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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Does size matter?

My wife says "yes" and that I am doing fine.  But, that's not what I'm talking about here.

What I am talking about is Role-Playing Games (well, there went a few of my readers).  I am currently writing my second RPG.  It's actually one that has been in the making for longer than Age of the SwordLife of Rage is a simple RPG where the player characters are Orcs in a typical Tolkienesque (or more accurately, a WarCraft-esque) setting.  And mainly because I am doing it alone, it promises to be another slim offering, page count-wise.  So this question naturally comes to mind.

Perusing the RPG shelf in any book store or game store, you can see that professionally manufactured games tend to be thick, hardbound, and chock full of fluff and artwork.  But even though that seems to be the industry standard (even most indie RPG's follow this model), is it really necessary?  I mean, can an RPG be pretty bare-bones, and still be fully functional and fun to play? 

I'd like to think so.  Especially since, at near completion (minus artwork and a lot of background for the setting) LoR is only weighing in at 27 pages right now.  I estimate that when all is said and done, the whole thing won't be much more than 50 pages, if that.  Obviously, I could format it to take up more than that, but I probably won't.  Unless it gains some kind of cult following.

Conversely, how much is too little?  LoR is slim, mainly because I put the mechanics up front, and have very little fluff and flavor-text.  I could go the White Wolf route and put short fiction throughout the book.  But what value does that really add, other than just pure entertainment? 

I'm also leaving out a lot of the "crap" that I personally don't find very useful in other RPG's.  Things like rules for movement, encumbrance, lighting, etc.  Instead, I am replacing all of that with what I call "The Rule of Common Sense."  And finally, combat is streamlined, simple and fast (and brutal).  Not a lot of extra fluff needs to be added there either.

So, as table-top gamers, are you turned off by slim game books?  Are we, as a consumer group, conditioned to view bigger as better when we are shopping for a new book?

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