GrapevineLARP

Home of the Grapevine LARP Administration Utility

Welcome to Grapevine

Welcome to the site for the Grapevine LARP Administration Utility!

Grapevine is still a done deal; I plan no new development for the project, and every year it shows its age a little more. But I continue to host the files here out of my deep gratitude for the many years of enjoyment I’ve found in this hobby.

And you’ve all been a part of that. Thank you!

-Adam

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When will a version of Grapevine come out for the New World of Darkness?

Much to my regret, my enthusiasm for Grapevine has been completely spent. Therefore, I will not be creating another version of Grapevine for the new system. I apologize to all the users of Grapevine 3.0 who may have been counting on me for a new program, but creatively speaking, my heart has moved on to other things.

2. I have questions about the source code you released…

I provide the source code as-is, and I do not offer help understanding it or modifying it. I apologize.

I don’t believe the Grapevine source code is very good anymore: not only is it written in an obsolete language (Visual Basic 6.0), but it’s also an archaelogical marvel. I began writing Grapevine after my freshman year of college, and its amateurish architecture reflects my skill from that period. Over the years I jury-rigged and patched the code for more and more features and Mind’s Eye releases, but I could never find the time to fix the fundamental weaknesses that came from my freshman-level design.

If I were to find the passion again to write a new Grapevine, I’d write it from scratch. That’s what I urge you to do. Let my code show you how it’s been done before: but instead of grafting new pieces to this Frankenstein, take your chance to build a strong new system using today’s technology.

3. I’m having trouble downloading or installing Grapevine.

If your antivirus program is giving you problems, try installing the version of Grapevine with e-mail support disabled.

Otherwise, I usually can’t help with this kind of problem. Hundreds of people have successfully downloaded and installed Grapevine. There doesn’t seem to be any common theme among the exceptions. But I can offer a few suggestions.

If you’re having trouble downloading, try a different web browser if you have one available on your computer. Sometimes Netscape’s technique and Microsoft Internet Explorer’s technique seem to get different results. Alternatively, just wait a day or two and try again. Like all servers, this one has its “off” days.

If you’re having trouble installing, make sure you’re using a program like WinZip to unpack the file (unless you use Windows XP, which can unpack it automatically). Using an old unzip utility is the closest thing to a common problem I’ve seen; every other problem seems to be unique. Try uninstalling, re-downloading, and reinstalling. If that fails, seek out your nearest computer-savvy LARP player and offer XP for her assistance.

4. I have a question about Grapevine 3.0…

Did you know that the Grapevine User’s Guide is included with Grapevine 3.0? Look in the Grapevine program group in your Start Menu. Click the User’s Guide shortcut. It’s also online (see the sidebar at left) if you need it.

5. Are you planning a Mac / Unix / Windows CE / PalmPilot version?

Not at present. I don’t own most of those platforms, let alone development packages for them. Plus, I don’t really have time to completely reprogram Grapevine in a different language. Sorry!

6. How can I add my own character types, like Aberrants or Highlanders or Boffer Fantasy Characters?

Unfortunately, you can’t. That’s a feature so complicated that it’s not even planned for the next version of Grapevine. But don’t think it’ll never happen; I just don’t see it happening soon.

If the character type you want to add is part of a published MET supplement that I haven’t gotten to yet, rest assured I’ll get to it in the next version. Otherwise — or in the meantime — I encourage you to try to adapt the Mortal or Various character types to your needs. If you customize the menus and character sheets, they can become very flexible.

7. Are you planning a version for tabletop instead of LARP?

Because tabletop games rarely demand the administrative effort a LARP demands, I plan no tabletop version. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hack Grapevine to track tabletop characters!

Your character has 4 dots in Strength, 3 in Dexterity and 4 in Stamina? Give him Brawny x4, Dexterous x3 and Robust x4. Or edit the menu files to include the Physical Traits Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina. Grapevine is meant to be used creatively!

8a. Why don’t you make it so that Blood / Rage / Gnosis / Glamour / Banality / Willpower is linked to Generation / Tribe / Breed / Auspice / Seeming?

Grapevine is an Administration Utility, not a Character Generator. Grapevine keeps track of and organizes your data, but is not designed to make sure you construct data according to the game rules.

8b. Well, why isn’t it a character generator?

Two reasons. First, the work. I don’t want to program logic specific to every clan, kith and tribe. Not only do the layers of rules add up quickly in complexity, but consider that many games change those rules: all the logic has to be mutable by house rules.

Second, I don’t in any way want Grapevine to replace any of the Mind’s Eye Theater books. If I write a character generator so good that you don’t need to look at any of the books to make a character, White Wolf’s lawyers might look sideways at me… a prospect that fills me with more dread than does the World of Darkness!

The Grapevine Users’ Guide

What is Grapevine?

This program is a tool to help the administrators of live-action role-playing (LARP) games organize and maintain all the information that goes with the job. Grapevine catalogs players’ contact information and character sheets, stores descriptions of important game-world locations and items, and provides a framework upon which to build the flow of game events and plot hooks.

LARP games are played by many rules sets in many genres, but the most ubiquitous by far is the Mind’s Eye Theater (MET) system in the World of Darkness genre, published by White Wolf Game Studios. Grapevine is specifically designed for use in conjunction with published MET materials. Administrators employing other systems or genres, however, may find many of Grapevine’s features flexible enough to account for their needs as well.

Hold On — What’s a LARP?

A group of friends get together to take part in a fictional story. One person acts as moderator and director, determining the events that guide the plot. Each other person controls the role of a character in the story. That’s the essence of a role-playing game — part improvisational acting, part creative writing, and part childhood make-believe. Most often the players also agree on a system of rules that helps describe the story and resolve conflicts in the context of the story.

The LARP game is a form of role-playing designed for large numbers of players, usually in the range of ten to a hundred. It emphasizes fast and easy rules and minimal reliance on moderators or administrators. Unfortunately for the administrators in question, that ‘minimal’ reliance still entails a great deal of paperwork between games — hence the need for Grapevine.

Program Features

Grapevine streamlines a Storyteller’s work by helping carry out some of his or her most common administrative tasks.

  • Character Sheets. Build a complete database of information on every character in your game. Menus of all published MET material make assembly just a matter of point-and-click.
  • Player Information. Catalogue all your players’ contact information.
  • Experience Points. Maintain accurate experience totals and histories. Number-crunching becomes a minimal task.
  • Chronicle Tools. Control the flow of events and information in your game, from character actions like Influence use to the rumors that eventually reach their ears.
  • Game World Information. Detail the items and locations in your game.
  • Printing and Exporting. Print character sheets, rumor sheets, player lists, and other reports. Export the information to text, RTF, or HTML format.
  • Data Exchange. Share character, player, and chronicle information with other users of Grapevine.
  • Customizable Features. Edit Grapevine’s menus and output to suit the needs of your unique game.

Program Requirements

Grapevine requires a PC running Windows 95 or later. It also requires its users to own and use one or more of White Wolf’s MET rules books. Grapevine is not a character generator or a rules encyclopedia; while it can organize and manipulate game data, it’s your job to assemble and use that data.

For More Information

Visit http://www.grapevinelarp.com/ for the official Grapevine web page. You’ll find updates, the FAQ, on-line help, and links to games that use Grapevine. You’ll also find a feedback page you can use to get in touch with me.

Your Grapevine Game File

Game files are stored with the .gv3 extension. Grapevine files with the .gex extension are used to exchange Grapevine data with other users; they are discussed in this chapter under the heading “Data Exchange.”

Both kinds of files internally organize game data using either a proprietary binary format (the default) or Extensible Markup Language (XML). Once you save a chronicle in a given format, it will stay in that way until you save it differently. The binary format is smaller and faster, but the XML format is good for working with over the web.

Look under the File menu of the Grapevine window; here is where you’ll find the features that deal with the game file.

New Game

The New Game command under the File menu closes the current file and creates an empty game file. You can then start entering game data from scratch. When you first start a new game, you will immediately be taken into the Game Settings menu.

If you’ve been editing a different file prior to creating a new game, you may be prompted to save the changes you’ve made.

Open Game

The Open Game command summons a dialog box where you can browse your computer’s folders and find a Grapevine game file. Selecting that file and clicking the Open button will load the game data into Grapevine and open the Characters Window for you.

If you’ve been editing one file prior to opening another, you may be prompted to save your changes first.

Save Game

This command under the File menu stores your game data in a file on your hard drive. If you haven’t specified a file name for your game yet, the “Save Game As…” window will appear.

A progress bar will appear at the bottom of the Grapevine screen and display the progress of the save. When the bar reaches all the way to the right, it has finished saving.

Save Game As

Choosing “Save Game As…” will open a file window that allows you to locate a folder and choose or enter a filename. Clicking “Save” will then save your data in the specified file. If the filename you’ve chosen already exists, you will be asked whether you want to overwrite the old file. This will allow you to save your game in two different file formats:  Grapevine Binary or Grapevine XML. If you do not plan on using Grapevine on the web, save the game as a Binary file format (which is the default setting).

A progress bar will appear at the bottom of the Grapevine screen and display the progress of the save. When the bar reaches all the way to the right, it has finished saving.

Data Exchange: Importing and Exporting

This command makes a window appear that you can use to save and load selected portions of Grapevine data. Use these “exchange files” to send information to other Grapevine users, or to load their data into your game.

Saving Selected Data

Ten tabs appear along the top of the window:  Game Settings, Players, Characters, Items, Rotes, Locations, Actions, Plots, Rumors, and Searches. The tab that is selected determines what is shown in the list below. The items in that list may each be selected or deselected with a click of the mouse. Buttons that help in the selection process include:

  • Select All. selects everything in the list.
  • Select None. deselects everything in the list.
  • Select Only. For players and characters, this selects all data that is matched by the search selected in the dropdown list below the button.
  • Select Associated. For players, this selects the characters associated with the players you’ve already selected. For characters, it selects the associated players, items, rotes and locations. For chronicle data (actions, plots and rumors), this will select the other chronicle data that they affect or are affected by.
  • Select Same Date. For actions and rumors, this selects the other actions or rumors that share a date with the selections.
  • Select Same Name. Also for act ions and rumors, this selects the other actions or rumors that share a character name or title with the selections.
  • Don’t Save text marked ST Only. This checkbox, if selected, edits out all text you’ve placed between the [ST] and [/ST] tags (or whatever you specify in your Game Options). Select this if you’re preparing an exchange file for a player.

Selections are preserved as you navigate from tab to tab. When you’ve selected everything you want to save, click the Save button. A window will appear where you can specify a filename. Everything you selected, but no other information, will be saved to that file. Other Grapevine users can then use Data Exchange to load that data into their game files.

This is a good way to send your players their character information or to coordinate responsibility for writing rumors amongst your Narrators.

Loading Data

Click the Load button and you’ll get a window from which you can choose a Grapevine exchange file to load. The information from that file will be imported into your game. If the danger of overwriting old information exists, you will be prompted for the action to take.

Merge and Recent Files

Merge

This option allows you to combine the contents of another Grapevine file with the file you’re working on.

Choose it and a window appears from which you select the Grapevine game file that you want to merge in.

If the two files contain any duplicate information, the merge feature will automatically choose to overwrite old data with new data, based on their internal timestamps. Be careful!

Recent Files

A numbered list of files you’ve recently worked with in Grapevine appears near the bottom of the File menu. Choosing one will automatically load the listed file. If you’ve been working on one file already, you may be prompted to save your work first.

Setting Up Your Game Information

The Game menu lists the features you can use to give a number of specifics about your game, including the title of your Chronicle, a schedule of game sessions and the Grapevine settings to use with this information.

Game Information

The game information tab of the game settings window offers you fields in which to record a basic outline of your game.

  • Chronicle Title. This will be displayed in Grapevine’s title bar when you’re working on the file.
  • Web Page. Grapevine can link you instantly with your game’s web presence.
  • E-Mail. How to get in touch with this game by e-mail.
  • Phone. How to get in touch with this game by phone.
  • Staff. This field automatically lists the chosen few not listed as “Player” in your Player Information.
  • Usual Place. Where to show up to play this game.
  • Usual Time.  When to show up.
  • Description. Be it a few notes to yourself or a full-blown ‘venue style sheet,’  spare a few words to describe what exactly this chronicle is all about.

Game Dates

A calendar on the Game Dates tab allows you to specify each date you plan a game session. Click any date to identify it as a session. Time and Place, below the calendar, will automatically show the usual time and place you entered in Game Information, but you can edit these to account for any changes.

Clicking the Delete Date button will eliminate the selected date from the game schedule. It will also delete all action and rumor entries for that date. A confirmation dialog will appear to ensure you want to go through with this. Unless you’re gung-ho about complete chronicle records, deleting old dates is recommended every so often to keep your file size down.

Filling this schedule out is especially important if you want to use Grapevine’s Chronicle features. Chronicle organizes all player actions, plot developments, and rumors by game date.

General Settings

In the General Settings tab of the Game Settings window, you let Grapevine know what kind of general working environment you’d like to use with this game file.

  • Health Levels. Older MET books allotted only four health levels to characters; Revised MET books allotted seven. This option controls the number of health levels Grapevine gives characters by default. Most games use seven. The two conversion buttons will help you convert all the characters in your game from one standard to another.
  • Enforce the use of Experience Point histories and Player Point histories.Checking this option will disable your ability to alter experience and player points without making corresponding entries in their histories. You’ll have to track the source and use of every experience point and player point. Leaving this option unchecked allows you to change point totals freely without having to keep records.
  • Edit Physical, Social, and Mental Trait Maximums separately. By default, when you change one Trait Maximum on a character sheet, the other two change as well. Enabling this option allows you to edit the three numbers individually.
  • Hide Storyteller Notes. By default, all text you save in Grapevine between the tags [ST] and [/ST] will never be printed or saved to a character sheet or game report. It’s secret information that remains only within the Grapevine file. Here you can change those tags from [ST] and [/ST] to whatever you want. To disable the feature, leave both fields blank.
  • Character Sheet Menus. Here you find listed the file Grapevine uses to populate its character sheet menus. Click the “Browse…” button here to display the Grapevine Menus window and load a new Grapevine Menu (.gvm) file.
  • Autosave. Check this box and set a time interval if you’d like Grapevine to make intermittent backup saves as you work, in a file in the Grapevine folder called Autosave.gv3.

Action Settings

This tab controls the default settings Grapevine uses for working with character actions.

  • Total Personal Action Value. Some games may assign a number to how much a character can accomplish by way of her own personal attention during downtime. Set that number here.
  • Always Add Common Actions.  Ordinarily, creating an action will generate a single personal downtime action for a character. But some games are more detailed, dividing a character’s downtime into personal actions, Influence actions, and actions dealing with Backgrounds such as Contacts. Check this box to automatically generate such detail when creating a new downtime action.
  • Copy Unused Values from Previous Action.  Selecting this option will look to a character’s previous action every time you create a new one, and copy any “Unused” value from specific actions that it finds there. This is useful, for example, if your game runs twice a month but your Influence actions only reset once a month.
  • Action Values. Detailed Influence actions usually associate a value with each level of Influence a character has, representing just how much she can do with it during downtime. (The MET book Dark Epics describes a detailed system for this idea.)  This list sets the value associated with each level of an Influence. Click a level of Influence and adjust its associated value on the right.
  • Backgrounds with Action Values. Some Backgrounds, like Contacts, can also be used in a manner like Influence. This list specifies what Backgrounds those are. Click Add to specify a new Background or Delete to remove one.

Rumor Settings

This tab deals with how the standard set of rumors is generated.  Check the boxes to automatically generate the following types of rumors:

  • Public Knowledge Rumors. A single rumor that all characters will receive.
  • Personal Rumors. These rumors go to individual characters alone.
  • Racial Rumors. These rumors go to all characters in the game of the same race:  Vampire, Werewolf, Mortal, Mage, etc.
  • Group Rumors. This provides a rumor to be received by each different clan, tribe, kith, etc. (Groups are shown in a column of the Characters window.)
  • Subgroup Rumors. This provides a rumor to be received by each different sect, auspice, seeming, etc. (Subgroups are shown in a column of the Characters window.)
  • Influence Rumors. This generates rumors for each type of Influence in your game. You have the option of filling out separate rumors for each level of the Influence up to level ten. Rumors will not be generated for Influences nobody has.
  • All Additional Rumors from the Previous Session. After generating all the above rumors, look at the rumors for the previous game date. Any rumors that appear there and have not been generated will also be brought forward. Using this option, custom rumors like those tailored toward characters with Nightmares or characters in a certain noble house can persist from game session to game session.
  • Copy All Rumor Text from Previous Session. If the text of your rumors is persistent as well, this selection will also copy the text from the previous session.  This will only take effect if the “all additional rumors” option is checked.

Working with Player Information

The Players menu in the main Grapevine window offers a number of utilities for managing information about the people who play your game.

Player List Window

Choose “Players…” to summon a window listing all the players in your game. The list of players is at the left. Clicking a name displays some basic information about the player at the right. Three buttons help edit your player list:

  • Show Player. Displays the Player Information window where you can record the player’s contact information.
  • Add Player. After prompting you for a name, a new player is added to the list and selected.
  • Delete Player. Deletes the selected player from the game.

To arrange the listing of players to your liking, click the column header of the item you want to sort by — such as sorting by ID or by Position. You can control whether the sort is ascending or descending by using the up/down buttons to the lower right of the list. If you want to limit the listing — say, only listing active players or only listing the staff of the game — you can select your search from the dropdown box beneath the list, and use the option buttons to its left to describe whether you want to see all characters who fit the search or who don’t fit it.

Player Information Window

Select a name and click “Show Player” to display a Player Information window that functions similarly to the Character Sheet Window. It is divided into three different tabs. The fields you’ll find here are the following:

  • Name. The player’s name can be edited at the top of the window.
  • Identity Tab
    • Position. The staff position of the player, if any.
    • Status. Whether the player is active or inactive.
    • Player ID. The player’s membership or ID number.
    • Phone. The player’s primary phone number.
    • E-Mail. The player’s primary e-mail address.
    • Address. The player’s mailing address.
    • Notes. Any extra information.
  • Characters Tab
    • A list of all the characters this player plays appears here. Select a name and choose “Show Character Sheet” to open the corresponding character sheet window.
  • Player Points (PP) Tab
    • This area displays the current unspent and earned totals of player points associated with the player, as well as a history of their earnings and expenditures. The tools on this tab function identically to those of the Experience Tab in a character sheet window.
    • Last Modified. The date upon which the player information was last edited.

Maintaining Player Points

Player points are a number of generic “points” associated with each player in the game. While many Storytellers will have no use for player points, they can fulfill several possible roles. Some games may use this field to record prestige or member class; others may use it to record “service points” rewarded for helping set up and clean up, playing NPCs, and bringing snacks.

Choosing “Player Points…” from the “Players” menu will load a maintenance window. This window may be used to make adjustments to many players’ points all at once, or to keep detailed records of where and when players earned and spent their points. Using this maintenance window is functionally identical to maintaining characters’ experience points.

Sending E-Mail to Players

This feature enables you to send an e-mail message to a selection of the players in your game, just like sending character sheets and reports. The main difference in using this feature is that the only information you send are the message and attachments: no character sheets or reports are sent.

If you have not set up your SMTP server before using this feature, you will be prompted to do so as described in the “Sending E-Mail” section.

Working with Characters

Maintaining character information is one of the most detail-oriented tasks that face a Storyteller, but Grapevine eases the task by organizing all the data within a few mouse-clicks’ reach.

Character List Window

This window, reached via “Character Sheets…” from the Characters menu, is your starting point for entering and maintaining character information.

The list of characters begins each line with an icon representing the character’s race, followed by its name, its main racial group (clan, tribe, tradition, kith, etc.), its subgroup (sect, auspice, seeming, etc.), its NPC status (an X appears if it’s an NPC), and its play status (active, inactive, dead, etc.). Clicking on any entry displays at the right its racial icon, name, player, experience points (unspent and earned), and the last date upon which it was modified.

This list can be refined and sorted, described below.

Showing a Character Sheet

To view any character sheet, select the character’s name and click the “Show Character” button. Double-clicking the also does the trick.

Adding a New Character

To add a new character to your game, click the “Add New Character” button. A small window appears prompting you for the name of the character. Below the name appear a variety of buttons corresponding to the supernatural races of the World of Darkness. Click the button appropriate to the character after entering his or her name. The choices include:

  • Vampire. The Kindred are described in MET books such as Laws of the Night,Laws of ElysiumFaith and FireThe Camarilla GuideThe Sabbat Guide, and The Vampire Storytellers Guide.
  • Werewolf. The Garou are described in Laws of the Wild and Laws of the Wyld West.
  • Mage. Willworkers are described in Laws of Ascension and the Laws of Ascension Companion.
  • Wraith. The Restless are described in Oblivion. This category encompasses Wraiths, Spectres and Risen.
  • Changeling. The Fae are described in The Shining Host and The Shining Host Players Guide.
  • Hunter. The Imbued are described in Laws of the Reckoning.
  • Mortal. Ordinary and extraordinary humans are the focus of Laws of the Hunt and Laws of the Hunt Players Guide. This character type is also a good choice for Ghouls from Libre des Ghoules, Kinfolk, Kinain, and other mortal allies to supernatural races.
  • Fera. The Fera are described in Laws of the Wyld WestChanging Breeds: Book 1Changing Breeds: Book 2, and Changing Breeds: Book 3.
  • Kuei-Jin. The Cathayans are described in Laws of the East.
  • Mummy. The Eternal appear in Laws of the Resurrection. Older versions appear in the Laws of the Hunt Players Guide.
  • Demon. The Fallen are not currently described in any MET book — but their translation into the system is all but inevitable. Storytellers can adapt them for their own use from the tabletop book Demon: the Fallen.
  • Various. This special character category is a catch-all for anything that doesn’t fit in with the above. Animal companions, spirits, chimera, whatever — many Storytellers find it especially useful when fleshing out the game’s cast of NPCs.

Below the buttons appears a checkbox that, if selected, will generate random Traits for the new character. This is particularly helpful for creating NPCs. You can specify how many starting Physical, Social, Mental, Ability and  Background Traits are given, how many points of Negative Traits are allowed and how many Free Traits are available. These Traits may not really make sense together: Grapevine doesn’t know that a Repugnant character isn’t likely to be Gorgeous, for example. You’ll still have to edit away such inconsistencies.

After you click one of the above buttons, the character’s name will appear in the list. Click “Show Character” to bring up the empty character sheet.

Deleting a Character

To delete a character, select its name and click the “Delete Character” button. You’ll be prompted to confirm that you really want to delete the character. Once the character is gone, there is no getting that information back.

Copying a Character to a new Race

Select a character and click this button when another mortal is Embraced, or when that ill-treated mage dies and becomes a wraith. This creates a basic copy of the character as another character type so that you don’t have to re-enter all the data. Keep in mind, however, that some data will be lost:  Grapevine just has no way to transform a werewolf elder into an ancestor-spirit without losing detail.

Grapevine will prompt you for a new name; the old character won’t be deleted. When you have edited the new character to your satisfaction, you can delete the old character and give the new one its original name.

Sorting the List of Characters

To sort the displayed list of characters, click on the column header of the characteristic by which you want to sort. Click “Group” to sort alphabetically by group, “NPC” to segregate PCs from NPCs, and so on. Clicking the “Race, Name” column once will sort the characters by name: if they are already sorted by name, clicking it a second time will sort them by race.

To change whether the characters are listing in ascending or descending alphabetical order, use the up and down buttons to the lower-right of the list.

By default, all characters are listed in the Characters window. The dropdown list beneath the list of characters lets you choose subsets to display: instead of “All Characters,” for example, you can choose to show only “Active Characters” or maybe only “Vampires.”  The subsets you can choose from may be edited in the Character Search window.

The option buttons to the left of the dropdown list control whether the window displays all characters that match or don’t match the chosen search.