#RPGADAY, day 19

Which RPG features the best writing?
It’s not easy to write RPG rules because they have to be multiple things at the same time. They have to be instructive: after reading the rules, the players must be able to execute the algorithms of the game, such as creating a character and action resolution. But they also have to be inspiring: the players must understand (and ideally be enthused about) the setting and themes of the game. And they have to be (relatively) concise: no-one is going to work through thousands of pages of dense writing — never mind that publishing an RPG book that large is not a good business proposition.
It’s like project management’s “devil’s triangle” (“you project will be on time, on budget or deliver the right functionality — choose two”) — most RPG books do one or two really well, and the third lags. For instance, The One Ring has good rules information and inspiring setting pieces, but it’s longer than it has to be. There is one book that I recently read that impressed me with all three, and that is Monsterhearts 2. The rules are so concise but yet written with such clarity, and the examples of play and explanations of the playbooks are so inspiring. I was impressed with the content of the game, but also very much with how that content was conveyed to the reader.

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