View Full Version : New user guide in development

Moon Wizard
February 27th, 2010, 01:58
UPDATED: Mar. 23, 2010. Manuals published. You can now find the links on the Librarypage.

UPDATED: Mar. 11, 2010. Alternate approach, breaking each ruleset into a complete user guide of its own. Give me your feedback please.

UPDATED: New user guide sections completed on Mar. 8, 2010. One week until publishing.

I've been working on building a new user guide to replace the existing user guide, while combining every note I can find on FG functionality that is supported.

I currently have all of the player's portion of the guide updated for both 3.5E and 4E rulesets, and the reference sections are completed as well. I am still working on the gamemaster portion of the guide. I will be continuing to work on finishing the guide in the meanwhile, so you may see GM updates over the next week or so.

New User Guide Link (http://www.fantasygrounds.com/userguidebeta/)

Please let me know what you think, or if you find any issues. I will post an update here when the GM section is complete as well.


February 27th, 2010, 06:25
You got a typo there. Extra 'e'. Fixed: http://www.fantasygrounds.com/userguidebeta/

Lookin' good. I think people will find this useful.

March 4th, 2010, 23:53
I have to say that the work you have done on the 4E rulesets is simply amazing. You are an incredible asset to the community.

The guide is looking good. I do have one question that I am not sure if it's a part of the system (4E), a separate entity, or something outside of alteration. My players enjoy the Dungeon Extension (layout), but I find some of the text difficult to read when there's an entry that has a lot of it. Is there a way to alter the fonts to these extensions and, if so, can the instructions on how to alter extension be added to the guide at some point.

As always, thank for everything.

Moon Wizard
March 5th, 2010, 00:52
Altering existing rulesets and extensions is definitely an advanced topic, that won't be covered in the user guide for now.

Extensions are essentially ZIP files containing all the files necessary for the extension to work. Just open one up, and take a look inside. They are a lot like ruleset editing. Take a look at the files and you can find all of the font names and which font file they link to. You can also find the font files themselves.

To change a font in an extension, you need to extract the extension files, update any font information (font XML reference, font file), then rebuild the extension. You might want to use a new extension name if you do this, so it doesn't get replaced the next time you update.


Moon Wizard
March 8th, 2010, 10:00
OK, I've completed all of the sections of the new User Guide. Please take a spin, and let me know if you have any questions, suggestions or fixes.


March 8th, 2010, 11:59
Looking good.

I could have a go at writing the Savage Worlds version if you want?

Moon Wizard
March 8th, 2010, 19:16
That would be great. I'm not familiar with the Savage Worlds game myself.

It's not the easiest format to work in to build the manuals, since they are written as XML topics that get transformed into HTML. However, I can send some examples, if you want to give it a try.

The other option is that you can tell me which pages are the same for Savage Worlds, and provide me with text/images for new pages. Then, I could throw them together, since I'm already familiar with the XML.

Also, I'm thinking that I might need to split the user guide for each ruleset, since the left hand menu is already getting too long for the layout, especially with all the new pages I added.


March 11th, 2010, 01:11
Thew latter may be the way to go...

I'll start something soon

Moon Wizard
March 12th, 2010, 08:15
Since the user guide was getting a bit unwieldy lumping both 3.5E and 4E together, I decided to see what they would look like separately.


Which do you prefer? The original combined guide, or the separate guides?


March 12th, 2010, 08:48
I think it depends on how much the functionality of the rulesets will overlap. To my mind there are three levels of functionality:

Level 1: FG engine functionality (this is common to all rulesets);
Level 2: Ruleset functionality that is rules-agnostic (such as portraits in chat, or P2P whispers); and
Level 3: Ruleset functionality that is rules-specific (such as using spells/powers etc).

If your level 2 functionality is implemented the same in both 3.5E and 4E, then it might be better to keep the documentation in one place. If that level 2 functionality is different, then it might be better to keep the docs separate.

Just my 2c!


March 12th, 2010, 09:15
I like the separate guides. It looks cleaner to me than having common sections and then multiple sections for different rulesets. There is, of course, the problem of having the same information in two places and keeping the two in sync.

Is there any feeling on having a PDF version, rather than the existing HTML pages?

Moon Wizard
March 13th, 2010, 02:28
I agree with both of you. The challenge is the tradeoff between ease of use, and managing all the content. I think the separate manuals are easier to understand and use, but they definitely require more upkeep.

Given that the manuals are very rarely updated, I'm leaning towards the separate approach. Also, the way they are built, I can pretty much drag and drop between folders to update the same topic on multiple rulesets.

Finally, the benefit of a separate manual is that we can eventually get manuals online for other rulesets as well, without complicating things too much.


Moon Wizard
March 13th, 2010, 02:34
On the PDFs, I looked at trying to find a way to publish to the web and PDF using a single source, but all of the reasonable solutions are essentially professional grade help file creators with big price tabs.

In the end, it wasn't cost effective for the business. It makes more sense for me to take the time to toss everything in a PDF manual or tweak the online version to allow PDF printing (like the refdoc version of the FGWiki).


March 14th, 2010, 15:39
If you store the manual in a database, it would allow for multiple options. I know this would be a bit on the late side, but better now then never.

This is an on the fly description of the structure. My guess would be to have two tables (possibly three) that would contain the information.



SELECT InstructionData
FROM tbl_Manual m INNER JOIN tbl_Associations a ON m.PrimaryKeyID=a.FK_PrimaryKeyID
WHERE PageName = '[Passed Variable]' AND ActiveVal = TRUE AND EditionVal = [Passed Variable]
ORDER BY SortOrder

You would probably use query strings to tell which edition and pull the page name as well.

Just a thought.

March 19th, 2010, 23:06
If the user guides are separated, then I would like one that has just the core (i.e non-ruleset specific) functions. It would be frustrating to use a guide designed for a specific ruleset when using a ruleset that doesn't have its own guide - and most don't.

Wow, that came out sounding much more confusing than I had intended. :)

-Kevin McD

Moon Wizard
March 24th, 2010, 05:27
Interestingly enough, the functionality of FG is 98% defined by the ruleset, so there is no way to define a "core" ruleset manual. There are several generic rulesets to build from, but the 4E ruleset does not use any of them and the upcoming 3.5E ruleset update won't either (will use 4E improvements instead).

The manuals have now been published. Thanks for all the input.


Hye Jedi
March 31st, 2010, 05:11
Since the user guide was getting a bit unwieldy lumping both 3.5E and 4E together, I decided to see what they would look like separately.


Which do you prefer? The original combined guide, or the separate guides?

Being a new FG user, I'm not 100% confident this isn't "user error" on my part... but when viewing the 4E user guide - "Activating a Character" section, the following procedure doesn't seem to apply:

1) You can only perform this operation on your own characters.
2) Locate the portrait of the character to activate, and invoke its radial menu using the right mouse button.
3) Select "Activate" in the menu.
4) The character will be activated, and all further chat and die rolls will be labeled to this character's name.

Is this a only valid in the 3.5E ruleset? or am I doing something wrong? For me the 1st and 3rd option for activating a character work in the 4E ruleset.

Moon Wizard
April 1st, 2010, 21:36
It looks like I must have disabled it with the changes I made to allow characters to be activated simply by clicking on the portrait. Were you looking specifically for this to work for a particular situation, or just noticed that the option didn't show up?


Hye Jedi
May 2nd, 2010, 07:10
It was more that I didn't see the option show up and wanted to know if I had something misconfigured on my end. Now that I know... I'm good since the other two are more than sufficient to get the job done. :)