Realm Works is a product created by Lone Wolf Development used for a roleplaying game’s campaign management. It allows the Games Master (person running the game) to provide information to the players with restrictions managed by the tool’s “Fog of World” ability which makes sure they only get access to what they need during and between games.
A cool trick is that there is also a player preview feature that allows the Games Master to share specific content with the players either by their own screen or via a separate monitor set up for this purpose.
My involvement with this tool was when they kindly gave me access to beta test their initial version, which has since then gone through a kickstarter campaign and now is a full release.
So I intend to put out a series of articles on how I’ve been using the tool since the 27th of January 2012. Hard to believe it is almost four years now as it is used as a major tool in the running of my games.
The tool is available for US $49.99 for the Games Master and US $5.99 for players. Each player can either use a GM licence or a Player licence to connect to the campaign realm.
This article is covering how I have chosen to handle players and their characters in the campaigns that I run. I expect to cover other aspects as I go. I have 11 realms at the moment with 5-6 actively used, and the rest being archived with player access removed.
There are multiple aspects of player management. The first is that they need access to the tool to see anything and second they need a starting point to identify their information.
For this I have a list of all my players Realm Work’s details that I maintain for the active games. When adding a new player I either use their Realm Works ID or their email address they registered with. Some of my players share their accounts with their spouses, and some just don’t want accounts. So it is left to those who want to see the campaign information.
Now that I have players in the realm, I then create a “Source” article of type “Player Synopsis” and name it after the player.
Inside this article I list the details of their character in the campaign, ranging from the name, to key aspects such as class or role, and sometimes race.
Notes on what the player likes or does not like in a campaign is added to this section, as its a guideline in what to aim for with the storyline as some players can’t handle morally ambiguous storylines and others can’t handle flirting or innuendo. Keeping track of what will keep your players happy with the campaign storyline is a good thing.
The character name is then used to create an “Person”article of type “Individual”. Now each character can have multiple “Individual” articles as you won’t want every bit of information to track back to the one article.
For example Shadowrun: A character has a true identity and names they are known by. Those that link to the true identity become “Aliases” which can either be known or unknown with their runner name being the core character name and their true name being a legal name.
Now shadowrunners also have fake identities. Each of their identities has their own lifestyle and licences, fake history and in game history. So each fake identity can make use of their own article to help keep track of how it has been used.
This information I leave mostly to the players, with hidden sections I add for things they have forgotten or don’t want to record, or need clarification.
In superhero terms, having one article for batman and one article for bruce wayne means that if you encounter both, you don’t make the connection that they are the same person simply because batman is the alias of bruce wayne one article. This is good practice for building NPC information.
I give each of the characters an ID prefix (or suffix if I don’t want to sort them) to identify every character uniquely. Usually player initials and a number (2 digit for short campaign and 3 for long) to represent the
I add each of the characters and their identities to the player, as it is a player character, I add all the alternate character identities as children of the core identity. This is good for management, but bad for NPC’s as containing topic is shown if both are visible. So for an NPC you’d know that bruce wayne and batman are most likely related or the same person. So in this instance I’d be going against best practice for ease of maintenance.
Now that I have my character, I add them to the important characters section of the home page usually in this format as a text snippet each. I rank the character by number of sessions and being the first to reach that number.
<Character Name> (<defining characteristic>) <Player Name> - (<Total Sessions>)
Sessions Played: <session code>, <session code>
Campaign Management of Players and Characters
So now we have player and character articles in the realm, what other things might you need to do. Well that depends on the length of the campaign and the number of players you have gone through.
I have a simple way of managing Player movement, I create a “Current Players” and a “Former Players” article of type “Source – Player Synopsis”. Where this could be used by a Groups article, I wanted them to stay in this section of the navigation tool. So this also might not be best practice, but it does work well for me to find the content. Usually this Article is nothing more than a title. In future it might have details on when players enter and leave, but that’s a future project.
So now I have current and former players grouped so the articles are easy to find, what happens when I have lots of characters change over during the campaign.
This I solve on the home page, as I have included every character, things get a little messy here without help.
In one game create a subsection for every game year, then I add characters into the years they were played in, and for characters that were played over multiple years there is a section at the start for important characters.
In another game I have multiple campaigns crossing over, so I have a subsection for each campaign, and a further subsection for each year of that campaign.
What these two designs show is the characters which were most important during the course of that years storyline, as well as campaign.
To help visually I have used the Snippet Styles to assist in marking characters.
Flavor – (red) marks a character who did not last out a year.
Message – (brown) marks a character who lasted more than a year (in single campaign)
Read Aloud – (blue) marks a character who lasted more than one campaign
Normal – (green) marks an active character in the game
These provide a nice colour change to the visual of the characters. I can tell with a glance how important a character is to the storyline based on number of sessions and colour of the character snippet background.
Again not really best practice, but on this page it has helped. Also the ability to minimise other season, campaigns or years makes it easy to navigate. I also do the seasons in reverse order so the latest games are always on top and players can scroll down as see the history of characters for their game.
One game has 36 characters over 75 sessions and the other long term game has 57 characters over 153 sessions. So ability to manage players and character information over many years can be handy.