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Realm Works Spotlight Series: What a Tangled Web We Weave


rotrl_navigate2_tnWelcome back to the Realm Works Spotlight Series. This is Liz, and I’ll again be your guide in this second installment. If you haven’t done so yet, I recommend first checking out the initial entry, as it lays important groundwork for the whole series. You can watch all episodes on our YouTube channel, where you’ll see upcoming content in actual use.

This week, I’ll show how Realm Works makes it simple to track all the intricate connections of a complex story –saving you time in the process. In many campaigns, multiple story arcs unfold during play, ranging from the main storyline to assorted sub-plots to completely unplanned paths as players do the unexpected. All the key scenes, events, and NPCs of these story arcs are intertwined and quickly become cumbersome to keep track of. The typical result? Additional prep time. Slow-downs in play. And sometimes even mistakes that must be corrected in subsequent sessions.

Realm Works dramatically reduces these headaches by weaving the content together with links, relationships, and other connections, not to mention tagging and full-text search. This innovative approach puts any detail just a few clicks away.

Finding Stuff

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Let’s start with an example of finding content within the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path from Paizo. There’s a goblin NPC that the players will confront in the next session, so I want to review it, but remembering bizarre goblin names can be a challenge. So how can I find it?

filteredsearch_tnThe simplest option is to filter everything using the word “goblin.” With a PDF, searching for the word “goblin” yields a linear search, where I have to go through every instance of the word “goblin”, one by one. That’s going to take quite a while. Realm Works instead operates more like Google, returning any topic that mentions “goblin”. This narrows down the list considerably, but there’s still a lot to scan through.

The goblin is an NPC that the players may have to fight, so that means he’ll have the “character role: adversary” tag. I can simply add the tag to my filter, and now there are only a few topics that match. Once I see the name Gogmurt, I recognize him and can review what I need, all in a matter of seconds.

Link Me Up, Scotty

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Let’s shift our focus to features unique to Realm Works. Extensive, pre-created links and relationships connect everything, making it easy to navigate the often tangled web of the story and visualize it for better understanding. This time, we’ll show off the “Fury in Freeport” adventure from the Freeport Companion by Green Ronin Publishing.

This adventure centers on the pursuits of Aporcus Beedle, an NPC who initially recruits the PCs to do his dirty work. The word “centers” is important here. In most adventures, there are key people, places, and things that are central to the story and around which large portions of the plot revolve. With prose-based content, it’s very difficult to follow all these connections. Realm Works’ linking capabilities make this easy.

We start with the topic for Beedle. Within the body of the topic, you’ll see various terms highlighted as links. Just like a web page, simply click a link and the appropriate topic is loaded, or open the link in a new tab. The navigation history also allows you to backtrack.

Everything linked with Beedle is listed in the panel on the right, in one convenient place. Clicking on an entry in the panel navigates the same way.

A key difference from wikis is that Realm Works also shows you everything that links into this topic. Next to each topic is an arrow that indicates the direction, which can be either outbound or inbound (or both). This makes it possible to see all the places where Beedle is referenced, like events in the “Fury in Freeport” adventure and the wicked Emerald Dagger. This visual reference gives you the full picture of exactly how Beedle is woven into the story, making it easy to simply follow the links.

Beyond Text

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Linking extends beyond just text in Realm Works. You can see and access the plots that reference Beedle here. From the plot itself, individual plot points link to the associated story elements and can even be used for navigation.

The same applies to maps, where each map pin can link to the associated location, and the map can be used for navigation. The locations themselves identify the larger areas with maps on which they appear.

And the Link Web lets you truly visualize all the connections for a given topic.

As you can see, Realm Works provides insight into adventures and stories, unlike anything that’s come before for RPGs.

Containment

bloodsalt_tn4An important connection type in Realm Works is containment. Every topic can be contained by another topic, the same way you can nest folders on your computer. This creates a convenient hierarchy that is much easier to manage than one gigantic list, including the ability to expand and collapse different levels.

Published content will come organized in a structured manner. However, you can freely change things around to suit your preferences.

Relationships

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The one remaining connection type is relationships, which are quite different from links. Links represent a simple reference between two pieces of content while relationships ascribe a specific purpose to a connection. The exact purpose can vary widely, but I’ll touch on a few of them here. Let’s return to Rise of the Runelords.

The most common relationship is one of “belonging”, which takes many forms. One such form is the “resident” relationship, which allows you to track which NPCs will be found in what locations. For example, we can see here that the town of Sandpoint has an assortment of residents. Clicking on them behaves the same as clicking on other links. And each resident displays a corresponding relationship back to where it resides. Other forms of “belonging” relationships include group membership, which are great for tracking sandpointresidents_tncrime families and secret cults, subsidiaries for tracking mega-corp structures and religious institutions with numerous chapters, minions for tracking all the mooks working for a crime boss, and more.

Family relationships allow you to track parents and children. You can also differentiate lineage from simple parenting, such as might be needed for plots involving royal, or perhaps vampiric, bloodlines. Narrative relationships tie the key people, places, things, and events of a storyline together. Equivalence relationships make it possible to readily manage secret identities, like Batman and Bruce Wayne. You can even track public versus private attitudes. Realm Works provides relationship types to cover the vast majority of situations that will come up within games.

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel…

Thanks for joining me as I showed off the key ways in which Realm Works weaves content together to save you time, both during prep and at the table. In future installments, I’ll preview additional features that take these connections to a whole new level.

Next week, we’ll explore how Realm Works tracks exactly what the players do – and don’t yet – know, as well as convenient ways to ensure GM-only knowledge never gets accidentally disclosed. If you’d like, we can email you when the next installment is out. Sign-up here to receive an email with every new update.

Don’t forget to ask questions for us to answer in future entries! If your question is already answered on our Frequently Asked Questions, then it’s already on our radar. If not, we encourage you to ask it on our forums.

Happy Gaming!

Liz Theis
Lone Wolf Development

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