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  1. #1
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    What is the rationale between creating two books, a d20 Rulebook and a d20 Atlas?

    To me it seems like a better idea to create a single tome called the "Birthright Campaign Setting". This is an line with what WotC does with Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, etc.

    Two advantages are:

    (1) Everything in one place. Players need both books anyway so why separate them?

    (2) We avoid the frustrating "which book to read first" problem for new players. If new players read the Rulebook first, then we need to include various Birthright background info in the Rulebook so that he understands things like bloodlines, awnsheighliens, etc. However, this stuff usually goes into an Atlas. The other ways around, if the Atlas is the first thing to read, then the player won't be able to understand the game mechanics used to describe characters, domains, etc.

    I really can't see any serious disadvantages with the single tome approach. One might say that separating the rules and the setting is good design practice, but I don't agree: these things are (at least in the case of Birthright) tightly interwoven. That is, in my opinion, what makes Birthright great. Another might suggest that having two books allows separate releases. Well, there is nothing wrong with releasing the single tome more often as chapters enter beta.

    Of course, we can group the Rulebook and the Atlas into a tome later when they are both ready. It does not have to be done now.

    I think the Forgotten Realms book has a good design and break-up of chapters (although I don't like setting itself much):

    INTRODUCTION
    CHAPTER 1: CHARACTERS
    CHAPTER 2: MAGIC
    CHAPTER 3: LIFE IN FAERUN
    CHAPTER 4: GEOGRAPHY
    CHAPTER 5: DEITIES
    CHAPTER 6: HISTORY
    CHAPTER 7: ORGANISATIONS
    CHAPTER 8: RUNNING THE REALMS
    CHAPTER 9: MONSTERS

    Of course, we need to adjust that a bit to a Birthright setting:

    INTRODUCTION (includes a brief history and a brief description of unique BR terms)
    CHAPTER 1: CHARACTERS (d20 Rulebook chapter 1+2)
    CHAPTER 2: RULING A DOMAIN (d20 Rulebook chapter 5)
    CHAPTER 3: MAGIC (d20 Rulebook chapter 3+7)
    CHAPTER 4: HISTORY (d20 Atlas chapter 1)
    CHAPTER 5: LIFE ON CERILIA (d20 Atlas chapter 2)
    CHAPTER 6: GEOGRAPHY (d20 Atlas chapter 3)
    CHAPTER 7: ORGANIZATIONS (d20 Atlas chapter 4)
    CHAPTER 8: GODS AND RELIGION (d20 Rulebook chapter 4)
    CHAPTER 9: ARMIES AND WARFARE (d20 Rulebook chapter 6)
    CHAPTER 10: RUNNING A BIRTHRIGHT CAMPAIGN (part of d20 Rulebook chapter 8)
    CHAPTER 11: CREATURES (d20 Rulebook chapter 9)
    CHAPTER 12: ITEMS AND ARTIFACTS (part of d20 Rulebook chapter 8)

    The suggested appendices of the d20 Atlas should probably be included somewhere in the chapters above.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    In principal it is not a bad idea to publish them all in one big tome. But the seperation was also a design philosphy in the 2. Edition (with the Players Guides). In addition it has a simple reason not do to it like that: the amount of material is immense, too much for people who get paid in real life for different work. It would take years to publish it in one complete sourcebook.

    Beside that it is not a good idea to compare Birthright with the Realms. If you take a look at the Kalamar Setting, you would see that they also have a "Players Guide" and an "Atlas" book.
    my purpose is now to lead you into the Pallace where you shall have a clear and delightful view of all those various objects, and scattered excellencies, that lye up and down upon the face of creation, which are only seen by those that go down into the Seas, and by no other....

  3. #3
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    If I read your post correctly, the main argument for having two books (an atlas and a rulebook) is time considerations. You say it would simply be too long before the first complete, single tome sourcebook would be out.

    Well, I'm not arguing for one big bang release, that is, a complete final sourcebook in one go. Instead, I'm arguing for a single sourcebook that evolves and improves over time, actually in much the same way that software improves over time. Iteratively and continually. (Like the BRCS but with more frequent releases.)

    The first thing to do is to agree on a modular and expandable Table of Contents. I have made a suggestion in the beginning of this thread. It's hardly perfect, but its a start.

    The second thing to do is to start working on the contents. Fortunately, a lot of work have already been done as the entries in the above parantheses suggests. I don't think a conversion from a "d20 Rulebook + d20 Atlas" to a single "d20 Birthright Campaign Setting" book would take too much time if the material is already there.

    Third, we need a release procedure that is efficient so that releases can be made quickly and often. This has a lot of advantages, one being that everybody reads and comments on the newest material available.

    Fourth, work in parallel is a good thing, and we should encourage parallel work on different sections focusing on the most critical sections first. (You probably do this already ;-)

    So, I'm not sure that a "d20 Rulebook + Atlas" book takes a shorter time to create than a single tome. Actually, I think it takes about the same time. And both can (and should) be released frequently during development, e.g. about once a month.

  4. #4
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    Originally posted by mhelles


    If I read your post correctly, the main argument for having two books (an atlas and a rulebook) is time considerations. You say it would simply be too long before the first complete, single tome sourcebook would be out.

    Well, I'm not arguing for one big bang release, that is, a complete final sourcebook in one go. Instead, I'm arguing for a single sourcebook that evolves and improves over time, actually in much the same way that software improves over time. Iteratively and continually. (Like the BRCS but with more frequent releases.)

    The first thing to do is to agree on a modular and expandable Table of Contents. I have made a suggestion in the beginning of this thread. It's hardly perfect, but its a start.

    The second thing to do is to start working on the contents. Fortunately, a lot of work have already been done as the entries in the above parantheses suggests. I don't think a conversion from a "d20 Rulebook + d20 Atlas" to a single "d20 Birthright Campaign Setting" book would take too much time if the material is already there.

    Third, we need a release procedure that is efficient so that releases can be made quickly and often. This has a lot of advantages, one being that everybody reads and comments on the newest material available.

    Fourth, work in parallel is a good thing, and we should encourage parallel work on different sections focusing on the most critical sections first. (You probably do this already ;-)

    So, I'm not sure that a "d20 Rulebook + Atlas" book takes a shorter time to create than a single tome. Actually, I think it takes about the same time. And both can (and should) be released frequently during development, e.g. about once a month.
    Hi mhelles

    Take just one thing into account: the rulebook is about 180 pages long right ? The Atlas will be about 250 if it continues as it is now. Do you really want a 350+ grand book ?;)

    Second, the FRCS book hasn't as much information as the BRCS +Atlas teamed up together. The FRCS bookgives only the minimum information about the world history and geography. The Atlas will covers all that in details...

    But, for another project like Dragonlance or Dark Sun, it could be doable :)

    Count Demeter
    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE </td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>The thane will eventually give her realm to the Boeruine family. Now, it&#39;s just a matter of months...</td></tr></table><span class='signature'>
    Count Mordhekai Demeter, Lord of Winter&#39;s Deep
    and protector of Talinie

  5. #5
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    Hello.

    Well, big books don't scare me! ;-)

    If the d20 Atlas becomes a biggie of about 250, or even 300, pages (and hopefully even more as time passes), would it really matter if it became 400 or 500 pages? I mean, if the organization of the book is good and logical, then its size really doesn't matter. It's all about scalability ;-)

    I am sitting with the FRCS book in front of me. Its 320 pages long with a font much less than the BRCS. I would guess that the FRCS book translated into BRCS font would make it at least 500 pages. But its organization is good and logical, so I don't think of it as a huge and cumbersome tome. Rather, I love to have everything in one place. Heck, it even inspires me to read a little further! ;-)

  6. #6
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    The size (megabytes) of a single document alone would cripple every download attempt you tried to make and those with older/slower machines and servers would be even more frustrated than they were when the 1st release of the BRCS came out.

    And no it couldn't be zipped, pdf is already a compressed file and essentially no size savings is accomplished by sipping. The word version would be even larger than the pdf files are.

    Arjan is also working on some "niceties" graphics wise for the completed product which would also increase it's size. Check out the preview he gave on an erlier thread to see a sample.:)
    Duane Eggert

  7. #7
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    I don't think that the download size should seriously impact considerations as to the content and format of the d20 releases. (Of course, within limits... a 10 GB download just isn't practical - yet, anyway.)

    Fortunately, I don't think that the download size does impact design considerations. Arjan adding graphics is a sure proof of that. (Thank you, Arjan ;-) I fully approve of both more graphics and more content.

    The current d20 rulebook is quite small (5 MB). Given the estimated size of the d20 Atlas, I think it is reasonable to assume that the d20 Atlas will a bit larger, say 10 MB.

    Now, does it really matter if it is 10 MB or 15 MB? Heck, considering the glee-value of such a download, I would even accept 1 GB! (Yes, your work is that good ;-)

    Besides, peoples lines are getting faster faster.

    Cheers,

    Morten

  8. #8
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    mhelles wrote:

    >This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
    > You can view the entire thread at: http://www.birthright.net/read.php?TID=1440
    >
    > mhelles wrote:
    > I don`t think that download size should seriously impact considerations as to the content and format of the d20 releases. (Of course, within limits... a 10 GB download just isn`t practical - yet, anyway.)
    >Fortunately, I don`t think that it does. Arjan adding graphics is a sure proof of that. (Thank you, Arjan ;-) I fully approve of both more graphics and more content.
    >The current d20 rulebook is quite small (5 MB). Given the number of graphics and estimated size, I think it is reasonable to assume that the d20 Atlas will a bit larger, say 10 MB.
    >Now, does it really matter if it is 10 MB or 15 MB? Heck, considering the glee-value of such a download, I would even accept 1 GB! (Yes, your work is that good ;-)
    >Besides, peoples lines are getting faster faster.
    >Cheers,
    >Morten
    >
    But still there are people who do not even have ISDN or even Cable and
    have to rely on lowly modems.
    So IF it will be one large book please make the single chapters single
    downloadable files to keep the size of any single file way below 15 MB.
    bye
    Michael Romes

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  9. #9
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    My estimate, based on what some of the graphics (borders, etc.) do to the files would be more on the line of 15 meg for the BRCS (rulebook) and probably around 20 meg for the atlas. IMO these are too large of documents to be handled as one document. It becomes very slow to try to manipulate (scroll, print, etc.) documents that get over 10 meg. And again, not everyone is "blessed" with fast and reliable servers or fast and reliable PCs.

    IMO 2 documents don't really pose that much of a burden for someone to leaf through when necessary. The Atlas is mostly non-rules dependant material and could be used as a separate document, especially for those who don't really want to do a "full scale" conversion with d20 rules.

    From a technical standpoint, it is better to have 2 smaller documents than 1 very large one. It would be easier to perform/post revisions and changes (such as when D&D 3.5 comes out) and a whole lot easier for people to download on the whole.

    The reason that the BRCS playtest document was only around 5 meg was that is was basically our "working" document and Arjan hadn't had time to perform the graphic magics that he "really" wanted to do, which would of course have made the docuemnt much larger but a whole lot more visually appealing.
    Duane Eggert

  10. #10
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    Again, I don't think that current technical limitations should limit our design wishes. For technical limitations are "current" problems, not future problems. My PC is 3 years old and looking through the d20 Rulebook is turbo-fast. Although I haven't tried it, I don't see any reason that a document ten times as large should be visibly slower. I am assuming here, of course, that Acrobat Reader is well-written and can seemlessly take care of large documents. Considering the global use of this program, I do not think that assumption is unrealistic. But, have anyone tried it?

    However, even if the size of a single tome BRCS (35+ MB) is (currrently) inpractical, then we can simply split it up into chapter files (as suggested in a post above). This may be the best compromise: we get one book, but we still get small downloads.

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