BRPG "cookbook" - task-oriented documentation

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oldemusicke
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BRPG "cookbook" - task-oriented documentation

Post by oldemusicke » Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:49 pm

Whenever I'm learning a new piece of software, I want to see task-oriented information, meaning I want to quickly find the task I'm trying to perform (in my terms), and see the steps for carrying it out (translations of my terms into the software product's terms). Lists of hot keys, walks through menus, etc., are great for reference but not for learning.

I've only recently discovered BRPG, and it looks interesting because my usual players are scattered geographically. I've been an RPG-er for decades, primarily medieval fantasy settings, usually as the GM.

My first impression of the BRPG user manual is that it's much more of a reference document than a learning tool. If I have the patience to dig through the reference material to deduce the ways to carry out the tasks of interest, I'll buy the product.

Examples of tasks of interest to me as a GM that aren't called out in the documentation:
- Converting your existing campaign for use in BRPG
- Establishing a player character
- Switching between large-scale and small-scale maps (e.g. continental, regional, and tactical maps)
- Using large-scale maps (e.g. overland or oversea movement in which all characters are in one hex together, and "turns" are not handled like individual combat - miles per hex and hours or days per turn, for example)
- Preparing for random encounters
- Handling split parties (operating on separate maps)

Is BRPG mainly focused on dungeon crawls? That seems to be the assumption behind a lot of the material (light source ranges etc.). For a long time, I've operated with large-scale maps where we'd drill down as encounters occurred, switching to a setting suitable for the terrain. It's been many years since we did the traditional dungeon crawl of levels and rooms with monsters sitting around waiting to be fought for their treasure. If BRPG can accommodate our style, that'd be great.

Thanks for reading.

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heruca
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Post by heruca » Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:17 pm

Welcome, oldemusicke.

You have a point that the User Manual is laid out in more of a reference style than a task-oriented style. Perhaps I should think about creating a supplementary manual, or at least video tutorials, addressing standard tasks like the ones you mentioned.

BRPG is not necessarily limited to, or focused on, dungeon crawls, although I suspect a lot of people use it for that. It is, however, focused mostly on tactical level encounters, but those could just as easily take place in a city/town/village, or in a forest/jungle/swamp/etc.

The free sample adventure starts off on an Area Map, with an arrow token showing the party's location. I suggest you take advantage of the upcoming Free Use promo to take a look at that, and perhaps even play through it with your players to get an idea of what the software is capable of.

BRPG supports look-up tables for dice rolls, and a common use of that feature is to generate random encounters.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

Balesir
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Re: BRPG "cookbook" - task-oriented documentation

Post by Balesir » Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:05 am

Hello, oldemusicke,

While you have a point about "task oriented manuals" in general, I see a difficulty with this as far as BRPG is concerned. I have used BRPG for a game based in Sigil of the "Planescape" D&D setting and have seen it used for games set in Hârn - which is a way of saying that the sort of games you are interested in are definitely possible. But BRPG is a tool - and a very flexible one. This is good in obvious ways, but it does mean that you have to find ways to use the tool for the specific purpose you want to put it to. Here are a few examples, using your specific points as prompts:
oldemusicke wrote:- Converting your existing campaign for use in BRPG
No "conversion", per se, should be needed. BRPG is specifically designed to support any game system and any type of RPG world. You will need to consider things you need to do/change to play your game in an on-line environment - any maps you want to share will have to be digitised, channels of communication will need to be clear to all participants, any 'handouts' and auxiliary 'props' (figures, scene dressing, sound effects) will need to be collected in digital form. Technological tools (computers, web access, software tools including but not limited to BRPG) will need to be acquired/distributed, tested and familiarised. But the actual game setting and rules? They can be just the same as for face-to-face.
oldemusicke wrote:- Establishing a player character
This depends what you want to use for communication of character attributes. At its simplest, this could be using a word processor or PDF based character sheet to record characters (generated using your chosen system) and sharing them via email. You might choose to enter some character details in the BRPG turn sequencer; depending on the system you plan to use there might be a setup for the TS available for download, or you might have to explore how the sequencer works, figure out how to tailor it to your chosen system and then do so. You might want to store character sheets on your PC in some sort of character generation software; you may wish to have pop-up character sheets attached to the figures in BRPG. All are possible; all require some work; none are absolutely necessary.
oldemusicke wrote:- Switching between large-scale and small-scale maps (e.g. continental, regional, and tactical maps)
As heruca says, BRPG is primarily intended for handling tactical situations; the sort you would use a battlemat/wargames table/floorplans/map printout for in a face-to-face game. Each map is set up as an "encounter" and saved as such. Although it sounds like BRPG is really for "dungeon crawl" stuff, it is actually very flexible. I have run wanderings around a city and 'countryside' areas just by using a different map scale and creating a "light source" with a range of one hex. The characters (represented by a single "figure") can see their own and adjacent hexes as they move around, using the fog of war feature. It worked really well.
oldemusicke wrote:- Using large-scale maps (e.g. overland or oversea movement in which all characters are in one hex together, and "turns" are not handled like individual combat - miles per hex and hours or days per turn, for example)
Right - but the tools in BRPG are just that - tools. You don't have to use any of them if you don't need them. For overland travel, for example, just use a single "marker" for the PC party, add a radius of vision around it (as suitable to the scale in use) and move it according to player directions in one hour (or whatever) 'bounds'. Think of the way you would handle it on a table top, then adjust that for the screens.
oldemusicke wrote:- Preparing for random encounters
Depends what type of encounters you use. For classic "wilderness random encounters" just keep a selection of base maps available (the basic 'grass lawn' that comes with BRPG is one simple example) and add a range of trees, rocks, streams, ponds and anything else that you feel you might need. Again, think how you do it on the table top - you can even use random graphics of the right approximate size and shape as something else - just like you might do on the table (these d6es are orcs...)! Another possibility - roll random encounters for various terrains in advance and keep a few encounter files of them handy to just load up when they occur.
oldemusicke wrote:- Handling split parties (operating on separate maps)
At the risk of sounding like a broken record - how do you do it in face-to-face games? Switch between encounters (save-reload is easier on screen than with a battlemat and figures), run two DM sessions of BRPG (if you are rich :wink: ) or just use one very large map with fog of war for both parties preventing them seeing what's going on with 'the other guys'.
oldemusicke wrote:Is BRPG mainly focused on dungeon crawls? That seems to be the assumption behind a lot of the material (light source ranges etc.). For a long time, I've operated with large-scale maps where we'd drill down as encounters occurred, switching to a setting suitable for the terrain. It's been many years since we did the traditional dungeon crawl of levels and rooms with monsters sitting around waiting to be fought for their treasure. If BRPG can accommodate our style, that'd be great.
You can do a lot more than dungeon crawls with BRPG; it sets out to give you the sort of stuff you can generally do face-to-face using a table top, a battlemat or terrain tiles or whatever, a flip-chart and some cards/handouts/etc. Oh, and a sound machine. What you do with all that gear is really up to you. I don't think I could write a manual to tell you how you "ought" to use it - and certainly not one explaining all the ways you could use it. The best I could do is give you a bunch of tips - which I hope I have done above. If you have specific (or even general, actually) queries, you could do worse than ask around here - we're a fairly friendly bunch :D

Oh - and as a general suggestion, you can download BRPG as a demo and play around with it. That really is the best way to see some of the possibilities for your game - just create some simple setups and think how you could use techniques you already use face-to-face with this tool. Import a few maps of your own (if you don't/can't make maps yourself, look around the web for fistfuls - WotC are pretty good about providing the maps in their publications in electronic form, just for starters). Grab some figures from this forum - or from the Dundjinni forum. Play with the fog of war. It's really when you see it in action that you'll understand how you can adapt it to your requirements.
Balesir

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