I know, I know: Why bother limiting the size, right? I heard plenty of that when I was doing the B/X Companion, too. "Better to go over your arbitrary limit in the name of completion and style," to paraphrase the conventional wisdom. But as it turns out, I'm not a big fan of conventional wisdom. Or maybe I am, but I'm just such a goddamn contrarian that the more people tell me to do something, the more I dig in my feet.
Look, the Little Brown Book thing is great for the D&D game. Even if you didn't grow up playing OD&D, chances are you spent some time in the trenches with SOME multi-volume edition of D&D: AD&D, 2nd Edition, D20, whatever. Those of us who have done that have become used to playing the game in a compartmentalized fashion: it feels right, somehow, to have a volume devoted strictly to monsters, for example. It's nice, as a player, to only have to worry about knowing ONE volume of a three volume set.
People like me who dig on B/X, well, we're old enough that we've fairly memorized everything in the damn book anyway...I hardly ever even CONSULT the B/X books when I'm playing except to look up a saving throw target or double check a spell effect. Other people coming to B/X...well, it's not always a comfortable fit if they're used to the multi-volume thing. And again, for the newbie it's nice to know ALL the monsters are in one volume and ALL the treasure is in another, rather than having to know griffons and girdles of giant strength are in the Expert set but shadows and gauntlets of ogre power are in the Basic set.
Just for example.
But even though multi-volumes may be suitable for the D&D game, I just can't quite seem to get that same vibe for other RPGs. I mean, D&D is its own animal. It just is. But other games are so much more specific in scope...at least to my way of thinking. Or playing, anyway. I mean, you can pick up a sci-fi "tool box" game (for example) but that's not what I'm looking for. I want the game to be Star Wars Space Opera or Firefly or even Warhammer 40,000. But I'm not looking for it to be ALL those things at once. Nor do I need it to have "all that potential."
And because of that limited scope, I just don't think an RPG needs all that many pages. Yes, the new game feels a little "chock-full" but it's still limited in scope: characters are a certain type of adventurer operating in a certain type of world. There are no alien invaders; there is no time travel. And I didn't bother including a section on underwater or naval combat because...well, because if you get stranded in a boat fight on the ocean, your characters have probably done something very wrong and deserve to be sent down to Davy Jones's locker.
[no offense intended towards fans of the other Davy Jones]
I suppose I could have just made the game a cyberpunky style game and cut out the mythic and magic...that would have given me another 12-13 pages and allowed me to come up with my own specific mega-corporations or write optional rules for adventures on a moon base or something. But that wasn't what I wanted. The thing is damn tasty, as is.
And that's kind of the point. I want to serve up a meal, but it doesn't have to satiate the eater. I want them hungry for more. Not because I want to provide it (I'm really not that interested in doing supplemental books for these non-D&D games) but because I want them to want to create their own "new stuff" to fill in any blanks I've left. I want them inspired and wired...not overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of "oh, boy, now I have to learn another new game system." In 400 pages.
Nope, I don't want to go down that road. If I can't do it in 64 pages, I'm probably exceeding the scope of the game. I mean, it would be nice to have a "sample character sheet"...but is it necessary? Can't people create their own? Can't I have a downloadable "free one" on my blog site (if necessary)?
Isn't the search and handling time vastly decreased with fewer pages to scan? Doesn't that make for a brisker-paced game?
Well, anyway, it looks like I still have a little more "completing to do" on the thing...just looked at the PDF copy and found that one of the new appendices uses the wrong font, throwing the whole damn thing off. Especially as MS Word just doesn't seem to translate well between a PC and a Mac. Ugh! Can't we all just get along?
A new mini-project for tomorrow, I guess. I'm hitting the hay, now.