Take the 2-minute tour ×
Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have always had difficulty keeping track of NPCs, their attitudes and their relationships with each other and the PCs. I find relationship webs/diagrams are helpful, but find them difficult to keep up to date and accurate from session to session.

Are there any tools that would help with this task? I am aware that some general mapping software exists, but am more interested in tools specifically designed for RPGs. Also, I would prefer a graphical interface if software is suggested, and to not have to learn a text based language to define the diagram. However, if it turns out that the only tools available are more generalised, and/or complex, I would still like to hear about them as answers.

share|improve this question
    
Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/2583/… –  mxyzplk May 13 '13 at 18:40

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Labyrinth is exactly what you want. You have the ability to populate multiple maps with characters, places & objects, link them together and write a bunch of notes for every one of them.

Also there are a time tracking tool and plugins for cryptography (yes, riddles) and relationship calculations.

Example

I've found it preparing an investigative game and it proved to be an amazing tool for complex scenarios.

share|improve this answer
1  
That there looks like a very nice program. (Now if only it were multi-platform!) –  SevenSidedDie May 14 '13 at 20:47
    
@SevenSidedDie That, and collaboration features (export at least) are what I miss myself. I've found it works flawlessly under Wine, but wound up using it in a VM. –  illotum May 14 '13 at 21:45
    
I love it. Simple to use but does everything I need it to be able to do. –  Phil May 15 '13 at 20:57

The closest I've come to this was Xmind. It lets you make huge hierarchies of nodes and relationships between them. I've seen a bunch of other mind mapping software out there, but what I found helpful with this one was that you could zoom in and refocus on a single node and its children, ignoring the parts of the game that weren't quite relevant.

Where it didn't work for me was the structure. It really wanted everything to come from a single parent node. I think there were ways around that, but I felt like I was always fighting the design of the program. That said, I didn't try too hard. In the interest of having a single hobby that wasn't dependent on the computer, I switched to pen and paper notes for my last game.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for mind maps. –  Sardathrion May 13 '13 at 16:01
1  
+1 for mind maps and for ditching the computer for a single hobby. It's hard sometimes. –  LitheOhm May 13 '13 at 18:43

I asked this exact question on my blog after asking Relationship Mechanics for D&D/Pathfinder? here. I've gotten a large number of suggestions, none of which I have successfully used - they all basically seem to be too much work for the value they give.

Per suggestions from the post I've looked at yED, The Brain, Kumu, Freeplane, XMind, and Omnigraffle and various other open source doohickeys. I most like the way Kumu works but it has a substantial per-month fee. My main requirement is "easy enough to use during the game," and most sociogram software doesn't fit that by a country mile.

In the end, I'm still not using anything - none of the extant tools hit my usefulness/price point.

share|improve this answer

I believe that what you are looking for best modelled as a graph.

Graphviz is a graph drawing tool and as such is suitable for modelling NPC relationships. However, it fails on your requirements: it is general thus complex, is not RPG specific, and has no GUI. However, since you widen your question, here is the comment expended as an answer. I have used it to model large interactions between factions and

Note that dot, the command line argument/language is fairly simple. Here is a simple two nodes, one arc graph:

digraph G {
    "Fred" -> "Alice" [label="loves"];
}

A PNG can easily be generated from this and looks like:

Simple relationship diagram between Fred and Alice.

share|improve this answer
1  
It probably wouldn't be too time consuming for someone so inclined to write a script that translates "Fred" "Loves" "Alice" (or maybe "fred -loves alice" to keep the quotes from being overwhelming) into that digraph definition. I wonder how many relationships and how complex a graph one could need for an RPG... –  valadil May 13 '13 at 15:12
1  
There are Python/Perl/$LANG binding to graphviz that one could use. –  Sardathrion May 13 '13 at 16:00
    
There are GUIs for graphviz/dot out there. –  SevenSidedDie May 13 '13 at 16:59
    
True, there are GUIs. However, last time I used them I needed to wash my hands over how ugly they were... ^_~ –  Sardathrion May 13 '13 at 21:38
    
Graphviz Workspace is a tool to edit Graphviz diagrams online –  pconcepcion May 15 '13 at 14:37

This isn't a software nor has any GUI, but I use a simple wiki for this task, and I developped a quite simple plug-in to display backlink on a page (so on the Lex Luthor wiki page you can see "hates Superman", and without needing any addition from me, Lex Luthor pops out in the Superman page).

It's free, implements search engine, accessible from anywhere (so you can use your smartphone rather than your laptop), and can even be shared with your players (they sould know who they love / hate as well as you do).

Maybe one day I'll make GUI or a tool to feed wiki data to a soft liek xmind or labyrinth.

share|improve this answer

Not a tool per se, but there are some interesting techniques and shorthand conventions in the Smallville RPG book that does essentially what you want.

share|improve this answer
5  
…Can you give a brief summary? Quoting the rules enough to use them isn't necessary to make it a good answer, but some kind of teaser that gives a reader enough information to even know if going and getting the Smallville book is a good idea is pretty necessary. –  SevenSidedDie May 13 '13 at 16:48
    
Also, having read it, I explicitly didn't like it; it felt like the sort of thing I would have done by hand, but with more arbitrary mechanics shoved onto it. –  Kyle Willey May 14 '13 at 19:47

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.