Dilemmas about Splitting the Book

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Omnifray:- fantasy roleplay in the mysterious Enshrouded Lands, "a thousand worlds in one", where magic bubbles away beneath the surface, beyond the ken of the common folk, with a unique, detailed, highly flexible rules system

Dilemmas about Splitting the Book

Postby Omnifray » 1:59am on 06 Dec 15

So this might be one of those pivotal moments in the evolution of the Soul's Calling RPG.

Currently I am editing the drafts of the Player's Quickstarter and the Core Guide.

These books are at two extremes. The Quickstarter is in US Trade size, with 12-point font, and under 40 pages long. It tells you things to help you play a game refereed by someone else, but the information is fairly superficial. The Core Guide is in US Letter format, with 12-point font, and exceeds 400 pages. At least 70-odd pages of that are CharGen.

As the Core Guide grows, I'm thinking I need to split it. I've always felt uncomfortable about main rulebooks that didn't contain all the info needed to ref a game, though I'm well aware, of course, that the Game that Started All Games has a long history of taking that course, even when both the player's book and the ref's book came in the same box (O Halcyon Days of Yore!).

I'm now tending to think that given the depth that I go into in the Core Guide it would be good to have summaries giving an overview of the main rules without explaining every detail, so that people can read those first to help them process the information in the full rules. But those summaries in themselves won't have enough in them to ref the game to my satisfaction. And adding them to the Core Guide would increase the inevitability of it hitting 500 pages in its current format.

So I think I'm going to have split the Core Guide into a book for everyone and a book for just the ref-team (referee and a-refs), although everyone would be welcome to read that book too if they felt so inclined.

Conveniently the main content of the "book for everyone" would be the 15 pages of intro-text and the 70-odd pages of CharGen materials currently sitting at the start of the "book for just the ref-team". The remainder of the content could be an overview of the main rules by way of summaries whether distilled from the current Core Guide or based on the text of the Quickstarter in probably a slightly expanded form. This would give players an idea of the procedures being followed without burdening them with all the details. It could also be very useful in giving them basic information on the spells contained in the Core Guide, again in more digestible chunks than you need to adjudicate on them properly.

So, this idea is starting to grow on me, and I'll see where I get with it. Any thoughts on the names I choose for the books, or how I might divided the content, please post here. I'm thinking probably the "Player's Primer" for the first book and the "Reffing Handbook" for the second book.
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Re: Dilemmas about Splitting the Book

Postby decfeeney » 1:54am on 07 Dec 15

Omnifray wrote:So, this idea is starting to grow on me, and I'll see where I get with it. Any thoughts on the names I choose for the books, or how I might divided the content, please post here. I'm thinking probably the "Player's Primer" for the first book and the "Reffing Handbook" for the second book.


I really don't like the "Reffing Handbook".

As spoken slang its okay. As written slang it just looks wrong.

In addition you will find disgruntled players calling it "that effin' Handbook".

I would much prefer the "Referee's Handbook" or the "Ref's Handbook".
Declan Feeney,


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Re: Dilemmas about Splitting the Book

Postby Elina » 7:08am on 07 Dec 15

How about the Player's handbook and the Referee's handbook? (I assume referee is how you call the GMs in your game).

"Primer" for me signifies something "quick and dirty" with a bit of a back of the envelope feel. I think your War and Peace length game is far beyond that and you would be selling yourself short. It may be just me though.

Good luck!
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Re: Dilemmas about Splitting the Book

Postby simonpaulburley » 7:41am on 07 Dec 15

IMHO:

Souls Calling has 3 USP's:

1) a detailed and evocative setting
2) some highly specific approaches to running the game (a-refs, immersion etc.)
3) the fact that it IS a "War and Peace" style magnum opus of a game system.

Now, whilst I personally am not a fan of highly detailed SYSTEMS any more, there are people out there that are. (Am I right in saying games like Ars Magica prove this?) I wouldn't try to bastardise the personal vision you've fought so stubbornly to stick to in order to try and compete with the mid-range games. So the book's going to be 500+ Pages? GOOD! That's what the small elite target market for your game will want. Include the summaries (please!) but keep the full necessary content of book. Aim to sell a few at £60 rather than loads at £30.

Size reduction strategies:

1) example monsters in book, detailed monster manual separate.
2) setting in book with one area detailed. Full details of setting in separate book.
3) example starter scenario in separate book BUT BUNDLED IN AS FREEBIE with the core book.

Later on you can work on producing a players book but it makes no sense without the core book. I'd also publish all the summary sheets in a separate book for reference at the table. Virtually no work for you but some people will like it. They can leave their core book on the coffee table.

Stay true to your vision. Souls Calling is a monster of a game and deserves a monster of a rulebook.
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Re: Dilemmas about Splitting the Book

Postby Omnifray » 3:47pm on 16 Dec 15

Notwithstanding the above, I have split the book. I am going to be well over 500 pages between the two combined, maybe 600, which is just too much for a single book.

Besides, even if we're just talking me reffing for some pals, I can't realistically expect them all to read the 350 to 400-page Reffing Guide (as I propose to call it), but I can reasonably invite them to read the 200 to 250-page Player's Primer or Player's Guide or whatever I call it. There might be enough in there to help them understand play better as it's going along, plus it would include the whole of basic CharGen and some optional extras like purchasing individual items of equipment instead of just pre-packaged kit packs. With selling the books to others, a group might buy one copy of the Reffing Guide, but perhaps more than one copy of the Player's Primer.

And I think people will understand the Reffing Guide better having read a summary version in the Player's Primer first. I will feel more comfortable writing a slimmed down version of the rules in the PP knowing that the full version will be available in the RG. The PP content may be organised slightly differently too - selectively according to topics such as combat, skills and social encounters, instead of systematically so as to cover all options.

I don't mind it being the 'Effing Guide; at least if they're calling it that they can vent healthily :p
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