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1 You've found a GM, purchased Hero Lab Online, whipped up a brilliant new character, and you're ready to set out on an adventure! But wait... How do you join the campaign? When players are invited to their first campaign in Hero Lab Online, a few steps must be completed to set out on their journey. This article outlines those steps and includes a variety of additional tips and suggestions to gives players a jump start on the process.
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3 //**Note:**// Each player within a campaign must have their own account. Setting up an account is straightforward, so please make sure that's all in place before proceeding.
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5 === Joining a Campaign ===
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7 The magical key to unlocking campaign access is the all-powerful invitation code! Which is really just a sequence of eight letters and digits. Each invitation code uniquely identifies a specific campaign and must be provided by the GM. So if you don't have one, it's time to grovel to the almighty Game Master and claim your prize.
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9 Once the code has been acquired, joining a campaign is easy. Simply log in to your account and click on the "Campaigns" tab at the top (next to the "Characters" tab that is likely selected by default).
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11 If you don't yet belong to any campaigns, prominent options to create a new campaign or join an existing one are presented in the middle of the page. If you do already belong to a campaign, including as a player, the prompts won't be shown. In this case, buttons labeled "Join" and "Create" can be used in the upper right corner. Choose the “Join” option, enter the invitation code, and confirm joining the campaign. That's all there is to it!
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19 Depending on the way the GM has configured the campaign, new members may or may not be granted immediate access. If not, the new member must be approved by the GM, so contact the GM to let them know the invitation has been accepted, and you're eager to get started. Until approved, the campaign will be visible to the player but greyed out with a “Pending approval” message.
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21 === Introducing Player Characters ===
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23 Once granted access to the campaign, it's time to introduce your character. This is achieved by loading the campaign and then clicking the "PCs and Players" tab on the left. Within the "My PCs" block, either click the "Add" button in the upper right or select one of the prompted options.
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25 There are various ways to bring a PC into a campaign, such as creating a new PC from scratch, copying/moving a personal character from outside the campaign into it as a PC, or importing a stock character from the Vault. Regardless of the path chosen, the new character exists exclusively within the campaign.
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30 Once a new PC is added to a campaign, it appears within that campaign. For convenience, a “Campaign PCs” region on the main list of all the user’s Characters. This region provides access to all the PCs that a player owns and/or controls across all campaigns.
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32 If an existing character is copied from outside the campaign, the campaign now holds a copy that is entirely independent of the original from which it was cloned. That character will now appear in its original location //**and**// within the list of “Campaign PCs”, but the two are now distinct from each other. If an existing character is moved into the campaign, that character becomes a part of the campaign and disappears from the list of independent characters outside the campaign, although it still appears in the list of “Campaign PCs”.
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34 When introducing a character into a campaign with content sharing, an important choice must be made. The character can either be owned by the player or by the campaign. The owner dictates which purchased content is available for use by the character. A character owned by the campaign has access to all content shared by the campaign owner, while a character owned by the player uses all the content possessed by the player. As such, the campaign will typically be the preferred owner, but that's not required.
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36 //**Note:**// Even if the campaign owns the character, the player still controls it, so the question of character ownership is usually not a concern to players. A separate article delves into the details of [[character ownership and control>>doc:PC Ownership Versus Control]].
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38 //**Note:**// Players can always make a copy of their campaign character into a personal folder outside the campaign. And if a player leaves the campaign for any reason, the player will automatically receive a copy of the character outside the campaign. The character will also remain within the campaign for potential use as an NPC, at the GM's discretion.
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40 === Preparing the Character ===
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42 Characters exist within the GM's campaign, regardless of who owns them. As such, the GM dictates the rules governing the campaign and the characters taking part, so the GM may require players to conform to certain rules with the newly introduced character. This may take the form of limiting the books from which options can be selected, adjusting how the character is created, or something else entirely.
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44 The GM is able to view all details of each PC within the campaign at any time. The GM may therefore review and require changes to be made to any character. However, the GM cannot directly edit a character that does not belong to them.
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46 //**Note:**// If the campaign employs content sharing and the character is owned by the campaign, the GM //**can**// take control of the character away from the player and make changes, such as when helping new players or correcting errors. The GM can then assign control back to the player. From the perspective of basic etiquette, GMs should not generally take such action without first coordinating with the player, but it is possible to do. We recommend discussing this in advance with the GM if there are any concerns about this occurring.
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48 === Playing the Character ===
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50 With a character now in the campaign, the most efficient and effective way to play that character is through the "Play" tab, which is selectable at the top of the navigation pane on the left.
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55 This view provides access to all the most frequently needed aspects of the character during play. Users are free to navigate to any aspect of a character, or the stage, within the main panel. Any area can be accessed at any time. However, we recommend the Play tab as the initial starting point when first diving into Hero Lab Online, as that should work well at least 95% of the time.
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60 Within the side-panel on the right, showing the stage will likely be quite handy [[image:1589871113359-409.png]]. All of the participants in the current scene will be visible, along with capsule details about their health and initiative order. It's the perfect way to keep abreast of exactly how everything is unfolding during the game.
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62 If the character has a minion (e.g. animal companion, drone, etc.), the side-panel is extremely useful for a second purpose, as well. The details for a minion can be shown in the side-panel as an aspect of the character [[image:1589871170374-630.png]]. This approach allows making die rolls and activating abilities for the minion while leaving the main character loaded in the main panel.
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64 If screen space is limited, the navigation pane on the left is probably the least important and can be unpinned to hide it [[image:1589872368946-721.png]], as the Play tab will be visible almost all the time. It can always be temporarily overlaid for quick navigation access without re-pinning it.
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66 The best thing to do is to spend a little time exploring the product and trying out different approaches. There is a lot of versatility within Hero Lab Online, and various layouts work better for different types of characters on different sized devices. Whatever arrangement you choose, we hope you enjoy the adventure along the way!
Lone Wolf Development, Inc.
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