Things I Wish Publishers Did/Included?

Best thing about 13th Age IMO is their willingness to explain themselves.
They'd learned a lesson from 4e, which probably would have been better received initially if there more explanation of why they were doing what they were doing. Or possibly not, the Edition Wars have never been about rational discourse and reasoned arguments. :)

How is there not a game just called Edition Wars parodying the whole thing? Or is there one and I missed it in the endless flood of maps and random table books on DTRPG?

Or for some nesting doll BS, how about a Book of Books of Random Tables where every entry has a listing on DTRPG? There's got to be enough of them to do a d1000 master chart by now.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria 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.
The risk there is that these maps will quickly become too cluttered to effectively use as maps.

What would I like from publishers:

For rulebooks: proper indexes and-or tables of contents. Rules that at least try to cover the most obvious what-ifs and corner cases. Player-side and GM-side material clearly delineated or - better yet - in separate books.

For adventures: simple, clear maps with nothing on them that doesn't need to be there (DCCRPG, your maps suck for this). Detached or easily-detachable maps where the detaching doesn't hurt the resale value, so I can have the map and text open at the same time. Indicators on maps as to which way doors open, how long staircases are (and which way goes up or down!), and elevation changes. Short stat lines for monsters. Area/encounter write-ups and descriptions that don't assume the PCs' actions and-or direction(s) of approach. No unnecessary backstory. Cover the most obvious what-ifs, e.g. if an adventure is intended for characters of a level where having flight is likely then account for flight in the write-ups and design.

For both: proofread, proofread, proofread!
 

Staffan

Legend
Agreed in principle, but I admit I wouldn't miss them if not having a ribbon took $5 off the retail cost. :)
I am pretty sure I've seen at least one publisher (Might have been Morrus, or might have been Helmgast) mention that bookmark ribbons make great stretch goals for kickstarters because they make the book feel a lot more luxurious while actually costing very little.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
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.
Weird that they'd single out indie RPGs for this, given that people have complained about this with D&D since the 1970s. (3E was responsible for more economists having nervous breakdowns than any other cause in the history of economics.)

But yes, it's a problem generally. Your rules should deliver on the gameplay promised. If not, the rules need to be revised. I 100% agree.
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.
I'm at the point where I don't necessarily need a premade adventure (although that can be nice), but what I really want are generators to let me make good quality adventures. Depending on the game, that can be roll tables, plug and play elements, or something else. But yeah, if I've dropped $50 or more for your game, I don't want to be required to spend lots of time in the virtual garage getting it to run. (If I enjoy the game, I'll end up doing that later on, but lots of people never want to homebrew diddly and shouldn't have to.)
 

Celebrim

Legend
Weird that they'd single out indie RPGs for this, given that people have complained about this with D&D since the 1970s. (3E was responsible for more economists having nervous breakdowns than any other cause in the history of economics.)

Yes, but give me an example in say the 1970's rules that suggested actual game play was intended to be "Papers and Paychecks". The game had economics implied in it, and some color to explain the weird economics, and yes the economics didn't work if you tried to take D&D out of its core gameplay loops because the economics were entirely meant to support the core gameplay loops, but they did in fact support the core gameplay described by the text.

It's bizarre to me that we'd complain about D&D failing to describe how it was played since D&D in the 1970's and 1980's did such a good job describing how to play it that it didn't even need people to understand the rules in order to do so. The rules were often incoherent, obscure, and contradictory and laid out in illogical and incomprehensible manners, but wow did D&D describe what it wanted from play well.

Not only did it produce the finest selection of premade adventures any RPG has ever offered, but both the Basic rules and the 1e DMG contain interesting examples of Dungeons and well thought out examples of play that highlight how the rules work and guide the would be game master through several things that can go wrong like how to handle propositions for which there is no rule, how to handle PC failure, what are the expected consequences of play. These are some of the finest examples of play in a rulebook I've encountered.
 

Now some of mine are more commentary on designers than publishers but its fair to put in.

One thing I would love a game that hired an artist to just commission tons of profile images of characters that fit their setting. Especially for very unique settings. Its a great resource to put a face to an important NPC.

More publishers should embrace their role in making Character Keepers in various formats including Google Sheets but also the most common VTTs. Relying on fans to do so much feels wrong IMO - at least they should reach out to a fan project and reimburse them to polish it up. But it sounds quite idealistic given margins they have.

Touchstone inspirations/Appendix N should be a norm. I love reading and watching all kinds of related media to help me understand what tone/vibe/genre I am supposed to convey as the GM.

I think there is a lot of room to make character sheets faster and better. I love the cards you get with Starforged and City of Mist.

Ditching Justified when you end up with endless hyphens. Rag Right reads so much better even if you don't have perfect columns but instead I have way better readability. In general, they should research or hire people to improve readability (like having 45-75 characters per line) and accessibly especially.

Play examples would be much easier to follow if Player name, Character name and Class name all used alliteration and those with the same starting letter were not included in examples with each other. EG Gary the Game Master and Fred plays Fiona the Fighter. And names don't have to be anglo - even better if the example was based on playtesting.

Standard terms where you can. Flavor is great but if I can't skim and understand the core mechanics, its not setting the mood except frustration. Experience, Player, Game Master, PC, Initiative, etc. And I know Game Master is change frequently - its a small pet peeve of mine. Changing the term and acting superior that "oh in my game, they aren't a master" is acting deliberately arrogant and just wrong on the role of the GM in most games.

A list of go-to escalations and obstacles when my improv-ing chops aren't ready.

Keep your lore separated and put in the back of the book except for a summary. That microfiction mixing in makes reference EVEN harder.

PDF should have books, character generation and play should have examples.

No art behind text - again readability.

Avoid unnecessary technical or obscure language where common terms can do better. Don't have to go full 5e but there is a balance to be tested by your playtesters just reading it.

I love The Between's steps in the First Session. So easy to digest and well organized. And I love CATS (Concept, Aim, Tone, Subject Matter) - its basically how you sell the game and making sure expectations are well and set - one of the MOST important things to a successful TTRPG. Any tool to help with that really is key.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
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).
One edition of D&D came with the core monster manual as a 3 ring binder, and various expansions as additional pages to put in it. Picture buying an expansion book and it has collections of pages to put into your core books. Each page marked with an icon showing the source of it.

Just spitballing ideas.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
All I want is some designer information about intent behind various design choices.
I absolutely agree with you. I didn't realize how much I wanted this until I picked up the 13th Age RPG and it was full of sidebars from the authors (Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet) about why they did things, what tweaking certain rules meant, some alternate rules they play with, even where they disagreed at first and why they went with the rule they did. I just wish there was more of it.

Just to gush a bit more layout wise since that's the main topic of the thread, they also combined the index and glossary, so half the time you look something up you don't even need to go to a page.

I'd love pay extra for an "annotated" digital copy, full of little pop-up design diary entries, comments on interactions with other rules, and that sort of thing. You are right on the money that designers telling us "why" a rule exists would be so helpful.
 

Old Fezziwig

a man builds a city with banks and cathedrals
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.
Yes. I want designers to tell me what the overall shape of the game is supposed to look like when I sit down and play — Torchbearer, Mouseguard, Stonetop, and The One Ring are all really good at this. Reading the books, I got a quick sense of how things were supposed to shape up and what play would look like. Nothing makes me crazier than not knowing how a game should play in terms of form at the table. If you only have it system by system, give me that. Give me a flow chart. Give me something. I'm reading the second edition of BWHQ's Miseries & Misfortunes right now, and, even though it's a loose B/X retroclone, I couldn't possibly play it as one — and I haven't a clue what it is supposed to look like in play. (First edition was even worse. I was so confused.)

All I want is some designer information about intent behind various design choices.
This, too. I want designers to tell me what they were thinking when they chose x instead of y. 13th Age did a great job with this, and Burning Wheel's imps were wicked useful on my first read through. And books like Burning Wheel's Adventure Burner? I will buy them all if I like a game.
 
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TheSword

Legend
Full colour VTT quality maps.

If you don’t have them, or someone else hasn’t made them, I’m probably not going to run the module.
 

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