Friday, 27 November 2015

Setting Book Design: Sections and Page Count

My latest freelance project involves writing a Savage Worlds companion for a new system-neutral setting. However I wasn't sure how best to organise the material, so I had look at a few of the newer Pinnacle settings to see how the experts handle it, and to get a rough idea of how big each section should be.

Setting Breakdown

The following is an approximate breakdown of the various sections in ETU, Lankhmar, and the new Rippers:

East Texas University
  • Introduction: 4 pages
  • Character creation: 11 pages (11 Hindrances, 24 Edges)
  • Equipment: 6 pages
  • Setting rules: 4 pages (4 rules)
  • Setting information: 21 pages
  • Magic: 13 pages (moved to GM section in this particular setting)
  • Adventure generators: 13 pages
  • Bestiary: 19 pages

  • Introduction: 3 pages
  • Character creation: 13 pages (6 Hindrances, 28 Edges)
  • Equipment: 5 pages
  • Setting rules: 3 pages (7 rules)
  • Magic: 13 pages
  • Setting information: 28 pages
  • Magic items: 2 pages
  • Adventure seeds: 10 pages
  • Bestiary: 15 pages

Rippers Player Guide
  • Introduction: 7 pages
  • Character creation: 10 pages (8 Hindrances, 30 Edges)
  • Equipment: 9 pages
  • Setting rules: 12 pages (4 rules)
  • Rippertech (Magic equivalent): 12 pages
  • Setting information: 42 pages


If we were to take the average of the above figures, we'd end up with the following:
  • Introduction: 5 pages
  • Character creation: 11 pages (8 Hindrances, 27 Edges)
  • Equipment: 7 pages
  • Setting rules: 6 pages (5 rules)
  • Magic: 13 pages
  • Setting information: 30 pages (a third of the book)

Then add another 20 pages at the end for anything else specific to the setting, such as magic items, random generators, a bestiary, etc. This could also include adventure seeds, but not a full campaign (that would be a separate book).

After taking into account layout and artwork, there tends to be an average of around 500 words per page. So if you're aiming for 30 pages of setting information, you should probably be looking at a ballpark figure of around 15,000 words of background fluff.

Of course there are many other ways to lay out a setting book, you certainly don't have to do it the same way as Pinnacle (Melior Via put the setting information at the beginning of their books, for example, and I very much like that style as well). But if you're not sure where to get started with your new setting, I think you could do a lot worse than using the above figures as a rough guideline.

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