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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%

The Soloist

I'm a fan of box sets like Dragonbane. You get a rule book everyone can use and an adventure book with setting info just for the GM. Pre-gen characters, dice, a deck for the initiative, a two-sided battle map, standees, a treasure card deck and solo rules. Lots of value for my money.

If the game is only in book format I prefer two books: Player's + GM's (including adversaries).

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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.
I don't think I ever saw the first edition boxed set, as the only edition I'm familiar with was the version printed by Games Workshop under licence.


Loves Your Favorite Game
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.
I agree with everything after the bolded, in general, I'm fine with pushing that out to a separate book, for multiple reasons. However, the reason I voted one book in the poll is that I think the core book should include everything you fundamentally need to play the game, which to me absolutely includes GM instruction.


Voted "Something else" because I don't have a one-size-fits-all answer. Some games work well in a single volume -- or even a single page -- while others work best with three volumes. It's whatever serves the game best. I will say though that I have a soft-spot in my heart for boxed sets, but that's partially nostalgia speaking.

One option I like is one book with everything in it for the GM and one book with just the player-facing rules for the player. This way the GM (who most of the time will need to know the player-facing rules as well) only has to buy one book.

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.
This isn't personal or anything, but...

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