Thursday, March 24, 2011

Steal This Book Idea

Perhaps these ideas already exist. If so, I am sure you will let me know in the comments. If not, and you are a game designer, and you steal one of these ideas, please send me a copy of your game so I can play it, which it will be impossible for me not to do, because these ideas will make playing your game so goddamn easy it will be impossible to resist.

Idea #1: Your book has a book jacket and the book jacket is a DM screen that has all your during-play charts on it--hits, saves, major weapons & damage, whatever.

Idea #2: You see those cupcakes in the picture? Those cupcakes look tasty because they came out just right and they came out just right because the cookbook they came out of was comb-bound which means when it was time for Aunt Suzie to pour the frosting on them, the book was lying flat open on the chopping black and it was easy for her to add the eggs before the cream hardened because she wasn't fucking wasting her fucking time finding fucking paperweights to hold the goddamn book open.

Comb binding is more durable than spiral binding, less soul-abrading than that 3-ring binder thing they did in the 2e monster manual (I see why you tried it guys, but...no), and probably cheaper than traditional binding. And if you just made a book that's full of magic spells I'm gonna want to look up, there's no goddamn reason on God's green earth you shouldn't use it. Especially you, retro-clone guys, because I know you want to save a buck and because you know whoever's buying that player's manual is probably buying your game for convenience more than for how majestic it looks sitting on the shelf next to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.

Wanna stay classy? Laminate it.

Idea #3: Speaking of spells...Spell cards are a nice idea, but you know how they tend to disappear and then show up months later stuck to the bottom of a leopard print platform heels with chihuahua bites out of them and Rocco Siffredi's cell number scrawled across the bottom in sharpie? Ok, maybe you don't, but I'm sure you get my point: why not make a deck-of-cards sized spellbook--1 spell per page--bound with comb-binding or some other hole-punched flippy binding? Better to have one spell book people can hand around and point and go "See? A save is allowed only if and only if more than one tentacle enters the orifice..." Which, yeah, reminds me: leave blank pages for homemade spells.

18 comments:

  1. I don't use paper books for 2 years now, but idea of "spell cards book" is wonderful!

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  2. 1 was used in the mid-90's "black box" basic D&D set, sort of. You got this binder full of the rules in loose sheets, but the binder itself was also the GM screen. You also got a standard rulebook, as I recall, so I'm not sure what the point was. Anyway, picture here if my description doesn't make sense.

    2 was used for one of those White Wolf not-World-of-Darkness rpgs. I think it was Aeon/Trinity, although it wasn't quite the same thing as it also had a hardcover which sort of undermined the binding.

    I've not seen an instance of 3 yet.

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  3. 1.- A spanish fantasy RPG which uses Microlite20. You can download a PDF version for free to check its implementation here:

    http://frankenrol.es/dadocornudo/?page_id=4&did=2

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  4. Spiral-binding is my favorite. The book can fold back on itself and lie perfectly flat with minimal footprint: more table space for dice, notes, snacks, beer and condensation puddles.

    My 90s-era perfect-bound books which utterly disintegrated were recently spiral-bound and it's like an upgrade. 100% more luxuriousness.

    Wire-bound on the other hand _sucks_. All the back pages fall out.

    Comb-binding doesn't fold back on itself nicely like spiral-binding, nor do the pages slide around the comb as smoothly, but the comb can be removed and the contents reconfigured. I comb-bound my second ed. Monstrous Compendium for this reason.

    Universities and offices are more likely to have comb-binders too so that's a plus.

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  5. One other book design idea:

    Pull out tabs on each page with the name of the spell on them so that you don't have to remember "Okay, green is for Magic Missile, purple I use for Sussuration, etc."

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  6. I've always wanted an editable file to come along with the book of the rules-- something I could cut n' paste per every character. DDI is sort of a sloppy attempt at this I guess? But I want to be like "oh, I just grab THIS Discipline from THIS Vampire book...THIS Gift from THIS obscure Werewolf book...a Merit from this one book on demon worshipers...& the rules for Kung-Fu...& I'm good, print that out & staple it to my character sheet.

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  7. and probably cheaper than traditional binding.

    For the guys reading this post? Cursory googling hasn't given me a per-book comparison w/ regards to POD binding services, but my gut reaction is that not a lot of places are going to offer it.
    (captcha: latingl. haha.)

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  8. Personally I'm keen on using POD comic places to make game books. Comic floppies generally stay open and flat once you've read them, they're cheap enough that you feel okay cutting out handouts or tokens or spell cards or whatever printed in them, and you can put battlemats in the centrefold.

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  9. Ive handled the Aeon limited edition book that Kelvin is talking about and Ive had a couple PDF collections printed out and comb bound as well. Personally I would go with spiral bound from my experiences. The plastic combs (which are all Ive personally ever seen used) arent the best for the handling most RPGs go through. Now if you could make something that is stiffer and doesnt have teeth pop loose then I agree with you Zak, it is a good choice.

    The spell card idea sounds cool, though Id just as soon grab a top bound 3x5 note card booklet and make my own, as I tweak stuff in my games. If you did make one, something that would work well with dry erase markers would be my suggestion.

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  10. Price aside, add -1 for comb binding (for the reasons commented above, particularly flip through smoothness).

    +1 for whatever binding old Palladium Books use - those books are beasts as far as durability... they stay open, but wont pass many lays-flat tests. For durability and flip through, I rate them tops.

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  11. Comb? I hate comb binding. All my comb bound books are a mess. I prefer a good spiral.

    Or saddle-stitched. My little classic Traveller booklets, my Starter Traveller booklets, and my Basic/Expert D&D books all lay flat. The GDW guys also did a really good job of making sure that everything you’d need to reference for a particular activity fell on a two-page spread of their booklets. Saddle-stitched also has the bonus that it means the book is concise...which for me is a bonus.

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  12. I don't like spiral bindng because my experience (with sketchbooks) is that you -think- they can lay flat, but they can't really without slowly disintegrating.

    Anyway, there must be some goddamn kind of comb they can make that won;t fall apart.

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  13. The best idea here is the dust-jacket-as-DM-screen. Thanks!

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  14. Real books are bound in leather!

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  15. When Paladium came out with their "Manga" format book for Robotech I mentioned how I didn't like that it didn't lie flat while I was GMing. My local store owner quietly turned his head towards me and informed me I was "too stoopid" to be a GM if I didn't have everything memorized while running. To this day I make a little wish for cancer to strike him down. So far his house has been flooded twice and the other owners have downgraded him to a silent partner. So the dumbness of the business is everywhere. But your idea is something not just role playing needs. When war gaming a manual the lies open is very helpful too.

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  16. ZakS > "I don't like spiral bindng because my experience (with sketchbooks) is that you -think- they can lay flat, but they can't really without slowly disintegrating."

    You're not thinking of wire-binding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wire_binding) which always disintegrates? There's a gap where the twin-loop meets the spine of the comb. The pages near this interface wear, tear and slip out of the gap. It's horrible. It actually makes me angry.

    The spiral-binding available at my local soulless stationery mega-mart has no friction, wear or forces on the paper, nor is there an escape vector for the pages to slip out. It folds back as naturally and easily as if you only opened the book by 45 degrees.

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  17. @deathanddrek

    maybe you're right. i don't know. GAME PUBLISHERS FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT.

    I'm done.

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