Running a Game Where Not All Players Use HLO

Last modified by Rob B on 2020/04/23 12:34

When everyone in the gaming group is using Hero Lab Online, everything is streamlined for the entire group. But some players may prefer the old school, pen-and-paper approach - or perhaps don't have a suitable device on which to run HLO. Sometimes, the game itself makes it impractical for players to join a campaign (e.g. organized play). Hero Lab accommodates these situations smoothly through the introduction of Stand-In PCs.

How Do Stand-Ins Work?

The purpose of a Stand-In PC is to allow GMs to track a simplified version of the character that contains only as much information as you, the GM, deems necessary. If all you want is a character name, that's fine. If you want to track race, class, and hit points, you can do that, too. Or you can flesh out the character further with basic attacks and defenses. It's entirely up to you how much detail is included. You can even evolve the character details incrementally as they become needed during play.

Once a Stand-In PC is created, it appears on the stage and operates just like any other character. You can set its initiative during combat and track when it's the character's turn to act. Damage can be assigned. Pretty much anything a normal character can do is possible with a Stand-In PC, allowing you to always have all the PCs in one central location for reference, even if not all the players are using Hero Lab. As an added benefit, the Stand-In PC displays just like the normal PC would on the stage, so all the players can see it, as well.

Players Can Manage Stand-Ins

While some GMs will prefer to manage the Stand-Ins themselves, that's not required. You can offload the effort to track the PCs to the players. Doing so allows you to focus your energies on running the game while still having everything conveniently available within HLO for everyone at the table.

If the controlling player is amenable, s/he could create an HLO Demo account, allowing you to create the Stand-In PC and transfer it to the player. The player can then add the appropriate details to the Stand-In and even manage the character during the game, such as taking and healing damage. The player can continue running the character primarily via pen-and-paper, but the basic state of the PC can be entered in and then shared with everyone in the game.

If the player is not amenable, or doesn't have a suitable device at the game, a different player can also manage the Stand-In. You can assign control of the Stand-In to any player you choose, allowing them to enter the details you need and track what happens to the PC during play. In fact, a player can control multiple characters simultaneously, so you could simply enlist one player to track the Stand-In PCs for multiple players that aren't using HLO.

Running a Game With All Stand-Ins

Some games simply don't make sense for players to join a campaign. Classic examples are those at conventions or game stores, such as organized play. Such games are perfectly suited for GMs using Hero Lab.

In games like these, the GM typically obtains the most important details about each PC from the players and then tracks them somehow. The details might be written on note cards or a dry erase board or something else for quick reference. That's exactly what Stand-In PCs provide, plus some valuable extra benefits.

Not only do Stand-Ins track all the details, that information is conveniently available on the stage. And the Stand-Ins make it easy to manage combat and initiative order, as they're interleaved with all the cast members controlled by the GM. Every GM needs to coordinate all of this, and Hero Lab does the job in a more streamlined and integrated manner than the alternatives.

Lone Wolf Development, Inc.