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 Post subject: Realmsworks
PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:28 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:36 am
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Realm Works is out!
And it has a Windows only client. Pretty much making it DOA for me. But, if anyone does get it, would love to hear about it: ... alm-works/
Barwikian Bought, downloaded and working through the tutorials. First impressions - this is powerful software. Does more than any campaign manager I've used before - visual map links, map pins, relationship and plot webs are excellent. Handles multiple approaches to world creation and campaign management (top down, bottom up, location driven, character driven, plot driven, relationship driven).

You can use it on multiple machines, saving your campaign to the cloud, or backing up your database locally (make sure you have the current database on all your machines). The cloud service is subscription based, but not terribly expensive. ($40 for a year; the current price for Realm Works includes 6 months cloud service.)

The fog of war function - pertially revealing info to your players - is excellent, but the collest part of it isn't functioning yet. You can curently display it on a separate screen, or players can use their own copy of Realm Works to view it - that measn they have to buy. Coming in the future is a cheaper player edition of RW, and a web interface that will enable players to access revealed info via the web for free. But these arenlt in place yet.

Also, as K pointed out, it's Windows only. Can someone test the demo on a Windows emulator on a Mac?

I'll post a fuller review to the forums when I've had a chance to explore further.

There's a good tutorial series on YouTube that covers all the major features.
AS: I might just nab it. Does it have a map making feature? Im currently using hexographer mostly and more tools would be nice.
Barwikian: No. It's not a mapmaker, it's not a character manager. It's a campaign manager.
AS: Im assuming it at least has a map import feature?
Barwikian: Yes. A good one. You can add pins to a map which open up extra information about the location, and choose whether or not to share the info with players. R, take a look at the tuts I linked to. That'll give a fair idea of what it does.
AS: Aha! On my phone, but gonna take a look when i get back. Might just nab it as right now rely too much on my memory and less on written down info.
Barwikian: In that case I'd better note that using this kind if tool is far more intensive than back of the envelope scenario building. Putting in thr kind if details RW is capable of can be time consuming - although, of course, you choose the detail. Is it necessary to know what the NPC had for breakfast? No, for most people. Yes, if you're into incredibly immersive roleplaying, or running a murder mystery when the victim was killed by poison...
AS: Ah. Interesting. I suppose the level of detail goes to how far you need it to. Right now I need to keep track of inventories for PCs, their collective knowledge, individual knowledge and in turn some key points in the world and their properties. In addition I need to track new mechanics (including an SCP-esque manifestation system) and effects of these mechanics on my players. Would this be able to help keep a track of all that?

Just went through the videos. All I can say is...this looks breathtakingly detailed and designed for GMs. I really want to try it out, but fear that transitioning my current campaign would be a bit of a long process that may not work with it's intended end date. However, for my new campaign(s), this will be a first choice for sure.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:00 pm 
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I continue to be extremely impressed. This is not software useful for planning a one-off session or a short, simple campaign. It's a full-on campaign manager. You do have to spend time playing with it and - like any database - you have to learn to work with it rather than against it. But what it does is truly phenomenal. GMs, you do want this software.

It does far more than any campaign management software I've used before (Obsidian Portal and NBOS's The Keep). In addition to being a database of places, people, organisations, items and whatever else you put into your campaign, you are able to link these data items in seeral ways. This is where the magic lies.

The first is by automated hyperlinks. When you create and save a new element, Realm Works scans the text you've entered and recognises any phrases that are also the titles of any entries you've already created, offering to create a hyperlink to them. You can also manually create hyperlinks (useful if you've created an entry for "Dwarves" but have written "Dwarf" in a new entry; the automatic parser won't pick that up)

Another simple way is by containers (a parent/child system in programming terms). For instance, I create an entry for the Kingdom of Urtind, then entries for its main cities - Caranbyrig, Daranmax and Militas. I place those inside the Urtind 'container'. Any hierarchical information can be dealt with that way.

But not all connections are hierarchical. This is where the "relationships" function comes into its own. Realm Works keeps track of several kinds of relationships: comprises/encompasses; belongs to/within; family relationship; public attitude otwards; private attitude towards; and simple and artbitrary relationships.

Each of these is broken down further to describe the nature of the relationship and (if appropriate) the views of the NPC or organisation (friendly, hostile, etc).

Used properly, these relationships form as detaila a web as you like. Two churchmen belng to the same church but dislike each other; their religion opposes another one, but one of the churchmen knows someone from the rival faith and, although he dislikes the faith, he rather likes the other cleric, who loves his wife, who's the sister of a noble from the neighbouring country...

You can build visual links are well - marking key locations in a city map with a pin that brings up your notes on that location when you click it. You can go as finely detailed as you want, from clicking a city name on a world map to bring up those notes, to clicking a pin on a desk in a floorplan to reveal the letter hidden in it (and the trap that protects the letter). And you can choose to share that information with the players as well.

Every piece of data you enter can be GM only (the default), or shared with players. Each entry is marked seperately - you have a lot of fields you can fill in about an NPC for instance, from their name, portrait and appearance, through their game stats, their moral outlook, their secrets, their hopes, desires, and their relationships. When the players first meet an NPC you may only want to share the name,m picture and physicakl description, but as the players interact more with them, you can reveal more fields.

For this reason I've come to realise that it's best to enter data in short, specific bursts - just a sentence or two, rather than a long narrative of a paragraph or more. Fortunately, it's very easy to copy a pragraph into a field and then break it down further (just press Crtl+RTN when you want to break into a new field). This enables you to fine tune what your players see.


Not all the features of Realm Works are implemented yet. In particular, you can't create your own gameworld calendar and you can't yet share information with players electronically - these will come soon (players will be able to buy their own stripped-down, cheaper copy of Realm Works and access data you've revealed to them, or will be able to view it through the web for free - useful if they're running iOS or Linux, or don;t want to pay for software).

NOr can you copy data from one database to another yet (if, for instance, you want to make a snapshot of Greyhawk in 579CR and use that as a base for running different campaigns), though the devs say this functionality will also come soon - in part because part of their grand plan is to sell pre-made gameworlds.

Lone Wolf have made their development plan public, dividing it into high-priority improvements and longer-term functionality. Check the list here.

One of the items whcih looks particularly interesting is the journal function - it'll record when you reveal certain information to players and use that to build a campaign journal.

Also in the pipeline is a way to share information only with particular players, rather than the whole group. OIbviously, that'll have to wait until after the group-sharing functionality is enabled.

It's also worth noting that with the current introductory offer of software + 6 months' cloud access, Lone Wolf say the clock on the six months will not start until you're able to share the data with players (ie, the clock won't start until the Player Edition of Realm Works is available).

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