Things I Wish Publishers Did/Included?

mcmillan

Adventurer
I really like how monte cook books (and a few one off systems I’ve seen) put reference pages in the sidebar for where game terms being referenced are explained in more detail. Makes a good way to find things when you need a reminder without digging through entire indices. For the cypher books it even cross references things from different books. So makes easy to find things like creature stats for adventures or options in supplements that affect rules from the core books
 

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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Modern (or is that "Contemporary" now?) TTRGPs desperately need a UI/UX pass.

Books formatted in a way that naturally flows from reading; Not having to look up the rules for one scenario in three different chapters of the book, having the core mechanics first, having conflict resolution mechanics next to each other, having special circumstances be sup-topics of the thing they are modifying.

Having individualized character sheets depending on classes. Some characters need different parts of a character sheet in different amounts and that's fine. What's not fine is having a compromised default character sheet that nobody can use efficiently to begin with, especially if characters can grow out of the default sheet due to leveling up. While a formattable character sheet is beyond the reasonable asking range for most smaller companies, we do live in a digital age, where you can make more than one character sheet while skipping a significant amount of the effort needed, by using copy/paste on the areas that are the same (or even mostly the same).

Not falling into the parasitic design trap.

Exclusive mechanics are one way to make classes/roles feel different from each other, but exclusive mechanics that don't function well (or in the most extreme cases, at all) with the rest of the ruleset are parasitic. Basically The Decker Problem (hi to you Shadowrun), but it could also be applied to things like D&D Psionics, and even the Rogue class when the other classes have to suffer from their niche protection (such as trap removal). And even when they aren't as obtrusive, specialized subsystems create an imbalanced strain on GMs having to learn the system (and thus subsequently every subsystem or exclusive system) and player who only have to learn the core mechanics and the subsystem attached to their character.

And I also agree with the request for developer commentary, grey boxes are great.
 
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For published adventures, I just wish they'd make a suite. It would include:
  • All the combat maps needed for every encounter in the adventure
  • All the overland maps that highlight regions, towns, areas
  • A nice colorful artist's rendition of specific scenes or images that have extremely interesting features/terrain/components
  • The published adventure (of course)
  • A link to the soundscapes of special settings, scenes, or combat
  • DRUM ROLL - Every single mini that the adventure mentions, quite a few in multiple form (Have a combat with six undead - put the six undead in there)
I know most people wouldn't pay for this, but to me, it feels like many people would. I would encourage WotC to try it, especially with an historic module like "Against the Cult of the Reptile God" or something similar.
 

That would be quite a ribbon at $5 a pop.
Depends on a bunch of factors. A really quick look at 2024 printing services turns up quotes for as little as 16 cents per book (plus a $20 setup fee) to as high as $1.50 (with no setup), and all of those vary based on how many you're having printed at once. You'll also get more rejects, which may or may not affect total costs depending on your contract - some printers eat that cost, others don't. Cheaper than it was the last time I looked, but not by much. That's how much extra the publisher pays, so adjust for wholesale discounts if you want any kind of distribution and decide how much profit you want to make at the end of the day. $5 is probably way on the high side (I was being facetious), but a $2-3 markup for the buyer? Probably not implausible for smaller print runs - which doesn't excuse WotC, of course.

Maybe someone who's done a book with a ribbon bookmark can give a firm figure on what it cost them. I'm honestly curious what it runs these days, but don't feel like digging more definite info out of the printing marketplace.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Depends on a bunch of factors. A really quick look at 2024 printing services turns up quotes for as little as 16 cents per book (plus a $20 setup fee) to as high as $1.50 (with no setup), and all of those vary based on how many you're having printed at once. You'll also get more rejects, which may or may not affect total costs depending on your contract - some printers eat that cost, others don't. Cheaper than it was the last time I looked, but not by much. That's how much extra the publisher pays, so adjust for wholesale discounts if you want any kind of distribution and decide how much profit you want to make at the end of the day. $5 is probably way on the high side (I was being facetious), but a $2-3 markup for the buyer? Probably not implausible for smaller print runs - which doesn't excuse WotC, of course.

Maybe someone who's done a book with a ribbon bookmark can give a firm figure on what it cost them. I'm honestly curious what it runs these days, but don't feel like digging more definite info out of the printing marketplace.
When I did Twilight Fables last year, 750 print run, it was $1.
 

Celebrim

Legend
So I think we're reaching a point in RPG design where the rules are often quite concise and well laid out.

What I don't typically see is:

a) Proof that the rules create a good game. There is a really good youtube video about this where they spoof indy RPGs by how the flavor text of an RPG can often be completely awesome sounding, and inspire DMs to want to run adventures in that world, but then the game completely fails as a game because the flavor text is not at all related to the world the rules actually build, the creativity that makes the fictional setting interesting is actually a hinderance to the rules, the math doesn't work and so the rules don't work for game resolution, and the gameplay in no way relates to the fiction that was described in the text. I think the take away is "You've been tricked into buying the micro-fiction of a failed author." For me, the first thing I look for when reading a new RPG now is whether the examples of play a) actually relate to the rules and b) actually attempt to address anything other than carefully chosen idealized results in the system in the most simple idealized scenarios. It's very closely akin to what I am analyzing when I look at a new programming technology: "Is this a real solution or is this just a toy solution that doesn't scale up to real world problems? Does this really make my job easier or is this just a bunch of marketing spin?" How good the flavor text is outside of its interface with the rules is something I put zero value in now. Give me real world examples of play that look like they were generated from play, and show me how well your rules handle problems.

c) Excellent adventures bundled in with the rules. This is a subset of above, and the real proof is in the pudding thing. Can you create a scenario that actually runs well if I take your rules that you've laid out and rigorously apply them to an example of play? Or does it turn out that you've never play tested this game except for with your spouse or one best friend or something, and when you ran those scenarios you were ignoring your own rules as often as not? Because I've seen so many RPGs out there where it feels like the later.

A very big negative for me when I evaluate rules now is that it does neither of those things and additionally leaves all the hard work of crafting the back plot ("What exactly have the NPCs done?") of the scenario and fore plot ("What exactly do the NPCs plan to do next absent interference by the PC's, and what steps are they likely to take if the PC's interfere in some of the more likely ways?") entirely up to the GM. I don't know how many setting books I've seen that are just broad strokes and no concrete details and no well detailed jump start plots to get things going in their very sketchily and nebulous sandbox.
 



Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
It's kind of odd how much that's fallen out of favor over the years. I can remember most of the earliest games I owned back in the 70s dedicating a page or two to designer's notes, and those were old hex-and-counter wargames with comparatively brief rulebooks. Even some of the dinky little $3 microgames would often have a paragraph or three, and those things were smaller than most modern zines. RPGs generally have a lot more page space to work with, but they're really erratic about including some insight as to why the designers did what they did.

The ones that do stick that sort of thing in are much appreciated, at least by me. Pelgrane's generally quite good about it, and 13th Age in particular has boxed input from multiple designers scattered throughout the rulebook.
Best thing about 13th Age IMO is their willingness to explain themselves.
 

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