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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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Club Squirrel
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I look at the pretty pictures
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Paul Unwin
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Front to back and on an electronic device, if at all possible.
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Chuck Dee
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It depends:

1. If I'm reading something that I'm not trying to play, front to back. In some cases, I skip over the fiction, but if it's really good, I'll read that too.
2. If I'm reading a new edition, look for the notes on changes then scan through.
3. If I'm reading to play? I read the salient parts and then fill in as needed, making use of the index a lot, leaving the GM parts out if I'm just playing.
4. If I'm reading to GM? As above, but hit the GM parts last in my first reading.
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Douglas Bailey
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Front to back… until I get derailed and have to go haring off to look up what a game term means or what dice get rolled. It's still mostly front-to-back, just with digressions and the occasional Left Turn at Albuquerque™.
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Chris Tannhauser
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Ha ha! Read?
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Jeff Woodman
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For me its:

- Flip through, appreciate art, maybe read a section that catches my eye
- Read "lore" section if it exists (hopefully I've done this before buying it to see if it's something I'm interested in
- Read Char Gen, then generate a character, this will lead me to various sections as I try to figure out how tech/magic/attacks/skill checks work
- Read Combat section

This should get me into a 'I can play now' mindset, once I'm done generating a character I usually understand core mechanics well enough to get started.

If I'm going to GM then it's the above plus read everything else, then read it again.
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Clark Timmins
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Clark's quick ten steps to finding interesting games (uses the "immediate out" and the "three strikes and you're out" rules):

1. Look at the image on the cover and make a snap decision about the genre. If it isn't fantasy, science fiction, or zombies, put it back on the shelf. If you can't tell what it is, put it back on the shelf. If you can tell what it is and you're uninterested in that genre, that's +1 strike. If the cover artwork mostly is appealing because of salacious visual content, put it back on the shelf (after a quick flip-through, naturally).

2. Look on the shelf to the left/right for sourcebooks for the same game. If there are none or if there are more than a dozen, put it back on the shelf. If there are more than abt. six copies of the core book, put it back on the shelf. If there is no GM screen, that's +1 strike.

3. Look at the page count of the core book. If it's less than abt. 100 or more than abt. 250, put it back on the shelf. Determine if there is only one core book, or if the core rules are split into multiple books. If there are more than two core rule books, put it back on the shelf.

4. Review the game editions/versions of the core books for the same game on the shelf. If there are two or more editions/versions represented on the same shelf, put it back on the shelf. If the game is an "anniversary edition" that's +1 strike. If the game is set in any flavor of "world of darkness", put it back on the shelf. If the game is "powered by the apocalypse", put it back on the shelf.

5. Flip to the back and look at the character sheet; it will be either a) attribute/class/level, b) attribute/skill, c) narrative tag, or - very rarely - d) something else, In the case of a/b/c, you already know 90% of the game; in the case of d) it might be interesting (but probably is lame storytelling pabulum). If you can't find a character sheet, put it back on the shelf.

6. Determine if there are 3, 6, or more attributes = 3-ish means a generally well-designed game; 6 means a retro-clone; more means a generally over-designed game and that's +1 strike. If there are more than 9, put it back on the shelf.

7. Flip to the front and do a quick title page / first page scan for any of the following - "completely new", "totally innovative", "infinitely flexible", "capable of handling any genre", "no/low-preparation" - if you see anything like that, it's an unimaginative clone of a standard commercial game - that's +1 strike. If the first page is fiction, put it back on the shelf.

8. Look at the table of contents. If it's less than a page or more than two pages, put it back on the shelf. Otherwise, find the entry for basic action resolution and flip there (step 9).

9. Determine if it uses dice or some other mechanic. If it uses some other mechanic, put it back on the shelf. If it uses only d6, that's +1 strike.

10. Flip to the index. If there's no index, that's +1 strike. If there is an index but it's less than a page or more than six pages, put it back on the shelf. If it's a class system, note how many classes there are - if it's a skill system, not how many skills there are. If there are more than abt. 10 classes or abt. 20 skills, put it back on the shelf. If there are fewer than abt. 4 classes or abt. 8 skills, put it back on the shelf.

Made it this far with less than three strikes? You may be holding a game that is worth looking at.
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Benj Davis
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Jim Patching
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Skip the section on 'What is an RPG?'

Skip the section on RPG terms - "Roll 2d6 means roll 2 six sided dice".

Skip the sections on skills and special abilities - most of them are obvious, I'll read up on the unusual ones if they ever come into play.

Skip the How to be a good GM section (unless it's an unusual game - I did actually read this section when I recently ran Blades in the Dark)

Skip the World building section, unless it's a world I know nothing about (which is rare).

Skip sections on spells, items and magical equipment - I'll read about them if and when they crop up in play.

So basically I read character creation, the core mechanic and combat.
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Dave Terhune
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This is a blatant example of frivolous geek gold spending.
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I spent 100 geek gold and all I got was this lousy overtext.
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Front to back on first reading. If interested enough to want to try it, make some characters to see how that works (re-reading anything necessary), and use them to try the mechanics.

If it's not a core book, I stop at the reading part until I'm using it for a game.

Things I use get referenced as necessary. Whether that's quick look-ups or re-reading whole sections depends on the particular use case.
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Pieter
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I invested in Arcana and History proficiency. If that does not suffice, I have the Comprehend Languages spell at the ready. I thought about taking the Keen Mind feat, but that seems overkill.
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I just use it as a reference when I need to look something up, I never read them front to back. Maybe I should at one point just for the fun of it but there's always something better to read than an RPG book if you ask me.
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William Hostman
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Back cover. Price tag.
If I can find it, core mechanic
Then get and double check the Receipt.

Quick skim to get layout.

Mechanics. Then setting. then mechanics again.
Then make cheatsheets.
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Roger Hobden
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ctimmins wrote:
Clark's quick ten steps to finding interesting games (uses the "immediate out" and the "three strikes and you're out" rules):

1. Look at the image on the cover and make a snap decision about the genre. If it isn't fantasy, science fiction, or zombies, put it back on the shelf. If you can't tell what it is, put it back on the shelf. If you can tell what it is and you're uninterested in that genre, that's +1 strike. If the cover artwork mostly is appealing because of salacious visual content, put it back on the shelf (after a quick flip-through, naturally).

2. Look on the shelf to the left/right for sourcebooks for the same game. If there are none or if there are more than a dozen, put it back on the shelf. If there are more than abt. six copies of the core book, put it back on the shelf. If there is no GM screen, that's +1 strike.

3. Look at the page count of the core book. If it's less than abt. 100 or more than abt. 250, put it back on the shelf. Determine if there is only one core book, or if the core rules are split into multiple books. If there are more than two core rule books, put it back on the shelf.

4. Review the game editions/versions of the core books for the same game on the shelf. If there are two or more editions/versions represented on the same shelf, put it back on the shelf. If the game is an "anniversary edition" that's +1 strike. If the game is set in any flavor of "world of darkness", put it back on the shelf. If the game is "powered by the apocalypse", put it back on the shelf.

5. Flip to the back and look at the character sheet; it will be either a) attribute/class/level, b) attribute/skill, c) narrative tag, or - very rarely - d) something else, In the case of a/b/c, you already know 90% of the game; in the case of d) it might be interesting (but probably is lame storytelling pabulum). If you can't find a character sheet, put it back on the shelf.

6. Determine if there are 3, 6, or more attributes = 3-ish means a generally well-designed game; 6 means a retro-clone; more means a generally over-designed game and that's +1 strike. If there are more than 9, put it back on the shelf.

7. Flip to the front and do a quick title page / first page scan for any of the following - "completely new", "totally innovative", "infinitely flexible", "capable of handling any genre", "no/low-preparation" - if you see anything like that, it's an unimaginative clone of a standard commercial game - that's +1 strike. If the first page is fiction, put it back on the shelf.

8. Look at the table of contents. If it's less than a page or more than two pages, put it back on the shelf. Otherwise, find the entry for basic action resolution and flip there (step 9).

9. Determine if it uses dice or some other mechanic. If it uses some other mechanic, put it back on the shelf. If it uses only d6, that's +1 strike.

10. Flip to the index. If there's no index, that's +1 strike. If there is an index but it's less than a page or more than six pages, put it back on the shelf. If it's a class system, note how many classes there are - if it's a skill system, not how many skills there are. If there are more than abt. 10 classes or abt. 20 skills, put it back on the shelf. If there are fewer than abt. 4 classes or abt. 8 skills, put it back on the shelf.

Made it this far with less than three strikes? You may be holding a game that is worth looking at.


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