Welcome to the third installment of the Realm Works Spotlight Series. This is Liz Theis, your host once again. If you’re just joining us now, please head over to our website to review the first two entries or watch the videos on our YouTube channel.
This week is all about tracking what content has been revealed to the players – and extracting that content from published material in the first place. These might seem like separate concerns, but we’ve already done all the extraction work for you, so the two blend together with Realm Works.
When it comes to published material, teasing it all apart for actual use often requires a significant time investment for the GM. Linear prose may be fine for reading everything the first time, but a single paragraph often contains multiple pieces of information that the PCs will learn in separate scenes, along with additional GM notes for each of them. It’s up to you to carve it up and keep track of it all.
Maps and pictures often present a similar problem. Pictures must be extracted from the page so you can show them to the players without revealing other details. Maps often contain indicators for traps, secret passages, and similar visual clues that must be hidden from the players. So those gorgeous maps end up for your eyes only, or you end up having to fix them up yourself.
Just getting published content into a useful form for play can be quite a chore, but the frustrations don’t stop there. Once the info is shared with the players, it’s easy for both GMs and players to forget what the party has and hasn’t learned – or remember things with slight, but critical, differences from the actual information. Realm Works was designed with these common challenges in mind.
What’s a Snippet?
In our previous installment, I mentioned that text within Realm Works is carved up into snippets. But what makes snippets different from paragraphs or sentences? The key distinction is that a snippet is a block of information that that players will learn all at the same time. That means that a snippet might be a sentence, or it could be three paragraphs. Heck, it could even be four words out of a big paragraph. It all depends on the nature of the information.
Another important aspect of text snippets is that they have two optional pieces. There is a revealable portion, which is the information the players will actually learn. There is also a GM-only portion, which is text exclusively for you. The GM-only portion might contain notes about setting the scene, background context, conditions that must be met to learn the information, or anything else that is important for you to know and the players not to know.
Why go to all this trouble with snippets? The reasons are many and all center on making the actual game session run as smoothly as possible. During play, when everything is cleanly broken up into snippets, accessing information is fast, important details are never forgotten, nothing gets disclosed that shouldn’t, and it makes tracking what is or isn’t revealed a trivial operation.
When the players learn a new piece of information, just click the grey orb to the left of the appropriate element. The orb turns green to indicate that this item is now revealed to the players, as does the background region. I start by revealing the topic itself, which means that players now know its name. I can then reveal individual snippets as the players learn those details through play.
Players can only learn certain details in this opening scene with successful skill checks. These details are placed in separate snippets, with a GM note providing the required DC for the check. As the players make successful skill checks, I can reveal the individual clues. This makes it easy to see, at a glance, what information the players have and haven’t learned.
Revealing isn’t limited to text snippets. You can also reveal: images, like a picture of a guard, or any other snippet type; relationships as the players uncover them; and even maps and plots.
More than Just a Pretty Face
Maps are a powerful resource within Realm Works. In addition to their existence being revealed through snippets, individual aspects of maps can be selectively revealed. This applies to both the pins on a map and custom regions of the map.
Let’s head back to Varisia, in the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path from Paizo. As you can see, the map of the region includes many pins. The pins with the yellow flag indicate that the pin is linked to a topic, typically with details on the underlying location. For example, the Sandpoint pin is tied to the Sandpoint topic.
The pin itself contains either a grey or green orb to indicate whether the pin has been revealed. The yellow flag also contains either a grey or green orb, which indicates whether the associated topic has been revealed. This makes it easy to see, at a glance, what information the players have learned about the map and the locations on it.
The other powerful aspect of maps is that I can selectively reveal individual portions of the map, which is ideal for exploration. Maps are initially fully concealed, allowing you to reveal incrementally as the PCs explore the area. For example, if my players enter the town of Sandpoint from the South and head up Market Street before walking along the docks, I can follow their progress using the reveal brush.
The storyboard works much the same way as maps, so let’s look again at the “Fury in Freeport” adventure. Like map pins, you can associate content with plot points, such as topics and sub-plots. You can then reveal the plot points independently from any associated content.
That covers the basics. There is a lot more to maps, plots, and revealing that I’ll delve into in the next installment.
Once you’ve marked content as revealed, Realm Works makes it easy to share that content with your players. During the game session, “Player View” allows you to show revealed material to players, either on a second monitor or by toggling your screen for player display. The other option is “Player Edition”, which is a player-specific version of Realm Works that allows players to see everything you’ve revealed, with all the same filtering and presentation features as the full product.
I’ll talk about both Player View and Player Edition in greater detail in an upcoming installment.
Happy New Year!
That wraps up our third installment of the Realm Works Spotlight Series! As you’ve now seen, Realm Works makes running a game a breeze, saving you prep time and enhancing the actual play experience. Now, you can focus your energies on telling the story and having fun.
Next week, I’ll explore further the many ways you can leverage maps and plots in your games with Realm Works. In the meantime, “Happy New Year!” and best wishes for a fantastic 2016.
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May the dice roll ever in your favor…
Lone Wolf Development
- in Realm Works