Orphans and Experiments

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This week we’ve made several small improvements in-between our work on a big feature. I won’t go into details on the small improvements, as the changelog already neatly lists them, instead I am going to talk to you about our thoughts on helping you organize your campaign wiki.

The Complete Campaign Wiki

Setting If you just started a new roleplay campaign, have plans for starting a campaign, or are already running a campaign, the one constant between all these is that they all have a campaign setting. The setting describes the multiverse—or plane, or galaxy, or wizard’s school, or planet, or oceanic cruise-ship floating through time, you get the idea—in which the game will take place.

Your game setting is about the relevant people and places of the setting, the items and organizations that the players know about and will interact with.

Rules As you will probably already know, most roleplaying games tend to accrue house rules over time. At first, you make a few tweaks to the rules, or add some custom classes, feats, charms, or disciplines. Then the game master has to make a ruling on some obscure combination of spellcasting and the grapple rules (it’s always the grapple rules).

Your game’s rules are about the custom classes, feats, charms, and such that you want to add, as well as tweaks to the game rules, and house rules that are useful for your game.

Because both the Setting and the Rules are crucial to your game, we want to help you get the most out of Setting and Rules wikis. To that end we have literally spent days, if not weeks by now, thinking about how we can do so. From our experience with building campaign wiki’s we have noticed that the best campaign wikis area always complete, and have a lot of links that are all working and link you to additional pages, we call that well-linked.

Orphans and Wanted Pages

A complete and well-linked campaign wiki is a great help when playing and when preparing for the night’s game session. There are two concepts that can help you make your wiki complete and well-linked, these are Orphans and Wanted pages. They are best explained with an image:

Page graph with orphaned and wanted pages

As you can see in the image:

  • An Orphan page is a page that is written, but are not really linked from any other pages. In traditional wikis orphan pages are a problem: time and effort was put into writing them, but nobody can find them because they are not linked.
  • A Wanted page is a page that is not (yet) written, but that is linked from other pages. Having a lot of wanted pages are a problem because they mean that your campaign wiki is not complete.

In the wikis for your campaigns on RPGpad, orphans are less of a problem because of the indices we automatically produce for each campaign. With these indices you can quickly find the people, places, and organisations you are looking for, even if they are not linked anywhere else. If the page exists, you can find it! (And if you can’t, you should tell us how to improve that.)

Wanted Pages

The biggest obstacle to having a complete campaign wiki is pages that simply do not exist. The “wanted pages” that are linked, but not written.

To help you out there, we are working on a Wanted Pages feature for the wikis. This means that we’ll automatically lists the pages that are linked but not written.

Right now, we have the very basics working and want to give you a preview of the feature. Which means that you can already look at the list by going to the Setting Index of your campaign, and following the wanted pages link at the right of the index selections. (Or have a look at the FWURG Wanted Pages.)

Note that this feature is not done yet. There’s a few improvemens we want to make, and an issue to work out:

  • To really help you out we need to provide some context with those missing pages. Without that context, it is going to be difficult to discover what some of the missing pages should be about.
  • The list is based on links coming from other places, specifically the “red links”. i.e., broken links that do not link to a page. But not all red links are broken because they link to an unwritten page. We all make a mistake now and then, and misspell a link. We want to show a hint that some “wanted page” might really be just a misspelling of a link.
  • For technical reasons, the current list contains links from pages that have been removed. This is obviously not what we want, and will be fixed soon.

We hope to finish up the wanted pages list next week, together with a related page that will help you flesh out your campaign setting.

Forum Experiment

Usually, we do a few experiments to see hwo we can best change something for the better. You’ll sometimes see this in a design or feature that changes again and again over time. But mostly, we go through these things quickly and without too much impact on the site.

We are currently running an experiment that we really need your feedback on though: we have changed the way the forum behaves after posting. Please let us know how that works out for you with a quick post on the changelog!