Realm Works Spotlight Series: Prep and Run Encounters

Welcome to the seventh installment Realm Works Spotlight Series! This is Liz, your host once again. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend first reading the initial six entries on our website or watch the videos on our YouTube channel.

An integral part of any campaign is the collection of scenes that make up the story. These scenes typically involve some form of confrontation between the PCs and their adversaries, and managing these confrontations in an efficient manner is critical to keeping the story flowing and the players fully engaged. That’s the focus of this week’s installment, as we explore various ways in which Realm Works streamlines the handling of encounters. Through NPC statblocks and Hero Lab integration, Realm Works facilitates both preparing for and running encounters to make a GM’s life a good bit easier.

NPCs at Your Fingertips

abbystatblock_tnPublished adventures traditionally feature a diverse array of NPCs and creatures across numerous scenes. Appropriate statblocks are typically provided to assist GMs. For example, in Blood Drive 1: Bad Times on the Goodnight by Pinnacle Entertainment Group, the players travel along with Bill Sutter and his crew. Statblocks are included for Bill and all the members of his group, including his niece, Abby. She may be the youngest, but she’s not one to be messed with based on those stats.

Realm Works provides the same resource for GMs, as Abby’s statblock can be readily found within her topic. There is a GM Direction snippet to guide the GM through interactions with the PCs, plus snippets that can be revealed to the players as they get to know her. At the bottom of the topic, you’ll see a section entitled “Additional Details,” in which the statblocks from the published content will be found. Abby’s statblock is in its own section, which is initially collapsed. A quick click expands the section, and the full statblock is available for viewing.

goblins_tnEverything works the same when an encounter presents multiple NPCs or creatures. Let’s take a look at the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path from Paizo for an example. The final scene during the Swallowtail Festival includes three goblins, a goblin dog, and a goblin commando. Within Realm Works, the topic contains all three, separate statblocks beneath the “Additional Details” section, exactly as detailed in the adventure. The entire statblock for the goblin commando is provided, while the other two statblocks only contain abbreviated references to the appropriate page number in the Pathfinder Bestiary, just like the published adventure.

Once rulebooks like the Pathfinder Bestiary become available through the Content Market, you can blend adventures and rulebooks together for even more utility. If you’ve imported both the Pathfinder Bestiary and Rise of the Runelords into the same realm, Realm Works can create a link from the “goblin” and “goblin dog” references to the corresponding creature entries within the Pathfinder Bestiary. The full details for each creature will be only a click away.

The included statblocks are a boon for GMs, especially during combat. Simply keep the tab open during the scene for quick and easy reference.

Perfect Pairing

goblin-stylized_tnRealm Works offers more than just the statblocks from the adventure. Realm Works seamlessly integrates with our award-winning character management software, Hero Lab, and you don’t even have to own Hero Lab to take advantage of one very convenient benefit. The “Die, Dog, Die” topic we just reviewed also includes a single Hero Lab portfolio file that contains all the creatures involved in the fight. By clicking the “View” button to the right of the Hero Lab icon, Realm Works uses the portfolio to present stylized statblocks for all the creatures. This even includes full statblock details for the three goblins and goblin dog that weren’t detailed within the original adventure! If you prefer, you can instead view the statblocks within a new tab.

If you DO have Hero Lab installed along with Realm Works, a few very powerful features become available.

First of all, you can choose to view all the creatures within Hero Lab. This action opens the portfolio within Hero Lab in a read-only manner, allowing you to review everything in detail. This can be quite helpful when preparing for a game session.

editpor_tnI can also modify the Hero Lab portfolio for a scene. Let’s say I want to toughen up the encounter a little bit, so I want to add a fourth goblin. With traditional published content, adding another monster means tracking those notes somewhere separate from the material. In Realm Works, it’s quick and easy.

Simply click the “Edit” button to the right of the Hero Lab icon, and Hero Lab opens the portfolio for editing. You can then make changes to any or all of the existing creatures, delete some, or add new creatures to the portfolio. For my edit, I’m going to add a fourth goblin using Hero Lab’s Encounter Builder. After adding the goblin, I simply save the Hero Lab portfolio and Realm Works automatically detects the change and offers to save the changes back into the topic for me. Now, the “Die, Dog, Die” topic within Realm Works includes four goblins instead of three, and I’m ready to run the encounter!

combat_tnWhen the encounter actually begins, Hero Lab is invaluable for managing the combat. I start with all of the PCs loaded into Hero Lab for quick reference to all their stats, abilities, saves, etc. I simply click the “Integrate” button to import all the creatures for the encounter in with all the PCs. From there, I can use Hero Lab’s Tactical Console to manage the combat efficiently from within Hero Lab.

Once the combat ends, I quickly remove the vanquished creatures from Hero Lab. At that point, I can continue to track the PCs within Hero Lab and finish up the scene within Realm Works.

Hero Lab portfolios will be included with most adventures when you purchase them through the Content Market. However, to take advantage of the Hero Lab integration, you must have Hero Lab installed on the same computer and must have purchased the necessary Hero Lab data packages. For example, the creatures in the “Die, Dog, Die” encounter are included in both the Pathfinder Bestiary package and the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path package. The Game Master must have both the basic Pathfinder game system for Hero Lab and one of those two additional packages for Hero Lab integration to work.  Without Hero Lab or the necessary packages, you won’t be able to use the Hero Lab portfolio beyond viewing the associated statblocks.

Realm Works and Hero Lab are complementary tools for GMs, covering nearly every aspect of game mastery from game prep, to content delivery, and character management.

See You Next Time!

Thanks for joining me as I showed how you how you can prepare for and run encounters with both Realm Works and Hero Lab. Next time, we’ll take a look at how Realm Works provides fantastic options for GMs and players looking for a recap of a previous session.

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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.

Happy Gaming!

Liz Theis
Lone Wolf Development