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Luca Cherstich

Campaign Manager for KAP: suggestions?

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I have no idea if this is the right place to ask but, since I've seen a recent post on Fantasy Grounds, I'll also ask here.

I've noticed that playing in KAP for my group means adding a HUGE amount of background/story information after every session, whether it's feast, a battle or an adventure.

NPCs (official or ad--hoc created), Heraldry, geography, history, without considering all the families and related topics, manors, etc....I start feeling that maybe my players will become lost at some point.

So, for the first time after 30 years in the RPG world, I start feeling the need of an online Campaign Manager, especially in terms of a Wiki which my players can check.

We are playing on Roll20 these days of COVID, but I know there's a limit on what you can put in Roll20 Handouts.

I really need a Wiki-style thing!

Any suggestion?

I've seen there are many KAP campaigns on Obsidian Portal, but there are so many alternatives (LegendKeeper, WorldAnvil, Chronica Ventures, Yarps etc... although some of these are in BETA) and maybe I can even try to create something through Google Sites or maybe some other free Wiki creator... if it is not too much time-consuming/difficult to use or manage.

I have absolutely NO IDEA of what would be the best option but I would like to know other people's opinions and real experiences (especially in this forum of KAP experts!).

My main doubts are:

  1.  Something with enough space (maps, Heraldry, maybe some other images), since you always need more! Most of the images can be of low quality/dimensions, but off course there are so many of them!
  2. Something which will be safe  and which can be trusted (I do not want to play KAP for years....and losing ALL the information/time spent since the website disappears).
  3. Related to the above question: any way to download/backup the information?
  4.  I would also like to have some advice about how to use official Chaosium KAP material (maps, Heraldry, etc.): can they be used online without breaking Copyright? Maybe in a "private-not-public accessible" Wiki?
  5. Something affordable, although I've seen that most of these services are relatively cheap if not free, so I can afford them and (related question): something which, if I do not pay my fee for a month, does NOT delete all the information.

Any suggestion?

 

 

Edited by Luca Cherstich

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I basically set up an Excel doc for every campaign with:

-1 tab for PKs & important informations regarding the characters

-1 tab for the estates, lands & revenues

-1 tab for NPCs & family, allowing me to sort by family, household, PK relationship (wife, enemy, liege lord, etc)

-1 tab for the roll of years, with general/important events and more personal events

 

I also keep a simple campaign diary with the main events for each year. 

All this helps me avoid blanks when suddenly, Bob the Quickly Named Uncle has to pop up on the spot in the game :)

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@Greyblade I was thinking about doing something similar with Access...but a Wiki would be more useful for sharing online with players.

Off course the problem remains about backing-up the information. But another issue that I see is that, If I manage to use a wiki, I can do pages with images (Heraldry, maps, portraits) and they may be useful. 

And again, especially regarding maps from KAP books: how much can we use them in these services? I've seen many campaigns in Obsidian sharing Pendragon maps....but isn't it illegal since it's under copyright? Wouldn't it better to something with limited acced and not public?

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I think a wiki would be a great idea, however, they're very burdensome and that burden almost always falls on the already bust GM. So, I've toyed with running one, but the initial setup time is usually immense. I have a 8+ year game of MSHRPG running on Obsidian portal with regular-ish updates and it's too much. 

 

I personally, have tons of paper files and run an Excel sheet with macros to automatically update ages, death, skills, and track a few other sortable things. I find having stuff in paper makes it easier to encourage the players to keep notes. I found a document for KAP, unofficial I believe, that is basically lined paper for people you may know and that helps them. Meanwhile every player has their own folder for characters, and the player's share folders for printouts and other group documentation(most maps, but I'm luck unlike most that I can print out enormous maps, 36x48in, and lay them on the table).

I keep a journal of major plot events and ideas on a year to year basis and I keep folders for each segment of the game, battle, court, quest, general, tournament. I also keep a binder of custom NPCs that I've premade. And, honestly, I still consider this less onerous than starting a new wiki on Obsidian Portal.

I will say, note taking of NPCs has to be done by your players somehow. Or they won't remember anyone. Give them the chance to invite their favorite NPCs to their events. That will help. When the time comes for a wedding, say, "Who do you want to invite" and stare blankly at them. If they need prompting, slide the blank NPC list to them after a few tense moments and a pencil. They'll start writing them down after. 😉 

Edit: I forgot to respond about maps! I made a bunch of maps that I shared on the forum. You're free to use them however you want. I would appreciate, if you go wiki route or even just print them out, if you said, "These were made by Username(or a guy) on the BRP forums. Cool, right?" Hahaha

 

Edited by Username
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@Username

ABOUT MAPS:

Thanks a lot for the maps! I'll definitively reference you if I use them.

I always have many doubts about what one can put online or not, whether there's some copyright break or not.

I guess a private-kind of wiki (accessed only by GM+players) should not have these problems but again, I confess my ignorance and I'm asking before doing anything wrong.

 

ABOUT WIKI:

I'm still in a phase where I enjoy doing my Wiki....but I understand what you say, and that it may become a choir, especially after a few years in the GPC.

And I also understand that players need to memorize NPCs and things...however I would like to have a very light kind of wiki. Something where each page has a few lines on the NPC + Heraldry/Portrait, just to give the visual sense of things to my players.

We are playing online in these "COVID days", so maybe for the moment I can try with the wiki, but possibly sooner or later I'll do as you said. 

 

Edited by Luca Cherstich

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BioKeith mentioned Kanka.io in a post, and I've been trying it out. It is an on-line campaign manager that can be used to track a lot of game info, images, and even character sheets. It gives a nice mix of features at the "free" level, and the GM can set the access permissions to decide what the players see and if the campaign is visible to the public or not. 

Some of the perks to this are:

  • If the GM gives the players access to modify entries, then the players can take some of the burden off the GM by updating things -especially stuff about the characters and their  holdings.
  • If a GM knows another GM running a Pendragon campaign, they can look to see how the other GM set something up, and even port over some entries that would be common to both campaigns (for example, an entry on the city of London, or King Uther).
  • If's possible to add maps (or other images) with markers on them which link to other entries. So a GM could put up a map of Britian with the various kingdoms, Salsibury with the various manors, castles and other locations, that the players can look at. 
  • Entries can be set up to link to other entries. For instance, if a manor belongs to Lady Elaine, there can be a link in the manor's description to Lady Elaine's entry.
  • The GM can set the permissions to determine if teh players can see, edit or even remove entries, and these permissions can be determined per entry, per player. That means that the GM can put stuff into the campaign manager and still keep it secret from the players, and a player can put stuff up for his characters and keep it secret from the other players (like where the hidden vault with all the coin is located).
  • Since it is an on-line website, the players can access it to look up stuff whenever they want-which can eliminate the need to ask the GM about some things, especially NPCs, that the characters would know.
  • It's free as the basic level, which is fairly powerful. There are higher tiers that improve some of the features (mainly the ability to upload larger images), but the free level is good enough to upload most images and even KAP character sheets (2MB size limit).
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@BioKeith @Atgxtg

Kanka seems interesting...I was thinking about a wiki in Obisidian Portal terms, but Kanka sounds smarter.

I just have a few things that I've not got:

- Can characters have 2 images (portrait + heraldry)?

- I still have not found where's the place to inserta a single map and to be linked with all the places ...

- Is everything that I put on Kanka private, right? Only people which I give permissions to can see and read my stuff, right? 

Edited by Luca Cherstich

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21 minutes ago, Luca Cherstich said:

@BioKeith @Atgxtg

Kanka seems interesting...I was thinking about a wiki in Obisidian Portal terms, but Kanka sounds smarter.

I just have a few things that I've not got:

- Can characters have 2 images (portrait + heraldry)?

 

No and yes. Each entry can only have one image (or map if it is a location) with it, but you can paste addtional images into the text field of an entry. If you PM me I can send you a link to my campaign so you can see how I did that. 

 

Quote

- I still have not found where's the place to inserta a single map and to be linked with all the places ...

 

Oh, you create a location, such as Britain, and put up a map there. THen you can go into the map and edit it by placing pins on the map. These pins can be links to other locations or events or some such. Again PM me an email address and I'll send you an invite so you can see the way I set it up.

Quote

- Is everything that I put on Kanka private, right? Only people which I give permissions to can see and read my stuff, right? 

Yes, everything is private, as long as you set it up that way. The GM/campaign creator gets to set and control the permissions. If you want to you can make you campaign public, and let other people look at it (and I suggest you look at some of the public campaigns for ideas and ways to use Kanka's features), but you can keep it private. 

You get to decide just who has access to your campaign and each entry on a case by case person by person basis. So you can keep things secret from the players, or only allow certain players to have access to certain files. For instance, in my campaign eachplayer can edit the entires for thier characters, but the other players cannot.

Edited by Atgxtg

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World Anvil for the win! They just added Family Trees! Woot!!

The timelines are awesome the look is great. World Anvil has made prepping fun again.

It also really helps with all those documents and photos and links that you accumulate during a campaign.

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World Anvil seems better than Kana if you are paying for it, but the free version seems to be more limited. 

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Yeah it's not designed to be free. I didn't even know there was a free version. It's been absolutely worth it for me. YMMV.

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Another option: Microsoft OneNote.

It can be shared like a wiki. 

You can build several subjects and subjects.

You can past as many images as you want into a file. You can paste maps. Tables. All sorts of stuff. 

it is incredibly easy to set up and continue to build.

Here are two screenshots of a OneNote KAP Notebook that I set up (but haven't used yet)

You can see that I have a Group labeled Maps, and within that a Section for Salisbury, and that I have selected the Page continuing Travel Times map from within that.

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 5.02.10 PM.png

 

Here is the same Notebook, but this time showing elements within the Group for Player Knights. Each Player gets his Section. And then, within each Section each knight/family gets Pages for enemies, land, family and so on. (There is no information yet since we haven't started playing yet.)

You can also see that for Annual Events Log I have created a Section for each Phase. Within each section there is a page for each year.

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 5.02.34 PM.png

Edited by creativehum
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@creativehum

OneNote seems simple and fine and possibly worth my time (especially since it seems to be way safer to trust than other platforms), although maybe it requires more time to build the whole thing and it is less dynamic, lacking tags and similar things....however, I'm frankly also considering it.

 

@BioKeith @Atgxtg

I've been going through Kanka and it really seems nice, and I'm tempted to really commit my time to it.

However, I've just noticed one possible issue...and I'm asking you, since you seem definitively expert about Kanka.

Do we have any way in Kanka to establish a chronology/rolling years kind of feature?

I'm asking it since I've noticed that "age" in Kanka's characters is a free text field....which means that after EVERY WINTER PHASE I should manually update ALL the years to ALL the NPCs.

This may frankly become a nightmare!

I'm approaching a Campaign Manager to fix this kind of things, so maybe an automatic "update Age" for all the NPCs is fundamental to me, especially regarding the always-enlarging PCs families.

Maybe I can leave the "age" entry blank, but it sound a bit dumb.

Any suggestion?

 

@kilgs

Does World Anvil has this feature?

Does it have a chronology which automatically update all NPCs' ages as I change the current year?

 

I understand that many people in the world play D&D and do not care about these issues, but I would be really surprised If no campaign manager has anything like that, given how many good RPGs have a "passing-years/offtime" mechanics (e.g. KAP, One Ring, Paladin, RQ Glorantha) or just an offtime mechanics which can be used for passing years (e.g. carousing in Conan 2d20). 

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Update on KANKA!

They are great people, as I've sent them a private message by Facebook and and they have replied immediately!

It looks like Kanka has not yet the feature that I want (the chronology which updates the ages of ALL the NPCS), since the "calendar" option, for the moment, is not linked with characters' ages.

HOWEVER, they say that this is one of the next fixes they will do later this year.

 

In the meanwhile, they gave me 2 solutions:

- I can create my own API (I do not know if I can manage doing that, but I'll maybe try!)

- They told me that by THIS WEEK they will add an option for Bulk Editing NPCS which include also ALL the AGES of ALL the NPCs. In a few words: after each winter phase, I just need to go there, select all the NPCs and add "+1" to the Ages' entry.

It may work!

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They are great people over there. And very responsive. I’ve been asking for that calendar feature as well, so great to hear they are moving on it. I’m currently manually editing the age field every year. It’s a pain, but the pace of our sessions is such that it’s manageable. - I only have to do it every 2-3 weeks and it takes maybe 30 minutes. 

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6 hours ago, Luca Cherstich said:

@creativehum

OneNote seems simple and fine and possibly worth my time (especially since it seems to be way safer to trust than other platforms), although maybe it requires more time to build the whole thing and it is less dynamic, lacking tags and similar things....however, I'm frankly also considering it.

OneNote supports Tags.

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12 hours ago, Luca Cherstich said:

@creativehum

OneNote seems simple and fine and possibly worth my time (especially since it seems to be way safer to trust than other platforms), although maybe it requires more time to build the whole thing and it is less dynamic, lacking tags and similar things....however, I'm frankly also considering it.

 

@BioKeith @Atgxtg

I've been going through Kanka and it really seems nice, and I'm tempted to really commit my time to it.

However, I've just noticed one possible issue...and I'm asking you, since you seem definitively expert about Kanka.

Do we have any way in Kanka to establish a chronology/rolling years kind of feature?

I'm asking it since I've noticed that "age" in Kanka's characters is a free text field....which means that after EVERY WINTER PHASE I should manually update ALL the years to ALL the NPCs.

This may frankly become a nightmare!

I see you already talked with the design team and see the limitiations, but I can offer a little advice and possible work around.

What I do is note Year Born, and then track the current year. That way I only have to update the current year and don't have to bother with actual age. It's not an ideal solution, but it works for now. 

BTW, Glory is probably going to be more of a pain to track than age.

 

 

12 hours ago, Luca Cherstich said:

I'm approaching a Campaign Manager to fix this kind of things, so maybe an automatic "update Age" for all the NPCs is fundamental to me, especially regarding the always-enlarging PCs families.

Maybe I can leave the "age" entry blank, but it sound a bit dumb.

Any suggestion?

 

Not much other than noting year born. 

 

12 hours ago, Luca Cherstich said:

I understand that many people in the world play D&D and do not care about these issues, but I would be really surprised If no campaign manager has anything like that, given how many good RPGs have a "passing-years/offtime" mechanics (e.g. KAP, One Ring, Paladin, RQ Glorantha) or just an offtime mechanics which can be used for passing years (e.g. carousing in Conan 2d20). 

I would be surprised if one did. The four examples you mentioned were all either game systems related to Pendragon, and then the One Ring, which probably was inspired by Pendragon in a few ways. The vast majoirty of RPGs tend to have a much slower passage of time and tend to play though every day of the PCs lives. Even with the accelerated pace of game time vs. real time, especially when travelling, it ususally takes several months in real time for a year to pass in game time. 

It's one of the drawbacks to playing something other than a D20 based or WotD based RPG.

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We use a simple google site, and we keep track of the npc's in a google sheet that feeds into it. If one npc is updated with a new year, then all the others will get updated age and glory based on the new year.

We have been quite happy with it. If we were starting today, however, we may have gone for the OneNote solution instead. I would have kept the npc sheet though, I love that.

Our episode write-up solution does not work very well at all - we set it up aiming for extremely short yearly summaries, but then we ended up writing longer texts that didn't fit the format. But that's a problem with our set-up, not with google sites.

I think maybe the newer version of google sites have a lot of volume restrictions. We use the older, less strict one, though.

It ends up like looking like this (in Norwegian, sadly): https://sites.google.com/site/blodogsed/personer/alle-levende

It's all free.

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I prefer the simplicity of Google Docs. Simple excel style sheets where I can post images and put text and then share with players as appropriate. In one doc we have sheets for the local Court, another sheet for the Court of Logres, and a third sheet for foreigners of note. Since the file is shared with all the PK’s they can attach notes to any npc as they see fit - also, in the template for npc info I simply list birth year, PK’s can do the math based on current year on their own. There is also a family doc for each PK which is only available for me and that player, but can be annotated by them same as the npc doc. 
Then each PK has a doc for their estates which is only shared between me and the individual player. Makes it easier for them to manage and track and we include a map of the estate in each doc so players can get as in depth and detailed as they desire.
It’s very low tech compared to the other options being discussed here, but it’s completely free and works very well for us. 

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