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 Potential Useful links: HeroLab and Realm Works

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Fox Lee
0th-Level Adventurer
0th-Level Adventurer
Fox Lee

Posts : 64
Join date : 2015-12-04
Age : 35
Location : NSW, Australia

Character sheet
Name: Fox Lee
Class: Social Justice Barbarian
Race: Stack of Trolls

Potential Useful links: HeroLab and Realm Works Empty
PostSubject: Potential Useful links: HeroLab and Realm Works   Potential Useful links: HeroLab and Realm Works EmptySat Dec 05, 2015 11:12 pm

I thought I'd bring up these two programs for two reasons - firstly, I haven't seen any mention of them here, and people might want to know a little more about them; secondly, I'm curious to know if anybody else has used/is using these programs. I've found them very valuable, so I'd like to know what other people think of them.

By way of disclosure, these programs are not free, but  I'm not affiliated with their owners/developers in any way that gets me money or kickbacks. I'm a beta tester for Realm Works and I've contributed some community fixes to HeroLab, but that's the extent of my connection. If I received a benefit from anybody here adopting HL, it would be that they might wind up helping with 4e bugfixes or sharing interesting homebrew :p



Downloadable here: http://www.wolflair.com/index.php?context=hero_lab
(Can be tested for free, purchase required to save/export files.)

I hear there are "unofficial" offline versions of the WotC character builder floating about the place, which is great and all, but I have so much homebrew going on in my world that it's been a while since the official builder covered my bases. Instead, I jumped ship to HeroLab, which allows for virtually seamless blending of homebrew content that I can then hand on to my players (even overwriting the official rules, if I'm making patches instead of just adding new content). Though I don't use some of its features (it can handle monsters, but I've never had the patience to create them) overall I've found it invaluable as both a player and a GM.

There are two main issues with HeroLab:
Originally, to keep its 4e ruleset legal, it had to obtain content by "scraping" the D&D Insider website and converting that info into its own file format, rather than providing info from its own servers. Scraper content has some frustrating errors, mostly in the way of dropped triggers for immediate action powers and inaccurate merging of form/stance/conjuration type powers with their granted effects. If you've edited monsters in the official 4e toolset, you've probably seen monster attacks losing their triggers or recharge values - it's much the same problem.

Basically, bits are missing here and there, and you'll have to apply community patches to fix them up (or build your own patches - not as hard as it may seem). Fortunately, since official support for 4e ended, further development/fixing of 4e content was handed over to a community group that's working through such bugs, as well as adding the content that was missing (themes, for example, are now included and complete). The community dev site is here: http://hl4e.cryptoknight.org/

The second issue is that the 4e version of the interface looks like a webpage from 1998. Seriously, I cannot fathom what they were thinking. I and several others have been trying to hack together an alternative, but it's weirdly difficult to do. It's very unfortunate if your eyes don't enjoy white text on dark, patterned backgrounds :\

For all that those are annoying problems, however, HeroLab's inclusiveness toward homebrew content makes it by far and away the best character builder tool I have come across. If you play with important houserules or significant new content, and you'd like to

As you might know from tweaking monsters in the official builder, the 4e interface looks like a webpage from 1998, and that is bizarrely difficult to fix.

Realm Works

Downloadable here: http://www.wolflair.com/realmworks
(Pretty sure there's no free/demo version. Non-GMs can receive content with a much cheaper/more limited "player edition".)

Okay, so Realm Works is not a cheap toy, but it does some amazing stuff. It's a system-independent game planning/running tool that's part wiki, part setting database, part rulebook and part player-facing presentation. It probably won't tickle your fancy if you already find Masterplan covering your bases, but if you need a bunch more functionality from your game planning tools, RW is good times. I had a crapton of content to organise, so I was in great need of better tagging, categorising and filtering than Masterplan is intended for, and RW really hit the spot.

The main caveat for this is that RW is huge, which means it's also thoroughly intimidating when you first jump in. A lot of its components will look familiar, but it's such a big and comprehensive tool that you WILL need to learn its specific structures and quirks (the company have tried to make this easier by providing numerous start-up guides and suggestions on how to approach the program, based on your own priorities as a GM). Personally, I find it well worth the effort - but then I DO enjoy spending hours organising my content ^_^;

Also, it's not quite a virtual tabletop. It has an extremely useful "player view" that can reveal selected information on a second screen (my group use a projector, since we game at the uni :D) and you can use the map tools to manage "fog of war", but it's not a replacement for moving minis around on a grid.

Fox Lee: The Girl Your Mother Warned You About
Skies of Escarnum - Inclusive fantasy for D&D 4e
Game developer/artist for Invincible Ink ◦ Contributor of HeroLab 4e fixes & updatesDraws rad anime type stuff
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Potential Useful links: HeroLab and Realm Works
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