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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: QOTD MAR 12: How do you read an rpg book? rss

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Patrick Zoch
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A question suggested by

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How do you read an rpg book?

Front to back? Always start with a certain chapter? etc.



Do you have a question you want asked as QOTD? Post here!

And if you want to find an old QOTD: The big QOTD Summary and Subscription Thread Volume 3
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Roger
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If you are talking about a new to me rpg, front to back.
IF you are talking about new edition, I just scan front to back and then dig deeper as necessary. Still have not read more than 2 chapters in the 5E DMG.
If you are talking about an adventure book front to back and take notes.
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jasperrdm wrote:
If you are talking about a new to me rpg, front to back.
IF you are talking about new edition, I just scan front to back and then dig deeper as necessary. Still have not read more than 2 chapters in the 5E DMG.
If you are talking about an adventure book front to back and take notes.


This. Sans Notes...
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Slowly. zombie

First, I'll flip through it. If I find ye olde example of play, I'll read that. I love examples of all kinds, so I might stop for any/all of them.

If it's a RPG that I think I might want to run, I'll read it front to back. If I change my mind, I'll go to skim-mode. Typically that means that I'll skip long lists (skills, spells, whatever), edge cases (fire damage!), and fluff.

If I get bogged down in a long list, I might skip ahead to recharge. I will go back and slog through it. I often challenge myself to read a page a day when this feeling hits. I know it doesn't sound like much, but most of the time I do more than one... and progress is progress. I had to do this with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (4th Edition) which I'm currently reading. The Skills and Talents section just took the wind out of my sails.

Sometimes I start in skim-mode if I acquired something out of curiosity. I do give it every chance to change my mind.
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Matthew Banner
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My one rule is that I start with character generation. That gives me context and an idea of interaction focus and possibilities. From there I jump around to the sections that interest me most.
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I read the table of contents to get an idea what to expect where.

Like Bruce, I like examples of play, but depending on what I'm looking for, I might skip that. I usually read the basic rules info, and I usually skip lists and tables. I might skip setting descriptions and scenarios, or alternatives and supplements provided in the book.

I rarely read an rpg book completely (cover to cover), unless it's a short one like many indie rpgs are.
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Start at the beginning, go through to the end then stop.

Usually. There are cases when I might pick and choose from a book I'm using but haven't got around to reading yet. I also might skim over mechanics in core books if deep knowledge of them isn't needed.
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Usually just a straight front-to-back. I'll skim lists if I think they're boring (a straight list of names or a multi-paragraph description of what underwater basket weaving entails) but I'll give them a closer look if something catches my eye.

The internet will occasionally be helpful. I forget if it was someone's review, a question on a forum, or what, but random Googling was instrumental to my understanding of the resolution mechanic in Eldritch Role-Playing System.
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Meh. Who needs to read the rules? I have somebody show me how to play. Then I read the book to see what I'm doing wrong.
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If it's the core rulebook, such as the 5e PHB, I try to read it front to back in its entirety.

If it's a book of supplemental rules, such as the 5e DMG or XGE, I tend to just skim it initially and only thoroughly read the specific sections I plan to use immediately. I do try to go back and read it all eventually to catch any interesting bits I might otherwise miss.

I don't know that I've ever completed a full read-through of the 1e AD&D DMG, but I spent decades dipping into random sections of it and reading bits I'd never read before.
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Wait, we're supposed to read them? I thought they were just supposed to be collected and talked about. I've been doing it wrong!

I have a hard time reading straight through anything (not just rpg books) - attention span just isn't what it used to be. I think I tend to read through front to back unless there are sections that just don't feel important, then I'll skip to the next logical heading or chapter and continue.

If it's something I have the basic concepts of, I will likely skip to the meat of the mechanical rules or whatever the standout part of that book is.
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Flip to the back and look at the character sheet.

Go to the ToC and find the core mechanic.

Then front to back. I also skim lists.
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I check out action resolution to see if it's something easily translatable to the system of my choice. If it is, I then read through anything that describes a character: skills, advantages, disadvantages, etc. and any interesting mechanics that are new to me. Then the background. Always skip the fiction.
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I try to read in full from front to back. Though if I get bored I might jump randomly.

I also do crib sheets / notes on larger, harder systems and settings. This helped a lot with Exalted and Star Trek: Adventures but also with smaller games where the rules fit on a file card and can be kept in a handy place.
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It depends on what I'm reading the book for.

Am I reading it because I'm deciding whether or not to buy it?

Am I reading it because I'm curious about how it does certain things?

Am I reading it because I want to play it?
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If I bought it with an eye towards play:

1st time through (front to back, skipping small detail), I go front to back looking for fluff, resolution methods, and examples of play to get the "feel".

2nd time (front to back, skipping fluff), I grab a pad and char sheet and start detailed note taking (with page references) on the mechanics of common actions.


If I bought it with an eye towards stealing ideas but not playing:

I skip here and there all over the place.
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Sit down in most comfy chair and eagerly open book.
Realise I don’t have refreshing beverage, put book down, get up and obtain one.
Return to most comfy chair to find cat now occupies it.
Discuss with cat the nature of chair ownership.
Sit down in second-most comfy chair and eagerly open book.
Get up to answer phone.
Return to second-most comfy chair to find wife now occupies it (see ‘cat’ above).
Realise it’s time to go to work anyway.
Spend 10 hours commuting, sitting in decidedly uncomfy chair, and commuting.
Take book to bed and lie on back to read.
Yelp in pain as book sharply hits bridge of nose due to falling asleep.
Set book aside until tomorrow.
Repeat.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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Front to back except for the GM specific material.
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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Front to back, and then I go back through a second or third time to read the bits I think are the most important before I decide to run a game of it.
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Roger Hobden
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Check the table of contents, and zoom in to the most relevant section first.

However, I end up reading the book front to back eventually.
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A warm reuben sandwich in one hand and a cold Mug rootbeer in the other. Turning the pages though...
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Mycroft Stout wrote:
A warm reuben sandwich in one hand and a cold Mug rootbeer in the other. Turning the pages though...


The cat will help!
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quozl wrote:
The cat will help!


Lies!
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I actually only recently 'read' my first RPG book: Ryuutama. Prior to that I'd never read one cover to cover in 32 years of play and dungeon mastery.

I respect people who can and do, but in my experience it doesn't convey greater working understanding of the game.
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1. I hide the Amazon/Gameslore/other-gaming-companies-can-be-used packaging.

2. Like a small me opening my G.I.Joe Mobile Command Centre, I greedily open it and flick through trying to pick out cool stuff before hiding it from an overly curious 2 year old.

3. When 2 year old goes to bed (normally because one of the two parents put her there, she's slow to do it herself) I curl up and begin to digest.

4. Core books I try to digest slowly and will often need to flick back and forth. I'll try to work out the core mechanics and then move onto Character creation. The new Paranoia threw me for a loop as you needed to read the Players book first so I got grumpy and annoyed before going back and reading it in the right order.

5. New setting stuff, I'll skim for new character options first and then go back read it all in the order put down.

6. Campaign books I'll read like a novel and then close it thinking why do I buy these I tend to run my own stuff anyway but what a fun read! There's been a few I've thought I really want to run this (The Darkening of Mirkwood, Cthulhu Britanica Shadows Over Scotland and Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues).
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