This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.

Author Topic: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.  (Read 1282 times)

weirdguy564

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 260
Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« on: November 15, 2022, 08:24:15 AM »
I get it.  Some writers think more is better.

However, I have a life outside gaming.  If a game rulebook is too wordy or a page count is too high, I’ll pass. 

The two that come to mind are Pathfinder and Zweihander.  Hell, at this point any game better be 150 pages or less. 

So, who overwrote their game?
Saying D&D is the best RPG is like saying Bud Lite is the best beer.  Maybe we shouldn't equate "popular" with "good"?

BoxCrayonTales

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • B
  • Posts: 2787
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2022, 08:50:25 AM »
I think this applies to most rpgs, honestly. In general, rpgs have long and complicated rules that routinely run for a hundred pages or more. Learning a typical rpg is very intensive and time-consuming. This is a key reason why most players stick with the first rpg they encounter for the rest of their life in the hobby, in contrast to other kinds of games like board games and crpgs.

VisionStorm

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1785
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2022, 09:17:28 AM »
I think this applies to most rpgs, honestly. In general, rpgs have long and complicated rules that routinely run for a hundred pages or more. Learning a typical rpg is very intensive and time-consuming. This is a key reason why most players stick with the first rpg they encounter for the rest of their life in the hobby, in contrast to other kinds of games like board games and crpgs.

Pretty much, though, some books are worse than others, and extend well beyond the minimal word count needed to get their point across, or may focus on packing a ton of content into a single manual, rather than splitting it up into multiple books.

PF1 & 2 are examples of this. I tried to read PF1 a bunch of times and my eyes always ended up glazing over from how heavy the text was, and I always ended up putting the pdf away, since I was only mildly interested in seeing what they did differently and farming it for ideas. With PF2 I managed to get farther ahead, cuz it covered material that more significantly diverged from standard D&D and had some interesting concepts, so it held my attention longer. But even then I didn't read the whole thing, and finding stuff in the manual is a mess.

HERO System 5e was another book I had this problem with. The book was simply too big, with a hardcover large enough to kill someone with a well placed blow to the head. And it included way too many acronyms to keep track of, making it even harder to read. Only reason I even tried was cuz I was researching effect based systems, farming them for ideas, and HERO was one of the most extensive systems there is. Even then I ultimately didn't get that much out of it, cuz I had already figured out most game effects I should include in a game before I got the book, and had handled most of them more simply than HERO did.

Steven Mitchell

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • S
  • Posts: 3165
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2022, 10:27:45 AM »
I think there are several categories, including:

- The core system rules.
- Elaborations on the system rules--examples, options, etc.
- Content that sits on the mechanical boundary--monsters, spells, etc.
- Pure content--setting, most adventures, etc.
- For lack of a better term, "design notes"--the why of the system, only useful to some readers, but highly useful to them.
- Boilerplate, fan fiction, and other "filler".

I'm leaving out art and layout, because while certainly important, those operate somewhat orthogonal to all of the above.  (You can have great art and layout with great content. You can also have great art and layout with fan fiction.  One of these things is much less valuable than the other.)

Then there are the purposes of the various documents associated with the game:  Reference material, teaching the game, inspiration, provide content, etc. 

My preference is that the core system be as concise and clear as possible so that the elaborations on it can fit in a reasonable profile and provide plenty of examples for clarity.  Most games don't give enough good examples in the rules.  More often than not, when someone tries to rectify this, they try the "IBM Technical Manual" approach like Hero System 5E does, where they go all in on tedious examples as a reference, not as inspiration.  And of course, examples can clarify a well-written rule that isn't quite perfect, but they can't fix bad rules or even sometimes decent rules poorly written.

Content, whether mechanical or not, should be as long as it needs to be to get the content across.  If it isn't mechanical, it can be a little more expressive and artistic, within reason.  I prefer that the content not be included in the same document as the rules, for both reference and teaching reasons.

Finally, given my druthers, all first editions of games would be in multiple, soft-bound booklets.  Even with PDFs its easier to have multiple docs open.  If a "playtested in the wild" 2nd edition wants to be in a well-organized single volume with better binding, I can buy that.

Eric Diaz

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 617
    • http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com.br/
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2022, 11:57:01 AM »
Almost every game...

In the last couple of years, D&D 5e eventually became unwieldy.

Nowadays I like to play something closer to B/X with added options. My own clone has about 50 pages (for player options; in theory, you can never have too many monsters and dungeons, but in practice I use only a few. In addition to adventurers that include weird monsters, which I love).

Everything else is just too crunchy for me. And I used to play GURPS, etc.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2022, 01:40:18 PM by Eric Diaz »
Chaos Factory Books  - Dark fantasy RPGs and more!

Methods & Madness - my  D&D 5e / Old School / Game design blog.

Ghostmaker

  • Chlorine trifluoride
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3625
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2022, 12:10:26 PM »
Pathfinder has a huge problem with all the situational bullshit that may or may not get added in. Ironically, it makes the game much easier to run if you use basic character management programs -- even an autofilling PDF sheet works wonders.

Shawn Driscoll

  • Role-Play Purist
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2925
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2022, 10:27:43 PM »
Games which are written too long, you won’t play them. 

Traveller 5.10

APN

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 445
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2022, 02:31:16 AM »
Tunnels & Trolls was always a cheap small book. Grab a bucket o D6s and start Delving. Even up to version 7.5 it was pretty tiny. 7 came in a metal tin. Don't remember page count but 5/5.5 wasn't more than about 100 pages? Would have to check.

Deluxe T&T is 386 pages so quite the jump. Does it do anything better than previous versions? Some bits but mostly it seems to be a 'chuck everything and the kitchen sink in' with a fair amount of stuff I won't ever use. That's why I self printed/bound the PDF into smaller books (four of 'em) and only really use books 1+2 for the most part which cover combat, characters, equipment and magic. They could trim it down and put out a Corgi sized edition and it would be just fine.

As mentioned above Hero 5e. Have a couple of copies and had intended to make use of them but its so dry it's like reading a manual on how to operate your car. You kind of know the basics (because you played previous versions/drove a car before) but it does the same job just more complicated (car) or harder to dig through (book). Hero 3e (Champions) was the sweet spot for me.

Mishihari

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • M
  • Posts: 715
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2022, 02:33:23 AM »
I think there are several categories, including:

- The core system rules.
- Elaborations on the system rules--examples, options, etc.
- Content that sits on the mechanical boundary--monsters, spells, etc.
- Pure content--setting, most adventures, etc.
- For lack of a better term, "design notes"--the why of the system, only useful to some readers, but highly useful to them.
- Boilerplate, fan fiction, and other "filler".

I will admit that an enormous volume of a game book discourage me from looking into it.  But if I take the time to actually crack it open, only too much volume in the core rules will make me veer off from a game, and that's because it's a good indication of how complex the game is, and hence how difficult it is to run.  More examples is always good - I can skip the ones I don't need.  Same for spells, powers, skills, monsters, etc.  I only need to read the ones I'm going to use.  Same for all the rest too, now that I think of it, settings, adventures, design notes etc are all optional or only read it when needed. 

Tasty_Wind

  • Newbie
  • *
  • T
  • Posts: 33
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2022, 09:38:06 AM »
Traveller 5. I had the three book set and it was like reading home appliance instructions.

Omega

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • O
  • Posts: 16322
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2022, 10:38:31 AM »
Universalis spends well over a hundred pages to essentially say "Tell a story, spend vote points to allow or deny others additions to."

5e D&D spends lot of time saying very little.

Zelen

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 677
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2022, 04:55:39 PM »
This seems like a case of books being written for different audiences. Most players want the book to be a part of the experience. Other players want the rules minutiae to be part of the experience. Very few people want the stripped down math & architecture of the game with no frills.

The latter should be provided in some form as quickstart rules.

Vidgrip

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • V
  • Posts: 120
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2022, 07:15:21 PM »
I'm with the OP. I want everything for 150 pages or less. I don't want more rules than necessary in my games. Whatever might be missing is usually easy to add with a couple pages of house rules. It's tougher to deal with content I want to remove.
Running: Swords & Wizardry,   Playing: John Carter of Mars, WFRP 1e

Trond

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2341
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2022, 07:37:44 PM »
What would be nice if a rules book is very comprehensive is having a short chapter of “core rules” and then the rest adding optional rules, setting material, a starter adventure, maybe some extra rules for special situations or higher power lvl  play etc.

weirdguy564

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 260
Re: Games which are written too long, you won’t play them.
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2022, 08:15:06 AM »
I’m usually the GM of my games.  Having an actual working life means my time is not to be wasted. 

World building is one thing, but if a game has an insane page count because of the rules on top rules, well it’s time to get ready for slow gameplay and endless rules lawyering. 

I’ll add one caveat.  I don’t think “one page rpg” games work either. 
Saying D&D is the best RPG is like saying Bud Lite is the best beer.  Maybe we shouldn't equate "popular" with "good"?