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Should a TTRPG have a singular Core Rulebook or more?

What should a TTRPG's Core Rules look like?

  • One book, complete.

    Votes: 43 49.4%
  • Two books.

    Votes: 13 14.9%
  • Three books.

    Votes: 5 5.7%
  • More than 3 books.

    Votes: 2 2.3%
  • A boxed set.

    Votes: 3 3.4%
  • Something else.

    Votes: 21 24.1%

Whatever it needs. There are pros and cons of each format, so I would expect good developers to choose a format that they think will suit their game best. I do like to have the option of both digital and paper editions of any game that I'm going to play frequently.

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Relaxed Intensity
'One book' seems to be leading in the votes right now... but I wonder if that would remain the case if an addendum was added to the question, of "The total price would be the same regardless of the number of books released."?

In other words, are some people voting for 'One book' merely because they assume it would be cheaper to get everything in a single volume, and price matters more to them than any potential gains in ease-of-use that might occur by distributing rules in separate tomes? Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't matter to me either way, but I'd be curious if taking cost out of the equation and making it merely about weight, rules distribution, and organization might produce different results?

At least for me it's more about a preference for designs that are suited for a single volume. I'm not looking for a retread of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook or Exalted Third Edition. I want games that fit, at least the core of play, into a 300 or less page book. I'm also not a fan of GM mysticism and like removing as many barriers as possible for someone to move to the other side of the screen so I favor designs that are able to do so.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I went with something else cause I really think it depends on the game. I think bespoke systems do just fine with a single rulebook. Something that is a general RPG (D&D, GURPS, ETC..) likely need 2-3 books because of their expansive and general nature.

I do wish an option for an extensive website like an SRD or Archive of Nethys was included in the poll. That is what I want the most.

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Well, it WAS pretty OP as originally published. Get a signature paladin ability for basically a feat slot? That’s too good.
Sure, it was pretty strong. And it could have been rebalanced. But look at what it was turned into and tell me that anyone would want that.

EDIT: my main gripe was, at the time, a lot of things that my group had been using without much issue kept being hit with the nerf bat because of stuff people were doing in public play, like Crane Wing or the Jingasa of the Fortunate Soldier.

Anyways, this isn't really relevant to the topic at hand, so I return you to your regularly scheduled thread.
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I do wish an option for an extensive website like an SRD or Archive of Nethys was included in the poll. That is what I want the most.

This. From personal experience, although we do have physical books, when playing, it's easier to find specific stuff using quick search on the phone than flipping trough the book. So good SRD is golden.

I'm one book guy. Gimme all the necessary rules for playing and running game at the same place.

Thomas Shey

I think it depends on two factors:

1. What ground is the game covering? A lot of games need some sort of opponent book, whether its monsters or supervillains. But not all.

2. How detailed is the game? A crunchier game needs to cover the ground somehow, and sometimes fitting that into one book is impractical or undesirable.

aramis erak

I think the old FASA Star Trek boxed set had three books, one for the players, one for the GM and a setting book for Starfleet.

I'd go for the three book model plus one book for extra setting materiels that can be used by all.
That was the STRPG 2e boxed set.

STRPG 1e had a 3/8" thick softcover rulebook, plus a booklet of general plans for the Constitution Class and the d7 Class, a booklet explaining those, and a booklet of control panels for the Constitution Class when in ship combat.

Note that ship combat in STRPG 2e was sold separately in the Star Trek III Tactical Combat Simulator.


If it’s not a super light system, and it is a D&D style system with the classic separation of players and a GM, there should be at least 2 books.

One for rules the players need to know, like the purpose of stats, classes, character generation, spell descriptions, equipment and the basic resolution system.

And one for the GM on how to run the game, with procedures for various situations and content the players shouldn’t be reading, like magic item descriptions, monsters, how to populate dungeons, towns, etc.

This makes the system more approachable for players as they can settle for a cheaper book that doesn’t look like it’ll bury them under an avalanche of rules, many of which they shouldn’t be reading anyway.

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