Just in case anyone else runs into a similar problem, I was looking at the wrong api urls to get what I needed.
I needed to be getting JSON from the topic data, rather than category or post. Most everything is working now.
i've been working on a fork of persona and wanted to know what would i need to change in order to do this:
instead of "No new posts", i'd like to show the main post of the most recent thread in that category, if it exists.
i'm already aware of the hook i need (
filter:categories.build), what i really wanted to know was how to get the main post of the most recent thread for all categories, and pass that to the template data so i can render it there.
actually, derp, nevermind, i see https://github.com/NodeBB/NodeBB/issues/4669 already takes care of this