Book Design and Format

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I have been playing Dungeon and Dragons since 2nd edition and one thing that everyone I have ever talked to agrees with me on is that the 2nd edition monster manual did it right. Each creature should have its own page or two.  On this page is should talk about not only combat,  but the creatures habits, culture, environment,  useful things about its body or whatever.  I also feel it should be written with the sense that a biologist or cryptozoologist written it. So it feels like it’s just one persons thoughts on the creature just in case the dm wants to go some other direction with the creature.


I would also like to see the books look like tombs as in 3rd edition.  With the simple sketches and all.


 


This last one I think some of people are going to disagree with me on, but I would like to see each tomb be one subjected.


 


-Players handbook- (The exception) Which I don’t care if it looks like a tomb or not.  The basic rules for Players and DM’s. I personally would like to see each "class" be very basic but with huge amounts of customizability.  To even the point of only 4 or 5 classes  -Warrior, Mage, Rouge, Acolyte-   But with the rules of Warrior be able to make a Barbarian, or a Paladin.  I don’t know, I love options and extremely open classes are better to me then 50 very limited classes.


 


Tomb of Arcane Magic –Feats and spells  - I would also like to see spells have a base, and modifier’s and each be pc or dm created. – 1st level (Lesser Acid Orb) modified to 2nd level – (Melf’s lesser Acid Ord)  - Silent, Still, Quickened, and the like would also be Modifiers.  I would also like spells that increase every level to have an more official name to them instead of summon monster one, Novice  Summon, Master’s Summon. Ect.


Tomb of Divine Magic – Feats and spells


Tomb of Combat Styles  - Warrior based feats and class abilities.


Tomb of Combat Techniques – Rouge Based feats and class abilities.


Tomb of Artificts (Just a book of magic items)


Tomb of Monsters (First Monster Manual should be more mundane creatures and Additional books should go to more fantastic creatures with types of lore about them like them like.) Like the 7 Phoenixes that live in the 7 temples of the sun. Each phoenix being its own color. You know, give concepts of each creature that might lead to adventure ideas.


Tomb of Engineering – A Book on how buildings are made and DC’s of break DC’s , Traps and other things that fit.


Tomb of Planes –


ECT-  Wear the books feel less like manuals and more about subjects in a fantasy world.

Here are my ideas...


ON BOOK DESIGN:

I want the books to feel like journals, not tomes or manuals.

Start by making them journal-sized, like the Essentials line.  They were small and light weight, and were much more condusive for lugging books to the game.  The amount of material for each book would determine how thick the book would be; the Player's Handbook for instance, would be much thicker than a race book.

For the covers, the artwork should give the look of hide.  The 3rd Edition books were like this, and I thought it gave the books a rustic look.  Further, the covers could emulate what the books contain; also like 3rd Edition, the Player's Handbook would have a simple leather design with a simple clasp (for anyone to open), while the Dungeon Master's Guide would incorporate a suede cover with a locking mechanism.

**For premium editions of the books ("limited time only, while supplies last", etc.), have the covers actually be or feel like that material and include the mechanism holding the book closed.  In the case of the Monster Manual, I envisioned some sort of "button" combination that when press would release the mechanism keeping the cover from being opened.


ON CONTENT

The Player's Handbook (PHB):  Only the absolute basic information needed to play the game should be in this book.  Describe how characters are created, provide some introductory classes (I prefer something generic), skills, feats, spells, themes, and backgrounds.  Tell us the basics of how to play the game including rules for combat, skill resolution, and magic use.  Add some pregnerated characters in the back of the book to show how it can all tie together.  (Indeed, these could be the iconic characters and be used in the published adventures.)

The Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG):  The only information present in this book is the basic knowledge the DM needs to create and run adventures.  Required topics should be creating encounters, awarding experience, managing the table, designing adventures, and doling out treasure.  Additional topics could be skill challenges, monster creation, and using traps.  Do not have any information that exists in the PHB and do not have any information that is not crucial to running the game; optional rules should come in later books.  Finally, provide a generic adventure to tie all the information together as well as to give us a tiny beastiary to create adventures later.

Companion Set:  Since the PHB and the DMG would be the only books you truly need to play D&D, I also think that the PHB and the DMG should initially be packaged together in companion set, at least for the short term.  This would allow DMs to purchase both books at a reduced price so they can dive into a game right away.  In addition, you can provide an extra published adventure that could tie into the "pre-adventure" in the DMG (like was done with Kobold Hall and Keep on the Shadowfell.)

The Beastiary or Monster Manual (MM1): This book would contain the first optional material for the game.  In addition to classic monsters, mythical beasts and other things (perhaps hazards), provide the first options for playable races.  Initially, include the classic races, both the "good" and the "evil": dwarves, elves, goblins, halflings, humans, kobolds and orcs, as well as a smattering of other playables; as they are presented in the book, each race would contain information to allow them to be made into PCs.  Later as more Beastiaries/MMs are released, more playable races can be added.  Since these would be a DM only books, the DMs would have greater control over races in their game.

The Complete Series:  Similar to splatbooks, these books provide further options for specific aspects of the game.  For players, include new themes, backgrounds, skills and feats for the supported race or class.  DMs would be provided new or optional rules to include in their campaign settings as well as advice on how to make their game better; examples could include (but not be limited to) seafaring, kingdom management, planescaping, world-building and so on.  There could also be some books with options for historical campaigns and would reference specific historical settings.

Campaign Settings:  Release one of these per year in the same format as the core rules: a player's guide for campaign specific options for PCs, a DMs guide to provide setting-specfic information for campaigns (such as regional information and optional rules), and a beastiary for campaign-specific monsters (and new races) as well as a primer on monsters from other sources.  Some of these could even be supplemented with books from the Complete Series (such as a Desert book for Dark Sun.)


This marketing strategy is simple yet cost effective, while providing us with a variety of options as well as make way for continued product development.
I like the idea of making the inside look like a relic of the D&D world, but I'd any tome cover to be highly illustrated, similar to the Labyrinth movie poster: An amalgam of dwarves digging maze-like tunnels at the bottom, a tower scaling one side with a dragon perched atop spreading its wings and breathing fire, branches and hills on one side wound with elven cities and halfling burrows. Isles float in the skies above the D&D logo, etc.

It could also instead be a heavily illuminated frame to a larger picture in the center (which, for referencing an editions-long tradition, could be a new interpretaion of the classic red dragon vs warrior encounter).

I'd like content to be consolidated in few books, not spread into too many releases for fear it would drive up the total cost; All things deemed part of the core, recurring D&D story, should ideally be part of the first release. I'm fine with waiting longer to get a better product.

I thought the Monster Cards idea was nice for a game in which monsters were continually added in new releases, but supposedly the way it was realized left something to be desired.
I don't really like the art style of the 4e books, but that isn't a huge issue. I would like the 5e books to use a denser text format. Not smaller text, but fewer sparse charts, smaller headers. Fill the books up with text and art, not white space and colored blocks. Come up with a more condensed format for the material that will be repeated over and over, such as the basics of monster stats and the headers of power descriptions.

Honestly I hated the 3e 'tomb look'. It seemed contrived to me:

4e layout - Handy but it does waste a lot of space in each book. I'd have to guess the per-page word density in 4e books is at best half of what it was in 1e and 2e books. Come on guys, the more open format IS more readable, but maybe we can back off a bit here, eh? Every book is another couple pounds to haul around. Give us a break here. I liked the overall dress of the 4e books though.

3e layout - Meh. The tomb look was contrived and rather ugly.

2e layout - I wasn't fond of the faux-Celtic blue on white thing, but the basic design was OK. Cover art was ugly as heck though. Basic 2e style layout with a bit more 4e-like dress would be nice.

1e layout - Well, it is a classic. PHB and DMG pretty much have the most classic and IMHO coolest cover art. The interior layouts were a bit inconsistent and dense, but not bad. The two-column format is nice, but then that's shared with 4e as well.

I think my ideal would be wrap around cover art, fairly clean modern layout elements, with a bit more density than the 4e books have.

As for what goes in each book? I think 4e hit that one perfectly. Some books are player resources, some are DM resources. That makes it easy for people to decide what they do and don't need.
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