Sunday, 20 April 2014

Realm Works... works?

For anyone reading today... have a happy easter! The one time of the year that I miss chocolate.

The public release of Lone Wolf's Realm Works software finally happened a couple of weeks ago. As a long time user of Hero Lab and Army Builder for manageing my 40k forces and rpg characters, I was interested to see how their new piece of kit works. I missed the kickstarter as, at the time, I wasn't planning on running my own world, but at some point this year I really will get around to starting that Achtung! Cthulhu game I've been muttering about. In preparation for this I thought I'd give it a go. Anyway...

In the past I've tried to use wikis, notebooks, dropbox and evernote to try and organise my thoughts and ideas for various worlds, but nothing has quite... clicked.

Realm Works takes the concept of a wiki and configures it for building scenarios, campaigns and worlds with specific templates and different relationships as well as normal linking and keywords.
Like any good wiki editor, content can be linked to other articles with links in the text. The benefit we have with Realm Works is that if the articles already exist, it will create those links for us automatically. For example, if in a description I said that "London is in the UK" and records exist with for London and UK, it automatically creates links form that text to the relevant pages. They are apparently working on a global update that will scan all articles  to refresh the data and create any new links that it needs.

In addition to links, we can associate items into groups, such as counties in a country, or people into organisations. It took a while to work that one out as I did the usual IT thing and didn't bother with the manual. A good system should be self explanitory and this one *mostly* works the way you would want it to. There are still some areas that I can't work out or could display more effectively, so I will eventually have to resort to the paperwork...

One of the main ideas, besides making it easier for a GM to construct a new adventure, is to eventually allow the players in a game to see any information about their gaming world that they should know. All data is, by default, marked as hidden, but the GM can slowly reveal parts of maps, character descriptions, plots...whatever they create really.

In order to do this successfully, the system syncs it's data to a central server on this here interwebz. It is possible to run Realm Works in offline mode once a realm has initially been created, but by doing so you're missing out on a lot of the purpose. Granted, you do need a subscription to use Cloud service after the first 6 months, but hey. It's not a lot and it is backing up all your hard work as well, so it seems worth it.

Cloud Sync will also eventually have a store to allow you to buy/sell/swap NPCs, plots, worlds and ideas to integrate into your campaigns. If this works, it's perfect for RPG companies to release new modules directly to the GM in a structured format, rather than as a book or pdf. I love the idea of being able to download a new adventure and pick/choose which elements I want to integrate.

First I need to work out the best way to organise my world. There seem to be two suggeste routes so far. Geographic or Character-centric. Given that  this is Cthulhu we're talking about here, character-centric seems rather short sighted. For Geographic, as this is based in the real world I need to weave in enough real data without flooding the thing with useless bits like ever county in the uk; especially if I'm planing on sending them globe-trotting... I'd end up having to fill in everything.

Time to start playing!


  1. I checked this out but was not sure how I would feel about it. Have you been using it since this post? How do you like it now? Also, I put you down for a Liebster. Enjoy.

    1. Work has take over recently, so I've not had much of a chance to play with it. At the moment it seems like it will work well once I've actually finished working out how I want to structure my data. There seem to be a couple of different schools of thought on how to structure your data. Some people recommend locations first and then NPCs to locations; others recommend NPCs or story elements first. It depends of you want to run set scenarios, or build a massive open world for your players to run around in