GrapevineLARP

Home of the Grapevine LARP Administration Utility

Locations

Choose “Locations…” to describe the areas where action takes place in your stories. The resulting window has a list on the left of all the locations in your game. You can sort each column by clicking on the column header and it will sort by that column. Click the name of any location to select it. Beside the list are three buttons:

  • Show Location. Displays the Location Card window where you can describe the location.
  • Add Location. After prompting you for a name, a new location is added to the list and selected.
  • Delete Location. Deletes the selected location from the game.

When you select a location and click “Show Location,” a Location Card window appears 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 name of the place.
  • Basics Tab
    • Type. The type of location, such as Elysium or Caern.
    • Level. This can describe the level of a caern, Node, freehold, or just the number of Background points used to purchase it.
    • Owner. The location’s owner.
    • Where. The physical location of this place in your setting — as general as “east of the mountains” or as specific as a street address.
    • Appearance. What the location looks like.
  • Security Tab
    • Access. The type of access typical of this site, such as Public or Private.
    • Security Traits. The Trait difficulty an intruder must defeat to bypass the security system.
    • Security Retests. The number of retests the security system can use against the intruder.
    • Security. A description of the rest of the security at the place.
  • Supernatural Tab
    • Totem. The totem spirit (for caerns).
    • Affinity. The location’s spiritual or magical affinity.
    • Gauntlet/Shroud/Banality. The thickness of the local Gauntlet or Shroud, or the Banality level of the site, as appropriate.
    • Moon Bridges/Trods. Mystic links maintained with other sites. Adding or removing a location to this list will also add or remove this location from the other site’s moon bridge/trod list.
    • Umbra/Shadowlands/Dreaming. A description of the Umbral, Shadowland, or Chimerical appearance of the area.
  • Regulars, Notes Tab
    • Regulars. This cross-references all the characters that list this place as a frequented location. Select a character name and click the “Show Character” button to load its character sheet.
    • Notes. Any extra information.
    • Last Modified. The date upon which this location was last edited.

Rotes

Choose “Rotes…” to describe the rotes that the characters know. A window with a list on the left appears, naming all the rotes in your game. Click the name of any rote to select it and display when the rote was last modified. Three buttons are beside the list:

  • Show Rote. Displays the Rote Card window where you can describe the rote.
  • Add Rote. After prompting you for a name, Grapevine adds a new rote to the list and selects it.
  • Delete Rote. Deletes the selected rote from the game.

Selecting a rote and clicking “Show Rote” will display a window similar to a Character Sheet window. You’ll find the following fields:

  • Name. The name of the rote.
  • Rote Tab
    • Level. The level of the highest sphere in the rote.
    • Duration. How long the rote lasts.
    • Description. A description of the rote and what it does.
    • Spheres. What spheres are necessary to cast the rote.
    • Grades of Success. What the various grades of success will do.
  • In Play
    • Rotes in Play. This cross-references the characters that know this rote. Select a character name and click the “Show Character” button to load its character sheet.
    • Last Modified. The date upon which this rote was last edited.

Chronicle: Actions, Plots, and Rumors

For most games, the action doesn’t stop between sessions. The characters fill the intervening time with preparations, scheming and training. The secretive forces behind the plot continue to grow and evolve. As a Storyteller, your job is to coordinate all these complex factors to present a dynamic game world. Grapevine offers chronicle tools to help you achieve this goal.

How to Do Downtime

To use the chronicle tools, you’ll build the events between game sessions using a three-part framework:

  • Actions. Actions are the characters’ activities between sessions. Many Storytellers gather this information through written or e-mailed reports. Actions can affect and be affected by other actions and plots, and can generate rumors. They also generate immediate results for the character.
  • Plots. Plots are the background goings-on of the game world. They can affect and be affected by other plots and actions, and can also generate rumors. Plots are unconnected to any particular character and tend to persist for a certain period of time.
  • Rumors. Rumors are the tidbits of information that characters learn through their usual routines,  gathered from sources such as Influences, supernatural informants, and the nightly news. In Grapevine, plots and actions generate the rumors characters hear.

The following sections describe how to go through this process for your game.

The Chronicle Sequence in Brief

The following sequence of steps is the recommended means to complete your downtime chronicle work as efficiently as possible. More detailed explanations of working with Actions, Plots and Rumors follow.

  • Add the upcoming Game Session to the calendar. If you haven’t done so already, choose “Dates” from the Game menu and click on the date of the upcoming game to make it available to the chronicle functions.
  • Create the standard Rumors — but don’t write them yet. You can do this quickly by selecting the date of the next game and clicking the “Add Standard Rumors” button in the Rumors window.
  • Begin developing all the active Plots in the game. Make sure that all the plotlines in your game have at least been created in Grapevine and given a brief outline. Then click “Develop Active Plots” from the Plots window. This will add a plot development with the upcoming game date to every active plot. Visit these plot developments to describe what’s going to happen at the next session. If any of these plot developments affect the rumors characters will hear, now you can begin writing those rumors as well.
  • Add Actions as players send in their activities. Now you sit back and wait for the e-mails and phone calls to start pouring in. As you learn what each character is doing in his downtime, create an action for him. Fill in what the character is doing and what results he gets. If the character’s actions affect other actions, plots or rumors, revise what you’ve written for those as well.
  • Finish developing the active Plots. After all the characters’ actions have been submitted, you have a clear picture of all the factors affecting the game’s plot developments. If those factors change the plot’s effects on other actions or rumors, make those revisions now.
  • Finish writing the Rumors. In this last step, you have a clear picture of all the factors contributing to the rumors for the upcoming game. Finish writing them all to your satisfaction.

The Data Exchange features of Grapevine can help divide this work among the staff. Send copies of the game file to the Narrators, while dividing responsibilities for different players, plots and rumors among them.  Try not to let these responsibilities overlap. The Narrators can send their work to the head Storyteller in the form of Grapevine Exchange files. The Head Storyteller can then comb through their work to iron out the details of any complex interactions.

Example

Leading into the game of April 4, 2003, your game’s changelings intend to thwart the school board’s proposed dress code policy. Here’s how you’d use Grapevine to help plan this session.

  • Create a game date for April. Click April 4, 2003.
  • Create the standard Rumors. From the rumors window, you select April 4 and click “Add Standard Rumors.”  It occurs to you that you’ll need a special rumor for the childlings in the plot, because they all go to school:  You create a custom-made “Schoolchildren” rumor for them. You don’t begin writing any of the rumors yet.
  • Develop the “Dress Code” plot. You already created and outlined “Dress Code” prior to the last game. You go to the Plots window and click “Develop Active Plots.”  A plot development for April 4 is added to the plot. You click “Show Plot” and write under April 4 that the new dress code policy passes the school board and drives up the school’s Banality by two points.
  • A Sluagh player e-mails you a blackmail attempt. Sally Sluagh uses herContacts to try to dig up some dirt on a school board member. If she finds anything, she wants to deliver a blackmail letter. You create an action for Sally Sluagh on April 4. You describe her actions and alter the Dress Code plot accordingly. You decide one of her contacts was indiscreet, so you also leak a rumor about it.
  • A Sidhe player e-mails you a Media action. Gary ap Gwydion is the darling of the local news scene, and he’s covering the story with some serious editorial bias. You create an April 4 action for him and use it to revise the Dress Code plot, theMedia rumors and the University rumors.
  • You complete the April 4 development for the Dress Code plot. Now that all the actions are in, you decide that the school board postpones the decision on the new policy. That affects the University Influence rumor and the Schoolchildren rumor. The board member being blackmailed sheepishly contacts the police, which you decide will create a high-level Police Influence rumor. And another member of the school board has pull of her own in the local media, so you take aim at Gary ap Gwydion and write in his action results that his bosses are giving him heat.
  • You finish writing Rumors. Now you review all the rumors and add finishing touches with an eye toward the actions and plots that affect them.
  • You’ll see this example developed in more detail as you learn more about actions, plots and rumors.

Taking Action

Choose “Character Actions…” under the Chronicle menu to display the Actions window. From here you may add, delete and show individual character actions.

The default display of this window lists the game dates at left, and on the right it lists the characters who have acted on the selected date. When creating an action for a character, associate it date of the next game session. It’s at that session she will see the results of her activities play out.

You can choose a different display by clicking the “View by Character” button in the lower left. This will list all characters with actions on the left, and on the right it lists the dates the selected character has acted. Clicking the button again returns you to the default display.

In either display, an X appears beside an action that has been marked Done — it has been filled out to completion.

Clicking “Add Action” will prompt you with a dialog. If you have a date selected on the left, it asks you to select a character; if you have a character selected on the left (in View by Character mode), it asks you for a date. A new action is created for the chosen date and character pair.

The “Delete Action” button deletes the action associated with the selected date and character. “Delete All Actions” will not delete all actions in the game, but it will delete all those associated with the date or character you have selected in the leftmost list — emptying the list on the right.

Select a date and name pair and click “Show Action” to edit the action for that date and character.

Editing a Character Action

The character action window appears with the name of the character and the date of the action at the top. Click one of these to reassign the action to a different character or date.

A “Show Character” button will direct you quickly to the associated character sheet. Use the “All Done” checkbox to records when you’ve finished work on the action. The “Show Advanced” button gives you access to the detailed action functions, described below.

At its most basic, a character action consists of four sections:

  • Action. Here, describe the action(s) this character takes during downtime before the selected game date. If you get this information via e-mail from your players, you may choose to copy that text from your e-mail program and paste it here directly.
  • Results. Use this field to inform the character about the results of his attempt. The Chronicle Report will include this information for the player to read.
  • Affected By. This list bears the names of actions and plots that affect this action.
  • Affects. This list shows which actions, plots, and rumors that this action affects.

The Affects and Affected By lists are potentially two of the most powerful tools you can have to plan your game. Click the “Add” button beneath either to summon a dialog listing all other actions, plot developments, and rumors for the game date. Choosing from this list creates a cause-and-effect link between the two items. In this way you can manage dozens of factors affecting the direction of the story. Double-clicking any link jumps you to the relevant action, plot or rumor. Following the “Affected By” links is a good way to know what outside factors impact this action; following the “Affects” links you create is a how you record the ripple effect a character action has on the game.

If you click the “Show Advanced” button at the top of the character action window (or if you have selected “Always Add Common Actions” in your Action Settings), you gain access to the detailed character action functions.

The detailed action functions enable you to divide up character activities by topic. At the very least all characters have a Personal action that represents what they do in person during downtime. But you may choose also to record in individual actions how a character uses her Influence or Backgrounds such as Contacts. Every detailed action has its own distinct Action, Results, Affected By and Affects information.

  • The Detailed Actions list. Each detailed action appears here, where you see its name, followed by its Level, Unused and Total Action Values, and Growth. These four numbers can be edited in the fields to the right of the list.
  • Level. The level of an action. Usually this is the number of an Influence a player has.
  • Unused. Many games employ systems wherein a certain value is associated with the level of an action; portions of this value may be spent to achieve the character’s goals. Unused is where the unused portion of that value is recorded. If the option “Copy Unused Values from Previous Action” is selected, this value is copied from the character’s last such recorded action.
  • of Total. The total action value associated with the level appears here. Its initial value (and thereby the initial value of Unused) can be changed from Action Settings in the Game Settings.
  • Growth. Growth is a number used to judge how much progress a character has made toward a goal such as gaining a new level of Influence. If this character has an action at an earlier date, Growth is set to its prior value when it is created. This way a goal can be pursued over multiple downtime actions.
  • Add Action. Click this button and enter a name to add another detailed action to the list.
  • Delete Action. Click this button to delete a detailed action from the list. A Personal action cannot be deleted.
  • Add Common Actions. Click this, and Grapevine will automatically add one action for each Influence the character possesses and for each of certain Backgrounds likeContacts. Specifics can be set in the Action Settings tab of your Game Settings. This will not overwrite detailed actions that have already been created.

Example

When last we left our intrepid figments, Sally the Sluagh was blackmailing the school board and Gary ap Gwydion was doing a news story. Let’s examine those actions in depth.

You describe Sally’s actions by selecting “Show Advanced” and clicking “Add Common Actions.”  This adds a Contacts action to the Personal action that already exists. Selecting the Contacts action, you write that Sally is digging up dirt on the school board. You decide she’s successful: in Results, you describe how Mrs. Pamela Grabowski has been embezzling funds from the school sports program. But since Sally’s Contact was none too discreet, you decide Sally isn’t the only one who gets a hint of this. You click Add under the Affects list and select the Underworld Influence Level 1 rumor to represent where word leaked.

Now that Sally Sluagh has the dirt, she uses it: in her Personal Results, you record how she delivers the blackmail letter to Mrs. Grabowski’s house, and how Mrs. Grabowski seems to reverse her position on the dress code issue at the next board meeting. That’s a direct effect on the Dress Code plot, so you add another link to the Affects list.

Meanwhile, Gary ap Gwydion is broadcasting a slanted story about the new policy on the nine o’clock news. You use the same methods to create a Media action for Gary. In Results you describe the public outcry his news story arouses, and in the Affects list you add the Media Influence Level 1 rumor and the Dress Code plot — both of which will suffer fallout from Gary’s mudslinging.

Driving the Plot

The choice “Plots…” under the Chronicle menu displays the Plots window where you can track the progress of your game’s plot threads.

The default display of this window lists the game dates at left, and on the right it lists plots you have created. The topmost choice at the left, “List All Plots,” shows you all the plots you’ve created and whether they are ActiveFinished or Pending (a status derived from their start and end dates). If you select a game date from the left, the plots shown are only those for which you’ve created plot developments for the selected date. A column labeled “Done” shows an X if you’ve filled in the plot development.

You can choose a different display by clicking the “View by Title” button in the lower left. In this display, all the plots are listed at the left. Selecting one displays all the plot development dates at the right, including the X for those that have been written. Return to the original display by clicking the “View” button again.

Clicking “Add Plot” will prompt you for the title of the new plot. Unlike actions and rumors, which are associated strongly with the game calendar, a plot is only loosely connected to any one game date — therefore you won’t be asked for one yet. Instead, every plot is a collection of plot developments.

With a single click, you can use the “Develop Active Plots” button to add a new plot development to every plot that’s currently active. If you’ve selected a game date on the left, “Develop Active Plots” will instead create a new development for every plot that is active during the selected date.

“Delete Plot” will remove a plot and all its developments from the game.

Clicking “Show Plot,” or double-clicking a selection, will load an individual plot window.

Editing a Plot

The plot editing window appears with the title of the plot across the top. Click the title to rename the plot. Below this appears a series of buttons:  First the “Outline” button where general information about the plot is kept, followed by a button for each plot development you’ve created.

Selecting “Outline” allows you to specify the following:

  • Start Date and End Date. Use these to give your plot a beginning and an end. The status of the plot (ActiveFinished or Pending) is derived from whether the next game date falls between these dates. Choosing “(none)” leaves the plot open-ended (or open-started).
  • Narrator. The staff member in charge of this plot.
  • Key Characters. The characters chiefly involved in this plot.
  • Outline/Notes. Use this space to describe the plot with a basic outline or important notes to remember when running it.
  • Plot Developments. This list of dates is where you add and delete individual plot developments. Clicking the “Add” button prompts you with a dialog box for the date of a plot development to add. “Delete” will remove a plot development. The row of buttons at the top of the window will reflect all the changes you make here.

Clicking the date of a plot development will provide the following fields to fill out:

  • Plot Development:  In this field, describe your plot developments for the upcoming game. This information is confidential; it will appear in none of the player characters’ reports.
  • Affected By. This list bears the names of actions and plots that affect this plot.
  • Affects. This list shows which actions, plots, and rumors that this plot affects.

The Affects and Affected By lists are the same powerful tools you employ from the Action window to describe how this plot affects and is affected by other factors in the game.

Example

The deadline for player to send in their character actions has come and gone, so you decide to add the finishing touches to the “Dress Code” plot you’re inflicting on the changelings.

When you initiated the April 4 plot development, you thought the dress code policy would pass the school board and raise the Banality of the school. But Sally Sluagh and Gary ap Gwydion were resourceful in discouraging that outcome. Now in the “Affected By” list, you see Sally’s Personal action and Gary’s Media Influence action listed. While you processed their actions, you rewrote this plot so that the school board would postpone their decision after the public outcry from Gary’s news report.

This is going to cause a stir in several corners, so to the Affects list on the right you add theMedia Influence Level 1 rumor, the University Influence Level 1 Rumor, and the Schoolchildren rumor you created.

But now you decide there will be other repercussions as well. Mrs. Grabowski, the unfortunate embezzler that Sally is blackmailing, panics and goes to a friend in the police. The police arrest the contact of Sally’s that dug up the dirt — his nose wasn’t clean either. You add a Police Influence Level 3 rumor (Mrs. Grabowski’s friend keeps things fairly quiet) to the Affects list. You also add Sally’s Contacts action to the list. Double-clicking it, you revise her results to let her know that her contact disappears complete after giving her the information.

You also decide that another school board member knows Gary’s boss, and that the Sidhe will draw some heat for his lack of objective journalism. You add a Media Influence Level 3 rumor and Gary’s Media action to the Affects list. You revise Gary’s Media Results to tell him about the fallout at the TV station.

You can tell that this plot is making waves. Only two characters’ actions affected it, but its own effects have mushroomed out to affect Sally, Gary, the schoolchildren, and four different Influence rumors.

Rumormongering

The “Rumors…” selection in the Chronicle menu shows the Rumors window, in which you’ll supply your players with feedback about the world for the upcoming game session.

The default display lists the dates of game sessions on the left, and on the right it lists rumors that have been written for the selected session. An X appears in a column beside each rumor if it has been marked “Done” after all required rumors have been written.

Clicking the “View by Title” button switches the display so that every kind of rumor you’ve ever written appears at the left, while the dates for which these rumors have been written appear at the right. Again, completed rumors are marked with an X. Clicking the button again returns you to the prior display.

The “Add New Rumor” button prompts you for a title (if a date is selected at the left) or a game date (if a title is selected at the left). A new general rumor is created for the chosen date and title.

The “Delete Rumor” button deletes a rumor from the game. “Delete All Rumors” will delete all the rumors listed in the right list — that is, depending on the view you’ve chosen, it will delete all rumors associated with either the date or the title that is selected at left.

“Add Standard Rumors” looks at all the active characters in your game and at your  Rumor Settings to generate a list of rumors for the selected date. This list may include the following:

  • Public Knowledge. A single rumor that all characters will receive. This, as well as any custom rumors you create, is denoted by the familiar ear icon.
  • Influence Rumors. Influence rumors have a skyline icon. Each type of Influence possessed by an active character in your game will get its own Influence rumor. These specialized rumors consist of ten levels corresponding to the number of Traits in an Influence a character may have.
  • Racial Rumors. These rumors go to all characters in the game of the same race:  Vampire, Werewolf, Mortal, Mage, etc. Their icon is a red ear.
  • Group Rumors. Group rumors are tailored toward clan, tribe, kith, and the like. Their icon is a blue ear.
  • Subgroup Rumors. These are intended for character subgroups:  sect, auspice, seeming, etc. Their icon is a purple ear.
  • Personal Rumors. These rumors go to individual characters alone. Their icon is a yellow ear.

Click “Show Rumor” or double-click a rumor from the list on the right to write individual rumors.

Writing General Rumors

A general rumor window appears with its name and date at the top. Click one to assign the rumor a new title or a new date. An “All Done” checkbox allows you to mark when you’ve finished writing the rumor. You write the rumor with the aid of a field and a list:

  • Rumor. The center of the window is where you provide the text of the rumor.
  • Affected By. Unlike actions and plot developments, rumors are entirely passive: they are the result of the tumult behind the scenes, but they have no direct effects themselves. Hence, rumors have only an Affected By list. When you write a rumor, refer to the actions and plots listed here to know what secrets to leak.

Below the rumor text and to its right are the tools that help you specify who will receive the rumor you’ve written:

  • Send this Rumor to Characters that match… In the same way you can search for characters, you can specify who will receive this rumor. Choose whether to match any or all of the criteria you specify, and then use the “Add” and “Delete” buttons to create a specific search. Enigmatic prophecies, for example, are well received by characters that match any of the terms “Merits contain Oracular Ability” or “Flaws contain Nightmares.”
  • Active Recipients. At the left is a list of all the characters who will currently receive this rumor, based on the search you specify below. It only lists active characters for the sake of brevity, but if your chronicle reports include inactive characters, they will not be excluded. Select a character name and click “Show Recipient” to bring up its character sheet.

Writing Influence Rumors

Influence rumors are similar to general rumors, above, but instead of one rumor they each encapsulate ten. Each level of each rumor goes to those characters who possess at leastthe associated number of Traits in Influence. Hence, each level of an Influence rumor has its own Affected By list, Rumor text and Active Recipients list, but no editable search.

Beneath the title and date of an Influence rumor are ten buttons labeled one through ten. Clicking any button displays the rumor associated with that level of the Influence. If an asterisk (*) appears on the button, it means no rumor has yet been written for that level.

A caption above the ten buttons informs you of the highest level of that Influence among active characters in your game. If you write rumors above that level, nobody will get them. The option to write all ten levels remains for those Storytellers who like to be thorough.

Example

Actions and plots are complete: all that remain to write the rumors, the main means by which most of your faerie court will learn about what’s happening at the school.

First you see to the custom rumor you created, called “Schoolchildren.”  It begins by going to the ears of all characters, but you want only the childlings of the game to get it. You click “Add Term” and provide the term “Seeming equals childling.”  Looking to the left, you find that this rumor has been affected by the Dress Code plot. For the text of the rumor you describe the rejoicing among the children at school that they won’t have to wear stuffy uniforms quite yet.

Next you decide to work on the Influence rumors. You choose Underworld Influence and start writing at level 1. You see that this level has been affected by Sally Sluagh’s Contacts action. What was that about?  You double-click the link and refresh your memory about Sally’s loose-lipped contact. You let leak word of Mrs. Grabowski’s embezzling ways into the criminal underground.

You read at the top of the Underworld Influence window that the highest level of the Influence among active characters in your game is 1. You decide that writing more rumors would be a waste of time and move on.

You continue, writing up the last two weeks’ worth of intrigue through hearsay and suspicion, until all your Rumors for the upcoming game session are finally marked Done. Your work is finished at last!  Your players are internet-savvy, so you figure you’ll generate a batch of Action and Rumor Reports and e-mail them all out before game…

Printing and Saving Character Sheets and Reports

All the information Grapevine organizes is of limited use to a Storyteller if it remains in the game file. That’s where printing, saving and e-mailing documents come in. Grapevine offers literally dozens of different character sheets and reports in three different formats. This chapter describes how to select exactly the kind of output you want to create.

To begin, click the “Sheets & Reports” menu and choose “Print,” “Save to File” or “E-Mail.”  The corresponding window will load, selecting by default a report suited to the data you were previously viewing. If you are looking at a character sheet, for example, choosing to print will load a window prepared to print that specific character sheet. Choosing to save to file while viewing a list of rumors will load a window ready to save a Master Rumor Report for what you were viewing.

Choosing a Report

At the top of the window appears a dropdown list of the kinds of sheets and reports available. Choose from the following possibilities:

Character Sheets. The staple of every MET game, these documents describe individual characters in detail.

  • Action and Rumor Report. A document describing the actions a character takes and the rumors she receives for a given game date.
  • Character Equipment Report. A document describing all the items and rotes a character has.
  • Character Roster. A listing of the characters in the game.
  • Experience History. A listing of entries in a character’s experience point history.
  • Game Calendar. A summary of game dates.
  • Item Cards. A document describing the individual items you select, instead of describing all items belonging to one character as in the Character Equipment Report.
  • Influence Report. A detailed report of all the Influences in your game and who holds them.
  • Location Cards. A document describing the locations you select.
  • Master Action Report. All the character actions you select, compiled into a report that gives a detailed picture of what characters are doing in their downtime.
  • Master Rumor Report. All the rumors you select, compiled into a full report of the gossip flying around your game world.
  • Merits and Flaws Report. A listing of all the Merits and Flaws of the characters you select.
  • Player Point History. A document that includes a player’s contact information as well as a listing of her player point earnings.
  • Player Roster. A listing of the players in your game.
  • Plot Report. A compiled report of all the plots you select, including recent plot developments.
  • Rote Cards. A document describing all the individual Rotes you select, instead of only those belonging to a certain character, as in the Character Equipment Report.
  • Search Report. A report of the characters that meet the criteria specified in a search.
  • Sign-In Sheet. A listing of characters and players you can use to record who attends the night’s game session.
  • Statistics Report. A bar graph showing the outcome of taking statistics on a selection of your characters. It also lists all the characters who make up the statistics.
  • Vampire Status Report. This report describes all Status Traits and boons currently in play among the Vampires of the game.
  • Choose Template… This selection prompts you for a template file to open. Template files are the customizable blueprints for Grapevine output.

On the right side of the window is a frame labeled “Format,” under which appears three options:

Rich Text (RTF). Rich Text is a simple word-processing format. Saving documents in RTF format creates files that can be read and edited by WordPad or MS Word. RTF is not as nice-looking as HTML, but Grapevine can print it itself, even controlling the margins and page orientation given the right template. RTF documents are sent as attachments when distributed by e-mail.

HTML. HTML is the format used by web pages on the internet. It produces the best-looking output of the three options. Saving documents as HTML provides an easy way to put game information on your game website. Grapevine can only print HTML using the default web browser on your computer. HTML is an easy format to send through e-mail.

Plain Text. This is the simplest of the three formats. Plain text documents aren’t particularly pretty, but being small and simple they are well-suited to being e-mailed: any e-mail program in the world will read them. You probably don’t want to print in plain text format unless you have a truly ancient printer.

Selecting What to Generate

Having chosen a document type and a format, you must next choose what data Grapevine includes in the output.

At the top of the window, select the game date for which you want to create the sheets or reports. You may also enter a date here by hand.

Selection Tabs

The tabs that appear on the window change depending on what kind of report you select. On any tab listing characters, players, items, rotes, locations, actions, plots or rumors, you should select the entities you want to include in your output by clicking their names in the list. Selected entities will appear highlighted. Only those that are selected will be figured into the output.

Several buttons may appear that assist with the selection process:

  • 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 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 actions and rumors, this selects the other actions or rumors that share a character name or title with the selections.

Searches & Statistics Tab

This tab appears only if you have chosen to report the results of a search or game statistics.

The Search dropdown and the option buttons beside it control which characters are queried for the report.

The Statistics options, which appear only for Statistics Reports, are identical to those used in the Statistics window. Most likely you will want to first create the statistics using the Statistics window itself, and then by clicking one of the output options, this window will load with the values you had just been examining.

Dates & Options Tab

This tab controls the range of dates included with certain reports and whether character sheets include additional data.

Use the “Date Range” dropdown list to choose the extent of a game calendar or an experience history or to choose what Plot Developments are listed in a Plot Report. The “Chronological Order” and “Reverse Order” options control whether the dates are listed earliest-to-latest or vice versa.

Depending on the report you’ve selected, other options may appear on this tab: Notes, Histories, Actions, Rumors, Equipment, Rotes and/or Locations. Selecting one of these options will include the corresponding data with the document; deselecting the option will exclude that data. In this way you can include a character’s actions and rumors with his character sheet, or hide sensitive notes information from appearing in a document.

Up to three formatting options may also be available:

  • Conceal all text marked ST Only. This controls whether text appearing between[ST] and [/ST] tags (by default) appears in the output.
  • Allow HTML tags in text. If you have chosen an HTML template, this option appears: selecting it controls whether HTML tags in places like the Notes field are applied to the output, or are displayed literally.
  • Save output to file and print with associated Windows program. This option appears if you are printing your output. If selected, Grapevine will not print your output directly: instead, it will save the output to files, and then it will ask Windows itself to print each. Templates created in MS Word, with RTF formatting too complex for Grapevine to understand, benefit from this feature: Windows will send the RTF to MS Word to be printed.

Printing

If you are printing RTF or Plain Text documents, choose the number of copies you want and use the “Printer Setup…” button to choose your printer. Then click “Print” to begin the job. A progress bar will appear at the top of the window to inform you of the progress Grapevine makes sending the information to your printer.

If you’re printing HTML, the work is done through your computer’s default web browser. Clicking “Print” will create the HTML output and then load it into your browser, where (if you have JavaScript turned on) a print dialog will automatically prompt you to print the document. You may have to adjust the print settings of your browser for best results. In particular, make sure your browser supports CSS style sheets. Adjusting the margins (one-inch top and bottom margins are best for item cards), removing headers and footers, and instructing your browser to print background colors may be other changes you want to make to your browser’s settings. Consult your browser’s help to learn how.

Saving to Files

A single “Save” button will begin the job of saving your output to files. If you are only saving a single document, Grapevine will prompt you for a filename. If you are saving multiple documents, Grapevine will prompt you for the folder in which to save them all. You may then specify whether you want to be prompted before any file is overwritten, or use the “Save Files Individually” button to specify a location and filename for each of them.

Sending Email

Keep your players informed without subsidizing the ink-cartridge industry by sending sheets and reports through e-mail.

About SMTP

Grapevine uses a method of sending e-mail called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). Sending e-mail through SMTP requires the internet name or address of a SMTP server, which is a computer whose job it is to route such e-mail messages through the Internet. An SMTP server usually requires a valid username and password to use.

If you pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for your internet access, it’s likely that you get SMTP service from them. Consult your ISP documentation or contact them directly to find out.

If your computer is set up to use an e-mail program like Outlook, Eudora or Communicator, your SMTP server information may already be specified there. Look for your SMTP settings in these places:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2002 (XP). Under the Tools menu, select E-Mail Accounts. Select View or change existing e-mail accounts, and click Next. Select your e-mail account and click Change.
  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 / Outlook Express 5 or 6. Under the Tools menu, select Accounts. Select your e-mail account and click on Properties. Click on theServers tab.
  • Eudora 5.1 and 5.2. Under the Tools menu, select Options. Select Sending Mailunder the category list on the left side.
  • Netscape 7. From the Window menu, select Mail & Newsgroups. Select your account and click View settings for this account in the right-hand pane. Then selectOutgoing Server (SMTP) in the left pane.
  • Netscape 6. Under the Edit menu, select Mail & Newsgroups Account Settings. Click on Outgoing Server (SMTP) in the left side list.
  • Netscape Communicator 4.5 — 4.7. From the Edit menu, select Preferences. Under the Mail & Newsgroups in the left category list, select Mail Servers.

Unfortunately, free web-based e-mail services like Hotmail and Yahoo! usually do not provide SMTP service to their users. If you only get e-mail access through the web — and your ISP doesn’t give you any SMTP service — you will probably be unable to use the e-mail features of Grapevine. Sorry!

E-Mail Setup

Your first step is to supply Grapevine with the SMTP information it can use to send e-mail. You can reach the setup dialog by clicking “E-Mail Setup” from the output window. This dialog will also appear each time you try to send e-mail without having provided valid setup information.

The e-mail setup window requires the following information:

  • SMTP Server. Here, enter the name or IP address of your SMTP Server.
  • SMTP Port. Most servers use port 25.
  • Account E-Mail Address. This is the e-mail address from which you are sending messages.
  • User Name and Password. This is the name and password you use to access your SMTP service: it is usually the same as your e-mail account name and password. Some SMTP servers do not require these at all.

Checkmark the “Remember Password” box to have Grapevine remember your password for future uses of the program on this computer. If it is left unchecked, Grapevine prompts you for this information the first time you send e-mail each time you run the program.

Click the “Test E-Mail Settings” button to send yourself a test e-mail message. It should appear in your e-mail Inbox quickly. Grapevine will alert you to any errors it detects, such as an incorrect username and password.

E-Mail Addressing

After selecting the sheets or reports you want to e-mail, click the “E-Mail” button to open the addressing window. This window allows you to specify exactly who your output will reach, and how it looks when it gets there.

A number of fields appear at the top of this window:

  • Sending. The type of sheets or reports you are sending out.
  • From. The address you are sending from: this is specified in your e-mail setup.
  • Reply To. This is the address that will receive replies to the messages you send.
  • Subject. This is the subject line created for each message. If the tag [Name] appears here, it will be replaced in each message with the name of the character or player whose sheet is being sent.

Below these fields are a number of tabs:

  • Send To, CC, and BCC. These tabs control those two whom the message is sent (and how it is sent), just as with all e-mail. If a checkbox appears labeled “Send to Players of Characters Selected for Output” or “Send to Players Selected for Output,” ensure it is selected to e-mail each individual person the sheets or reports specific to him or her. The list on the left contains other additional recipients chosen from the list at the right. Use the leftward arrow to add an address or group of addresses to the recipients; use the rightward arrow to remove them.
  • Message. Text you type here will be affixed to the beginning of the e-mail message(s) you send.
  • Attachments. Use the “Add” and “Remove” buttons here to attach additional files that will be sent with the message(s).

Double-check all your recipients, message text and attachments before you click “Send.”  Once you do that, Grapevine immediately sends the e-mail — and if you have a large game, that can be a large amount of data.  It’s also disastrous if you send secret information to the wrong people, so take care!

Templates

Grapevine’s selection of reports and sheets is extensible. If you’ve created custom versions of the default sheets, or if you’ve created a new kind of report entirely using the template language, you can add it to Grapevine from the Templates tab.

At the left of the Templates tab is a list of all the sheets and reports in your game. You can add a new entry by clicking the “Add” button and specifying a name, or you can delete an entry by selecting a name and clicking “Delete.”

Clicking a name will display the template files associated with it to the right. There is one file association for each format: RTF, HTML and plain text. Clicking the Open File icon beside any filename opens a file selection dialog where you can specify a new template file for the given format of the chosen report.

All Grapevine’s template files are by default located in the Program Files\Grapevine\Templates folder. They’re grouped into further subfolders: RTF, HTML and Text.

Customizing Grapevine

No tool, no matter how complete, can ever be perfectly tailored for every LARP. Grapevine attempts to compensate for that fact by giving you ways to customize its environment. Editing the Grapevine Menus allows you to make available custom Disciplines, Abilities, clans, Merits, Flaws — just about anything — for the character sheets you maintain. Editing the Grapevine Template files allows you to customize the program output, providing your players with character sheets and rosters suited specifically for your game.

Editing the Grapevine Menus

Choose “Grapevine Menus” under the “Game” menu to display the window in which you can customize the menus from which you build characters in Grapevine. You’ll see the name of the menu file above three tabs: “File Information,” “Menu Items,” and “Menu Tools.”

On all tabs, you will see a listing on the left of the menus in Grapevine. Beneath it is a dropdown box describing the subset of menus to include in the list: “General Menus” lists the menus common to most characters, twelve racial categories list menus specific to each character type, and “All Menus” lists every menu in the program. Double-clicking any menu name enters the menu, listing its contents. Inside the menus, double-clicking “(back)” takes you back to the top level, while clicking any other menu entry displays its details on the right.

Click the File Information tab to see information about the current menu file. This is a special Grapevine Menu (.gvm) file, separate from your game file, that stores the menu structures you use to build characters. The default menu file is “Grapevine Menus.gvm,” which contains all the Traits and powers used by most MET books, favoring games using revised rules.

On the tab you will see the full path to the file and its description. The description is editable in case you want to save your own version of the file. On this tab are also four buttons:

  • Load File…  This button prompts you to browse for the Grapevine Menu file that this game will use for its menus.
  • Merge/Update Menus… This button prompts you to select another Grapevine Menu file or a Grapevine Menu Update (.gvu) file. Grapevine merges the content of the selected file with your current menus, bringing your menus in line with those of a friend. A dialog box appears asking you to press “Yes” for an aggressive merge and “No” for a conservative merge.  The difference between the two styles is how they resolve differences between your menus and the incoming file: aggressive resolves the differences in favor of the newcomer, while conservative fully preserves all your existing menus. After the merge, you may view the file MergeLog.txt to see the changes described.
  • Save Menus. This button saves any changes you’ve made to the current menu file.
  • Save Menus As…  This saves the current menus to a new filename you provide.

The second tab, Menu Items, is where you can make changes to the structure of the menu itself. Five buttons are at the bottom of this tab:

  • Delete. Delete the selected menu or menu item. You will be prompted for confirmation. If you delete a menu, you will delete all the items in it.
  • New Menu. Add a new menu.
  • New Menu Item. Add a new menu item to the current menu.
  • New Submenu Link. Add a new submenu link to the current menu. Submenu links are explained below.
  • Include Menu. Include the contents of another menu in the current menu. Menu inclusions are explained below.

Clicking an item from the display at left selects that item. When a new item is created, it is automatically selected. A different set of editable fields appears for each type of item:

  • Menu. Menus have seven fields:
    • Name. The name of the menu. This must be unique.
    • Category. The category in which to classify the menu.
    • Alphabetized. Whether or not this menu is alphabetized. If it is alphabetized and you uncheck this property, a dialog box will appear to confirm your decision to alphabetize the menu.
    • Negative. Whether or not costs in this menu are negative, such as with Negative Traits and Flaws.
    • Add Note with Item. Whether to include an item’s note with the item when it’s added to a character.
    • Required by Grapevine. If this is checked, it means that Grapevine directly accesses this menu from a character sheet. The menu is protected against being deleted or having its name changed.
    • Display. Choose the way items in the menu should be displayed.
  • Menu Item. Menu items have three fields:
    • Name. The name of the item, such as “Brawny” or “Investigation.”
    • Cost. The cost of the item. This may be a single number or a range such as “1 to 3” or “2 or 4”.
    • Note. The note with the item. Traits tend to have notes indicating their category (such as strengthcharisma, etc.) while powers tend to have notes indicating their level (basicintermediate, etc.).
  • Submenu Link. This creates a submenu of the menu in which it appears. The contents of the submenu are the contents of the linked menu.
    • Name. The name of this submenu. It will appear in the menu with a colon following it.
    • Linked Menu. The menu to which this submenu is linked. When you choose this submenu from a character window, it will load the menu that is linked here.
    • Go To. Click this button to jump to the linked menu.
  • Menu Inclusion. When a menu includes another menu, the contents of the second menu are mixed in with the first. All properties of the first menu, such as alphabetization, are retained; properties of the included menu are ignored.
    • Name. The name of this menu inclusion. It will appear in the menu with a plus sign following it.
    • Included Menu. The menu whose contents are to be included in this menu.
    • Go To. Click this button to jump to the included menu.

If you have selected a member of a menu that is not alphabetized, up and down arrows appear for adjusting the positioning of an item within the menu.

The last tab, Menu Tools, makes the following functions available:

  • Find. Enter the text you’d like to search for in the text field, then use the option buttons to determine if you’d like an exact or partial match. Then click “Find” to jump to the next match for that item in the menu.
  • Copy Menu. Select a menu and click this to create a duplicate of the menu under a new name.
  • Create Five-Power Menu. Click this button to automatically create a new ordered menu with two basic powers, two intermediate powers, and one advanced power. All costs and notes are prepared; you need only to supply the name of the menu and its menu items.
  • Confirm Deletions. Uncheck this box to disable the pop-up dialog that confirms you want to delete items.