Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Discussion: Pet Peeves in RPG Products

Fridays can be pretty slow for bloggers. For whatever reason, folks seem to completely check out. I have no idea if this extends to Twitter as well, but whatever the case, Fridays seem pretty quiet in regards to RPG conversation. Here at RPG Blog 2, we do our best to change that

Here's today's discussion question: What are your pet peeves for RPG products? Lack of an index? Typos? 40% of a source book of filled with interminable "edgy" fiction? Gimmicky mechanics? Preachy GM advice? Here's your chance to let loose! If you need to go Anonymous, I understand.

Have a great weekened, and Good Gaming!


Mark Gedak said...

New systems that lack a sample adventure or detailed example of character creation.

Robertson Games said...

Game systems where it's painfully obvious they're trying to blend trademarks and copyrighted terms throughout the rules themselves, to the detriment of the actual game.

Aaron said...

Sample adventures are pretty high on my list, too (although I haven't included it in either of my RPGs, oops), but I only need an example of character creation if it's a fairly complex system - and if it is, I might not play it.

I think too much information on one page is a bit off putting, and I'm more likely to skip over it if that happens, and then I'll get confused in-game, and then I'll accuse the game. Yeah, I have a weird logic train.

Gleichman said...

Self-Rightous PC content.

Tripps said...

Bad layout/typesetting. Some companies (White Wolf, I'm looking at you) have a tendency to use way, way, way too many different fonts, changing layouts every for no good reasons and putting images behind the text. There are many RPG books that I've been unable to finish reading due to my head hurting.

Ruel Knudson said...

Any kind of decent index or logic to layout. A book should layout by logical progression (i.e. Intro, Character gen, classes, skills/feats, eq, combat, extras (magic and other junk)), and an index should point my back quickly.

I also hate justification (i.e. "I wrote this rule because in reality..." blah blah I suck)

Anders Hällzon said...

Terrible layout that's hard to read. CoC 6:th ed is quite gulity of this - backgrounds creeping under text, boxes with white text on black background, etc.

Long spiels about how THIS game isn't for those childish hack-n'-slashers that play D&D. Your game must truly suck if you have to denigrate others in the rulebook itself. Again, CoC does this.

Wildly varying art quality. Ars magica 4:th and 5:th are good contenders for this "prize". D&D 4:th is straddling the border (many artists) but is saved somewhat by the art directors (similar style, except for that guy with the CGI).

And yet I still like both CoC, D&D4 and Ars Magica. Funny that.

Helmsman said...

The Character Level and his retarded inbred cousin, The Level-Based Hit-Point.

99% of all problems in gaming would be eliminated if the Level-Based Hit-Point had dried up on his mother's/sister's thigh.

Geek Gazette said...

I want an rpg to have information in the order you need it. Learning character creation for a new system should be a 1,2,3 process and you shouldn't have to jump between several chapters that are no where near each other to reference things. The rules should also be clear. I hate trying to get a grasp of new rules and chapter 2 references something you need now, but it is located in chapter 7 (just an example). New gamers should be able to pick up the rulebook, and have everything in the exact order they need it.

kelvingreen said...

1) "Here's an incomplete and broken sub-system for magic/tech/vampires/starships/psychics; in order to actually be able to use it, you'll have to buy another book."
If you can't give me something that works in the core rules, don't give me anything at all.

2) Indexes which don't work.

kelvingreen said...

Oh, and...

3) No sample adventure.

Jeff Rients said...

For large games the lack of an index isn't a pet peeve, it's a crime against humanity.

On the pet peeve level, most rulebooks have a photocopyable charsheet in the back. Some of those sheets do not have the name of the game on them. I hate that. Once at a local con I found a photocopies charsheet from an event earlier in the day. Woah! This game has a stat called 'Fu'! That's rad to the max! Too bad I couldn't tell what the name of the game was.

HinterWelt said...

Lack of index, Table of Contents and/or proper cross-referencing. Grr.

Robert Saint John said...

^ What these guys said.


What in the world is wrong with publishers who simply cannot include a comprehensive tabel of Contents and an Index??? You guys do know that Word will pretty much automate this task for you, don't you? It is the Number One sign of sloppiness and laziness, and I hate buying your product when you couldn't be bothered to include reference tools in what is, essentially, a reference book. It's one of those things that makes the game industry look downright unprofessional compared to other sectors.

Yes, it makes me angry. And I will call you (publishers) out and mock you for it in any review I do of your product. You will automatically lose 1 - 2 stars because of it.

Another peeve: doing PDFs and other forms of electronic media, and not embracing the features of it that distinguish it from the dead tree version. There is NO excuse for releasing a product as a PDF and not bookmarking it and providing internal hyperlinks to some extent when the document is over 10 pages.

Further, please wake up and note that there is, in fact, a difference between the way something looks on paper and th way it looks and works on a screen. You know all that fancy-dancy artwork and watermarked imagery that works when it's on paper and in color? Yeah, guess what, it probably doesn't work so well as a PDF. Why not actually try that out before you put it up on RPGNow?

A PDF is not the electronic xerox copy of a paper book. Stop treating it as such. If you want to justify the costs of a PDF, start taking advantage of its most basic features.


Robert Saint John said...

I make typos when I'm angry. Sorry!

clash bowley said...

I hate anything written by clash bowley. He's an idiot. He can't even be arsed to capitalize his own name. What a maroon!


Zachary The First said...

Amen. It's why I've started the Anti-clash League. It was incredible how quickly our ranks filled, and how many people despise Napoleonic Warfare (especially with dragons) and Genre-spanning Space RPGs!

Tim Shorts said...

Systems that with hold content to sell another book.

Systems that keep heaping garbage content to sell another book.

Writers who use the word 'whilst'.

The bad fiction that is supposed to be an example, but it's really not.

When writers think they can edit themselves. And in general poor editing.

L. Beau said...

First, the runners up:

Typos: They're annoying, to be sure, but not a particular pet peeve of mine.

No index: Okay, the publisher is just begging for a class action lawsuit (and no, it would not be nuisance lawsuit.) This one is not the winner because it's too irritating to too many gamers to be mere "pet peeve."

Terrible layout: Less common than it used to be, IMHO.

Wretched fiction: Ooohh, a close runner-up, being both a thief of time and page-count. Hey game publishers, if I want to read fiction, rather than buying a game, maybe I'll just buy a novel or a collection of short stories?

And the Winner:

"Here's an incomplete and broken sub-system for magic/tech/vampires/starships/psychics; in order to actually be able to use it, you'll have to buy another book."

kelvingreen beat me to it! Instead of offering us an incomplete or unusable subsystem, just advise the GM to wing it, then proceed with your product-to-be-released-18-months-from-now sales pitch (or better still, spare me the excess marketing.)

David Macauley said...

Games that are released full of errors, resulting in a continuous stream of errata and updated versions over the next year or so. Especially if I've paid good money for an original or early version, only to find out my copy is now incorrect.

Anonymous said...

Mongoose Publishing... are your ears ringing right now?

njharman said...

Definitely fiction, major reason I've never been able to get into a White Wolf product.

I love play examples. As in "DM says, PC says" or examples of using rules mechanics. But can't stand long expositions about some jack ass character(s) that neither I nor my players created. We'll make our own stories thank you very much!

The very worst are narrated by an ingame characters; ecologies, almanacs, and gazetters often do this. If I want fiction I'll by a book, I bought this cause I wanted a game.

Visual fiction aka fancy scrollwork/background to every page. Hard to read, waste of time, visually distracting. You could of used all that color to make the product more useful and easier to read.

OGL content that is (purposely) vague as to what is open and/or makes the very absolute legally required minimum open content. Mongoose Publishing is the most egregious offender I've seen. Yeah, join the bandwagon and leech off the work of everyone else but contribute nothing back yourselves, yeah fuck you too. Guess how many of your products I've bought.

Things I love:
- sidebars
- use of color in layout. Mutants & Masterminds does an excellent job
- glossaries, pronunciation guides, timelines (for setting type books)
- thick paper
- products meant for 3-ring binders. Harn, oh how I miss you.
- things! handouts, artwork to show players, cards to puch out, wheels, faux tricorders, props and gimmicks of all stripes. Bring'm on!

Tenkar said...

Non-printer friendly PDFs. Generally speaking, if it isn't printer friendly it probably isn't friendly looking on my monitor either.

Heck, while I'm at it, most game books with annoying art BEHIND the pages displaying rules and tables. Its distracting and not needed.

Dave "Joyd" said...

I can read around typos. I'll eventually find something without an index, even if I don't like it. I'll glaze over bad art. I'll wince and suck it up as I flip past the dismal fiction. But the thing I just can't get around are (seemingly unintentional) ambiguity and contradictions. I'm counting these as problems with the product rather than with the system, because I'm assuming that the designers had one way or the other in mind, and it just isn't reflected in the product due to editing. This tops my list because unlike most things, these issues directly affect gameplay, and in particular they lead to rules debate. (I'm also no fan of the ambiguous rule's cousin, the rule that's not technically ambiguous but it written in a way that causes people to frequently misread it.)

Wickedmurph said...

1) Overly specific campaign-setting stuff. Telling me all the stats of the rulers and the names of all the members of a sinister cabal is just. not. helpful. Give me plot hooks and ideas, not specifics.

Poorly designed or inadequately tested sub-systems (or game systems in general). I'm looking at you, thrown weapon rules in White Wolf, or you, high-level Vancian Magic in 3e. Purely ugly, game-distorting stuff that should have been caught in testing.

Wickedmurph said...

3) Sorry, one more. Not giving me a pdf with my hard-copy. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

Filler. Dopey prestige classes, feats, monsters, spells, etc that have no practical use. Such publications should have "includes publication by-products" right on the label. Isn't there an FDA law that governs this?