Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why don't they make RPG source books like this?

Seriously contemplating handing my players this on their next shopping trip. Or maybe I'll keep it for myself and just pluck out a "new" pissed-off race to chase after them:

Unbeknownst to the PCs, straight-up antennae are essentially the same as flipping the bird.
It's the Star Trek Visual Dictionary and it is wondrous. I have the Star Wars version, which is also, just eye-googlingly fun. Idea books based on images are always my favorite. I don't look at these guys and think "Oh, I should stat up some Andorians." I think, "Oh man, who are these guys in my space opera and what's why do they look so angry?". (I'm certain you'll agree on that last point.)

That laser rifle is way rad.

"I need some low-level laser fodder, stat!"
From now I decree: No more WALL OF STAT BLOCKS source books! No more eye glazing! Even the rules-light OSR books can get really monotonous. These are great, whether or not you're a Trek or 'Wars fan. Often there's just enough detail to get the brain fired up.

Even better--if we could do them electronically. Just touch the image to bring up the stats (and hide them when needed). Get out there and start building your own source book on Pintrest or Tumblr. (Pintrest boards would be my weapon of choice. Easy organization for different catagories: e.g., races, artifacts, arms and armor, equipment, etc.) But it would be cool to actually get official books that way too.

RPG publishers, take note!


  1. Oh, dang! I must have that Andorian spread. I've been fascinated with them ever since Jeff Rients posted (way back when I first discovered the OSR back in ought-nine) that he was using them and calling them hobgoblins. I guess I steal all my best ideas from Rients.

  2. I was looking at this yesterday in Barnes & Noble. It wasn't as meaty as I would of liked, but great pics for sure. I agree it would be good if more rpg books were like that, of course you have other people that just wnat them to be like technical manuals of some sort.

  3. I would love to see some RPG books done in a high gloss-fill-light DK eyewitness sort of way.. but the printing costs would probably be way too high.

  4. @ Aaron—

    See if you can track down S John Ross's Andorian sourcebook for the TOS RPG, Among the Clans

  5. But the cost of the art!!!! :)

  6. You guys and your reality check are harshing my pie-in-the-sky dreams!! :P

  7. I really like the idea of mixing a coffee table-styled "visual dictionary" with a RPG source book of hidden pup-up stats. I can picture that working best for sci-fi and cyberpunk source books.

    e.g. Cyberpunk 2020 used to have "Chromebooks" that looked like catalogs for high-tech and high-fashion goods. Each item could easily have their own page, and the stats were buried in the description. Naturally, they stick the walls-of-stats at the end of the book for easy indexing. If your concept was applied to those books, as net-books for tablet computers, then that would work even better for the catalog aesthetic, and the pop-ups would make them seem even more cyberpunk.

    I can also picture maps using the same principle: passing the cursor over a spot to get a simple pop-up balloon for a point-of-interest, and clicking a hex on the big map would load-up another map of that area.

    That would be cool!

  8. I really like the idea of pop-up hex maps! When I win the lottery, I'll be installing touch screen tabletops im 3very room of my personal Stark tower. I'll have to check out those Cyberpunk books!

  9. As one of the writers on Among The Clans, I wholly approve huth's message. ;)

    I completely agree with this post. I've been an avid (when possible) collector of Japanese tabletop RPGs over the years and while some of them look just like ours, many have a much nicer text to image ratio.

    For certain genres, I'd say it's a must. If I see one more comic book Superhero RPG or Anime RPG with bad art I am going to freak out on someone. Seriously.

  10. Ummm, so I should have immediately gone downstairs to get the Star Trek book... looks really great.

  11. I love your idea. I'd buy sourcebooks, just in that style.

    Forget crunch!