Sunday, March 6, 2022

A Good Exercise In Layout

Last night, I went through my ten-page draft and decided what was essential to the core rules; I trimmed and cut and consolidated to get the most salient parts of the ten pages into a four-page mini booklet (front and back of an 8 and 1/2 by 11 sheet). I went through and consolidated language; I combined sections, and eliminated redundancy. I looked for places where I could re-frame an idea from a paragraph or bulleted list into a brief table. 

And I did it. Four pages that give the rules in brief. It's super nifty and very portable and aligns with my aesthetic. It has one sample advanced spell, one sample monster stat block, and the full rules for character creation and advancement. You could theoretically play forever with this pamphlet and nothing else. I think that I could do a 'magic book', a 'fiend folio' and a 'campaign resource' and have four 'core books' in that format. And I still might do that.

But I don't love that the core rulebook doesn't REALLY give you everything you need. It doesn't have rules for relics or potions at all. It doesn't have how to build a monster, or guidance on giving monsters abilities. It doesn't have anything on actually going on an adventure, and setting targets for different challenges. It's the most basic form of the rules.

And that's cool. But it's also not. I want the core rules to be 'complete'. I don't want the core rules to immediately require you to get other things to in order to fully play.

I'm not sure what the final game looks like yet, but I do know that this exercise was a tremendous help in looking at the game through a fresh perspective. I had to distill the game and its core concepts to their essence and eliminiate everything else. It was very helpful, and will end up changing the final product signicantly, regardless of how that 'looks'. It reminded me of theater (because game design and theater are the same process in my imagination). At some point during the later parts of the rehearsal process, I will direct the cast to do a rehearsal in some crazy way. Maybe we do the whole show at double speed. Maybe we run through the entire show in pantomime in fifteen minutes. Maybe we do the show, but all of our lines are gibberish. This always helps to distill the show to its essence, and reveals to the actors what the most important, central, and vital part of their performance is. It crystalizes the whole production for everyone.

One takeaway is that the title has been simplified and the concept of the game expanded slightly; I'm just going back to calling it Resolute, with no subtitle. It's just Resolute. People will figure it out. 

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