Short rules are good!

edited June 2012 in Story Games

Big expensive books are a part of the oppressive social footprint problem that RPGs have. If you want to game with your friends, as opposed to making friends who game, you need to be able to share a game without necessarily making your friends read hundreds or even dozens of pages of rules.

So rules that you can explain in a few minutes at the start of a session, or as the game progresses, are cool. But short rules that you can print out and hand to someone are even cooler! John Harper is great at short rules. Lady Blackbird's character sheets have all the rules on them. World of Dungeons (you should go back the Dungeon World kickstarter if you haven't seen this yet) has slightly longer rules, but you can still read them in less than 10 minutes.

Short rules might require someone (the GM or host I guess) to bring a bit more experience to the table to get things going. But games that someone can play 15 minutes after having heard of the game for the first time are good things. I wrote a short game for Stage One last year, and then I wrote an even shorter game this spring.

Short rules require you to leave out all the rules that amount to "nobody be a dick at the table, we are friends and this is for fun". (Observe that, if playing pretend is the psychological [if not historical] genesis for the story gaming hobby, rules like stats and dice were made up in part to prevent people from being dicks.)

This post is already too long, so I'll stop. What are some good things with short rules? How can we squeeze big game ideas into small spaces?

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Comments

  • I am a big fan of compact rules. I don't think I've ever designed a game that couldn't be boiled down to two or three pages.

    But besides just how few the rules are, I think people should also look into how they're structured and designed for reducing headaches and disengagement. The great thing about AW and it's derivatives is what Vincent calls "concentric game design" - instead of building isolated subsystems of rules that all work together, you build a functional core and build layers of rules around them. That way people can play at the layer they feel works best for them, or introduce layers into the game as needed.
  • I totally agree with Evan. I've no idea why rules are so long. It puts me off playing the game.

    Apocalypse World is way too long for me.
  • The immortal games (I thinking games like chess and the classic card games) all have very simple rules - 'a minute to learn, a lifetime to master' credo. They get complex because of the way the simple rules can interact with each other. That and because with all these games you're not playing the game, you're playing the person opposite you. Engaging with a human via a rules system, rather than just engaging with a rule system, can result in huge complexity.

    Snakes & ladders, by contrast, is extremely simple but has very little rule or player interaction and doesn't have a great replay value as a result.
  • I think it's potentially possible to write a game text that's so compulsively readable that extended length isn't "oppressive," isn't a barrier to play. I think conciseness is just generally more achievable than writing an extended compulsively readable text if you're trying to avoid oppressiveness, so everyone opts for conciseness.
  • depends on the game
  • When it comes to role-playing games, the term "less is more" has become very important to me in the past year or two. Cut the crap and get to the point, nomsayin?
  • I'll subscribe to that as well, I'm currently re-writing some war game rules because I interlaced too much game design and not enough telling.
  • Posted By: silbyWhat are some good things with short rules?
    Easier to pitch to casual/nongamers. When people are looking to play a game and then see tomes they immediately walk away. Board games and card games don't require that much homework to play.
  • If you write out the rules for chess, it's actually very complicated and long.
  • If we're talking about RPGs, "simple" rules sets always lean heavily on player skill and experience to fill in the gaps. That's fine if the player is experienced, or if the game falls into a well-known "family" of games (like all the DnD clones), or if the player is part of a community that can teach them how to play the game.
  • Posted By: timfireIf we're talking about RPGs, "simple" rules sets always lean heavily on player skill and experience to fill in the gaps. That's fine if the player is experienced, or if the game falls into a well-known "family" of games (like all the DnD clones), or if the player is part of a community that can teach them how to play the game.
    I've often wondered if video couldn't fulfill that part of things, as well as convey practices that perhaps even the designer and original players aren't quite aware of themselves.
  • edited June 2012
    Posted By: JDCorleyIf you write out the rules for chess, it's actually very complicated and long.
    If you write out the rules to chess and include strategy, it is indeed quite long. If you're just writing up enough of the rules so someone could play an introductory game, it's extremely short. (I've taught design classes where students have to figure out how to fit the rules to chess or cribbage onto a single letter-sized page folded in half into a pamphlet.) I really appreciate when RPGs are designed similarly – either as a super-simple system, or as a more complex system with "quick start" or "lite" rules. It makes it a lot easier for me to determine whether I want to read more, and it reduces the amount of prep time I'll need to put aside before I run a game for players who'll never bother reading the whole rule book.

    Actually, I suspect that design homework project mentioned above would be a neat exercise for GMs and RPG designers. Can you fit the basic rules of your favorite (or your own) game onto pamphlet made from a single page? It really encourages you to approach your text economically. (Bonus points if you can fit a summary of the entire ruleset onto the back – or the bottom half – of the character sheet, Lady Blackbird-style.)

    (Edit: Still trying to figure out how to format posts properly...)
  • Posted By: silbyBig expensive books are a part of theoppressive social footprintproblem that RPGs have
    A lot of what you wrote is assuming your experience is correct and stating opinion as fact. The shorter the game, the more repetitive it can become. I say this from experience of playtesting games for others. There is a lot of overlap in design when simplifying rules, though that may be due to a type of thought process.

    Overall, I think I understand what you are hinting at, but your message isn't clear. Short doesn't equal cool, crazy awesome, combo breaker. Short can generally mean less to memorize and less of a desire to continually play since it's fast to master/experience everything that's possible. Plus, the thought is sort of a fallacy since most of the big book games can be explained in 20 pages if you tell the actual rules, not the supplemental instructions that complete the idea (like magic in D&D or house systems with Vampire: The Masquerade). I do it all the time with those Big Book games you claim are a problem.
  • edited June 2012
    Actually, let's do this chess rules thing up really quickly;
    You will require: a board divided into 64 squares, eight on each side.
    Each player requires two complete set of pieces in distinctly different colors.
    Of these pieces, each player requires 8 pawns, 2 bishops, 2 rooks, 2 knights, a queen and a king (16 pieces all together)
    Players sit facing each other and begin by arranging the pieces in the following pattern:
    Nearest row: Rooks on the outside of the row, Knights adjacent to Rooks in same row, Bishops adjacent to knights, Queen on corresponding color of board, King in last open space of row. The eight pawns are put on the row in front of the other pieces.
    Each turn, a player can make one of the following moves. Each move corresponds to a piece. If the move puts the piece on the same square as one of the other player's pieces, that piece is captured and removed from the board. The object is to maneuver your pieces so that the opponent cannot move his king without putting it in peril of being captured on your next move. If your king is in peril, you must immediately move any piece (including the king) in an attempt to prevent its capture.
    Otherwise, your move options are:
    Pawn: Move a space in a direct line toward the other side of the board.
    Pawn Capture: Pawns may only capture by moving diagonally a single space.
    King: The king may only move a single space at a time, in any direction.
    Bishop: Bishops may only move diagonally, but may move any number of spaces in any diagonal vector. Bishops must stop and capture any piece blocking their vector unless it is one of your own pieces (in which case the bishop just stops.)
    Rook: Rooks may only move orthagonally, but may move any number of space in any orthagonal vector. As with bishops, Rooks must stop and capture enemy pieces in the direct line they are moving in or just stop short of friendly pieces (or on a whim.)
    Queen: The queen can imitate any of the above maneuvers.
    Knight: The knight may move past any pieces, but must always move either 2 spaces in one direction and 3 spaces at a right angle to that or 3 spaces in one direction and then 2 spaces at right angle to that.
    Castling: once per game, when your king is in check, you may switch places with a rook and the king - but only if there are no pieces between the king and the rook and if the rook has not moved previously.

    I think that's all. About a page, even if written more concisely. (And, as you can see from the typos, I did it from memory.)
    Yep. Pretty simple game.
    That's, what, about 20 actual moves (depending on how you break it down maybe 30 max) and some set-up information.
  • So, I agree that brevity is, in and of itself, a good thing. The less someone has to read, the better, unless there's something cool, interesting or useful that the extra text is conveying. But there's the thing, all your text should be cool, interesting and useful. Really the problem is that so many games include a lot of not-cool, not-interesting and not-useful stuff, or stuff which is only c/i/u to a limited subset of the audience but not structured to enable skipping bits.

    For my money, what you need for every game is:
    (1) A quick start guide;
    (2) A printable one-page summary (or collection thereof) and/or reference;
    (3) A lot of effort put into structure and layout to facilitate rapidly finding the information you need; and
    (4) A similar amount of effort put into helping the reader navigate the book on first reading and skip the bits they don't need.

    A good example is, I'm reading Hero Wars right now. I really like the game, and I think that every bit of it adds value, so I don't necessarily think it is too long per se. But all the parts are interrelated, with poor cross-referencing and failure to explain new terms when they are first mentioned, and absolutely no summaries or quick start guide. The result is that I need to read 250 pages of A5 before I can start to play. This despite the fact that the core mechanic is quite simple to explain.
  • John Harper can write Lady Blackbird within a few pages. I can squeeze the Cthulhu rules down to a single page.

    There's no reason games must be long. If you're making them long, it's a deliberate choice.
  • Robert you are still missing (at least): That capturing involves removing a piece from the board, En Passant, the restriction against moving into Check and subsequent Stalemate, Checkmate (i.e. win conditions), First turn decision, Turn order (alternating), pawn promotion and its relation to capturing.

    Compare chess with its spiritual brothers the Tafl / Viking Chess games, and you'll see Chess is orders of magnitude more complex - despite their relative complexities. It really evolved that way over a many hundreds of weird decisions such as making the queen move more than 1 space as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth, nailing down the 8x8 board (and making it not circular or other interesting shapes or sizes), no longer using dice to move the pieces, and so on.

    Chess and perhaps other well-known classic games were broadly living and evolving things which are only codified in modern times, trimming out the life and turning them into the focus of intense professional study, competition, and prestige. They were specifically fine tuned to be competitively interesting, not for simplicity and approachability instead they reward mastery.

    This makes them poor examples, if you want your games to live and evolve.


    That being said, simplicity is a useful goal to strive toward, but cognitive simplicity is not the same thing as page count. The tools I recommend are things like: network diagrams of the concepts of the game, not just the mechanics - for example, AW's MC principles and moves definitely should be in the diagram. Also estimated or even measured learning curves - how many of these nodes are required at each stage of mastery, for what player roles, and what are the opportunities and limitations at each stage.

    Of course that doesn't measure the difficulties in shifting perspective and breaking assumptions. Unlearning that AW moves are not just using an Ability score check. This again, need not be at all mechanical. Imagine tying to explain Inspectres to a Khazak and a Brazilian who have no context for American Schlock Horror and its parodies.

    - Mendel
  • edited June 2012
    I read RPG books for pleasure. Therefore, they can be as long as they want.

    When I run them, I just throw out the rules that didn't stick with me during my Pleasure Read and whatever system that remains is what happens at the table.

    So short design may be a fulfillment of the Forge's ol' core principles after all.
    Nevertheless, some folks are still writing long-ass books, and that's OK by me too. I'll read them!
  • The second edition of Trollbabe doubled the page count. And it's simpler to play and to learn than the first.

    If you are trying to play chess after reading the rules on a single sheet, you will be frustrated: everyone will beat the shit out of you, you will not understand how, and you will leave the game in frustration. Most people really learn chess by playing with someone who teach them, or by reading long books, the single-page sheet is only a mnemonic aid.

    Luckily, there are lot of people around that can teach you at least the first couple of things about chess. You can ask parents, friends, siblings, you will easily find someone who will teach you at least enough to play. And if you really don't know anyone, there are literally hundreds of books that teach chess at any level of complexity. (and the fact that people buy them is proof enough that you need more than a single sheet of rules to play chess).

    Indie RPGs have a couple of problems competing with chess: usually you have to learn the game from the text because it was published something like 5 minutes ago, and even if it's not new, there are something like 50 persons in the entire world that could teach you to play it. And if you don't explain how to play in the rulebook, there is no other book in existence that will.

    So:
    - Simpler rules: good. Usually simpler rules make for a better game, it's easier to teach other people and to remember. You make less mistakes during the game. Ideally, you should be a able to fit them all in a single sheet, like chess.
    - Shorter explanations: not so good. The more you explain (if you do it well), the more people will understand how to play your game. The rulebook is not only a rules list, is a teaching text, too: it has to teach how to play (that is much more complicated than a list of rules)
  • rules do not equal book, and vice versa

    also, who's using the rules? for apocalypse world, the player really only needs to know the rules on their playbook+the basic moves+"when you make a move, roll 2d6+stat and interpret the result"+how to track harm. i'd call that two "pages" of rules total, maybe three if you play someone with a hardhold or a gang. the MC, however, needs to know a lot more rules.

    so, to call out Graham for example, are there too many rules for you to play a character in AW? or to be the MC? because those aren't 1-to-1 with the length of the book.

    ...

    as a general principle, i find the quality of a game to have almost nothing to do with page count, personally.
  • I don't think that game quality necessarily correlates with page count. I think that it's a good idea to write good games that are short.

    (Nor do I think that all games should be short, or could be short.)

    Or perhaps, to put a different spin on it, I think it's a good idea to write good games that don't require anyone, or perhaps anyone except the GM, or more than one person, to read a lot of stuff before the game starts.

  • I'm starting to record my rules as audio files. I'm a bit camera shy. I can't find the comment now that was mentioning video. Last week I released a basic intro to one game as a podcast.

    Beyond that, I do have a pretty heavy rule set in my 3rd edition of my one game but I'm working on splitting the rules into ten minute (or less) chunks of reading. The main skill check system takes ten minutes to read with all it's options. The thing is, it's a 17 year old game and we've added how to make survival situations and Star Trek style technical challenges a component of the story. It's a military heavy game, so we included infantry rules (which are far more simple in this edition). My point is there are options upon options but they're not needed, they're just useful

    My other game is reasonably light. Most of the book is char gen and skills. The actual rules take up about two pages and half of that is example.

    Obviously I like both. One has a very tight rules system that fits the setting. The other is extremely open and almost madcap requiring quite a bit of lateral thinking to play well.
  • I don't mind long rules if I also have a short 1-4 page summary cheat sheet.

    I wish more long games came with cheat sheets. But not cheat sheets that leave out major rules which can cause even more confusion.

    That said, book length doesn't equate to rules 1 for 1. Often explanations, examples, and lists of choices can be many times longer than the rules themselves.
  • edited June 2012
    Posted By: ArpieYep. Pretty simple game.
    Well, your definition of check and checkmate is somewhat suspect. "My king's not in peril of being captured because my opponent is too dumb to see that it could happen." Better to define it in terms of pieces and their capabilities. Also you describe the knight's move completely wrong. And the requirements for castling are more stringent than you describe. And you left out a bunch of stuff:

    You don't describe pawn movement from their initial position, capturing en passant, the orientation of the board, pawn promotion, putting yourself in check (or the three valid ways to get out of check), how a draw may occur, how to record a game or the use of the clock.

    The United States Chess Federation's official rules of chess are 416 pages long. Now, the USCF is a competitive chess organization which is promoting tournament play, so it's different from playing at a cafe or with your pals on the weekend. But that should give you some idea of what you're trying to do.

    The rules can be easily taught and summarized, I agree. But a summary is not the rules - a reference sheet is not the rules - a one-sheet is not the rules.

    Edit: I agree with Moreno. Teachability is not the same as rules length or even rules complexity.
  • edited June 2012
    I think Josh "Not Quite the Guy Who Wrote Gargantua and Pantagruel" Fox has the most rational answer on this thread so far.
  • Yeah, especially trad RPGs tend to be monstrous tomes. RPGs are my free time and I want to play them quickly out of the box. Important setting stuff should be integrated to the rules and non-important setting stuff shouldn't take much room. I accept that many people enjoy complex RPGs, but I don't have energy or the players to read some book, learn to memorize it and run a big campaign. The rewards may be awesome, but it's unlikely I'd ever get there. And I suspect this is increasingly the case with the whole fanbase.
  • *looks suspiciously at Arpie*

    How do you know my middle name?
  • The rules of Chess, of course, are completely abstact. If we cut out all setting information from RPGs, suddenly they really become a whole lot shorter, and also boring. So ultimately I don't think it's fair comparison.
    Posted By: JDCorleyYou don't describe ... how to record a game or the use of the clock.
    To Arpie's defense, these are variant/additional rules, really. You can play a valid game of Chess without knowing this stuff exists. But yeah, overall you're right, Arpie's rules were incorrect.
  • edited June 2012
    Sure, there are different communities/standards. But even casually I don't play without recording my game. That way I can go over it later. And even strangers playing each other in the park use the clock. If all we're talking about is "playing a valid game of chess", I could just tell you the players the moves they will make and each of them robotically performs the motions. But the clock, at least, should be part of any rules discussion because if you want to play chess with someone and they take out a clock and start setting it up, you need to know what to do.
  • My point in mentioning chess - which was offhand at best - was to suggest that it has _relatively_ simple rules (under the criteria of the OP of "being able to play the game 15 minutes after having heard of it for the first time") and yet provides a complex game because:
    - the rules are interacting with one another all the time (i.e. when you're moving a piece, you're factoring in how at least half a dozen other pieces move)
    - you're not playing against a ruleset, you're playing against a human brain.

    That was my only intention in mentioning chess - to suggest a couple of ways in which to squeeze big game ideas into small spaces.

    Please consider that I said draughts, backgammon, reversi - or some other game where the complexity of the rule-set is less controversial - in place of chess in my first post. 8)
  • edited June 2012
    Posted By: ndpso, to call out Graham for example, are there too many rules for you to play a character in AW? or to be the MC?
    There's too much text. It's so long. I read a few pages, get tired, and do something else instead.
  • Why are games, books? Who started this nonsense anyway? I'd like to punch them... softly.... in the eyeball.
  • Posted By: Epistolary Richard"being able to play the game 15 minutes after having heard of it for the first time"
    Yes, that's what I meant. I don't think that's true for chess. The goal of chess is disconnected from normal play in a way that isn't easy to get across quickly.
    Posted By: Epistolary RichardPlease consider that I said draughts, backgammon, reversi - or some other game where the complexity of the rule-set is less controversial - in place of chess in my first post. 8)
    In RPGs, the potential input of players at any given moment is infinite, so it doesn't seem weird to me that it would be hard to get the rules across quickly.

    Actually you can be playing 4e D&D after hearing about it for the first time in 15 minutes, since character creation is just arranging some numbers and picking a couple of options off a few lists, and the game doesn't even require you to do that. Of course if you want to GM it you have to do more work.
  • I think that using more physical components is the answer to keeping games simple while still having a robust system.

    Example: Untold is a (sorta) collectible rpg card game. It's not random packed like MtG, and there are specialty packs covering different factions, races, powers and so on, along with more general card sets. The rulebook is just as concise as Magic's, and seeing that compared to the huge rulebooks for most other RPG makes the game far more approachable.

    Not that robust systems are the end-all, be-all of RPGing. My favorite games are all small and simple. FU is like 10 pages long. Risus is six pages.

  • edited June 2012
    Posted By: Epistolary Richard"being able to play the game 15 minutes after having heard of it for the first time"
    Yes, that's what I meant. I don't think that's true for chess. The goal of chess is disconnected from normal play in a way that isn't easy to get across quickly.

    Posted By: Epistolary RichardPlease consider that I said draughts, backgammon, reversi - or some other game where the complexity of the rule-set is less controversial - in place of chess in my first post. 8)
    In RPGs, the potential input of players at any given moment is infinite, so it doesn't seem weird to me that it would be hard to get the rules across quickly.

    I'm sorry but that argument is preposterous! The closer you are to an infinite number of variations the easier it is to define the set of actions you have available. "You can do anything" borders on the infinite. "You can do anything you can describe" is pretty nearly there. More limits require more rules, which, in turn, slow down communication time.
    Actually you can be playing 4e D&D after hearing about it for the first time in 15 minutes, since character creation is just arranging some numbers and picking a couple of options off a few lists, and the game doesn't even require you to do that. Of course if you want to GM it you have to do more work.
    I'd argue that first time players of D&D often take quite a while to make their choices - unless an experienced player is muscling them along (which is not usually a very enjoyable experience.)

    But I do have to agree that choosing options off a list is faster than offering something more "sandbox." Any game aimed at new players tends to do better with a shopping list.

    PS. Sorry, Rabalias, I wasn't sure how to spell it and I was in a hurry. I'm not always comfortable addressing people by their real names online. It's confusing when your handle is displayed prominently and it takes extra clicks to get to the name they prefer to refer to you by.



  • Well, looking back at the history of the product, most first time players of 4e D&D played a pregenerated character at a "welcome new players" event, which was the big organizational innovation of 4e that took off like a fucking rocket, so the players don't actually do anything except pick the one whose picture looks coolest. There was a lot more dithering in 3e, and organized play was very different, to be sure.
  • Arpie: Not a problem - my comment was meant as a joke anyway. :)
  • I really like the approach of Lady Blackbird and Danger Patrol, for example, in getting you right into the action. Having quick-start rules and a summary are great to have right up front, and then if you want to follow it up with a complete book--that's all the better.
  • The rulebook is just as concise as Magic's, and seeing that compared to the huge rulebooks for most other RPG makes the game far more approachable.
    The actual rules for Magic: The Gathering is 97 pages. They did a lot of streamlining from it's earlier days though. Your overall message is true. That's how Mageknight took off. It was basically a simple form of D&D and they made the stats on the model for easy reference instead of having to cycle through several pages of stats.


    Overall there is a lot of accidental humor in this thread. Keep it up guys and gals.
  • John Harper can write Lady Blackbird within a few pages. I can squeeze the Cthulhu rules down to a single page.
    Now I like Cthulhu Dark as much as the next Old One, but to say you squeezed the Cthulhu rules down to a single page is at best unintentionally misleading. Assuming by "Cthulhu" you mean "Call of Cthulhu," there are layers upon layers of salient details that Cthulhu Dark does not possess. That's not a knock; it's the purpose of the game. But it does not contain the rules of Cthulhu anymore than the sentence "score more points than the other team" contains the rules of American football. Essence ≠ rules

  • There's no reason games must be long. If you're making them long, it's a deliberate choice.
    Not necessarily -- I may not be a good enough writer to get them that short. Writing a short, good set of rules takes talent and effort.
  • Well, looking back at the history of the product, most first time players of 4e D&D played a pregenerated character at a "welcome new players" event, which was the big organizational innovation of 4e that took off like a fucking rocket, so the players don't actually do anything except pick the one whose picture looks coolest. There was a lot more dithering in 3e, and organized play was very different, to be sure.
    I agree, that's been my experience as well.

  • edited June 2012
    I think Graham's right that writing a long game text is a deliberate choice--or at least should be, in an ideal world where all game designers have the skills to make things concise.

    Look at Burning Empires. If you've read it and played it, you know it couldn't be substantially shorter than it is and be even close to the same game. Obviously that was a deliberate choice. Long game texts turn some people off, but they intrigue some people too (probably less than they turn off), if the length is really warranted. Small games can be good, but oppressive social footprint games can be good, too. Just in the same way that games that are super easy to learn and play can be good, but games that are also difficult to engage with can be good, too. I mean, how easy is it to engage with Matthew Barney's work?

    I also totally recognize that the oppressive social footprint is not something that's always wanted, especially for newer or tentative players. It's definitely a design consideration that affects the audience of the game.
  • Alex, the basic rules have been trimmed down the 36 pages. Sure, the COMPLETE rules, with every errata and clarification, is almost 200, but if there weren't MtG tournaments, such a tomb wouldn't be needed.

    You're comment on Mage Knight is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. I was a huge fan of MK, and I don't even like fantasy all that much. The main reason was the simplicity of it all.

    Why can't these concepts be used in an RPG? Maybe the key to better game play is just better character sheet design.
  • Lady Blackbird is often used as an example of compact, rules-light play, but I remember the discussion back when it came out as to how much it relied on the indie milieu and terminology to make it playable. (I tried to search it - I think the term 'playset' came into being around then for this type of approach - but Van2 isn't playing ball.)

    For instance, The Shadow of Yesterday is much longer than Lady Blackbird, but this doesn't mean that Clinton R Nixon is a less elegant writer than John Harper. Clinton birthed some new concepts, such as Keys, that required some unpacking. By Blackbird's day, keys had become part of the furniture, and so could be concisely referred to in the text without that unpacking - and if people didn't get it immediately, they could easily google around story games or locate the entirety of the TSOY text online. Heck, you could see the online TSOY text as containing Blackbird appendices, not essential for all, but available and very useful for some players!

    Some games are going to be longer because they are trying to explain things that are outside of the current milieu. Whether a new mechanic, setting content, or a particular tone - Cthulhu Dark is perfectly designed to allow those who want to play Lovecraftesque horror to do so, but if I write a game based around a different type of little-known horror, I may find that more guidance would be useful.
  • Alex, the basic rules have been trimmed down the 36 pages.

    You're comment on Mage Knight is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. I was a huge fan of MK, and I don't even like fantasy all that much. The main reason was the simplicity of it all.
    Wowzers! 36? is that 8.5x11 standard? I stopped playing MtG in 2005, so it makes sense for my count to be outdated. I still remember their 200 page card size booklets. With a 4 font size, it was a pain to say the least.

    But yeah, as long as we understand each other, it's cool. Overall I believe short games aren't better than long ones, but the lower the amount of constant stats, the better it usually is in the fun department. Constant stats are stats you need to keep in mind at all times. I'm hoping people go a little deeper in their explanation because short has so many ways of being misinterpreted.
  • It should be pointed out there is a big difference between "what are the rules?" and "how do you play?"

    The rules, for example, of Texas Hold-em are pretty short. You'd have to squeeze pretty hard to fit the rules for split pots and such onto a one sheet brochure, but you should be able to cover everything in 2 sheets, at least accurately enough to work as a quick reference.

    But as for "how to play", that is a subject that has already had at least 10s of thousands of pages written about it, if not 100s.

    And if you don't know at least some of that, you're in for a less than satisfying experience, if you're playing with someone who does knows those things.

    RPGs are often similar. "Rulebooks" are, usually, not just the rules. They're full of information about "how to play" as well.

    But I agree that more games should produce good quick reference materials. Back in the day, many games did this with GM screens. Very few have ever done something with quick player rules summary handouts, though some clever ones work that into excellent character sheet/booklet designs.
  • I try to make games that are like quick-reference materials that still work if you don't know the rest and are forced to guess or make it up yourself.

    Lady Blackbird was written for 5 specific people. I'm super happy that it works for others, including people entirely new to gaming, which I didn't think would work at all.

    I'm learning to give people more credit. They can do a lot with a little.
  • It should be pointed out there is a big difference between "what are the rules?" and "how do you play?"

    The rules, for example, of Texas Hold-em are pretty short. You'd have to squeeze pretty hard to fit the rules for split pots and such onto a one sheet brochure, but you should be able to cover everything in 2 sheets, at least accurately enough to work as a quick reference.

    But as for "how to play", that is a subject that has already had at least 10s of thousands of pages written about it, if not 100s.

    And if you don't know at least some of that, you're in for a less than satisfying experience, if you're playing with someone who does knows those things.

    RPGs are often similar. "Rulebooks" are, usually, not just the rules. They're full of information about "how to play" as well.

    But I agree that more games should produce good quick reference materials. Back in the day, many games did this with GM screens. Very few have ever done something with quick player rules summary handouts, though some clever ones work that into excellent character sheet/booklet designs.
    The important difference is that "how to play" -stuff in games like Poker is about tactics, when in RPGs...well, just general advice about how to make the game cool.
  • It's not just general advice. Some of it is general advice that can be applied across games (the same could be said for poker advice about how to improve your poker face and idenitify and eliminate your tells) while some of it is very specific advice about that particular game.

    Both are advice about how to have a positive, successful experience while interacting with the core rules. Both are a supplement to those core "system mechanics". Both are about how to play the game "well", rather than just about how to follow the rules.
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