Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What I Look for in a Gaming Product

Let me say this is just an off the cuff blog and not much has gone into this, but with so many people putting out their own products, including myself, I thought I would discuss a little of what I look for.  There are three main categories of products, rule sets, supplements and adventures.  At least that's how I break them down.

Rule Sets:
I usually only purchase fantasy setting products.  I will on occasion by Chthulhu and some mystery, but both of these are to add elements into my fantasy settings. I am not a huge fan of sci-fi or modern or historical warfare.  They don't float my boat, peel my banana or get my cookies off.  I'm not sure if I have a 'type' of fantasy rule set I like since I love rules light retro clones, but I also love the details of GURPS.  I will buy rule sets that I love to read if I find the material interesting enough, but never play such as Pendragon and Hackmaster 4th edition. 

These products tend to be my biggest section of purchases.  I love to read monster manuals and the one thousandth take on an orc or troll.  I love reading those specialized ecology books that goes into minute details about a critters bowel movement.  World building, city building, village building, building buildings books are almost an automatic buy.  Same as class construction or handbooks focused on a single class.  These are hit or miss.  Some are excellent, but a lot just suck and are just retreads by nothing new publishing.  Meta gaming stuff like publishing advice and artwork are great.  What I don't like is a lot of crunch in these.  The main reason why I disliked 3.5 so much was because of all the space stat blocks took.  It s 100 page book, but stat blocks take up 60 of those pages.  Hit the snooze button and I'll pass.

I buy a handful of these even though I write a bunch myself.  Tell me a good story with the adventure.  Don't just randomly roll on a table and plop it in the numbered room.  Take the time to tell a story and how its fits within it.  When I finish a module and feel dissatisfied I will take another look to see why I didn't like it and most of the time the adventure feels forced or like I said above, someone got happy with random tables, but didn't put the effort into smoothing out the edges and telling a story.  Its what I look for an adventure.  Without a story its not an adventures its just encounters. 

When I write my own products I write adventures and supplements I would want to buy.  I don't think you'll ever see an adventure of mine full of stat blocks or non-story driven.  I almost cringe when I say that because I think WoD gave being storyteller a bad name.  I always preferred story arcs over episodic encounters.

Speaking of gaming products I got two more scenarios done tonight for my new Starter Adventures.  The artwork is coming in and I'm very happy with it.  This is the first product I will have with original artwork so I am excited to see what it will look like when its done.  Have a great night.  I am exhausted. 


  1. MY favorite purchases are toolboxes. I love my AEC Toolbox and ultimate Toolbox.

    When it comes to adventures, i'm often looking for interesting environments, the story is secondary to me.

  2. Personally, I seldom buy supplements at all. My sterling only goes so far, and there tends to be a wealth of playability in a good core rulebook anyway, so I'm never sure what they're *for* other than 'spending money on' and 'adding unnecessary details'.

    The ones I do like tend to be gazetteers - stuff that stakes out a whole setting in enough detail to inspire and enough distance not to constrain. The sustained act of building an entire world is a little bit beyond either my free time or lagging creativity these days, so it's useful to have a starting point even if I end up ignoring or rewriting goodly chunks of it.

  3. I'm sort of a collector of games, so I buy a number of those--though not as many as I used to. I enjoy supplements for games I find interesting.

  4. How did WoD in your opinion give being a story teller a bad name?

  5. Paladin > I recently bought the AEC Toolbox and have been going back and forth on the Ultimate Toolbox. I know you are a huge fan of them and one of the reasons why I've been trolling for a copy.

    Von > Most of my purchases are just for reading. Most I never include in games, but I just like reading them as much as any novel.

    Trey > You and me both, but I have been looking back more now trying to find gems I have missed. The search is as much fun as having it.

    Zombiecowboy > I don't know really now that you ask. The only thing I can think of is when it was story based gaming was mentioned on the internet for a while it would get flamed and you were automatically put into the WoD camp. I played the 1st editions of vampire, werewolf and mage. Never liked the system, but loved the philosophy about it. Then when GURPS put out compatible books for it, our group was playing vampires and werewolves and we still use the mage stuff today. Maybe I misspoke about WoD, but for some reason I remember it just getting bombarded with bad mojo from other gamers. I guess it was nothing more than how some of the editions wars are now.