Is it just me? Tired of huge books


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After owning quite a few types I'm a big fan of the smaller digest sized books (blades in the dark is a good example). Much easier to port and sites well in the hand.

I don't mind having a core book broken into a few books to keep the size down.
 

HaroldTheHobbit

Adventurer
I'm one of those old dudes who's been an avid reader all my life, and prefer to have my letters on paper.
For the last years I've actually read a lot on a Storytel digital thingy, and that is fine for lazy fiction. But if it's a good book with rereadability I still buy a paper version for my library.

And I kind of do the same thing for games - first I get it on pdf, if it's good I buy the paper version. And then I want it to be as thick and massive as possible! There is something very special about sitting down with a fresh cup of coffee and a brand new, massive rpg tome to explore.
 

IvyDragons

Explorer
if you told me that the core 3 for DnD was all going to be one book, or even that the PHB and DNG were being combined, I would balk.

Is it just me?
Players only need the PHB so it would feel off. I think the problem with a new TTRPG, lets say 13th age, is that its hard to convince people to buy multiple books, since that is much more expensive, so its book is 300 pages but that is PHB, MM, DMG.
 

Endroren

Adventurer
Publisher
We broke our core book into three books (which is what I wanted to do), BUT I was really nervous about it. Aside from the fact that's just "not how it's done" for setting books, I worried that people wouldn't want to buy multiple books. Anyhow - here is the reasoning behind the decision. Curious if people think it's on track or off track (or fine either way!)

The three books are:
  • Adventurer's Guide (No rules, just setting, written 'in character')
  • Player's Guide (Character creation, setting specific character rules, etc.)
  • Gamemaster's Guide (Monsters, GM Secrets, GM Rules)
The reasons were:
  • You probably don't need all the setting color text (Adventurer's Guide content) during the actual game.
  • Player's don't need all the GM content. Plus it lets some GM content remain secret.
  • All the rules Players need at the table on game night are in one book with no extraneous content.
  • Some people won't care about the setting and just want the rules.
  • My mom can read the Adventurer's Guide like a story without running into confusing stat blocks. ;) ;)
Love to hear your thoughts.
 

I don't really want phonebook-sized TTRPG books either. I make an exception for DCC RPG (most of its bulk, really, is just the spells), but these days, slimmer is better for me. If I'm running the game, I don't want to have to flip back and forth constantly, holding multiple places at once. If I'm just a player, I don't want to have to carry around all that extra GM stuff just because it's all together.
 



My own feeling is that managing too many small books, especially when they're covering related ground, is just extra overhead. I particularly feel that way about PDFs, but to some extent I did back when I bought more physical books, too.
 

Hex08

Adventurer
To be blunt, if you told me that the core 3 for DnD was all going to be one book, or even that the PHB and DNG were being combined, I would balk.

Is it just me?
That's basically what Pathfinder did (at least 1E, I don't play 2E so I can't speak for it). There isn't a separate PHB and DMG, it's all just the core rulebook. It actually works out fine. I went from decades of playing D&D with more core books to Pathfinder and it didn't make a difference to me.

PDFs are nice for when I am playing online or working on a game at my computer but if I am sitting around a table give me a hard copy. With AD&D 1e - D&D 3.x/Pathfinder I usually knew the layout of the material in the core books well enough that I would rarely have to hunt for a rule, I would just open the book and would usually be within a few pages of the info I was looking for.
 

PF2e has a separate Gamesmaster Guide, but its got a lot of extensive alternate rules and such. I don't think it'd be that intrinsically useful to someone who just wanted to run the game as-is, as most of the basics you need are in the PHB.
 

Hex08

Adventurer
PF2e has a separate Gamesmaster Guide, but its got a lot of extensive alternate rules and such. I don't think it'd be that intrinsically useful to someone who just wanted to run the game as-is, as most of the basics you need are in the PHB.
Interesting, PF1E had a GameMastery Guide but it was more about how to be a GM rather than expanding on the rules.
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I don't mind big books, especially when they're full of stuff needed at the table (DCC) or just tons of character stuff and amazing art (Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria 2e).

Generally, I like having everything I need in a single book.

I also find PDFs and digital books difficult to use at the table, since it takes much longer to look things up in them. YMMV, of course.
 

Staffan

Legend
Ignoring the issue of cost, I find myself preferring smaller books these days, both in thickness and in page size. I find the G5 format (169 x 239 mm, slightly smaller than a comic book) used in most Swedish RPGs in the 80s and early 90s fairly optimal for reading. It fits two columns comfortably, and is easy to hold in your hand. Onyx Path Publishing's Trinity Continuum books are sold in a similar format (7x10 inches), and though I haven't actually held them in my hand (only PDFs) I like that size. Ideally you shouldn't go overboard on thickness either – better to find a way to split the book, e.g. a player's and a GM's book, or perhaps rules, spells, and monsters, or whatever seems appropriate.

That said, I'm not sure I prefer that enough to pay a premium for it. A G5 page has about 2/3 the area of A4 or US Letter, so a G5 book would need about 50% more pages to present the same amount of stuff as a regular-sized book, and would thus likely have a higher price point. But then again, that's not a certain thing. Paizo seems to charge about $50 for hardcovers in the 250-300 page range, which is about the same as Onyx Path charges for their 380-page Trinity Aeon book. But it's always hard to compare price points between different companies.
 

kenada

Legend
I came in here to rant about Torchbearer 2e, but the topic is about singularly large books. Actually, I’ll do it anyway. You need to read at least two 250–300 page books to get an understanding of the system. After our last session, I’m thinking you probably want to read the purportedly optional Lore Master’s Manual as well. That’s 800+ pages of material just to understand a game. It’s worse than Pathfinder because at least large chunks of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook are obviously not necessary or at least situationally necessary to understand the game.

Responding perhaps more to the intent of the question, I would rather have multiple books if they are organized by table utility rather than by audience or whatever it is Torchbearer is doing. Otherwise, my preference would be for a big book assuming that it is organized with the understanding everything is in one book (no bifurcating the rules in one volume as if you had published them in separate ones).

I’m working on a homebrew system for my group, and I’m leaning towards producing multiple booklets by utility. Why bother at all? I like using physical material at the table and don’t want just a printout. Anyway, I’m splitting things by overview/character creation, character options, adventuring (actual rules), and magic. When I see my players scrobbling between pages in a PDF or flipping back and forth just to create or advance a character, it just seems like a waste of all our time.
 

HorusZA

Explorer
I love myself some big, beautiful hardcover books with awesome art and a sense of completeness from a game perspective.
That said, I hate it when there is wasted space due to the graphic design / layout. The Alien book by Free League is an example of that: huge margins, sometimes wee little bits of text on a page... while reading through it I couldn't help but think "Man, considering the book's size, there isn't actually all that much content in here."
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm torn. The only advantage as the consumer I have for big books is that it's usually cheaper that several smaller books. Torchbearer 2nd was an example of that - three core books, PDFs @ $20 each, and just to play you required several books.

As a DM I like having multiple books because I might want this monster entry open at the same time as that gamemaster rule and looking up spells in the players book. But that's not solely limited by size - you can have a complete RPG in a single book and have it be a reasonable size.

I like having more flexibility in what I bring with me and need to carry as a player, so I don't have to carry extra rules, but for hardcover books the extra weight/space makes that a bit of a wash. Personally my favorite layout is softcover digest(s) distributed with PDF(s) in the same layout that I can cut-n-paste into my session prep and print.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
  • Adventurer's Guide (No rules, just setting, written 'in character')
  • Player's Guide (Character creation, setting specific character rules, etc.)
  • Gamemaster's Guide (Monsters, GM Secrets, GM Rules)
The reasons were:
  • You probably don't need all the setting color text (Adventurer's Guide content) during the actual game.
  • Player's don't need all the GM content. Plus it lets some GM content remain secret.
  • All the rules Players need at the table on game night are in one book with no extraneous content.
  • Some people won't care about the setting and just want the rules.
  • My mom can read the Adventurer's Guide like a story without running into confusing stat blocks. ;) ;)
+1 for bringing your mom into this. It makes sense to include monsters in the GM guide (unless you're Pathfinder...), because why would a GM say, "you know, I think I just don't need monsters at tonight's session?" I have a feeling that leaving the setting out of the Player's Guide enables murder-hoboism though.

That's basically what Pathfinder did (at least 1E, I don't play 2E so I can't speak for it). There isn't a separate PHB and DMG, it's all just the core rulebook. It actually works out fine. I went from decades of playing D&D with more core books to Pathfinder and it didn't make a difference to me.
I don't play PF2E either, but I have seen the book. It's huge. Like, Zweihaender-huge. So I'm actually glad that the PF2 bestiary is a separate beast, but trying to read the "core" book just gave me a sense of, um, being pinned under the foot of an ogre drawn by WAR.

I also find PDFs and digital books difficult to use at the table, since it takes much longer to look things up in them. YMMV, of course.
This is, from what I'm learning, an avoidable issue. There are several ways to look things up quickly in PDFs, but they all require using techniques that are generally not applicable to book usage. What I like about huge books (over PDFs) is that you can leave them open to a particular page, and that information doesn't get lost in the other apps, windows, and/or browsers you left open on your (e)desktop.
 
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Interesting, PF1E had a GameMastery Guide but it was more about how to be a GM rather than expanding on the rules.

There's some of that in the new one too, but its also the place all the alternate rules live.

Either way, there's nothing there you actually need to run the basic game as-is. A PHB and a Bestiary are fine.
 

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