How Do You Decide What RPGs to Buy?


Deluxe Unhuman
I feel your pain, @Retreater ! I, too, can't stand when the useful bits are buried in text.

With any luck, you can rely on a publisher's previous books to suggest what a new book by them will be like.

Together, these are the reasons I backed Shadowdark at the hardback _ pdf level. I had discovered Arcane Library's adventures years ago, when I discovered how frustrating WOTC's adventures were for me to run. AL's adventures are to-the-point, concise, and have clear layout with bullet-points and everything. I fell in love, and leapt at Shadowdark. I kind of wish the book was two books: a small core rules or players' book, and the monsters and randoms tables and what-all as a GM's book - but that's not a complaint.

I regularly buy lower-priced stuff just to support the creators, even if I think it's unlikely I'll use it. Often I give this kind of stuff away as gifts or to whoever in my group is interested.

Bigger-ticket items have to check multiple boxes off or me before I'll even think about buying. Will I actually use them? Are they good for more than just one system? Are the contents laid out clearly? There are more, but I'm at work and can't organize my thoughts enough.

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Is it the newer edition from 2018? If so, I agree that there's a lot of excellent material but the organization and presentation of some elements is hard to deal with. The earlier editions like the 2001 version lacks the new additional material, but is much better organized and easy to run with. The clue inventories at the start of each chapter are listed in tables rather than busy maps and the NPCs are detailed in their encounter locations/scenes rather than in a summary at the chapter start. I like the use of bullet points in the newer edition, but I don't like having to page back several pages to find info on, for example, the principals of the Clive expedition when the PCs are at the dig site.
It is the 2018 edition, and I agree the layout in not 100% bad but things like the information on NPCs being split across a minimum of 3 locations is just perverse, and the block text mixing up the immediately apparent, the information that is conditional, and the information for the Referee only is sadly standard of Chaosium's standard approach to adventure design (at least in relation to CoC).


Sometimes the pitch alone is enough to sell me, but I guess the best way to get me to buy a game is to describe to me what playing that game was like for you, and telling me why you like it. One part of that helps because I'm probably getting introduced to what makes that game special, and that specialness resonates with me. One part of that is seeing how the game made somebody else excited to play.

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