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Realm Works Spotlight Series: Immersing Your Players

Welcome back to the Realm Works Spotlight Series! This is Liz once again, and I’ll be guiding you through the fifth installment. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend first reading the initial four entries or watch the videos on our YouTube channel.

This week, I’m going to focus on how Realm Works simplifies sharing your world with the players. This aspect is even more important for published material, since Realm Works provides everything ready for delivery to the players – an often onerous task for GMs.

Player View – The Basics

initial-assault_tnAt their core, roleplaying games are a lot like collaborative storytelling. The GM provides the foundation – the world, the plot, and characters that trigger events – and the players drive how the story unfolds. To set the scene, GMs will often show pictures, like important NPCs, or reveal maps of a significant city or a maze-like dungeon, or something else altogether. These are great ways to immerse your players in the story, but they require valuable prep time with published material, as you pull the images from PDFs and mask out map regions that the players haven’t explored.

Realm Works makes it easier than ever to bring the story to life. Not only are the images and maps already included for published content, but you can readily share them with your players via the integrated Player View capability. This feature is a special window within Realm Works that you can share on your own device, either by turning your laptop towards your players or using an external monitor. To see how all this works, we’re going to look at the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path from Paizo.

Early in the adventure, the PCs find themselves in a scuffle with some goblins. To help the players visualize the scene, we’ll use the Player View. Let’s share a map of the town square where the PCs and other characters are gathered. Because I game in my living room, I use my TV as an external monitor. My players see the map of the town square on the TV, and I can control how they see it from Realm Works.

As the encounter unfolds, I show images of the goblins and additional maps to help bring the encounter to life. In fact, I can even prepare these images before the game, and simply reveal them to the players when the time comes. There’s no “right” way to use Player View – it’s whatever works best for you and your players.

Exploring with the Players

sandpoint_tnSpeaking of maps, there are some incredible things you can do in the Player View.  In the third installment, we saw how GMs can reveal portions of a map as the players explore a location. The players entered Sandpoint from the south, walked along Market Street, and then explored the docks. Perhaps they stopped in the Rusty Dragon briefly for a drink as they came into town, so I’ve revealed the pins for both the Rusty Dragon and the docks.

At this point, I want to share the map with my players. While Sandpoint is a large, detailed map, when I share it on Player View the players only see what they’ve explored. Additionally, only pins I’ve revealed to the players show up on the map.

catacombs_tnShowing maps via the Player View window is incredibly useful when players are exploring areas with many rooms and maze-like walkways, like fortresses and dungeons. In fact, let’s head over to the Catacombs of Wrath. As the players enter the catacombs, they immediately come upon a cave. This cave is one of many locations in the catacombs. If you were showing the map in the PDF or book, you’d need to hide the rest of the map in some way – often giving away the scale of the location and the directions in which there is more area to explore. You may not try to hide the map at all, giving away key details about traps or secret passageways that are noted on the map. Some GMs may draw out their own maps on a white board or mat as the game progresses, missing out on the fantastic art provided by the adventure. While others use dungeon tiles or set pieces, often a costly buy-in and time-consuming set-up.

In Realm Works, if you reveal a portion of the map, like the first cave, the map automatically resizes to only show the revealed portion. This minimizes the chances of players meta-gaming and suggesting that they “explore the dark area to the north.” As the players travel deeper into the catacombs, simply reveal more of the map and Realm Works will automatically readjust it in Player View.

Beyond Images and Maps

localheroes_tnIn addition to images and maps, GMs can also share plots via Player View. For example, by the time the players reach the Catacombs of Wrath, they’re about three-quarters of the way through the first chapter. If I want to show the players what they’ve accomplished, I can show them the overall storyline, or even one of the earlier sub-plots like the Swallowtail Festival or Local Heroes. Note, only the revealed plot points are shown to the players.

Or perhaps the players are trying to remember out how Ameiko fits into the story. I may want to show the players the Link Web relating to her, which shows how she’s connected to other topics. The Link Web that I see has a lot of different connections, but the Link Web in Player View only shows the revealed topics. Now the players remember that she’s tied to the Rusty Dragon and some other important events and places within Sandpoint that they’re already familiar with.

GMs can also share text, relationship diagrams, statblocks, and other information in the Player View. As I mentioned before, there’s no right way to use Player View. As long it works well for your group, you’re on the right path.

Player Edition

playermode_swallowtailplot_tnPlayer View is meant for sharing details in-game, but what about sharing information in-between sessions? That’s where Player Edition comes in! This player-specific version of Realm Works allows players to review what their character has learned in past sessions, allowing you to trim, or even skip, the often lengthy recaps at the start of each game session. Players have access to all the same powerful features as GMs, including full-text and tag-based searching, user notes, and more.

playermode_sandpoint_tnTo show how this works, I’m going to use the “Enter Player Mode” button in my GM Edition version of Realm Works. Now I can see what my players will see when they open their copy of Realm Works. This group has made it through the Swallowtail Festival, so they’ve met a handful of NPCs like Father Zanthus and Mayor Deverin, and explored a handful of places, like the Sandpoint Cathedral. Topics include all revealed snippets, and maps are limited to only the revealed portions. Players have everything they need at their fingertips without taking copious notes, and GMs don’t need to worry about maintaining a separate wiki or send out detailed recaps.

Unlike Player View, which is a feature within GM Edition, the Player Edition is a separate, low-cost version of Realm Works. Players can purchase it for themselves, or you can purchase copies in bulk at a discount. Importantly, Player Edition requires the GM to have cloud service to share material with the players, while Player View does not.  Every GM Edition purchase includes an initial period of cloud service so you can see how it works for your games before choosing whether to continue the service.

With Player View during the game and Player Edition in-between sessions, GMs have everything they need to immerse their players in the story.

Thank You, and Goodnight…

Thanks for joining me as I showed how you can share the story with the players. In the next episode, I’ll show how you can get started with published content after the Content Market launches in early 2016.

Don’t forget, we can email you when the next installment is out. Sign-up here to receive an email with every new update.

If you have questions that you want us to answer in future entries, let us know! 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.

Have fun storming the castle!

Liz Theis
Lone Wolf Development

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