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RPG Book Design

(As always, a work in progress) The following parts are usually found in most roleplaying game books:

  • Introduction: Gives a presentation of the game. There may be mechanics but for the most part you can skim this.
    • Dictionary: Gives explanations for some of the stuff in the book. Useful.
  • World: Information pertinent to the game universe. Usually presented in either “Fluff” or mechanics/“fact” and might be separated from the rules section or mixed with it. May be good for adventure ideas and to grasp the world but can be dry to read or of all over the place.
    • Fluff: (Usually) The universe through the eyes of its characters and fiction pieces. Soft/fuzzy knowledge of the world.
    • “Fact”: The universe as presented from a third or neutral “reliable” party, often from a bird's eye view - economics, social mores, religion, gods, secrets and so on
    • There may be separate knowledge player characters would know from what game master
  • Rules: The game mechanics used. Learn the most important ones, avoid looking them up mid-game.
    • Core game resolution mechanics: As in dice and concepts. Provided in the introduction or very early in the rules section
    • Conflict resolution: Typically the most important part of the game. Typically ruled by simple mechanics except for things such as combat or magic.
    • Subsystems: Come in two flavours - big and small. Big are typically “mandatory” in a core rulebook.
      • Big (mandatory): Magic, Combat - not necessarily relevant for all players but important enough to have their own rules.
      • Small (optional) subsystems are generally scattered across the book. They can be ignored and should be used only if they would add something to a game - typically a game focused on winter survival might have more use for dehydration and frostbite rules than a game focused on court intrigue
  • Adventure: Meant as an introduction to the roleplaying game.
    • Overview
    • The adventure in detail (Usually ordered by Places or Scenes)
    • Maps
    • NPCs

Design Theory

It is usually assumed that a game master will read more or less the entire book. Players will read parts of it.

Unfortunately (some) players will read the secrets meant as adventure seeds because they seem cool and master the (game breaking) rules the GM do not have the interest/time for. This is because roleplaying game books, especially core rule books, mix everything.


Gives a presentation of the book.

What are roleplaying games

A philosophical treatise on the nature of roleplaying games. Usually skipped by anyone who has read a roleplaying game before.

(Vincent) From a game designer perspective: Often entirely pointless.


rpg_book_design.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/13 04:26 by maxraven

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