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rob
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Old December 25th, 2015, 08:54 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by adzling View Post
In response to 1:
One of my main hopes for Realmworks is that it would enable me to plot, plan and track cross adventure story arcs.
Example: in adventure 1 a minor character is encountered who seems only tangentially relevant to the plot but has some important information that becomes relevant in a later adventure in the campaign.

I was hoping that the Storyboard feature would let me plot out all these interconnections in a visual manner (the only real way to track these "webs" of interactions that are non-linear).

Unfortunately because the storyboard feature is not an integral part of the Events category items (i.e. Storyboard Plot Points cannot also be Events or "scenes") it is mostly useless in this regard (they have no relevance to each other).

Essentially I believe the Storyboard feature should be able to have the Plot Points live in both Storyboard land and in Event land.

This would allow you to very quickly create visually mapped out non-linear adventures and campaigns as well as cross-adventure campaign arcs. Something that is just not very possible to do with the current Event setup.
I'll reply to this in the separate thread created by @kbs666, which will be found here: http://forums.wolflair.com/showthread.php?t=54544
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EightBitz
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Old December 25th, 2015, 10:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
Ahem...

Reminder: The forum rules require posts to be constructive. Please be mindful of those rules. You'll find them here for reference: http://forums.wolflair.com/showthread.php?t=5528

We now return to the discussion...
Post rewritten to be more constructive.
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MNBlockHead
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Old December 27th, 2015, 02:15 PM
Great topic for a thread. If we can keep this on topic (how has our use of RW evolved), I think this thread could be a good collection of lessons learned for new users. Glad the StoryBoard side-discussion was moved to a new thread. Back to the original topic...

Here is how my VIEW of RW has evolved over the past year.

1. Buyer's remorse.
I didn't realize the calendar feature shown in an early unofficial user video didn't make it into the released version and I didn't carefully read the feature set.

LESSON LEARNED: Stick to official material when making buying decisions. More important lesson learned: RW is still an incredible tool even if it doesn't have all your desired features.

2. Overwhelmed. Since I bought it, figured I should try to make the best of it since I hadn't found any other campaign-management software that met my needs and it still seemed like a better choice than creating and hosting my own wiki. But the amount of options and knowing how to get started was overwhelming. I was a afraid to just jump in and then later learn I was doing it "wrong" and having to redo a lot of work.

LESSON LEARNED: JUST JUMP IN. Really, it is easier to later move things around than spending hours planning how you'll use it upfront. Your approach will evolve. Just start putting content in.

3. Climbing the learning curve.
I'm a read-the-manual guy. If a set of silverware came with directions, I would still read it. I'm sick that way. I read ALL the manuals. I watched ALL of the GenCon videos. I read every review I could find online. I read through all the posts on the forum. This was very helpful, but also very time consuming.

LESSON LEARNED: It is hard to absorb the videos and all the guides until you've worked in the program. I would recommend that a new user read through the Quickstart and World Builder's guides with the program open. Then start entering some content and look up information in the Reference Guide as you have questions. After working in the program for a while, then go through the Tips & Tricks guide and watch the most recent GenCon video. If you watch the 2015 video, I don't think you need to watch the older ones.

4. Interacting with the RW User Community.
One thing I did right early on is getting involved in these forums. The user community is active and very supportive. Also, I met with a number of of RW users in my area that I met in these forums, so we could discuss how we set up our campaigns.

LESSON LEARNED: Participating in the RW forums is a great way to help you get the most out of RW. There are some folks who have set up impressively detailed and complex realms and have had to think about and solve or work around nearly any challenge you will run into. I've also learned that the type of GMs who use RW are the type who likely have lots of other great knowledge and skills to share (For example, I've learned great crafting tips, AV setup, and VTT use tips for RW users).

5. Using RW at the Table. I was creating content in RW for months before I put together a group and launched the campaign. I was not sure how I would feel about having a laptop at the table and running the game from RW. Doing so, however, was a real eureka moment. It made all the work learning how to use the program and entering content into it worth it. It made my DM experience sooo much better. I can't imagine going back to running an adventure from a book. After several sessions, I finally hooked up my large plasma TV to my laptop and had another A-HA moment as I revealed maps to the table.

LESSON LEARNED: You are not writing a book. You are creating content that you will use to run a game for a group of players. It is easy to get lost in flavor text and background detail. Your focus is best spent on content that will help you run great games.

6. Hooked. I am now hooked. RW is the hub of my games as a GM. It is how I capture ideas, build my world, plan out storylines, prep adventures, create encounters, and run the game. I wouldn't want to run games without it. Are there features that I feel are missing? Sure (calendars). Is there room for improvement? Yes (see the feature-request board on this forum). Is there anything better for managing my TTRPG campaign? No. I've looked at everything out there and have yet to find anything that does all that RealmWorks does.

LESSON LEARNED: Though it needn't be as hard as I made it for myself, there is still some effort you need to put into learning and getting started with RW. That effort, however, pays back rich dividends in well-managed and easily referenced content and a better at-table experience.


How my approach to Realm Building changed over the course of the year

I started with a geographic approach. This is in large part due to the fact that before I bought RW, I had already sketched out the major realms of the known world, a very high-level history, and the major cultures. I had also chosen a game system (D&D 5e) and drafted my first home rules.

So, the first two things I did in RW was create a topic for the known world and created the home page. The home page gave a brief introduction to the world and campaign and descriptions of the major realms. It also gave the home rules. This is basically the same content that I used to create invites and given initial introductions to new and potential players. In the known world topic, I imported the map—which was way larger than the recommended size.

Next I started dropping pins on the map and created topics for the pins for each realm and major cities, rivers, seas, mountain ranges, etc.

Then I started branching off from those topics creating topics for cultures, ethnic groups, religions, major historical events, etc. It was fun, but got to the point where I realized I was not getting any closer to having A GAME TO PLAY.

So I started focusing on over-arching storylines, which I would divide into substorylines, which in turn gave me ideas for adventures and encounters.

Once I finally had a group together and played the first adventure, I found that I really only had time to flesh out storylines and most of my time was spent on preparing the next adventure. While preparing for an adventure, I would occasionally go off on world-building tangents, but it was all related to content for the next adventure. For about six months I did very little world building.

Over the past couple of months, I found myself ahead of the adventure building, with a couple months of adventures pre-prepared and lots of potential side, drop-in adventures ready if needed. So I've returned to world building and am fixing some early mistakes.

Luckily there is very little reorganization that I need to do. Early on, based on forum discussions, I did some reorganization, but most of that was learning to better use cast lists, region topics, and adventure area topics. The main thing that I'm fixing is my unwieldy known-world topic. For one, the map was way to big to be shown at table. It kept crashing RW. Second, I put far too many pins in it. Forcing lots of zooming and panning. It was just getting too difficult to use.

So, first, I deleted the saved map and all the pins. Then I created a lower resolution version and loaded it in as a smart image in the known-world topic and dropped a minimal number of pins. One for each realm and very conservative number of major geographical areas: the major seas and mountain ranges and a small number of rivers that span more than one realm.

Next, I created an image from a blowout of each realm and loaded them as smart maps into their corresponding Region:Political topics. On these maps I drop pins for cities, major regional geographical areas.

My next step will be to have a few regional topics. I already have topics for major cities, but I'm planing to giving detail to various regions in the realms using Hexographer and loading these as smart maps into regional and adventure-area topics in RW.

Anyway, this approach of breaking things down into more granular pieces works much better than trying to link everything from one large world map.

Hope someone finds this useful. I'm looking forward to reading other folks' experiences.

RW Project: Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition homebrew world
Other Tools: CampaignCartographer, Cityographer, Dungeonographer, Evernote
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Parody
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Old December 27th, 2015, 04:39 PM
Stopped

With export (and printing) being exceedingly unlikely to be added, development proceeding at a slow pace, and my own creativity focused elsewhere, I've stopped using Realm Works for anything other than a partially unified sourcebook for Paranoia. I've gone back to an assortment of text files as my main development path for campaigns and adventures.

I had hoped to perhaps find a spot helping other creators convert their content to Realm Works realms, but so far have had no luck. Ah, well.

A year ago I posted that if you're not happy with the current condition of Realm Works, then set it aside for a while and come back. I think I should take my own advice.


Anecdote

At Christmas I was talking to my Uncle about gaming. He's the one who got me into RPGs and complicated board games back in the 80s, and he still runs campaigns today in his own world complete with papercraft buildings and dungeons. I asked if he'd looked at Realm Works and he said that he had heard a bit about it. We talked a bit and he sounded interested at the various features, but as soon as he learned he can't print or export he said it wouldn't work for him.


Last edited by Parody; December 27th, 2015 at 04:48 PM.
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King Chicken
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Old December 28th, 2015, 12:09 AM
It feels like I started with Realm Works forever ago. I use Hero Lab as well, and I like that the 2 programs have synergy like they do. Now that said, I have yet to run a campaign with a ruleset supported by Hero Lab. I'm hoping that the Paizo/Lone Wolf agreement results in a change of that fact.


When I started with Realm Works, I was lost. Watching videos, i could see how "easy" it looked, and I could duplicate what was in the videos. Felt proud of that. But when it came to working with my own content, I had no idea where to start. "Here's a blank page. Fill it up. Start wherever." I finally buckled down and decided to start geographically. I like Greyhawk so I started there. Laying out places, gods, factions took a lot of hours, but created exactly zero content. Ended up scrapping that realm, didn't like the way I set things up. I was thinking I would make an incredibly linked experience, where every word would be a link to something. Once I had a completely referenced Realm, then content would create itself! What a stroke of misguided intent. It was granular, and hard to navigate, and irrelevant, as I was not running a game at the time and even if I was I had nothing to show but a world only I was looking at. Like a beautiful diamond in a room only I could see.


Second Realm I made, I tried to go plot/encounter from the start. I figured the easiest thing to do would grab a paper adventure, and build it in RW, and that would be fine. Ran the first sets of encounters from the campaign, but had PDF printouts in a binder with me.

By the end of the first session I was reading from the print outs because my realm was too granular again. The laptop I had at table is/was not great at loading pages quickly, and if I had to click on a link in a new tab, it took a significant amount of time to load, and then relate to players at table. Keep in mind this predated release 208 which, if I'm not mistaken, had some streamlining of code and sped page loads. Just easier to go to the paper for most things, plus, I was really the only one seeing anything, so I didn't feel I was getting a lot of leverage out of the program.

I was getting into the habit of opening a number of tabs at the start of a session with things I would reference more often, and that seemed to help speed up my process, but overall disappointed with my performance.


So I felt I had hit upon a way to make my life easier, and that was to build a new realm, this time with the first 5 scenarios laid out (using 5x5 method at this point, my GM style was also evolving) and then world building. We were playing in Forgotten Realms, and "testing" D&D 5e to see if we as a group liked it better than Pathfinder. I had never used the Mechanics Reference, as we had been using a system that was too big to realistically hand enter or copy-paste.

Now however, we were in territory that was almost virgin. First thing I did was secure PDF copies of my core books and link them under sources. Then I proceeded to actually drop everything into the Mechanics reference as I needed it.

While I was, and still am, updating the mechanics reference, I was GMing my group through the opening phases of my campaign. As they took different paths, I was world building around them. And logging it in RW. For encounters, since Hero Lab portfolios weren't available, I took to pasting in statblocks in text snippets for relevant encounters.

I reached a point in my bookkeeping where I had entered all the Monster Manual stats into the Mechanics Reference, so when I built encounters, I could just type the names. I had the spells as well, so when I built a wizard to fight, just listed spells known, and linked. I tagged everything in the reference, made custom categories that paralleled the way the statblock were drawn up in the source material.

Now when I build something, it's all referenced and statted out, without a lot of work on my part. I can type "They meet a wizard" and the links take care of linking that NPC from wherever I linked to (NPCs in Reference, or named guy from World/Story almanac) and boom I know what every spells does, and his build is all linked. Would I like a Hero Lab 5e ruleset? Sign me up! Buuuut I'm not holding my breath. I vote for it on WotC polls every chance I get.

Tagging was a pain to do after the fact, but I learned they can be useful after I had done a significant amount of data entry. If you're making custom Categories, take the time to figure out what fields might be better used as tags over just text links. Don't be scared to recreate a template to add useful things, it's easier to rebuild a custom category and then synchronize your old entries to match.

Save a lot! Since the switch to HTML, I've had crashes. Now when I edit an article, I save the change. When it tries to link thinks, I hit "Abandon". A large number of crashes for me, were happening when it was linking. Once I know my work was saved, I would then have it scan for new links. That way if it went bye bye I wasn't losing work, just the time it took to log back in again. This problem is largely solved, but still maintain the same pattern, for fear of spending major time redoing something.

Colour! I colour my tables. I colour snippets. I use it wherever I can. Take a look at your entries in player view. The unrelieved grey with 9-10 pt sans serif font is hard to read. My player complained. A lot. This evolved as I used RW at table more than anything.

I bought a "Second screen" to bring to table. I don't know if there is any policy about linking to external sites here, but I figure it worth attaching this: http://www.amazon.com/GeChic-2501C-P.../dp/B00H4MWMWQ It's a handy 15" monitor that I set up and I use it as a map tool, as my Player view and as a generally good way to ensure my players see what they need to.

Wow what a ramble.
TL;DR Realm Works is a good tool for GMs. My players could take it or leave it. I include some tips. Read if you want too.

RW: D&D 5e Sandbox campaign - Faerun
RW: Pathfinder Sandbox in Greyhawk - waiting for Marketplace for PF rules
Using Fantasy Grounds for VTT, Waiting for Roll20Pro(Mage Hand) Release
RW: Paizo - Strange Aeons AP
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Lexin
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Old December 28th, 2015, 02:17 AM
From MNBlockhead, "You are creating content that you will use to run a game for a group of players. It is easy to get lost in flavor text and background detail. Your focus is best spent on content that will help you run great games."

This is the main thing that I learned.

I enjoy filling in RW, it's pleasant, restful and gives me a sense of achievement - but if it's not information I'm going to need in game, that's all it's doing. Background is lovely, but I learned that it's most important to concentrate on information I'm actually going to need for my players.

--
Lexin

GM from London - seriously old school - playing RPGs since 1980!

Tools: Realm Works, HeroLab, Campaign Cartographer 3+
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Cornelius
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Old December 28th, 2015, 03:46 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lexin View Post
From MNBlockhead, "You are creating content that you will use to run a game for a group of players. It is easy to get lost in flavor text and background detail. Your focus is best spent on content that will help you run great games."

This is the main thing that I learned.

I enjoy filling in RW, it's pleasant, restful and gives me a sense of achievement - but if it's not information I'm going to need in game, that's all it's doing. Background is lovely, but I learned that it's most important to concentrate on information I'm actually going to need for my players.
Interesting. For me RW gave me more focus on the background. I can create background that sticks around. I was used to begin small and elaborate on this. The problem always was to keep it all consistent. Especially places are more coherent now, and I can return to them without problem, as I have all the things together from the previous adventure I can use that to incorporate in the next.

But most important I run a Pendragon game where family is important and so aside from the many other characters also a whole family is tracked. RW gives me the ability to keep an eye on over 400 NPCs. Also questions about what the grandfather did in a battle can be easily found. I still need to add all the other information as wel, but I noticed that it becoems easier as I go.
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AEIOU
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Old December 28th, 2015, 08:55 AM
It really is interesting that the lack of calendars has not come up as a showstopper. Probably because development has been confirmed and they will be implemented. Some day.

Printing and exporting though continue to be issues for many including myself -- these were my top needs in the survey. Not too long ago Rob accused me of reading his mind when I stated that once the web interface is in place, the proverbial horse will have left the barn. Once material is on the internet, it is for the most part printable and sort of exportable....

Last edited by AEIOU; December 28th, 2015 at 08:57 AM.
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Jay_NOLA
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Old December 28th, 2015, 12:40 PM
Well I had to stop using it for few months till a tech issue with my Realm was just recently resolved, but I did notice some changes in my my work with it before that.

1.) Bought a SVGA to HDMI converter and cables to hook it up to a TV from my lap top. AS the converter and cables are portable I can transport them if I'm playing at a friends house and connect them to another TV easily. Total cost was about $50 and I had to order the cables online and do a good bit of research to get good ones at a low cost that were as long as the ones I got.

So I'm using it more to show off stuff at a game like pictures of NPCs, etc.

2.) Gotten better at making spreadsheets for new character classes and other things.

3.) Have most of the new creatures, classes, and spells, entered in for my Red Tide/Scarlet Heroes campaign. So my focus is shifting to cover more background topics and created stuff for the campaign instead of cutting and pasting.

3.) Using more background music as I can add audio to topics and I have a bunch of lops of music made for video game RPG design that I have been using.

4.) Less breaking up text into spinets. I was breaking up text more into seperate spinets but I do so less now.

Things I want to do.

1.) To set up an entry with custom tags, etc. to do Labyrinth Lord, based spells classes.

(Would love to see some tutorials or be able to even get when the content market opens some templates to help in setting things up.)

2.) Get better at showing stuff quicker in a a 2nd Screen to players when at a game.

I found that I was taking up a good bit of time just showing stuff to players via a 2nd screen during a game and some things would have been better to have just not spent the time presenting that way because of the time it used.

3.) Do a good post on using mapping software with Real Works as I have map making software from many companies and have found that some works better for some systems and depending on the Realm and I'd favor using one over another for certain system, for what my campaign setting was going to be too, and for how often I was going to need new maps.

(I I currently have word file with a rough draft of my notes and stuff in it.)
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salcor
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Old December 28th, 2015, 02:46 PM
I will admit the I have taken a hiatus from Realmworks since I was waiting on a few things like the SW sci-fi companion for HL. I am having issues settling on a basic data structure, so I am waiting until I can see a few whether through a player view or the content editor.

Salcor
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