August Larson
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I'm writing some rules for a game I'm designing, and naturally, I started adding commentary and making slight jokes. I know there are a few rule books that joke around too, but they are usually for funny games such as Munchkin or Zombies!!! However, most rule books I can think of are very static and just give the straight facts.

So I'm curious what your opinion is on the subject. Do you like lighthearted rule books (that still give you all the necessary rules), or do you like your rule books to JUST be the straight rules, that's it?
 
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Kent Reuber
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There's no reason you can't have comments, designers notes, and humor in a rule book. If you do, I'd prefer they be in a sidebar or in a separate paragraph (e.g., in a grey shaded box) so that they don't interrupt the flow of the main rules.

Use your comments to enhance the rules, give examples, and give rationale for design decisions.
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Brad N
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colmustard21 wrote:
Do you like lighthearted rule books (that still give you all the necessary rules), or do you like your rule books to JUST be the straight rules, that's it?

Of course, it depends. Not so much on the theme of the game, though that can matter. But, more on the complexity of the game.

A game with a decent number of rules that can be harder to comprehend should stick to the facts (static). A simple/filler game with rules that are easy to follow can feel free to toss in some jokes (lighthearted).

To me, for example, Puerto Rico sticks to the facts and this makes sense for the rule set of the game. Ca$h n Gun$ on the other hand is quite entertaining to read, but the game is simple so it works.
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You can't handle the truth?
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kentreuber wrote:
There's no reason you can't have comments, designers notes, and humor in a rule book. If you do, I'd prefer they be in a sidebar or in a separate paragraph (e.g., in a grey shaded box) so that they don't interrupt the flow of the main rules.

Use your comments to enhance the rules, give examples, and give rationale for design decisions.


I agree with this 100%.

Add the commentary, I love it, but set it off from the main rules as suggested.

I recently read the Galaxy Trucker rule book, that is set up this way, and it was great.

(Don't make the same mistake as Galaxy Trucker though, and have similar rules in 2 seperate parts of the book)
 
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bnordeng wrote:
Of course, it depends. Not so much on the theme of the game, though that can matter. But, more on the complexity of the game.

A game with a decent number of rules that can be harder to comprehend should stick to the facts (static). A simple/filler game with rules that are easy to follow can feel free to toss in some jokes (lighthearted).


Counter-example: "Space Alert". Two books: An introduction and the "pure" rules, but both with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour.

I guess, if the additional stuff is making things more unclear, eliminate it. If not, welcome!
 
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August Larson
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Okay, great! Yes, I understand the main purpose of the rules is to actually get the rules across, lol! If I find that writing in little jokes gets in the way of the rules, then yes, they will get the boot. But otherwise, I'll try to not have it be a boring rule book. I also agree that Puerto Rico has probably the best rule book possible. So easy to read for a more complex game like it is!
 
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Chris Schenck
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Agreed.
Sidebar the extraneous material.
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Alex
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I'd stick to the rules. The most awkward thing is to read somone who's lame at humor but thinks he's being funny.

Usually the humor takes the form of:

1)the writer's insight into the rules -- and a new person just won't get the humor without understanding them first; or
2)self-indulgent side remarks that contribute little to the understanding of the game.

It ends up being a needless detour. And it inflates the length of the material.

That said, why don't you post an example of a rule book you find humourous? My opinion might change.
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Mark McEvoy
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newsguy wrote:
That said, why don't you post an example of a rule book you find humourous? My opinion might change.


http://www.czechgames.com/rules/Galaxy_Trucker_EN.pdf

Remember the words of Wild Andy, the famous
multimillionaire-adventurer: "The best way to learn
to fly a space craft is to fly one." Of course, Andy
uttered these words just before crashing his
rocketplane into Sirius, but we’re willing to give
him the benefit of the doubt.


Engineers have tinkered with increasing surface area
to provide more mounting points. However, most
research in this direction has ceased since the Star
Ship Möbius exploded and imploded at the same time.


With matter-annihilation technology, it was possible
to store this much energy in a battery no larger than
a good cigar. Today, of course, matter annihilation
is illegal thanks to the lobbying efforts of matter
rights activists. (And narrowly defeated in the
last legislative session was a bill backed by the
gentlemen’s clubs lobby to ban the use of good cigars
in silly comparisons.)


Of course there are thousands of horror stories
illustrating why hazardous goods should not be
transported in normal containers. We give only the
example of James "Skip" Fairweather, who decided
to transport several tons of plutonium in used fruit
crates. Upon landing, he lost both arms and one leg
to a mob of angry environmentalists.



Don’t worry about the crew members in those cabins
that were blasted away. Should the cabin experience
a loss of pressure, stasis cocoons will drop from
overhead compartments and wrap them up safely
until they are rescued. They are the lucky ones,
really. Think of the thousands of years of interest that
will have accumulated in their bank accounts by the
time someone finds them.



It is theoretically possible to predict everything that
happens to you, but it is forbidden by the Department
of Antiperfectionism’s "Preservation of Suspense on
Space Flights" regulations.
 
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Russ Williams
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I'm generally annoyed at rulebooks that try to be funny/friendly. It also makes it harder to wade through the "funny" stuff to find actual rules when playing the game. Just tell me how to play the game! If I want to read humorous writing, I'll go to a better source than a game rulebook anyway.

Remember that player will read and reread parts of the rulebook if the game is at all nontrivial. A good rulebook will make that easy and fast.

Silly jokes are usually not funny after you've read them the first time (if even the first time).
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Alex
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thatmarkguy wrote:
newsguy wrote:
That said, why don't you post an example of a rule book you find humourous? My opinion might change.


http://www.czechgames.com/rules/Galaxy_Trucker_EN.pdf

Remember the words of Wild Andy, the famous
multimillionaire-adventurer: "The best way to learn
to fly a space craft is to fly one." Of course, Andy
uttered these words just before crashing his
rocketplane into Sirius, but we’re willing to give
him the benefit of the doubt.


Engineers have tinkered with increasing surface area
to provide more mounting points. However, most
research in this direction has ceased since the Star
Ship Möbius exploded and imploded at the same time.


With matter-annihilation technology, it was possible
to store this much energy in a battery no larger than
a good cigar. Today, of course, matter annihilation
is illegal thanks to the lobbying efforts of matter
rights activists. (And narrowly defeated in the
last legislative session was a bill backed by the
gentlemen’s clubs lobby to ban the use of good cigars
in silly comparisons.)


Of course there are thousands of horror stories
illustrating why hazardous goods should not be
transported in normal containers. We give only the
example of James "Skip" Fairweather, who decided
to transport several tons of plutonium in used fruit
crates. Upon landing, he lost both arms and one leg
to a mob of angry environmentalists.



Don’t worry about the crew members in those cabins
that were blasted away. Should the cabin experience
a loss of pressure, stasis cocoons will drop from
overhead compartments and wrap them up safely
until they are rescued. They are the lucky ones,
really. Think of the thousands of years of interest that
will have accumulated in their bank accounts by the
time someone finds them.



It is theoretically possible to predict everything that
happens to you, but it is forbidden by the Department
of Antiperfectionism’s "Preservation of Suspense on
Space Flights" regulations.


EDIT: Nicely done. The humor is hit-and-miss with me, but it's nicely separated into little boxes plunked throughout the rules. The rules writing is direct but breezy. Nice job.
 
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John Gant
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I prefer straight up rules, with some solid examples.

--JokerRulez
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August Larson
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JokerRulez wrote:
I prefer straight up rules, with some solid examples.

--JokerRulez


Yes, examples are a must. Since my game is a PnP, I'm going to try to include color picture examples in the rules. Those are the most helpful IMO.

And yes, my humor would probably be seen as corny and perhaps not even funny the first time around. I'll probably take out the jokes and just focus on the rules. If there's a joke that would fit in, then okay, I might add it.
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Alan Monroe
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Check out the rules from Return of the Heroes for an example of what NOT to do. It's the textbook example of trying to be friendly and turning out incomprehensible.
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Michael Lavoie
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kentreuber wrote:
There's no reason you can't have comments, designers notes, and humor in a rule book. If you do, I'd prefer they be in a sidebar or in a separate paragraph (e.g., in a grey shaded box) so that they don't interrupt the flow of the main rules.

Use your comments to enhance the rules, give examples, and give rationale for design decisions.


I was going to add my two cents worth, but this post said everything that I wanted to say.
 
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Everybody's taste in humour is different, so what one person may find appealing another may find irksome. There is of course a difference between lighthearted and comical and whether you make the rules light depends on the type of game you are playing.

I think most people would agree a game like ASL with jokes would do a lot to discredit the game, whereas a game like Galaxy Trucker sets a mood with its rules.

If you do include "jokes" I would definitely make sure they are few and far between and not included where you have to explain something in detail or an important part of the system.

Just as a note please add lots of diagrams and try to include a full turn. It is very easy to assume that players understand what you write because you fully understand the rules yourself. Try to get someone to proof read the rules after you have written them for good measure.

Just as an example here is a line from "any" game

"Deal 4 cards to each player"

This may appear quite a legitimate line but this assumes the players know who the dealer is, wether the cards are to be played face down or face up and wether the players are allowed to look at the cards or even touch them.
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Michael J
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While I found Space Alert's rulebook among the funniest I have EVER read, I would rather have a rulebook that is easy to navigate and quick to read. Funny rulebooks are OK when learning the game, but when I first start playing a game I often times need to refer to the rulebook while playing and it's at this stage that a bloated, funny rulebook becomes a detriment. When friends are sitting around the table, I get flustered having to flip through rulebooks; in fact, I make most of my rules mistakes looking things up during the game. At this point, I want to get the answer fast and accurately.

I would prefer humor in a separate section (an introduction section is a great place for this), or in sidebars/clearly delineated paragraphs, but not in the rules themselves. And NEVER, EVER give actual game rules in the "humor" sections once they have been separated from the rest of the game, or the rules will be missed.

For those wondering about Space Alert's rulebook, do yourself a favor and give it a try. You won't understand how the game works, but you WILL laugh out loud a few times!

My favorite lines from the SA rulebook... for your amusement...

Quote:

You have volunteered to serve in the crew of a Sitting Duck class exploration ship. This course will be brief and intensive... but not just because the government is cutting our budget. No. We want to get you out into space as quickly as possible to replace... that is... Well, it’s not a hard job. Why waste time in training?

It is not a difficult routine: the ship automatically performs the hyperspace jump to the programmed sector, the scanners map the region, and when they are done the ship automatically jumps back home. The entire operation only takes 10 minutes, during which you don’t have to do anything at all.

Actually, we could send you out without any training at all, but government regulations require a brief course first. And sometimes – not very often, you understand – but sometimes you encounter some hostile behavior that might, in only the most extreme cases, lead to some damage to your ship.

We’ll take a short break, now, because I am due to speak at a... ceremony
for the previous crew.

I’m glad to see you all present again. I’ll admit, that I was a bit disappointed that the security guards had to remind some of you that you had already signed the contract, and I hope that the next time we take a break there will be no more attempts to leave the campus.

Eh? I haven’t told you what you’re supposed to do yet? Are you sure? All right, but don’t look at me like that. You have no idea how stressful this job is, training crew after crew, when you know that they’ll just, um... Well enough about my job. Let me tell you about yours.

THREAT APPEARS - You can be attacked immediately after emerging from hyperspace. Now, don’t worry. As I said, in nearly every case there is absolutely no danger. No, wait. You know what? I’m sick of this. They aren’t paying me enough to lie to you. As soon as you pop out of hyperspace: Wham! They can jump all over you. Deal with it.

TYPICAL ACTIONS - Now I’m not going to lie to you. The enemy’s most common action is to attack your ship. You should try to destroy them before they have a have a chance to act. If you can’t, at least try to have your shields up.
 
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As I remember them, I liked the way Lunch Money injected color into the rules (even though the rules weren't great). The humor was in the dialog throughout examples of play. Once you knew the game well enough to go looking for a rule, the examples weren't in the way; which was great, because you had to read the rules a lot.
 
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Mark Jackson
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Junta is another good example of humor in rules, as is Kings & Things.

In both cases, the humor adds to the story but doesn't interfere with learning the game.

Others have hinted around at this, but your attempt at a humorous rulebook needs to be BLIND PLAYTESTED (playtested by people without you present & who don't have an emotional investment in making you happy) both for clarity & for actual humor.
 
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