Master Mines

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Decommissioned: The Look of the Book

While thinking about the language of the book, I’ve also been mulling over how it will look.

I want the opening chapter to read very much like a combination employee handbook/ management book you’d find at Barnes and Noble.  This means I will open with details about The Compound, how the “battlebots” look, what they were created for, the general setting info, but the presentation will have graphs, some witty cartoons with captions, and sidebars.

Once I establish the setting, In future chapters, I want to progress into a more piecemeal approach with the book, using microfic, items from the world such as memos, letterheads, emails between characters, forum posts by “battlebots” telling the truth.  Imagine a scrapbook of different glimpses into the world, with a single narration guiding you through the rules.  I see this being influenced by Street Samurai catalog, one of my favorite supplements for any game.  I want to dance the line between an artifact from the game world and a player’s handbook.

Any thoughts good or ill about these ponderings?  Interesting?  Confusing?

What resources can you point me to for layout inspiration, gaming or non-gaming?


May 9, 2008 - Posted by | D-Com


  1. I think it’s interesting. Layout-wise are you going to make the first section look like a bland manual, too? Are you at all concerned about a hodgepodge of styles making it seem dissonant?

    Comment by robertbohl | May 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. I wouldn’t say bland manual, but yes, the first chapter will be consistent and follow one format. I see it more like a manager’s business book: clear and to the point, gently witty while also dehumanizing, with graphs and charts and amusing cartoons to illustrates points.

    I am concerned about the dissonance, but only if that dissonance makes it unclear. Perhaps I could have an author’s voice, something that keeps going through the sections to explain the game. I do want a dramatic shift between the intro section and the rest of the book, though. Or at least I want to try it and see how it reads.

    Comment by orklord | May 9, 2008 | Reply

  3. Rich,

    I think you want the text to feel a little dissonant or else you wouldn’t use different styles 🙂

    I think that as long as every chapter or every similiar chapter has the same feel, you should be fine. The reader will expect each section to have a flavor to it and as long as they all do, you should be fine.

    I’ll look through my books to find inspiration. BSG is supposed to do that, but it’s pretty superficial and not as drastic as perhaps you’d like.

    Comment by commondialog | May 12, 2008 | Reply

  4. Rich, I think you should think about whether you want your book to be in service to your game or you want your game to be in service to your book. Book and game are somewhat separate entities, in a map-is-not-the-territory kind of way. Book should be a guide to game, but game will probably not conform to book completely. (IOW, everyone is playing house rules, whether they admit it or not).

    Is the point of the book to communicate the sensibilities of the game along with its rules, or can/should the book be enjoyed as a separate entity by those who have no interest in the game? For example, non-gamers buy GURPS books for the information on the subject matter and others buy RPGs for layout or art.

    I think it’s fine to keep a sense of the final configuration in your mind as you work, but can you even approach book-form until you have finished rules?

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | May 14, 2008 | Reply

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