Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Doing the Thinking Thing

I'll be honest - when Zak was instructing me on the details of how Vornheim was going to look, I didn't like it. It was hard! And different!

As the project went into the home stretch and I saw what the project looked like as a whole instead of looking at it in bits ("the border", "the map", "the medusa house", etc) I thought "ooooooo, smart!" Yeah, the parts that you read are in a nice-size font, and the parts that you reference can be smaller, because you're looking up info like in that big dictionary with the small type, not reading it like a story where your eyes have to be comfortable for long periods of time.

And here I thought I was just making a hardcover to be fancy. Zak took it and made it useful as a format.

Now I can't stop thinking of upcoming releases, and thinking of what other things to look at, with that in mind.

Exquisite Corpses is going to look a lot different than it would have if we'd finished everything a month ago, and the difference is all about at-the-table ease of use.

Carcosa's layout isn't much past the "each section will start with a page spread, with art on the left and the text starting on the right" as a concept, but there have to be things that can be done to make the book easier to use in play and not just have great content, be impressive as a physical object and awesome to touch, and comfortable to read. (since Isle of the Unknown resembles Carcosa in format, ideas here should work there as well) (I am doomed with that many priorities for a book...)

For upcoming adventure releases, how to format those books so the book format aids ease of use instead of just doing the same-old formatting that's always been used?

But I'm also thinking of weird ideas too, inspired by Vornheim and the Dungeonmorph Dice.

"Would this simple, oft-used chart be better as a deck of cards so you don't have to ever look anything up?"

"Would this series of tables be better as a flowchart?"

"Could one of these be made into something usable at the game table?" (and appeal to the female gamer market, score!)

"How does one make a Referee screen even more useful as a thing so that it demands to be used?" (hopefully without going to Hackmaster screen lengths, but I think that one was way too busy for ease of use).

Back to work now. :D


  1. One can always put some post-it stickers on his screen, but why not make a set of useful stickers with nice graphics that could help keep track of different things.

    Printed stickers should be indefinitely reusable, which should be achieved throught the use of plastic glueless labels that use static electricity to stick in.

    You could also make stickers out of monster art to show what they really are up against. (the art is there already, it just should be easily accescible to players). Maybe when doing the book of exquisite corpses, make it a binder so that pages can be both suffled, removed, added later on and relocated temporariry to be attached on screen for players awesomement.

    Furthermore some might find a clock useful to keep track of time. Clock would be of course simple fingerworking version with digits on both sides of screen (counterclockwise action on GM side though).

    Small tokens could also be attached to clock for marking duration of effects in terms of combat rounds. It would probably mean too much fuss to create different tokens for all different spells and effects, but at least there could be a generic set of markers for each player and monster to pick a favorite from.

    Also a deck for cards for random weather (where some would have game effects and some purely atmospheric) could be attached with a clothespin or similar mechanism.

    Finally, though not entirely related, put on some pictures of important NPC's faces with eyeholes in your adventures. GM could use that as a mask while impersonating them ;)

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