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Author Topic: Are GM books done now except for D&D?  (Read 2671 times)

Lynn

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Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« on: October 30, 2021, 06:43:11 PM »
I have been working on a game system for a while now and it makes sense to me to have separate player's and GM's guides. Given it is horror focused, it makes sense to me that a lot of the horrific stuff shouldn't be for the player's eyes. But it seems to me like almost all games except for D&D no longer have separate guides for GMs but just pack it all in to the one same book (or box).

That's making me wonder just why this is. Could it be that the GM portion helps sell players on the game itself? Why else?
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Kyle Aaron

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2021, 08:33:44 PM »
It'll be sales. If you separate the books, you'll sell player books, and not as many GM books. And not as many of either, since:

"Should I cut the pizza into four pieces, or six?"
"Oh cut it into four, I couldn't possibly eat six pieces."

Two books are more daunting to read than one, even if the two's total page count is lower.

But don't worry about that. In the US in 2019 there were 4 million books published, and they had 693 million sales. That's fewer than 200 copies each. So you don't write because you expect to be read, you write because you have something to say. You say and write what you want to, pour your heart into it, and put it out there.
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Lynn

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2021, 03:01:55 AM »
But don't worry about that. In the US in 2019 there were 4 million books published, and they had 693 million sales. That's fewer than 200 copies each. So you don't write because you expect to be read, you write because you have something to say. You say and write what you want to, pour your heart into it, and put it out there.

I think in this niche market, that's right. Of course I want the end product to be good, but realistically, there are other things I can (and do) write that should be better money makers with far less effort.

One thing that sort of struck me as well with D&D 5e is that as a DM, the Dungeon Master's Guide doesn't seem to hold the same level of importance that it once did (at least thinking back to 1e).
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Svenhelgrim

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2021, 07:09:45 PM »
One thing that sort of struck me as well with D&D 5e is that as a DM, the Dungeon Master's Guide doesn't seem to hold the same level of importance that it once did (at least thinking back to 1e).
Gygax played the dirty trick of not including attack matrices and saving throws in the Player’s Handbook.  This in itself wasn’t terrible since you could buy the DM’s Screen, or just go by the Basic/Expert set.  But you also needed the DMG for magic items and treasure charts that the Modules and Monster Manual referenced.  And if that wasn’t bad enough the book didn’t hit the shelves until 1981, three years after PHB, and MM were released.

Also, nowadays we have the internet to reference, so if you needed to know what Boots of Striding And Springing were, you could just look it up on the official, or any 3rd party website. 

Still, a GM guide would be nice.  Even if it is published in the back section of the standard rulebook that players would get.

The only GM books outside of D&D that I can think of are the  Castle Keeper’s Guide (Troll Lord Games), and the Referee’s Guide (Lame tatikns of the Flame Princess).  Both games are based on D&D, but the books are great for new Game Masters.  Castle Keeper’s Guide is comparable to the original DMG in its quality and usefulness.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2021, 07:12:10 PM by Svenhelgrim »

Lynn

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2021, 11:27:39 AM »
Gygax played the dirty trick of not including attack matrices and saving throws in the Player’s Handbook.  This in itself wasn’t terrible since you could buy the DM’s Screen, or just go by the Basic/Expert set.  But you also needed the DMG for magic items and treasure charts that the Modules and Monster Manual referenced.  And if that wasn’t bad enough the book didn’t hit the shelves until 1981, three years after PHB, and MM were released.

I'd forgotten about that. I honestly don't  remember what I did. Id started my group out in the Blue box, and then the PHB came out not much later. I do recall having the DM's screen before we switched over to AD&D.

Didn't The Dragon also run important DM rules that later came out in the DMG?

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Thondor

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2021, 02:54:36 PM »
I was just going to say that I think separating things into booklets is still common for box sets. Seperate players, gm, monster and adventure books are common here.

But you wouldn't expect a stand alone PHB type book here.

avaia

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2021, 07:52:12 AM »
I think the problem with a lot of what goes into a DMG (or *the* DMG), is really just a collection of setting-specific facts that don't really have anything to do with the mechanics of the game. Much of what Hasbro publishes is setting-dependent, disguises are core rules, and this is increasingly creating problems for the game, as players demand that anything officially published by Hasbro is something every DM must allow. As an old-timer (playing since 1981), this runs completely counter to my understanding of what RPGs are, can be, and should be.

I'm in the process of writing an RPG system, and I do plan to start off the book with a brief introduction to what an RPG is, why you might want to play this one (Tapestry RPG System), what you are going to need to play it (Players, Rules, Randomizers, Recorders, Setting, Scenario, and Session), before delving into the specifics of PC creation and system mechanics.

And I do intend to include an example setting with example races/species/cultures, locations, items, spells, and a bestiary, I'm going to keep that section brief, because I want players to create their own settings, and not rely on mine.

It's not that I'm not sympathetic to the idea that the players playing the PCs and the player serving as DM/GM shouldn't view the Setting/Scenario/Session as a collaborative effort, but someone has to be the arbiter of creating a cohesive universe in which to play.
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Kyle Aaron

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2021, 07:26:16 PM »
I'm in the process of writing an RPG system, and I do plan to start off the book with a brief introduction to what an RPG is
It's funny that in 1974 when OD&D came out, even a few years later when AD&D, RuneQuest, Classic Traveller and so on came out, when nobody had played one before, nobody felt the need to write a What Is An RPG? section - but by the late 1980s when millions of people had played one, game designers felt the need to write it. By now, tens of millions will have played, and if you factor in computer games, hundreds of millions. I think they know by now.

Whatever you're putting in the book, ask yourself whether you're really putting it there for the reader, or just for yourself.
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avaia

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2021, 05:04:33 AM »
I'm in the process of writing an RPG system, and I do plan to start off the book with a brief introduction to what an RPG is
It's funny that in 1974 when OD&D came out, even a few years later when AD&D, RuneQuest, Classic Traveller and so on came out, when nobody had played one before, nobody felt the need to write a What Is An RPG? section - but by the late 1980s when millions of people had played one, game designers felt the need to write it. By now, tens of millions will have played, and if you factor in computer games, hundreds of millions. I think they know by now.

Whatever you're putting in the book, ask yourself whether you're really putting it there for the reader, or just for yourself.

This post makes me wonder if you’ve actually read the AD&D PH and DMG, because I have my 1980 copies right here, which I have owned for over 40 years, and they both begin quite clearly with a discussion of what D&D is/what RPGs are. Most people picking up these books in 1980 would only have heard of D&D by reputation.

Yes, part of the reason why I want to include such a section is because I want to offer my particular perspective on what RPGs are and can be. But the primary reason is, I have learned in my life not to make assumptions about what people do and do not already know, and this might be surprising information, but many millions of people are alive today who were not alive in the 1970s and 1980s.
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Kyle Aaron

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2021, 06:59:47 PM »
This post makes me wonder if you’ve actually read the AD&D PH and DMG, because I have my 1980 copies right here, which I have owned for over 40 years, and they both begin quite clearly with a discussion of what D&D is/what RPGs are.
There is not "what is an rpg?" title in the books, anywhere. The PHB has a Foreword saying that D&D is awesome and a good player should have their shit together. It has a Preface saying that D&D is awesome and Gygax thought about it a lot, also it's your game play it however you like. Then there's an Introduction where it says that D&D is awesome and the game is balanced and well thought-out, and you will start crap and get better. Then there's a The Game section which says that D&D is awesome and it's a fantasy game and you will start crap and get better and the player should have their shit together.

The closest we get to a "what is an rpg?" section is a single sentence, "as a role player, you become Falstaff the Fighter."

So, not really.

Having a "what is an rpg?" section in a rulebook in 2021 is like having a "what is pornography?" section on the first page of a porn site. They know already, that's why they're there.

It's redundant. Cut it out.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2021, 07:01:41 PM by Kyle Aaron »
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rytrasmi

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2021, 03:16:24 PM »
Trudvang Chronicles is another game that has separate player and GM books. They caught some flack for how the divided it (combat rules in the GM book only).

Still, I like the separated approach. It's more flexible. The most interested party, usually the GM, buys the books and then reads the players book. The GM can then lend the players book to the players and go about reading the GM book. Easier to share books at the table, too.

This post is opinion and if it sounds like something more you are misreading it or perhaps I'm just a jerk. Q.E.D.

DeadVerySoon

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2022, 01:12:55 PM »
I have been working on a game system for a while now and it makes sense to me to have separate player's and GM's guides. Given it is horror focused, it makes sense to me that a lot of the horrific stuff shouldn't be for the player's eyes. But it seems to me like almost all games except for D&D no longer have separate guides for GMs but just pack it all in to the one same book (or box).

That's making me wonder just why this is. Could it be that the GM portion helps sell players on the game itself? Why else?

I like the idea that players can't just look up everything that they might encounter in the game world, that spoils the sense of discovery.   

Lunamancer

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2022, 03:45:58 PM »
If I actually play the game, rather than just buy it so it can look pretty on my shelf and I can seem esoteric on forums, then I like separate books. I generally like for each player to have their own players book. I only need the GM material once.

With electronic products, just printing extra copies of player material is possible depending on just how much material that is. The level of content you have in D&D, classes, skills, spells, equipment, etc, would make this impractical. As would it be with any similarly developed and detailed RPG.

Zelen

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2022, 12:34:39 AM »
I don't think anyone can answer this in the absence of specifics. My general stance would be against GM-specific books unless your game is very crunchy. A game with complex systems, math, and charts might warrant its own book. What doesn't warrant its own book is -- General GMing advice, setting information, sample adventures, and other such things.

IME the GM usually is the guy who is paying the most out-of-pocket expenses to run games. A GM-specific book is just extra cost for the person who's likely already paying the most. Consolidating GM rules into the overall rulebook is great to encourage more people to run the game as well.

Zalman

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Re: Are GM books done now except for D&D?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2022, 02:11:38 PM »
A GM-specific book is just extra cost for the person who's likely already paying the most.

True. By the same token though, a combined book incurs the extra expense for 4-5 times as many participants.

A nice compromise might be to provide both separate and combined editions, if your printing model makes that feasible.

Or perhaps offer just one sparser player's book, and one combined book for GMs, if your printing model is more restricted.
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