Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Realm Works - A Player's Guide To Configuring A Digital Spellbook or Player Hand Book

In this video I show how to use Realm Works as a player.

Setting the tool up as a digital spell book. Either as a book of every spell I can possibly come across or even just a personal spell book of the spells I know.

I also show how this can be used in the same way as a digital Player Hand Book taking full advantage of the links to better navigate the book.

Realm Works - A Player Tour

In this video I move to the other side of the DM screen and give a tour of Realm Works from a player perspective.

See how it can be used as a journal of what you have encountered so far in your game. Locations, people, items, story elements. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Hirst Arts - Started a modular village!

For a long time now I have being fighting an internal war.. I have alot of terrain, it's all modular and I can make alot of different environments out of it. It's also very functional. My buildings are all open top so that my players can interact inside. But ultimately, when I made a village, it didn't look like a village. It didn't have the right atmosphere.

This is what is looks like when I setup a village scene using my current design.

So while this didn't give the town look and feel it allowed for great game play. Buildings were represented, my players could interact with them. Deep down though I knew it was only a matter of time before work began on a real village. Something you would look at and go wow.

So I bought the following molds:

Half Timber Mold #225 - $29.00
Wood Shingle Roof Mold #240 - $29.00
Stucco Panel Mold #251 - $29.00

And work began. 

Now my terrain largely works on a 5x5 grid. So ultimately I wanted to ensure the buildings adhered to the same system. The smallest building would be on a 5x5 base and increment in units of 5 from there (10x5, 10x10, etc).

Following along with the tutorial provided over at the Hirst Arts website. '

The walls were made from the Stucco panel mold and glued to the back of some cereal box. The panels were undercoated with cream and then dry  brushed with white to bring out the detail.

I played around different layouts using the wood from the Half-Timber mold. 
 <Insert Pic Here>
I purchased some double-sided tape and used that to stick all the wood pieces to so that I could efficiently paint it. They were spray painted black and then dry brushed brown.

The timber was glued to the stucco panels. The sections that over-lapped the edge were snapped off.
More panels with wood work added. 
I made a base from 5x5 grids using the 'Floor Tiles Various Sizes Mold #201'. From there the wall sections we're glued into place. 
Front view with the walls up.

The roof was added.

And finally, the 'nearly' finished product now slots perfectly in alongside my other 5x5 tiles. Now I just need to make alot more buildings to create a full village!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

TokenTool - Creating Tokens For Your Game

In this video I show the use of a very simple application that speeds up the process of creating tokens for your games. Whether you are using them in a Virtual Table Top or printing them for use at a physical table. This free application speeds up the process of creating better looking tokens. It takes me about 3 minutes to complete the process of creating a new token and loading it into Roll20.

Magic Set Editor - Create Custom Card Handouts For You Players

In this video I give a quick run through Magic Set Editor. This is an awesome FREE piece of software that allows you to quickly create cards that can be used as hand-outs at your table. 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Realm Works and Hero Lab - Managing Massive Encounters

We had a massive session last night that led me to thinking about the benefits that Realm Works and Hero Lab bring to the management of large combat encounters.

We ended up with 80+ enemies fighting 7 players and 11 NPCs.

I had a co-dm who played the commander of the enemies. He decided what they were doing and when they were doing it. He rolled all the dice. I determined the results of those dice and directed the encounter, managed the HP pools and initiative.

It was exhausting, not going to lie. We played for 6 hours and only did about 5 rounds all up.

In the video below I show how I prepared the encounter files in Realm Works and managed the bulk initiative and handling of HP pools for all the enemies.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Black Friday Sale - Campaign Cartographer 3+

Hi Team, Just a heads up. There appears to be a Black Friday Sale happening over at Pro Fantasy. Voucher Code: BLACK@30% If you are at all interested in picking up Campaign Cartographer 3+ or some of their addons... well today is a great day to do so.

Happy Mapping!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Realm Works - Where Do I Begin?

So one of the challenges with Realm Works is it's a massive piece of blank paper.

Starting out can be overwhelming and the question is often asked, where do i begin?

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Realm Works - Working With Tags and Creating Custom Categories

Here I had a play with using Tags within Realm Works to see what sort of functionality I could obtain by placing tags on specific content.

I played largely with Monsters, adding a tag for the creature type. I like the way this gives me the ability to easily filter on all 'Beasts' or all 'Fey' creatures.

I then go on to show how I added the custom tag to all of my monster categories and from there showed how to create a completely new custom category.

Realm Works - Forgotten Realm (Faerun) Interactive Map

I've been slowly chipping away at this project for a number of week now. But I finally completed entering all of the location date from the Storm King's Thunder into Realm Works as an interactive map.

Now I can click all over the realm to find out more information about the area!

This is achieved using the Smart Image functionality within Realm Works.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Realm Works and Frostgrave - Does Realm Works Work With Tabletop Wargames?

In this video I show my latest venture with Realm Works where I have entered the Frostgrave rule books.

Tabetop Wargames always tend to be rules heavy so I wanted to see what benefit could be had from using Realm Works as the rules database.

Now that I have the rules entered, you can see the linking starting to shine!

Check it out for yourself. Do you think this would be easier to run a game?

Hopefully the last time I play Frostgrave by having to flip through a book for the rules :) Hirst Arts is perfect for making Frostgrave terrain btw!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Hero Lab - Player Character Creation Software - A Player Tour for D&D5e

Many would argue that you don't need software to assist with the creation of Player Characters (PCs) in D&D 5e. And they are correct, you don't... I do however want software to assist the the creation of PC's.

I spend quite a bit of time playing with brand new people. My ground and I have only been playing for around two years. We are surrounded by people who love board games but have never played a table-top RPG. These are the type of people that want to come to the table and try it, but don't necessarily want to read the Player Hand Book prior to trying it for the first time.

This is where Hero Lab shines in my opinion. I can sit a player in front of my PC for a few minutes and quickly whip them up a character in a method that feels familiar to the new player as it follows a similar process to many RPG video games.

Then I simply print the sheet out for them and it comes with all the descriptions for spells and abilities. I can't stress how much simpler this is for introducing new people to the game.

It's not just handy to new players though. My experienced players love using it as it reduces the down-time at the table usually involved with people having to stop and look up rules from within the books.

Check it out below.

If you decide to pick up Hero Lab for 5e be sure to get the D&D 5e Community Pack.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Realm Works - Managing Merchants and their Wares

A simple video today showing show to setup Merchant shopping lists within Realm Works that can be used over and over again. This is a simple concept utilizing the core functionality of the Realm Works linking that goes to show why the software can reduce your prep time at the table.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

MapTool - Virtual Table Top Software

In my last video I showed how to create a dungeon map using Campaign Cartographer 3+. Watch it here

Creating a map is great. But how do you go about using it at the table?

This video runs through an application called MapTool. It's a VTT solution that works great for those of us using VTT software at the table. Alot of people love Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, which are both amazing applications, but I had a few requirements I needed met, and MapTool met them all.

My Requirements:
Offline (my internet connection was dodgy in my game room)
Ability to control the player screen from the DM screen (Server and Client)
Free if possible
Ability to control Fog of War

Examples of what it looks like displayed on the actual table.

CC3+ / DD3 - How To Create Basic Dungeon Maps

This video runs through how to make a simple underground dungeon map using Campaign Cartographer 3+ (with Dungeon Designer 3).

If you would like to know more about CC3+ then click HERE.

After watching this video you should be capable of creating and outputting a simple map for use at your virtual table top.

Once you have created your map, check out this video to see MapTool in action.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Realm Works - Playing Sounds at the Table

So playing sound at the table is something I have been looking at doing. The room is ready with speaker in place so I am physically able to do it.

What's missing for me is an efficient way to manage the database of music and sounds and an efficient way to play those sounds at the table.

Now given I already have Realm Works, Hero Lab and MapTools running when I DM, I would ideally like to avoid having yet another stand-alone app to micro manage. With that in mind I played around today with different methods to include sounds and music within Realm Works and played around with triggering those sounds from my module content.

I'm still not happy though, and I would really like to hear people's thoughts and ideas on a better way to play and manage sound at the table.

Software to Create RPG Maps

Lately I have been seeing the same question getting asked close to 3 times a day...

"What software can I use to create maps for my RPG?"

It's a good question and one that has alot of different answers.

First I would suggest you get familiar with The Cartographers' Guild. This is a great resource for cartographers. Specifically, they have an entire sub-forum to discuss the various software that can be used to create maps.

Having spent some time there I decided to purchase Campaign Cartographer 3+.

Pro Fantasy create CC3+ and state on their web-site that they have led the field in map-making software for gamers for 20 years! It's a big call to make but lets you know instantly that this is not a new piece of software coming onto the market. This is established, with a fan base and community to support it. This is something I always look for with my RPG software as alot of software rarely makes it to the official launch phase.

This is particularly important for CC3+ as there are a HUGE amount of assets made available  by the community. You just need to download them are start using them to create amazing maps! Check out the CSUAC and Dundjinni Archives if you plan on using CC3+!

Check out the video below to see the software in use. I've only been using it for a few weeks, so I have included some amazing maps below made by experienced users so you see can the real potential of this software.

Campaign Cartographer 3+ is designed to make overland maps. 

Dungeon Designer 3 is an add-on to assist in the creation of Dungeons and Floor-plans.

City Designer 3 is an add-on to assist in the creation of cities and towns. 

I don't own it yet but I'm keen as mustard to try out the Perspectives 3 add-on so I can make some isometric maps!


There's also quite a few more add-ons so be sure to check out the Pro Fantasy Website!

Friday, 28 October 2016

What is this Hirst Arts?

So one of the constant thing's I see on social media circles is people posting photos of Hirst Art terrain that they have made. The response is always fantastic and there's always a handful of people who reply stating they wish they could afford or were artistic enough to create such terrain.

First off, if you are one of those people get on over and join DM Scotty's Craft N' Games. It's a Facebook group dedicated to creating terrain and RPG material. It's focus is on making things from cheap household items and the stuff you see posted daily is incredible.

However, just from reading my blog you should know that I work mainly with Hirst Arts. Bruce Hirst is the artist responsible for Hirst Arts. He creates silicon molds that you pour plaster or resin into. The output is effectively LEGO blocks designed specifically for creating terrain. And the results speak for themselves.

Photo from showing the potential with the cavern system molds.

Photo from show the potential with the Gothic setting molds.

Photo from showing the potential with the Inn Builder molds.

Now most people look at these photos and immediately fall in love but at the same time start cringing at the thought of the cost involved. And I'm not going to lie, to create everything you see above would cost quite a bit due to the number of molds you would need to buy.

BUT... What is you could start creating terrain for approximately $100? 

Because that's all it really takes to get started. For about $100 you could create terrain similar to what you see below. The best part is, you can make as much terrain as you like, because once you have the molds, you only need to buy more plaster to go into the molds and then you can just keep creating.

Photo from showing a basic dungeon setup.
To create the pieces above all you need is two molds. You can get them for $63 (postage not inc) from the Hirst Arts Store. The molds required to build a dungeon that looks like this are:

Gothic Dungeon Builder #45
Floor Tiles Various Sizes Mold #201

You will also need something to pour into the molds. Don't bother with Plaster of Paris. It will chip. You want to look for something like Hydrastone or Merlin's Magic. I personally use Hydrostone which I can pick up 22.6KG for $49.50. This make's a metric shit tonne of dungeon!

You're going to need a few other things. But you probably have some of the stuff lying around at home. For details on how to cast check out these instructions.

With your molds and plaster in hand it's as difficult as following the instructions provided, the result will be an amazing Gothic themed dungeon!

There's really not a whole lot to it. You can create professional looking dungeons that are comparable to the mighty Dwarven Forge but for the price of one of their sets you can instead own the molds and create a much larger quantity of dungeon pieces.

Obviously only having two molds is going to limit you to creating specific looks. But this is just a starting point. You can simply buy new molds to create new looks and completely different terrain!

I've had so much fun working with Hirst molds. I seriously recommend checking it out for anyone wanting to bring some 3d terrain to their table!

Hirst Art molds with plaster poured.
Some pieces straight out of the molds.
My first floor and mold pieces, Playing around with different configurations.
Some painted pieces.
My first dungeon pieces made mainly with the molds listed above.
My first dungeon pieces painted. 
How large you build is up to you.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Realm Works - Creating Worlds

I run through a tour of how I setup the D&D world within Realm Works. Starting with the Planes of Existence and zooming all the way in to a planet, body of land, location and even the NPC living in that location within the world.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Upgrading the Projector Setup

I finally got sick of the huge mirror cutting my game room in half. It worked well to bounce the projector image onto the table, it certainly made a large output, but it made the room feel cramped.

Here's what the old mirror looked like. It was ugly and made the room feel cramped!

The projector was mounted to the roof, aimed at the huge mirror which beamed the image onto the table. It created a massive image which spanned 2x trestle tables which was great but ultimately the picture was weak and the keystone correction was completely off.

So i set about trying to replace the huge mirror with something more suitable that would be mounted to the roof.

I went down to our local scrap-yard and scored a huge win. A huge piece of First Surface Mirror just sitting there begging to be brought home. It was a full body length piece! I couldn't believe my luck when the lady at the front only charged me $7 for the whole thing!

I purchased a glass cutter to get it to a better size and mounted it to some wood with liquid nails. Added a hinge and mounted into to the roof.

The result have been a significant improvement. The image in clearer and brighter. The image beams straight down to there is very little shadowing beneath the models now and the keystone correction is now perfect.

Testing the positioning for the mirror. 

Mirror installed, playing around with the angle.

Happy with the position and angle and gave the mirror a clean.
The town of Red Larch beaming to the table. 

Temple of the Crushing Wave with Fog of War. 

I had to remove the original lights to make room to mount the mirror. I went with this spider like light system allowing me to install a light behind each side of the table. Also in the process of getting a dimmer switch installed to allow greater visibility of the table while still enabling light. 

A shot of my game room in all it's messy glory. You can see the table projection working and the extra monitor above my DM station. I use this to display monsters, npcs and handouts from Realm Works to my players. 

A closer shot of the setup as the players see it.
The view from my DM station. 

Overall both myself and my players are much happier with this setup. Well worth the investment.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Realm Works - Prepping a Module

This video is probably a bit long winded for most but I took a crack at showing the process of entering a PDF into Realm Works. It might be of interest to some.

Realm Works - Working with Timelines

Today i uploaded a video showing some of the functionality within Realm Works used to track timelines. Check it out.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Realm Works and Hero Lab - Working With Monsters

Today I show some ways you can work with Hero Lab monster portfolio's within Realm Works. Use the power of Hero Lab to quickly and very easily make variant monsters to challenge your player's with.

Next you can see how easy it is to create custom monsters and make them forever available as an option from within Realm Works. Using this method you can easily play with 3rd party content.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Realm Works and Hero Labs - A GM/DM Tour

Today I present a tour of Realm Works and Hero Labs for any interested Dungeon Masters out there.

This is a really powerful suite of software that goes a long way to assisting DM's with the sometimes overwhelming yet rewarding task. 

Check out the video below and leave any thoughts in the comments. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Realm Works - Where to begin?

My journey as a DM has shifted significantly this year. If I think back, there was alot of trips to Office Works, buying paper, pencils, ink, binding, laminating. I liked to display information to my players, and I like it to look professional when I do that.

It was costing more than it was worth.

I posted a while back on how I have moved to using Realm Works and Hero Labs. Doing away almost completely with paper and books.

In the next couple of posts I will expand on that experience and offer some examples of how I use the tool to my benefit.

If you are reading this, I am going to assume you already have a basic understanding of what Realm Works is and that you have got as far as creating a realm.

It can be completely overwhelming when you first start Realm Works. It begs for alot of information, and if you are even slightly OCD chances are, you are going to want to enter all the information. I'm here to say STOP, take a deep breathe and lets think this through.

Understanding Where The Information Should Go
Realm Works breaks information down into two basic categories at a high level:

  • World Content
  • Mechanics Content
World Content should be put under the World Almanac. This of this as a huge bucket container to put all of the information specific to the adventures and worlds you are creating. 

Mechanics Content should be put in the Mechanics Reference section. This is where you put your system rules, spell descriptions, monster descriptions, equipment descriptions, etc. This is the type of stuff that is going to be re-used over and over again. 

So Where Should I Start?
I am a firm believer in starting with the mechanics section. Mechanics get used over and over again, and it's beneficial to have common mechanics that you will want to refer to often linking to the content you create from the very start. 

To enter new mechanics click the Mechanics Reference button from the menu. You will see a number of sub-categories. You can click the little + symbol's to get an idea of what should be entered in these categories. 

In here is where you want to create items for things that you are going to want to link to. You might want to enter every rule and detail. Personally I think the best way to start is to enter every Monster and every Spell. Yes, this is a large task, but what you want to do is simply get an entry for every spell and every monster, not necessarily the detail contained within each entry, that's not required yet.

The reason why I do monsters and spells is because these are the things I have to constantly flip through the book to find. I generally know the basic rules of the system I play (D&D 5e) but I don't even try to remember every spell and monster.

It's a huge amount of work to fill these in completely. That is why I only enter the names. Then as I prepare for my next session; or when I have spare time, I go back and fill in the details.

Plan Your Plural's Now
Plural's are something we take for granted. Well at least I'm pretty sure the Dev's did before they began programming this software. The auto-linking works great for most things, but it struggles with Plurals.

If you have an entry called 'Orc' then links will automatically generate for the following: 'Orc' and 'Orc's'.

It will not however recognize 'Orcs'.

This is annoying as that's exactly how WOTC handle plurals in all of their books.

As such I recommend creating the plural version of the article's name during the wizard creation process as an 'Other' name. This creates a duplicate entry for the article enabling it to be recognized.

Content Name: Orc
Other Name: Orcs

How To Create A New Topic
Just like Windows, there are always multiple ways to do almost everything.

Ctrl - Q: This open a quick and efficient wizard. Enter the monster name (example: 'Orc'). Enter the monsters plural name (example: 'Orcs') and click 'Create'.

Right Click > Create: Right click a pre-existing topic and click 'Create Contained Article'. This is my favored method. This creates a new topic underneath the one you right click.

Click The Plus Buttons: Probably the most obvious method. This lets you select what you want to create but is slower in my opinion as it skips the wizard pictured above.

It's up to you if you enter in the details of each entry now. I certainly wouldn't enter monsters yet, but spells can be entered with relative ease and you will benefit greatly down the track from getting this information entered.

Use Topics To Organize Other Topics
As you start to enter a lot of information into the tool, you will quickly realize that organization is vital. A huge list of all the monsters or spells is messy. An alphabetical list with all of the relevant monsters and spells underneath that is much easier to manage however. Below you can see I also organize by book name.

Jeez That's ALOT of Work
Yes it is... but consider the benefit. Every encounter you copy or create in the tool once you do this, will recognize and create a link automatically to the content you are creating now. You type: 'the players encounter 10 Orcs'. Orcs linked automatically to the Orcs entry meaning you never never need to slip through the Monster Manual again to look up Orcs.

If you create a special Orc Shaman that can cast 'Sleep' at will, then that spell will link automatically every time the program sees 'Sleep' written in any text within the software.