That’s the question I’m wrestling with now. Well, wrestling is too strong a word… but I’ve noticed a couple of specific trends and I wonder if they mean anything, if they reflect the game in any way, or if it is just a product of the way these books are created…
I mean, read an old DMG written by Gygax and it is filled with his voice. The voice of the writer — “this is how the game is meant to be played, this is what you should do” — is everywhere. And I don’t mean to demean this, I really enjoy this writing style.
Reading Amber Diceless RPG and Houses of the Blooded you get the same perception. Wujcik and Wick are talking right to their audience, writing about how they game feels, what they were hoping to accomplish, why it “works” the way it does.
It’s a very different experience from reading the Pathfinder Core book or any of the 4E materials. Honestly, it’s even different from the way 2nd Ed. was written. It’s a different approach that puts the game in front of the developers. I realize that Wizards has outlets for letting the designers write about the game — the website, etc. — but that isn’t really the same. I won’t have that website twenty years from now when I go back and flip through a 4E book the way I flip through my 1E DMG, you know?
I’ve seen books in between these points. Some books now have little “look inside” style sidebars that explain something or give the designer a voice but it is limited in scope to a specific instance.
I think I’m fighting myself on the way I want to write. I sit down to write and I try to write like a “Manual” or Instruction set when I’d prefer to write a more personal gaming book. They’re the ones I love most.
What’s the thought? Do you want a set of instructions or a game that invites you into the designers mind and offers their insights along with handing the game over to you?
Thanks for reading.