Whenever I start to read the rulebook of a role-playing game, whether it’s one I’ve read before or it’s something new I just discovered, I sometimes find that the first couple dozen pages are full of fiction used to set the stage of the setting. This fiction is usually told through the eyes of a character very similar to the type of characters you’ll build if you play that particular game, and more often than not it’s narrated by that character. Oddly enough, it seems as though if there is going to be fiction in the rulebook, it is often accompanied by art (which is good) and odd layouts/format/font styles (which is bad).
Is it just me, or does anyone else out there really freaking hate that?
White Wolf, bless their fantastic rules-system hearts, are the worst offenders of vomiting fiction all over you when you’re trying just to find that one particular rule hidden in the book, usually right in the middle of a play session, but they’re not the only ones.
I know I’m a rules nerd (NOT a rules lawyer… there’s a real difference), but honestly when I pay out a chunk of cash for a new rule book, I want the rules, not a bunch of fluff. Also, that fluff adds to the price; more pages means more moola. If they want to add fiction, that’s fine, but for Gaia’s sake, please keep it separate from the rules sections. A busy GM with players just itching for an excuse to reach for their goddamn cell phones doesn’t have time to dig through this stuff.
If anything, the fluff should be added to players books. Something for the players to read to know what the setting is like. Of course, the GM has to know that stuff as well, but give it to her encyclopedically (word?). Or better yet, just sum it up on a couple of pages and let that GM make it her own.
Here’s an example most of you will be familiar with: Dungeons and Dragons, any edition from any time period. Fiction? Nope. Hardly anything at all, other than a bit here or there in a sidebar. Would you say that D&D has fared any less well? It’s the Great Grand-Daddy of them all, and it’ll be around (hopefully) forever in one form or another.
Don’t get the idea I’m against fiction. That’s ridiculous. But I’m maddened by fiction that swallows up the little gems of game-system nuggets that are often important to find and also really damned difficult to find.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents. Thought I’d barf it all down here for posterity, LOL.