First, if you buy a game you want all the rules you need to play the game and a reasonable assurance that the rules won't change any time soon. Thus, the proliferation of what became known as splatbooks, while selling lots of books for the company, undermined the very game they were for. This was happening way back in 2e and you could argue that it started with Unearthed Arcana and the Survival Guides.
If you're reading this blog this is not new to you. But the second way the books the industry sells are anti-game doesn't seem to get much press. Game books are like big, heavy, showy butterflies. They are meant to open their hardcover wings for you at the book store and bewitch you with their multicolor art. Have you tried lugging these things somewhere to play? My poor buddy's stack of 4e books was a foot high. They had to sit on the floor by his feet when he DMed. These features do not make for a product useful when we game.
Zak, Raggi, and Stefan Poag have actually thought about this stuff and that is exciting. Here is some unsolicited advice to the Industry (Maybe useful for 5e):
Set the rules in stone, no additional products will change, add, or delete rules. Then sell various useful permutations of that set of rules (and location based adventures, but that's another point).
- Have a single volume complete rules like Osric. This can be more expensive, because it's all the player will ever need.
- Have a set of books aimed specifically at players and one for each player class your game has.
- Compartmentalization can help keep things simple. No first level player needs to know how to cast Finger of Death, so have multiple books for various levels of play. You should be able to have three books per class (beginning, mid-game, endgame), but maybe four depending on your scope.
- Have an introductory book for someone new to roleplaying completely. This can have the pick-your-own-ending style explanation of the game. Have people write this in conjunction with observations and discussions of actually newbies trying to understand your game.
- Have a book for the DM meant for use in actually play. Think Vornheim's cover, quick-use charts, summaries of spells etc. Only what's necessary.
- Have a book for the DM meant for creation and preparation of adventures. This could have sections on geomorphs, dungeon design, stocking tables, etc, etc.
- You can have other divisions of the same rules, though I would question how necessary some of the old standbys are. For example, a chart of example monsters with stats can stand in for the tomes and tomes a whole monsters we're always given. A more useful approach might be sections on special abilities, like fear, paralyzation, entanglement and how to DM these, and then tips on designing your own monsters.
- Professionally indexed
- Spiral Bound
- Round Cornered
|The cover looks woven, it's flexible and waterproof. Where are the gamebooks made for use?|
|Color coding of sections! Look at the nice round corners on the top one.|
Check out Ze Bulette's sweet mods of LL and S&W:
|It lies flat!|
|Nice protective cover.|
So, will, people essentially re-buy the same rules over and over? I don't know, but when I'm modding my own game I'm having to create a lot of those different books (player pamphlets, spell books etc.) So, if people play anything like me, then yes, buying the different formats could save them a lot of work and time. And, anyway, you know the normal splatbook strategy doesn't work. So why not give it a try?