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Old March 28th, 2020, 11:58 AM
OK. I've read the text on the website but I STILL don't understand WHY I would use the Campaign Theater.

Also, I don't understand HOW to use it.

Can someone create a very basic video walkthrough that answers these two questions?

Thank you!!!
Poet22 is offline   #1 Reply With Quote
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Old March 28th, 2020, 01:36 PM
Originally Posted by Poet22 View Post
OK. I've read the text on the website but I STILL don't understand WHY I would use the Campaign Theater.

Also, I don't understand HOW to use it.

Can someone create a very basic video walkthrough that answers these two questions?

Thank you!!!
If you are a GM, then it helps your organise your players better during combat.


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Farling is offline   #2 Reply With Quote
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Old March 28th, 2020, 04:08 PM
CT is targeted at GMs and gaming groups as a whole. If you are a player in a game where the GM doesn't use HLO, there isn't much you can leverage it for. So I'll assume you fall into one of those two targeted categories.

The basic goals of CT are to make it easy for GMs to prepare scenes (aka encounters) in advance and orchestrate those scenes in a manner where all the players can see what's going on. We have a bunch of additional features planned in the upcoming months that will build on what's already in place.

When we first launched CT, I wrote up a basic "primer" on what it does and how it works. That was barely two months ago, and CT has already significantly evolved since then. I recommend you start with the primer and then asking more specific questions here that you might have after that. You'll find a link to the primer on the CT announcement page on our main website at:

I'm happy to answer questions, even general ones, but I don't want to repeat what's already available. So please give it a look and then let me know what more I can answer for you!

Regarding the video request, I believe some videos are being created, but they aren't yet available. Once they are, we'll be posting them on our website and announcing their availability.
rob is offline   #3 Reply With Quote
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Old March 30th, 2020, 05:37 AM
Rob, I too struggle with CT. The OP said he read what was available, presuming that to be your "primer". I have too. But I still don't get it, as others also seem to be having questions, I would suggest you look at a deep dive on what CT does and is meant to do. As a teacher, I know it sometimes takes multiple ways of explaining things for people to "get it". Please help us help you....we're asking for help, but you just keep pointing us to the same stuff. If there's only a couple of us who are confused, then so be it and let us know we're in the minority and don't get it. I'll go away. If you're getting lots of requests, then I suggest you look at what you can do to explain CT better.
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Old March 31st, 2020, 03:26 PM
@flyteach: My experience with users is all over the map. Some will read every piece of info they can find before asking for help, while others will spend 5 minutes skimming a couple web pages before doing so. I'm also spread WAY too thin right now. My response above was intended to make sure that the existing information WAS read before I spend lots more time that MIGHT be completely unnecessary. If the primer was already read, then the user simply needs to say so...

As you've now done.

I have no idea how many people are struggling to get a handle on CT. It could be just a handful. It could be many. Either way, I'll do my best to explain things further.

As a teacher yourself, you're keenly aware of how much time and effort it takes to come up with a good way of explaining something. And that's for someone both skilled and trained in doing so. I'm neither, so it represents a major chunk of time and the results are not going to be as good as they could be. But I'm the only option.

Also as a teacher, you can appreciate my frustration of not knowing the source of the disconnect when users simply say they don't "get it". It would be immensely helpful if you could give me some idea of where to start. What part of CT isn't making sense? If you can get me focused on the where the core confusion is centered, I can dive in and explain things in a targeted manner.

Lacking that, I honestly don't know where to start, so you're gonna get a shotgun blast that will likely (a) cover lots of things that are already understood, (b) not delve into enough detail on the areas that aren't understood, and (c) take a lot of time for all of us without getting the questions properly answered. In other words, you'll probably just end up with an alternate version of the same primer I already wrote, since that's the lens through which I see things.

So help me zero in, please, and I'll do my best to explain - and come up with useful analogies. Is it simply a question of "what's the point of CT?" Or is it a problem with the basic theater metaphor we adopted not clearly mapping to your gaming background? Or is it an issue with certain concepts not clicking, such as the stage or scenes or something else?

Let's begin by having you point me in a concrete direction on what information you want ME to start with. Then I'll answer those questions. After that, you can ask more questions and we'll continue the dialog until you've got a solid handle on what CT is, how it works, and why we've chosen this approach.

And once we've finished that dialog, I'll have a better handle on where people are getting confused and how to explain things more clearly to them. Then I can take that knowledge and put together a better primer to get future players jumpstarted more efficiently. And everybody wins!
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Old March 31st, 2020, 04:05 PM
I know that before I went through and learned what the internal terminology to HLO CT meant (actors, scenes, scripts, etc.), it was a bit more intimidating. When I realized that all of those things were stuff I already knew by other names (characters, encounters, premade encounters, etc.) it became a lot clearer as to what was going on.

The problem here would be that every system probably doesn't call these things by the same name in the first place, so unifying the terminology is likely a difficult task if you don't create a proprietary set of terms.

Last edited by Koro76; March 31st, 2020 at 04:07 PM.
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Old March 31st, 2020, 10:04 PM
We're just using a familiar metaphor (movies/theater) for talking about all the same elements that are fundamental within RPGs. The primer strives to introduce the basic metaphor and the terminology mappings in the early going, but it apparently fails to do a good job of it.

So let me try again here...

In a movie, all the actors play everything out on the stage (or set). There are the major characters (protagonists and antagonists). There is the supporting cast (helpers for the heroes, lieutenants for the villains, and just color). And then there are the extras (mooks for the villains and background folks for the heroes).

A movie is constructed of scenes. Each scene starts with a script. Within the script, there are stage directions of varying types. And once the director and cast get their hands on the script, there are tweaks and adjustments, with each principle contributor making their own notes.

When the director yells "Action", everything plays out on the stage. Sometimes a scene goes exactly as the script says. Other times, it goes wildly different when the stars improvise. Just think of the "sword fight" from Raiders of the Lost Ark or Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin.

Once the director yells "Cut", the scene is complete. In the movies, scenes can have numerous takes and then get edited into the final product. In stage theater, each night is a unique performance with no do-overs. RPGs are much like improvisational theater in this respect.

So let's take a look at RPGs now. The GM prepares the overall script for the entire adventure, mapping out each individual planned scene (aka encounter). The PCs are the protagonists, the villains are the antagonists, and there is a huge supporting cast of NPCs, ranging from pivotal characters to entertaining color to disposable extras (e.g. tavern patrons, beggars on the street, etc.). Hopefully, that sounds pretty similar to what I outlined above for a movie.

When a scene begins, the GM sets the stage. He determines where everyone is placed, what their motivations are, and how they'll react in varying situations. Then the PCs step in and the action begins. The PCs then write their own version of the story within the framework of the overall adventure the GM created. The GM can shape it, but the choices the PCs make ultimately dictate how everything unfolds.

So the GM is essentially the primary writer, director, and producer of a movie (aka the adventure). And it all plays out on a stage that frequently doubles as the dining room table.

Now that the abstraction of the metaphor is established, let's look at the mapping to CT in a more concrete manner...

Within CT, each campaign is an independent production, with its own script and cast. The PCs are the protagonists. All of the NPCs are cast members of varying importance. Each scene has a script that identifies who's in it (along with detailed notes in the near future). Cast members (NPCs) that have recurring roles are kept in a pool that can be drawn from at any time. A cast member that only appears in a single scene will exist solely within the script for that scene.

Everything in CT takes place on the stage. The stage is a summary view that is visible to the GM and players alike. It keeps everyone aware of who's involved in the current scene, and what state everyone is in. The GM gets to see all the details, while the players can see details of the PCs but only the basics of other cast members (the NPCs). In story mode (i.e. outside of combat), the stage presents a convenient overview for everyone. When it's time to go on initiative, tactical mode tracks all the niggly bits so everyone knows whose turn it is, who's up next, who's holding their action, etc.

By default, all the PCs are automatically added to the stage when the GM starts a game session. The GM can then enact the prepared script for a scene with a few clicks. All the cast members in that scene are placed on the stage, and the scene can then be played out efficiently. When a scene is completed, the GM resolves the scene, which creates a permanent record of the scene. Combined with completed sessions, both the GM and players will have a full history of the campaign available for reference. [Note: the permanent record mechanism is not yet in place, but it's definitely planned.]

That's just the most basic overview of what CT provides. We have a very long list of really cool features (IMO) that we'll be adding to make CT an incredibly flexible and powerful tool. Our goal is to create a tool that eases game preparation for GMs, streamlines play for everyone, and provides an historical record to facilitate answering questions about past sessions.

I hope this was helpful to some of you out there. Please tell me where to focus and I'll do my best to explain further.
rob is offline   #7 Reply With Quote
Ed Reppert
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Old April 9th, 2020, 01:33 PM
Very helpful, thanks.

Interestingly, the words "protagonist" and "antagonist" both have Greek roots, but the roots are completely different. Protagonist comes from prot-agonistes, meaning "first actor". Antagonist comes from antagonizesthai, meaning "to struggle against".

End useless trivia information. :-)
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Old April 9th, 2020, 02:31 PM
I always thought protagonist meant "first" as in "first in importance or priority" as opposed to "first appearing". Perhaps I was wrong about that...

There are some games where the PCs are anti-heroes or villains, so I've just adopted more generic terms for them over the years.

I'm glad that the above explanation was helpful! If there's more information I can provide that would be of further value, please let me know!
rob is offline   #9 Reply With Quote

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