Things I Wish Publishers Did/Included?

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
The TTRPG format has not changed a lot in the past 40 years or so: it is mostly walls of text separated by some tables and some art (all of varying quality). While there are on occasion products that challenge that standard, the vast majority of material, from rulebooks to adventures to setting material, takes this form. And while I like that format for the most part, there are some things I wish publishers did or included in their products.

First and foremost, every new RPG should come with a concise rules distillation booklet (or page or whatever is necessary based on the game in question). I mean a document that outlines the entire game rule structure in a few pages with easy look ups and cleared of all the obfuscating prose. It would look like a rules booklet for a complex board game. RPGs are games, and games are better and more fun when the rules are easy to reference. Too many RPGs bury their rules.

Second, for adventures, I want one look maps of dungeons, towns, locations, whatever. By "one look" I mean a map that tells me everything I (as GM) need to know about the layout, denizens and relationships in the place in order to run it effectively. Graphic design will be a powerful tool here, developing a language of icons and other indicators of who is where, their initial attitudes, their attitudes toward each other, and so on. I actually do this a lot myself with a print out of the map and a couple different colored markers. It is hard with "high production value" maps like, for example, The Abomination Vaults, because they don't print clean enough to effectively mark up. So if you aren't going to give me a one look map, give me clean maps I can print and mark up myself.

Event based scenarios should have similar "maps" in flow chart form -- and not the useless flow charts of Avernus, but actual flow charts that give the GM a concise tool for aiding play.

On the player side, especially for a relatively crunchy game like D&D or Pathfinder, I want class specific rulebooks: everything for playing that class is in that document, including subclasses or the equivalent, abilities/feats/spells, general game rules specific to that class (like grapple rules for melee characters and magic rules for casters) etc... It could just literally be cut and paste of the appropriate sections of the PHB and supplements, but it would be worth an extra expense to me to have everything in one easily accessible place.
 

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Staffan

Legend
On the player side, especially for a relatively crunchy game like D&D or Pathfinder, I want class specific rulebooks: everything for playing that class is in that document, including subclasses or the equivalent, abilities/feats/spells, general game rules specific to that class (like grapple rules for melee characters and magic rules for casters) etc... It could just literally be cut and paste of the appropriate sections of the PHB and supplements, but it would be worth an extra expense to me to have everything in one easily accessible place.
This is a really cool idea, but it doesn't really work well with the concept of rules expansions. I remember back when we were trying out Starfinder, and I printed out each class description as a separate book/pamphlet. That works fine until the first book adding options.

What I think would work better would be a service like Archive of Nethys or D&D Beyond where you could generate these things on the fly, or at least the actually class-specific parts (determining which generic parts would belong might be difficult).
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
For the first, I find Archieves of Nethys to be standard. Of course, if you dont want any digital media at the table and only physical, then a quick reference chart is good. I have seen such an item in a few games ive bought, but have always found them to be almost useful. I tend to end up making my own with a notecard setup with a ring. Though, im all digital these days.

For the second, the Paizo APs vary. I have not looked at AV or any of the PF2 ones so far, but many of the PF1 era APs had excellent one look maps. I cant comment on WotC stuff, it hasn't interested me so far.

Player class books, see Archive's of Nethys again. Its the standard. I think a physical product would be appreciated, but probably not profitable to produce.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
First and foremost, every new RPG should come with a concise rules distillation booklet (or page or whatever is necessary based on the game in question). I mean a document that outlines the entire game rule structure in a few pages with easy look ups and cleared of all the obfuscating prose. It would look like a rules booklet for a complex board game. RPGs are games, and games are better and more fun when the rules are easy to reference. Too many RPGs bury their rules.

Naturally I agree with a lot of what you're saying because that's the approach I'm taking with GEAS ;) Maybe not exactly, but pretty close. This is at the very front of the book, before anything else, and breaks down 90% of the core mechanic:

1707584324939.png

1707584396735.png

On the player side, especially for a relatively crunchy game like D&D or Pathfinder, I want class specific rulebooks: everything for playing that class is in that document, including subclasses or the equivalent, abilities/feats/spells, general game rules specific to that class (like grapple rules for melee characters and magic rules for casters) etc... It could just literally be cut and paste of the appropriate sections of the PHB and supplements, but it would be worth an extra expense to me to have everything in one easily accessible place.
This gets a bit tricky because many traits/abilities/powers can share the same mechanic, so you're just pumping out repeated material. I am fully on board of supporting something like this, but from a publisher's standpoint, it's a lot of extra work to organize and lay out everything needed into several different booklets. It's more than just cut and paste. It's reorganization, which is very time consuming. Especially if you have to make an update in place, then go and make the same update for everything else. Version control becomes problematic ;) What I am doing is having a page like this that every player can print out and keep with their character sheet. There is a sheet for every profession/specialty. Every time they choose another trait, they just mark it off and keep track of it that way, which kinda does what you're asking: to reduce the need to look at a book.

1707584724244.png
 

It could just literally be cut and paste of the appropriate sections of the PHB and supplements, but it would be worth an extra expense to me to have everything in one easily accessible place.
I feel like that might not work for all that many people, which is likely to reduce sales below the point where it's worth doing from the publisher POV. What you're suggesting is a class splatbook that's also reprinting core book material, when many entirely original splatbooks already struggle to be profitable. Some people would inevitably complain about buying the same thing twice, although whether they'd have bought an all-new class-splat either is pretty questionable too.

I'm reminded of how many of the old 2nd ed AD&D "Class Kit" books and later class handbooks from 3x were collecting dust in the local stores long after those editions were dead. Old WoD faction books were almost as bad off. Splatbooks are only marginally more reliable volume sellers than adventures are for a lot of games.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I guess I wasn't clear about the class specific book: it is a PHB for, say, playing a fighter only. I absolutely don't think it would be a viable print product, and would probably only really be viable as a "develop on demand" PDF where you check some boxes and an automated system stitches together sections of the rules for you. I don't know how complex such a thing would be, since I don't know anything about either programming or "desktop publishing" (do they still call it that?)
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
For the first, I find Archieves of Nethys to be standard.
AoN is indispensable but it isn't really what I am talking about.

TTRPGs have a word bloat problem based on the way creators have traditionally been paid. It has always behooved writers and designers to use as many words as possible in order to get paid more, but this is at cross purposes for actual playability. Rules need to be as concise and easily absorbed and referenced as possible, IMO, and a lot of really complex board games (some far more complex then a typical TTRPG) manage to explain their rules is at most a couple dozen pages rather than a couple hundred. of course, board game designers are incentivized to make those rule books short.

Part of the problem, i think, is that RPG books have by and large continued to be produced with traditional physical book store release in mind and that has held back design evolution.
 

I guess I wasn't clear about the class specific book: it is a PHB for, say, playing a fighter only. I absolutely don't think it would be a viable print product, and would probably only really be viable as a "develop on demand" PDF where you check some boxes and an automated system stitches together sections of the rules for you. I don't know how complex such a thing would be, since I don't know anything about either programming or "desktop publishing" (do they still call it that?)
Oh, I see. Yes, probably viable as a pdf or even POD product, and easy to do if the (presumably physical) core rules were written with layout modularity in mind from word one. So sure, good idea.

And yeah, going the 'zine-maker folks I know, "desktop publishing" is still in use as a term.
 


gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Well my current publishing project I'm developing is Gothic Western, a weird west setting for Pathfinder RPG 1.0/2.0, though it leans more to PF1 since PF2 is lacking much needed content - gun rules, Gunslinger, etc. The setting guide is intended to be both a GMs and Players Guide by including new classes or class archetypes to fit, some new feats, new spells, new magic items, and many of those classes align with various factions within the setting. I don't want to forcibly make classes take any specific feats or spells (those are individual choices of each player. A history is provided that intertwines with real world 19th century history, and the secret politics going on between the various factions.

Now with adventure writing, in my introduction, I plan to include a skeletal structure that the adventure is built around focused on mechanics and less on story, pointing to rules sources helpful to the module, as well as an overview of the module storyline. If you look at my Gothic Western thread in the PF/SF category on ENWorld, I point out that I'm including a 'fake newspaper' for each module, presenting the base adventure concept, potential threats while pursuing that adventure, even clues on major villians and NPCs hidden in fluff articles. The fake paper will include ads for local shops - serving the players to know what can be purchased in this community. The newspaper will fulfill many of the needed details players should have for a module, and in the form of a hand-out they can quickly reference. The local regional map needed for the module is included in the newspaper content as well. It's an artistic way to provide this needed data for each module.

I've never considered using flowcharts to depict adventures in a more schematic breakdown, not that I wouldn't do it, but that's not my normal approach.

I don't know if my map approach would be as inclusive of 'attitudes' and that kind of detail in the form of map symbols. I'm not for my very detailed artistic maps, but comes with lots of map support - multilayered PDF files, maps as print ready, VT ready, Roll20 specific VT ready.
 

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