Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Setting Book Design (Part 2): Section Breakdown and Word Count

In my previous blog post I gave a page breakdown of the different sections in ETU, Lankhmar, and the new Rippers setting books, and included some averages in the summary. After some further thought, I've come up with a set of guidelines for myself - these are primarily for me, as I find it easier to have some clear goals to aim for, but I figured other people might find them of interest as well (or perhaps you disagree with my guidelines, and could give me some better suggestions)?

These are definitely not intended as hard rules, even for myself, and I will adjust or discard them later if they prove confining, but I needed something to get the ball rolling. So without further ado:

1. Introduction (aim for 1,500-4,000 words)
  • Overview of the Setting: Keep it tight and evocative, and try to make the first few hundred words an elevator pitch for the setting.

2. Chapter One: Character Creation (aim for 4,000-6,000 words)
  • Process: Describe the character creation process (within the limits of the Pinnacle licence), including anything that differs from the core rules.
  • Archetypes: List around 5-15 character archetypes, with roughly 50-200 words of description for each.
  • Races: List the races, with roughly 50-200 words of description for each (not including ability descriptions).
  • Hindrances: 5-10 new Hindrances geared towards capturing the flavour of the setting.
  • Edges: 20-30 new Edges geared towards capturing the flavour of the setting.
  • Arcane Backgrounds: List which Arcane Backgrounds are available, and describe their usage and available powers.

3. Chapter Two: Equipment (aim for 1,000-4,000 words)
  • Currency: What sort of coins or other forms of currency are used in the setting.
  • Adventuring Gear: List of prices and weight.
  • Weapons: List of prices, weight, and mechanics.
  • Armour: List of prices, weight, and mechanics.
  • Special: List any special items that are used in the setting.
  • Descriptions: For any listed items that aren't self-explanatory.

4. Chapter Three: Setting Rules (aim for 1,000-4,000 words)
  • Setting Rules: Aim for 3-5 new rules that help capture and evoke the flavour of the setting.

5. Chapter Four: Magic (size of this chapter depends entirely on the setting, anything from 0 to 10,000 words)
  • Religions: List the different gods, along with aspects, powers, duties and sins (as per the FC).
  • Powers: List any new powers.
  • Other: Provide any further information or rules related to magic.

6. Chapter Five: Setting Information (aim for 15,000-25,000 words)
  • History and Geography: Fluff about the setting, split into sections and subsections as appropriate (a typical subsection should ideally be around 100-300 words).

7. Chapter Six: GM's section (special)
  • Special: Move anything here from the other chapters (particularly Setting Information) that should be kept secret from the players.

8. Chapter Seven: Adventures (aim for 3,000-6,000 words)
  • Savage Tales: Include at least 2-3 short adventures (each around 1,000-1,500 words, the same as a One Sheet)
  • Adventure Seeds: Brief outlines for further adventures (each perhaps 50-100 words).
  • Adventure Generator: System for randomly generating new adventures (typically 500-3000 words)

9. Chapter Eight: Bestiary (aim for 5,000-10,000 words)
  • Major NPCs: List of the major NPCs in the setting. Each should have a description (40-60 words) and some background information (200-300 words), as well as a statblock.
  • NPC archetypes: List any common NPC archetypes (town guard, wandering minstrel, insane cultist, etc), along with some descriptive text (perhaps 50-200 words).
  • Monsters: List any monsters specific to the setting, along with some descriptive text (perhaps 100-300 words).

The total document should be around 45,000-50,000 words, which after layout and artwork should be around 90-100 pages.