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"Length of Rulebooks" Topic

16 Posts

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488 hits since 10 Aug 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian10 Aug 2018 5:57 p.m. PST

A publisher should aim to have a rulebook which is no longer than… how many pages?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2018 6:18 p.m. PST

An author should write 2-4 pages for convention use or 16 for home use. Might get to twice that with illustrations, examples of play and army lists. The Airfix rules are a max. (Lion Rampant, even with all the padding, clocks in at 67 pages.)

The publisher is another matter altogether. I remember when wargames rules didn't have any such thing. The publisher needs longer rulebooks because he expects to be paid more for a bigger book, and multiple volumes because he expects to be paid again for each volume. So the publisher should aim at 200 pages (Black Powder) a "codex" for each army, a theater book for each region and a period-specific book to go with sub-period. The overall objective should be Core rulebook, period rulebook, theater guide and two army guides for a total of 1,000 pages of commercial product for each game played.

That's what the publisher should aim to do. And there is no maximum.

Oberlindes Sol LIC10 Aug 2018 6:52 p.m. PST

Robert is cynical and accurate at the same time.

jurgenation Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2018 6:54 p.m. PST

I agree 24ish ,plus cheat sheets ..and maybe Manufactor info ,for Minis and background history.

USAFpilot10 Aug 2018 6:56 p.m. PST

However many pages it takes, but not one page more. In other words, cut out all the crap like overly wordy paragraphs full of fluff which could be better explained with a simple table or chart.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2018 7:55 p.m. PST

And again I'm siding with Robert, along with a preference for those 2 to 4 page rule sets. Anything after that is factors and divergences from the core concept.

(Just once, once, I want to disagree with him on something!)

parrskool11 Aug 2018 3:35 a.m. PST

Yes…… many are full of over wordy padding which getv in the way of understanding. I find Black Powder's discourse very off putting for example.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2018 3:51 a.m. PST

Thank you all. I may have "cynical and accurate" carved on my tombstone.

I was cranky last night, but it's a real problem. Apart from my personal preference for short rules sets, after a certain length, the length itself is a problem. You can't find things, and Page 15 is contradicted by Page 37. It keeps working out that the optimum rulebook--everything is there, you can find it and there are no contradictions--is more like a pamphlet, and the author can get it run off at the local print shop.

But if you're a publisher--that is, you're actually making money from printing books and such--a pamphlet is too small for your equipment and too short for your bureaucracy. They really can't make money on anything shorter than Black Powder, and even that may not be worth fooling with unless there is the prospect of more volumes later.

I think the eventual solution will look more like the Ospreys. Osprey seems to have a good system for publishing shorter works than traditional books. And just below them you're going to start seeing much nicer-looking pamphlets. Given current technology, there's no reason two or three guys in the local club can't turn out a short set of rules on glossy paper with color illustrations. They won't make a lot of money at it, but for them that's not the point.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2018 6:19 a.m. PST

Well, when they have nice pictures of figures I enjoy that but keep the rules themselves short and in one spot. It does not work for me when I read blah, blah, blah, infantry moves 5", blah, blah, blah.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Aug 2018 11:53 a.m. PST

To follow Einstein, a rule book should contain as few pages as possible, but no fewer.

It really depends on your audience. If people want some quick rules to run some battles, short is good. If people want to immerse themselves in deep dynamics, longer is better.

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own.
- Henry Ford

Fitzovich16 Oct 2018 6:48 p.m. PST


Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP17 Oct 2018 5:59 a.m. PST

I prefer my rules the same length as an epic. If it's any less than 2500 pages it's garbage.

Toy Soldier Green17 Oct 2018 7:13 p.m. PST

Featherstone once wrote that all rules should be confined to the back of a postcard.

Personal logo Frank Wang Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Oct 2018 6:06 p.m. PST

15-20, a4 size.
if txt only, 1-2

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 8:50 p.m. PST

As a gamer I want 12 pages. The publisher wants much more as already stated.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP22 Oct 2018 9:44 a.m. PST

It depends on your targeted audience. Experienced gamers need less instruction; newbies need more explanation of concepts, and specific rules.

I wrote up an introductory (for people new to miniatures gaming) set of rules for gaming with Army Men figures. I included sections on making terrain, and other ancillary items and topics. The book came out to 96 pages, in 5.5" x 8.5" format, with tables, charts, and images, in the chapters. It also came with two sets of two, 8.5" x 11", Reference Cards, double-sided. Once you read the book, all you needed were the Reference Cards.

Playing is fast and easy, but learning… That requires explanation, which requires pages of text. Once in a while, I need to look things up in the text, but more than 98% of the time, it is in the Reference Cards. In my experience, most mini's games are like this: once you learn the system, you only need the Reference Cards; in order to learn the system, you need an explanation on how it works -- hence the page count. Cheers!

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