Organizing my game books

Specifically, organizing each book, internally. I’ve done this a lot in the past, simply because the games I was running (DnD 3.5 , Star Wars d20, Nobilis, BESM — all for different reasons) sort of required some quick-reference tabs to keep in-game rules-checking moving as quickly as possible. Need to look for Combat? Flip to the RED, FOR THE BLOOD OF MY ENEMIES tab.
Now that we’re getting rolling into some new games, I’m looking at doing something similar, for different reasons:
– The Shadow of Yesterday: Great game, but laid out… you know, it’s actually not organized that poorly, but there aren’t PAGE BREAKS where there should be (at the start of key sections). This is probably to reduce the overall page count, and I appreciate that need in an indie publisher, but it makes finding the sections on Attributes, Skills, Keys, Secrets, and Conflicts (almost all of which start somewhere mid-page) a pain in the tuchas. I’ll drop some tabs in there to make such look-ups go more quickly (as well as tabbing some parts of the section on Near that I find useful), but I actually don’t expect to need them forever — while I’m looking a lot of stuff up now, I don’t expect that I’ll need to do that forever — I think the rules will internalize quickly, at which point I won’t need the tabs anymore.
– Conspiracy of Shadows: Similar reasons to TSoY, only moreso — the layout for the book is simply wonky as all get out.
– Primetime Adventures: Tabs should not be necessary — the rules can be summarized orally in about two minutes.
– Agon: I expect as many tabs in this as my DnD books, and that’s a good thing. Nothing wrong with a little crunch.
– Savage Worlds: See Agon.
– Dogs in the Vineyard: despite the organic layout, I simply don’t think that any additional tabbed references should be necessary, except MAYBE for the rules on Demons and Possession and the like, which I don’t use enough to just remember. Again, it’s such a pretty book that I don’t want to add some permanent technical tag to it.
For my older game books (the ones I mentioned previously) I used those colored plastic tabs that you insert little cardboard slips into. They were both annoyingly permanent additions to the book, and simultaneously temporary, because the little cardboard tags would slide out and get lost, leaving only the ugly empty plastic tab.
My new weapon of choice: these things. Non-permanent, yet less likely to just fall off and get lost. My boss at my last job used this all the time in his notebook/journal to flag stuff he was currently working on, then tossed the tags as that particular note became irrelevant.
Tabbed reference points that stick around as long as I need them, but not permanent additions to the book’s pages — I find this combination appeals to me immensely.


  1. It’s forgiveable in some books — CoS happens to be one of the forgivable ones. 🙂
    And if I had a quarter for the number of times I’ve heard designers say, of late, “The push to GenCon screwed with my book.”
    Oh lordy…

  2. The funny thing is man, if you don’t release at GenCon you have a whole year to build buzz to the next GenCon. I understand the rush to want to be done. I totally get that. It is hard work and you want something in your hands to be proud of, but at the same time that works against you. It is why I probably won’t have a new game done until GenCon ’08. I want to create the best game I can, not something that is just sort of satisfying to me.

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