Realm Works Spotlight Series: Tame the Dragon

Welcome back to the Realm Works Spotlight Series! This is Liz, and I’ll be your host for the ninth installment. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend first reading the initial eight entries on our website or watch the videos on our YouTube channel.

Earlier in the series, we explored ways to get started with published content in Realm Works. But what happens next? Adventures like Rise of the Runelords have hundreds of pages of content, and the prospect of wrangling all that content into something usable can be daunting. This week, we’re going to delve into various features that are invaluable for managing that content.

Selectively Viewing Content

Custom View_tnLet’s start by looking at the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path from Paizo. This massive adventure has nearly a thousand topics, ranging from NPCs to locations to scenes. Scrolling through the topic list can be intimidating and unwieldy, especially during a game. That’s where Custom Views come in.

If I’m preparing to run the Swallowtail Festival for my players, I can create a Custom View that only shows the topics directly related to the Swallowtail Festival. I simply select the Custom View option from the Ribbon bar and click “Create Custom View.” From there, I can give it a name, pick an icon, and indicate whether it should be shown in the Ribbon Bar. Once my custom “Swallowtail Festival” view is created, I can add some topics to it.

There are a few ways to add topics to custom views. One option is to right-click a topic within the navigation pane and select “Assign to Views.” Let’s do this with Father Zantus’ topic. After adding this topic, it appears beneath the People category within the custom view. Let’s add a few more topics this way.

Another approach is to add the topic you currently have shown within the central content pane, such as with Mayor Deverin here. From the Options menu, you can assign the topic to a view, just like we did with Father Zanthus. You also have the option to manage all the view assignments for the topic, which is useful when you use multiple custom views to manage your content.

While I haven’t added all the content for the Swallowtail Festival yet, this covers a lot of it, and adding the rest will take just a few moments. Creating a custom view for the Swallowtail Festival dramatically pared down what’s shown in the navigation pane, making it quick and easy to find the content I need during the game session.

Organizing Content

Organization_tnThe navigation pane itself also provides many options for viewing content. Let’s head back to the World Almanac, which includes all the topics in my Rise of the Runelords realm.

The list of topics is extensive, and I’ve already got the list filtered here to only show Chapter 1 material. By selecting the World Almanac Options, we can review some of the choices available for viewing content. One of my favorite options is the ability to sort by prefix. This is incredibly handy, as scene and location topics often have a prefix that corresponds to a sequence or location on a map. For example, the Swallowtail Festival is Part 1 in Rise of the Runelords, so it has a prefix of “1.” Similarly, the scenes in the part occur in a fixed order that appears as the prefix, and each chamber from the Catacombs of Wrath has its map code as its prefix. Sorting by prefix allows me to view the topics similarly to how they’re presented in a traditional book.

In many cases, it’s also useful to see the prefix before the name of the topic for faster visual identification. To do this, I can simply head to the Options menu and select “Show Prefix Before Name When Available.” With a quick glance, the order of the scenes within the first part is apparent, as are all the locations within each adventure area.

The containment hierarchy of topics provides a structure for everything that will usually make it easier to find what you’re looking for. When you purchase material through the Content Market, it will be organized to take advantage of the Show Containing Topic Hierarchy option. This means that topics are shown as contained within other topics, just as Mayor Deverin’s topic is contained within the Sandpoint Cast topic here. Sometimes, though, it’s faster to find what you’re looking for in a single long alphabetized list. You can always toggle this option on and off to suit the situation.

Catacombs Before Prefix_tnThe content in the Rise of the Runelords realm here is also organized by similar kinds of topics – sources, events, people, groups, places, things, and other. This set-up is the default for all new realms, as many people will find it useful when looking for a topic. However, there will be times when you’ll want to see all the topics in one list, regardless of topic type. The grouping is yet another option you can toggle on and off. If you prefer to keep the topics grouped by kind, you may want to remove groups that don’t have any topics. There’s an option to hide empty groups always, and a separate option to hide groups only when filtering. These choices allow you to focus in on just the content you’re looking for.

Another useful trick is collapsing the entire hierarchy and even zooming into a specific topic. For instance, if you want just a top-level view of the content, simply collapse the entire hierarchy. With only the containing topics shown, like the Sandpoint Cast topic and the Golarion topic, it’s simple to locate and drill down into the area you want to focus on next. This selection is available within the Options menu, or you can use the keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+-. If you want to find the position in the list of the topic currently shown within the content pane, like the Rusty Dragon here, that’s easily done. Select “Show in Current Navigation” from the Options menu within the content pane, or use the Ctrl+= keyboard shortcut. The navigation pane will automatically zoom to the Rusty Dragon topic.

From Custom Views to options within the navigation pane, you can easily master even large volumes of content. Suddenly, that long list of topics doesn’t seem as daunting.

Customizing Content

Lucinda Hayes_tnAll the options mentioned so far in this installment are features available within Realm Works today that will become even more valuable for users managing published material with the Content Market releases. But what about customizing that published content? One of Realm Works’ hallmarks is the ability for Game Masters to take published content and make it their own, whether they’re expanding upon an adventure, or picking and choosing bits of content to weave into their custom world. Let’s see how that will work in practice with the Blood Drive adventure trilogy from Pinnacle Entertainment Group.

I love the setting they’ve created within the modules, especially the town of Dirtwater. Now that my players have finished up the Blood Drive storyline, I’m going to create a few new adventures for them in and around Dirtwater.

I decide to build out a new NPC, Lucinda Hayes, and create a separate topic for her. She’s the owner of Big Lucy’s Gambling Hall, so perhaps she can send the players on their next mission. For now, I’ll simply name the topic “Lucinda Hayes” and add that she’s the proprietor of Big Lucy’s Gambling Hall. I’ll fill out the rest of her topic later. When I save the topic, Realm Works offers to link her to the “Big Lucy’s Gambling Hall” topic. Accepting the prompt, Realm Works automatically creates the connection.

Big Lucys Gambling Hall_tnMy plan is to add just the basics for Lucinda Hayes, add more topics for my new adventures, and come back later to flesh out her character. However, now I’m left with a lot of empty snippets. Since I plan to come back to Lucinda, I can leave the empty snippets as is. However, if I only want a short entry for her, or if I  find the empty snippets distracting, I can trim things down. Let’s clean Lucinda’s topic up a bit with one of my favorite options.

With a few clicks, I can remove every empty snippet, or remove every empty snippet and empty section. I want to leave the sections so that they can inspire me as I develop Lucinda’s character later, so I’ll just remove every empty snippet. In addition to finding these selections within the Options menu in the navigation pane, they also have keyboard shortcuts: Remove Empty Snippets (CTRL+`) and Remove Empty Snippets and Sections (Ctrl+Shift+`). Now that I’ve removed the empty snippets, Lucinda’s topic is cleaned up and off to a good start. Oh, and don’t worry, if I change my mind and want all those pruned snippets (or sections) restored, I can do that via another option.

As I continue to expand on the story and tie it to the world created within the Blood Drive adventures, Realm Works will also continue to create links between the published content and my custom story. With automatic link detection and the many other options at your disposal, you can make published content your own with just a few clicks.

See You Next Time!

These features are just a few of the many options that users will find invaluable once the Content Market releases. Be sure to explore Realm Works to discover what works best for you.

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.

Happy Gaming!

Liz Theis
Lone Wolf Development