Fonts, fonts, my kingdom….

I’m having trouble identifying a font I used for the original printing of ZOMBI and this is the replacement I have come up with.

The original was quite clean and had a name like ‘corroded’ or ‘corrupted’.

The potential new one is CM Corruged by Charly Masci (link is down).

I think it’s actually an improvement.

Frontier: opening the book

I find myself thinking a lot about Frontier these days. (It’s probably because I have some self-imposed deadlines for ‘Illusion’ and ‘6’.)

Over the last couple of years I’ve harvested some twenty names from the freelancer forums of as I try to get a feel for the art that I want for my games. Some of them are for games in development, some of them capture the feel of games not even fully realised. I just want to grab the names, the web sites and keep them while my brain stews over the content.

The opening of the Frontier book should have a visual representation (otherwise known as a picture) of Kumbu. It needs some sparse flavour text to describe where to go from there and then it should move to background describing how to get there.

It’s a nice feeling, crystallising the book in your mind. Makes you want it all the more.

Game book layout: the four parts

In trying to layout some of our recent game projects, I’ve noticed some common components in every book, which has led me to the conclusion that every game book really consists of four parts:

  1. Character Generation/Creation (Chargen)
  2. Game Rules
  3. Setting
  4. GM Section

Different games put these sections in different orders or interweave one or more of them into single sections, and put different levels of emphasis on each one. Some games even go so far separate those sections into different books.

Is there a right order for these? Although I’ve put them in an order above that is purely to show that they are four in number. Often Character Creation and Game Rules are intertwined, and the same with Setting and GM Section. Likewise, the GM Section will often contain Game Rules that are not applicable to players. Sometimes games will make the split into Player Section and GM Section, with sub-sections of Game Rules and Setting. Usually Chargen is bundled under the Player Section in that case.

Let’s take a few quick examples (from memory, so apologies if there are any inaccuracies):

  • GURPS – Chargen comes first, bleeding into Game Rules, and finally GM Section. There is very little Setting in the main book. Many supplements exist with Setting, and many of those also include extra Chargen, Rules and GM Section.
  • Pendragon (4th Ed) – Chargen is again first, bleeding into Setting. Then Game Rules, with more Setting, and finally a GM Section with more Setting. The Setting is tightly interwoven throughout the entire book, which is why Pendragon ranks highly in my estimation. Supplements follow that same pattern.
  • SLA Industries – Setting comes first, then Chargen and Game Rules, with many of the Rules surrounded and influenced by Setting. The GM Section is comparatively small.
  • 23rd Letter – A little bit of Setting, followed by Chargen and Game Rules and then a GM Section which includes more Setting (given the conspiratorial nature of the game).

I think what is important is that your game (or our games) consciously include all of these sections, whether or not they are labelled this way, or are separate sections. Any game will need to have components that fall under those four headings in order to be complete.

Do you have a preferred order for these? Seen a game which didn’t have all four? Is there one that must be there that I’m blatantly missing?

Raising the bar

I’m arrogant to believe that I can write and, to be honest, most of the time the feedback has been pretty good. I like writing, it’d be nice to do it for a living (and not the stressful but boring job at $BIG_COMPANY) but them’s the breaks. In my spare time I write a lot and only a small fraction of it makes it to the blog here.

I have noticed, however, that my layout and design skills need some exercise and possibly even some help. I can appreciate good design, I just have issues doing it myself. Part of this is inspiration and part of it is time (which I have less and less of) and skill (my photoshop skills are not legendary).

Looking at the character sheets I left for download earlier this week, they belie their age. They were done in 2000 or so and were definitely more ‘tell’ than ‘show’. That’s the first thing. They look like Civil Service Sickness Benefit forms. I was sent a character sheet recently that was 7 pages long and full colour. I’ve seen the pre-gen character sheets for Everway. I think I need to raise the bar considerably.

I also need an artist in general as PJ is now going to be too busy and I don’t know anyone else who knows how to hold a pen.