Personally, I’ve usually been pretty skeptical of campaign management software. I find that it usually only offers marginal advantage over just using a word processor, while usually featuring a less intuitive interface and all the liabilities inherent in a closed format that becomes obsolete as soon as the developer disappears.
But much to my surprise, I think Realm Works is winning over my skepticism:
There are three key features which have really captured my imagination.
First, the ability to share specific points of information with my players. I wish that the software also included the ability for my players to add their own information to a node in the database (so that it would completely replace the functionality of the campaign wiki I currently maintain). But I think it may be a literal game-changer, “Okay, they’ve interacted with Character X. So I’ll unlock his description.” Or to unlock locations on the map of Ptolus that they’ve visited so that there’s a consistent, pervasive, and evolving understanding of the city.
Second, the explicitly node-based method of content organization:
This is self-evidently well-suited to the kind of node-based scenario design that I use in my campaigns. It would be nice to be able to specifically associate content with the connections (i.e., you could click on one of the arrows and see what clue/clues that line is representing). (I’ll also be interested to see if I can “nest” these story networks.)
Third, and the thing most likely to make a backer out of me, is the way they handle maps:
The ability to selectively reveal a map to players is potentially interesting, but appears to be fairly limited at the moment. (It really requires the integration of virtual tabletop features.) But what’s really captured my imagination is the “pin” system. Just a few days ago I mentioned that I prep my dungeons using a Monster Roster that’s independent of the map key. This allows me to dynamically run groups of monsters through the dungeon complex (reinforcing, fleeing, barricading, setting traps, ambushing, etc.).
While the roster helps, this sort of dynamic dungeon complex can still be something of a juggling act. But if I could prep the dungeon in Realms Works so that one set of pins contain the key for each room, another set of pins contain each encounter group in the dungeon, and I can move the second set of pins dynamically during the game?
I never thought I’d want to run a game from my laptop or tablet. (The screen is simply too small compared to the visual real estate I can leverage at the gaming table by laying out multiple pieces of paper and reference books simultaneously.) But if the interface for this stuff in Realm Works is clean, fast, and easy?
It might completely change the way that I run games.
So, yes. This is me recommending that you become a backer of what looks to be a potentially awesome piece of software.