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.