session quite soon.

I would say that your downside point (1) is partially using up the time you would spend looking things up during game-time, so it allows more play time and less sitting-around time :-)

Parody February 20th, 2015 06:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Barwickian (Post 204134)
(2) One of my players can't get Realm Works running under Wine on his Mac.

To save further time: Realm Works doesn't work with WINE.

Otherwise, I'm glad it worked for you.

mirtos February 20th, 2015 07:15 PM

it definitely works with Parallels, but I can understand your players position on not wanting to install another emulator.

Parody February 20th, 2015 09:51 PM

Any virtual machine host (Parallels, VirtualBox, VMWare, etc.) should work, as they actually run a version of Windows you install in a virtual machine. Dual booting would work as well, of course. These all require a Windows license, so money.

Exmortis February 21st, 2015 04:28 AM

Awesome write up!

These kinds of posts make me go back to RW and what I have done, to take a new look and see what I can do to make it even better! Your downside 1, is an upside, I have a fair mount of free time I can spend, and if that directly translates to a smoother gaming experience at the table? I consider that an upside!

These posts also keep me excited to run my world and campaign, but I still have a crap load of work to do.

Thanks for the added motivation!

Barwickian February 22nd, 2015 07:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Exmortis (Post 204163)
Your downside 1, is an upside, I have a fair mount of free time I can spend, and if that directly translates to a smoother gaming experience at the table? I consider that an upside!

It's certainly not all downside. It definitely paid dividends in-game. But it was a lot of extra work - around 4 hours a night, 4-5 nights a week, for three weeks. I'm often rather busy, so that was a significant investment of time.

That's partly a feature of the way Runelords works. It's very front-heavy - that's something about it I love, by the way - but it means getting tons of background in before session one.

The experience has really shown me what RW and Hero Lab is capable of, though. I'm delighted.

The next phase will be to feel enough in command of the software that I can use a players' screen in-game.

Gord February 22nd, 2015 09:56 AM

The players view is great but it does have the downside of being a little slow to update when you use it to reveal sections of a map gradually. I was using it yesterday for the players at the table and Roll 20 for the two who were out of town. Roll 20 is faster by far but I don't really find the interface to be intuitive as I don't have much experience with it. Sadly, I can't use Herolab integration as I am running a 5th ed game and it is not supported yet.

salcor February 23rd, 2015 03:54 AM

Thanks for the AAR, it is always encouraging to see this program used well. I have a similar problem to Gord sice I am running FFG's Star Wars system. I wish there was a hero lab file for it. There is a GREAT fan made generator, but it doesn't import well.

Salcor

Portilis March 1st, 2015 09:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gord (Post 204234)
The players view is great but it does have the downside of being a little slow to update when you use it to reveal sections of a map gradually. I was using it yesterday for the players at the table and Roll 20 for the two who were out of town. Roll 20 is faster by far but I don't really find the interface to be intuitive as I don't have much experience with it. Sadly, I can't use Herolab integration as I am running a 5th ed game and it is not supported yet.

When you say slow, do you mean technically or in time taken to "draw" the changes by hand?


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