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Shinizak
2018-09-14, 02:18 PM
Hey guys, I'm currently writing a Frankenstein mashup of a D6 system and a Roll and keep system. It's designed to be mostly Genreless, and I wanted to ask you all what you think a Core system players hand book NEEDS to depict (beyond the basics of how the system works) to be good and useful.

Mordar
2018-09-14, 02:28 PM
Hey guys, I'm currently writing a Frankenstein mashup of a D6 system and a Roll and keep system. It's designed to be mostly Genreless, and I wanted to ask you all what you think a Core system players hand book NEEDS to depict (beyond the basics of how the system works) to be good and useful.

I might be more "classical" than most, but what I would want is (as you said) the basics of the system, game expectations (what kind of characters will we be, what kind of things will we encounter, what kind of adventures will we have), environmental considerations (brief look at the setting, including tone), and how do I make my character. Level of detail on equipment/gear is dependent on how much impact gear has on the game. And something to get me excited about playing the game.

- M

Rhedyn
2018-09-14, 02:29 PM
I can only tell you what I'm in the market for.

1. Small one session rpgs
2. Material for rpgs that I like.
3. Amazing feats of design, which tend to be generics like Savage Worlds or GURPS.

So what I need in a PH, to even consider it, is it needs to do something I can't do in my other systems or in such a way that I find appealing.

Like if someone made mid-crunch non-combat focused generic (that didn't depend on story teller mechanics), basically how Savage Worlds is for GURPS but non-combat focused, I would find that cool.

Idk how you do that though. I'm really picky though.

Telok
2018-09-14, 04:51 PM
1. Set expectations. If your game focuses on something or excludes something (detailed combat, social interaction, exploration & mapping, followers, inter-character relationships, near total hand-waving of encumberance) tell them.

2. Explain things. If your game has an 'ambush' skill/ability you should fully explain how to use it in a game. Not just how to roll the dice, but how this is supposed to work out at the table. Is it a roll to see if you can ambush and the DM determines what happens after? Do you convince the DM to let you ambush and roll to see how well it went? Is the DM supposed to choose how to implement 'ambush'?

3. Index, chapters, sections, sub-sections, cross references, glossary. If you put radiation in a space game either don't spread it out over environments, poisons, space combat, armor, and spells, or cross reference the crap out of it. Think about including page references in the glossary.

Dentist. More later.

Quertus
2018-09-14, 09:41 PM
Hmmm... First guess, it needs to give the reader...

The ability to understand terminology.

The ability to envision the world.

The ability to create a character.

The ability to predict what that character can and can't do, at least as well as that character themselves could.

The ability to find all of its features and sub-features.

Anonymouswizard
2018-09-15, 02:44 AM
Short list:
-Explanation of the system's terms. I do not care how 'normal' they are, explain them.
-Explanation of the assumptions of the system. Both rules-wise and setting wise (so many games forget to do this).
-Character creation rules.
-Action Resolution rules.
-Conflict Resolution rules.
-Basic setting overview, if applicable.
-Character options.
-GM rules.
-Basic GM guidance.
-Adversary creation guidelines.

Yes, that's my short list. All of that should be in one book, unless you're pushing 500 pages or a very good game (Unknown Armies is one of the few three book cores I'm okay with, but one of those books is just a setting reference and the other two are very well put together). You can put in other stuff, like setting information and an adversary list, but all of that should be in your 'core rulebook'.

Knaight
2018-09-15, 03:22 AM
The use of a players handbook as a distinct book (as opposed to just having a single core book) is a warning sign in and of itself - so the first thing your core book needs is the other core books from a D&Desque 3 book breakdown.

As for what that actually comes down to there's a lot of flexibility. Generally I'd say you need some information on how to start games, how to run games, and how to end games. You need organizational elements (tables of contents, indices) as appropriate for the length of the game. It at least tends to help to be fairly transparent about what you're trying to do and why you made the decisions you did.

The forms all this takes can vary highly.

Thinker
2018-09-15, 06:25 AM
A player's handbook should have minimal information - only the information that the players need to play. If you have classes, that should be in there. If you have races or cultures, that should be in there, too. If you just have lists of abilities, put that in there. Don't bother with too many background details or in-depth rules. Save that for the GM's guide.

Anonymouswizard
2018-09-15, 07:39 AM
A player's handbook should have minimal information - only the information that the players need to play. If you have classes, that should be in there. If you have races or cultures, that should be in there, too. If you just have lists of abilities, put that in there. Don't bother with too many background details or in-depth rules. Save that for the GM's guide.

Or bundle both the rulebooks together. Many players actually like knowing the in-depth rules, and for Pelor's sake I'm not shelling out for multiple books just to have the basic rules again. That's not to say you can't have noncore rules, but if I can't sit down and play the entire game with one rulebook you've lost me.

One of the things that annoys me about Unknown Armies 3e is that the full explanation of character creation is in the GM book rather than the player book. It's the one thing stopping the GM book from being optional (although it's one of the best GM rulebooks I've seen), and although the players' book includes an overview there are sought differences between it and the full version. Although most of the setting is in books two and three book one gives you almost everything you need to play a street level game that doesn't get into demons or the setting's various occult organisations.

Now I'm not against the idea of a 'players' guide' that's essentially a very cheap rulebook with the absolute basics for those who don't want the full rules. But really stuck all the core rules in one book of page counts permits, it makes referencing a rule later a lot easier.

Mark Hall
2018-09-15, 09:04 AM
Will there be a stand-alone GMs guide? How quickly will it follow? If you don't plan to immediately have a GMs guide, you need to make a comprehensive core rulebook... I need to pick it up, read it, and run it.

I would say that, assuming there isn't a separate GMs guide, you need to establish Setting, Characters, and Rules.

Setting is "This is the world the game is designed to emulate." Since you're looking at a genreless generic system, you need to think about what your bounds of realistic characters are... FASERIP Marvel Superheroes and d6 are both games that can be played in a wide variety of ways, but FASERIP handles the higher power levels a lot better, by design, while d6 has more nuance at the lower end. When you think about a movie, what movies do you want to be possible in this system? It provides a good touchstone for guiding others expectations.

Characters are "Here are the rules for making characters." Simple enough, but consider how much breadth you want to include, especially as basic options. Should I be able to play a talking dog right out of the gate? What would that look like? If I CAN play a talking 70# dog, do the rules also support playing a talking 3# cat? It seems silly, but especially for a generic system, consider that people will be trying to put all sorts of weird characters in there.

Lastly, rules. How do I do the common things I want to do? How do I run? How do I jump? How do I hack into a government mainframe? How do I convince a guard to let me pass? How much granularity and realism do you want... do I have a Wealth stat that generally determines what kind of stuff I have, or do I have to track dollars or credits? What about ammo... do I track individual rounds, or do I only lose ammo on a mishap or something like that?

some guy
2018-09-15, 09:34 AM
Several editions of Call of Cthulhu have a 2-page spread of the character sheet with all the information you need to create a character.
http://www.tabletopcave.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/character-creation-1024x729.png
It's not completely necessary, but it's incredibly time-saving to give a player those two pages and just let them create the character without the need of page flipping.
Of course, CoC has a reasonably rules-lite character creation, so this might not be applicable for your system.

Aneurin
2018-09-15, 11:09 AM
Well, what is the Player's Handbook actually meant to have it in? What is the purpose of the book? You kind of need to tell us that before we can give really useful suggestions.

Is this supposed to be a D&D-style split where some of the rules you need to play are in one book, and the rest are in another forcing you to buy two books rather than one? Or is this supposed to be an optional supplement there to help and support players?

If it's the former, I'd just say don't bother. Personally, when I look at a system and see it requires me to purchase two separate books just to play it, my first response is to say 'nope' and not look at it again. I'd also ask how many games outside of D&D do the split rule books - off the top of my head, I can't actually think of any. It strikes me as just being a hang-over from the early days of D&D, and smacks of adversarial GM-versus-Players gaming, which you might as well throw out unless you specifically want that.


For the second? Well. You want advice and support, naturally. Quick reference rules tables are a must. Step-by-step character creation is always helpful, though it doesn't have to be very detailed, just enough to walk players through what's going on.

You'll also maybe want a quick section on archetypes your system supports, and a guide to actual roleplaying - even something as simple as 'how to make decisions for your character, not yourself'. And please, please include a section that has The Giant's article on Making the Tough Decisions (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) in it - ideally it'd go in the core rules as well, but you can never repeat it often enough - it's a great article, and something all players should bear in mind to avoid strife at the table (or tablet, if you play online).

It sounds dumb, but basic etiquette tips might not be amiss. 'Show up on time', 'don't interrupt', 'say thank you to the GM' and 'remember that everyone has a life'.

Examples of dilemmas and how PCs might react to them. Examples of useful things to do during play - like taking notes, OOC. Examples of things characters might be expected to accomplish - and what they might not (I wish more systems would do this, it'd save a lot of headaches and arguments based around 'of course you can't crack an electronic safe with a bent paper clip, your tie and a bit of chewing gum! Oh, sorry, you have two paper clips? That makes it much more reasonable!').

You And The Game Master - an overview of what the system expects the relationship to be, and the goals of the relationship. And examples of how common variations. Absolutely must come with a caveat stating that this is not how the relationship has to be, merely what the rules were written to facilitate. This is where you explain whether your system is strongly simulationist, strongly narratavist, somewhere between the two or something else.


If this weren't a generic any-setting, then a basic overview of the setting would not go amiss.


...I'm sure there are more things, but this is what springs to mind at the moment.

dps
2018-09-15, 04:26 PM
I wanted to ask you all what you think a Core system players hand book NEEDS

It needs pages.

Anonymouswizard
2018-09-15, 05:29 PM
WI'd also ask how many games outside of D&D do the split rule books - off the top of my head, I can't actually think of any.

Off the top of my head, Call of Cthulhu 7e (2 - Player and GM), Unknown Armies 3e (3 - Player, GM, World Reference), GURPS 4e* (2 - roughly characters and actual rules), arguably games with a 'core rulebook' and a 'companion', arguably The Dark Eye 5e (Rules and World Reference), many D&D descendants have two or three core books (generally player and GM). If I checked my collection I might find a few more, although I got rid of most of my multi-corebook games (it's down to just D&D 2e/5e [PhB only in the case of the latter], Unknown Armies, and GURPS). Fate is an interesting example in that it has two 'core rulebooks' in the latest edition, but you only need one to run the game and they're rather different.


* I believe 1e and 2e were two book, but not 3e. Note that when I originally bought my copies they retailed in the UK at around 5 under the standard price for a rulebook and together were 10 more expensive than the 'expensive' rulebooks.

Knaight
2018-09-16, 04:29 AM
Now I'm not against the idea of a 'players' guide' that's essentially a very cheap rulebook with the absolute basics for those who don't want the full rules. But really stuck all the core rules in one book of page counts permits, it makes referencing a rule later a lot easier.

Of course, these are already pretty common - they're just called Quickstart guides.

Anonymouswizard
2018-09-16, 06:52 AM
Of course, these are already pretty common - they're just called Quickstart guides.

As far as I'm concerned there is a difference, essentially if you're given premade characters or simplified character generation in a quick start, while a PG would have the full character creation rules.

Now I've seen a couple of cases of that actually being done, but it is very rare. Mainly because I've noticed that most people are just willing to play with a single copy of the rules at the table (which is probably owned by the GM or me).

Cluedrew
2018-09-16, 10:39 AM
I'd also ask how many games outside of D&D do the split rule books - off the top of my head, I can't actually think of any.The one thing that pops to mind for me is FATE. Now FATE doesn't actually do that, but if you get into modifying FATE (which is kind of the point) I would almost consider the FATE System Toolkit required reading. Its not though, and even if it was the digital version is as free as the core rules.

Oh, scanning down I think Anonymouswizard actually mentioned that, I missed that the first time.

But unless you are going for a reference document I would suggest examples. Good examples are one of the best tools (next to general clarity) for helping people understand the game.

Thinker
2018-09-16, 11:40 AM
Or bundle both the rulebooks together. Many players actually like knowing the in-depth rules, and for Pelor's sake I'm not shelling out for multiple books just to have the basic rules again. That's not to say you can't have noncore rules, but if I can't sit down and play the entire game with one rulebook you've lost me.
That is my preference as well, but the OP did ask about a player's handbook so that is what I answered.

Tanarii
2018-09-16, 11:55 AM
QuickStart rules:
- Resolution rules summary (core mechanics)
- initial character building rules (starting classes, skills, spells, equipment) as appropriate to your system

Full rules probably should include:
- detailed resolution mechanics
- extended gameplay rules. For example, in D&D it typically includes information about exploring & combat. Movement, Marching Order, Mapping, Looking for threats and hidden objects, light & other basic environment info. And combat rules. In other games focusing on other things it'll be different. These set expectations of what the game is about and how play proceeds.
- basic setting information.
- extended character related rules (advancement for classes, skills, spells, and equipment, etc.)

I'm assuming this isn't for publishing?

Anonymouswizard
2018-09-16, 12:24 PM
The one thing that pops to mind for me is FATE. Now FATE doesn't actually do that, but if you get into modifying FATE (which is kind of the point) I would almost consider the FATE System Toolkit required reading. Its not though, and even if it was the digital version is as free as the core rules.

Oh, scanning down I think Anonymouswizard actually mentioned that, I missed that the first time.

I was more talking about Core and Accelerated, the two 'core rulebooks'. I love the Fate System Toolkit, but as you say it's only needed if you hack.

redwizard007
2018-09-16, 03:12 PM
Character generation and advancement rules.

Depending on system, this will probably require an equipment section as well.

Rules are probably going to be a necessity as well. Otherwise it can be hard to judge how effective your character will be given your design choices.

Nifft
2018-09-16, 09:08 PM
Set expectations.

Writing instructions on how to build a character is probably not as relevant as you'd think, since the players will all be right at the table face-to-face with you. You could just walk through character generation together (during a "session zero").

What you really want to document -- for your own sanity as well as the empowerment of your players -- is what they can expect as PCs.

- Is combat deadly, or is it sport?
- What sort of things are rolled? How can I tell if I'm likely to be successful at a given roll?
- What's expected / acceptable treatment for criminals? Does this vary across different locations? How about monsters / demons / elementals / cultists of zaghchthon?
- How powerful are the PCs when they start? How can I gauge the relative toughness of someone I meet?

Stuff like that.


For example: If social stratification is an important thing, then expectations about behavior across ranks might be important. Or it might not matter. Decide if it matters, and include it if it does. Exclude it if it does not.


As a negative example: D&D has rules for wilderness survival, but any handbook I wrote would probably not feature that -- it's not a common element of any game I've played or run. Tracking does happen, but not survival as such.