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More Crunch, Less Fluff Please

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  • More Crunch, Less Fluff Please

    In my opinion, many of the Onyx Path books have too much fluff and too little crunch. Would it be possible to release a book that is a compilation of all the crunchy rules bits (merits, powers, etc) with the fluff excluded? I would buy such a book for sure. Am I alone?


    There Are Four Lights!

    [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

  • #2
    Hurt Locker is pretty much the closest we've gotten recently. Some books will be more crunch heavy, others will be more lore heavy. Personally, I love both but the lore is what makes CofD books worth spending my money on. The Requiem Clanbooks are fan-favorites and those were almost entirely lore rather than mechanics.

    PS: I have some hangups around the word fluff to mean setting. I know that's not your intent, so I'm not going to derail the thread, but Paizo's James Jacobs pretty much puts it perfectly in my mind.


    Freelancer (He/His Pronouns): CofD- Dark Eras 2; Scion - Mysteries of the World

    CofD booklists: Beast I Changeling | Demon (TBA) | Deviant (TBA) | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire | Werewolf (WIP)

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    • #3
      I quite liked Hurt Locker. I am aware that people really like the clan books. I did not like them. The formatting and fonts made the majority of the books difficult to read, and the stories contained on the various post-it notes were not worth the extra effort (in my opinion.) The appendix of the book, where the crunchy bits were located, comprised approximately 15% of the page count. So, why not sell two versions of the book: The Full Size edition at 100% price, and the Crunch only version at 15% price.

      I have found that the last time there was setting information which I found valuable was about the time of Damnation City and the 1st ed. Covenant books. Since then, I feel that the majority of the pages I have bought were indeed Fluff. (my opinion.)


      There Are Four Lights!

      [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

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      • #4
        The clan books were pretty much alone, except for the Horror Recognition Guide and Secrets of the Covenants. Most gamelines didn't have anything like them.

        I appreciate that fluff can be seen as unnecessary or unwanted, but it provides context for every bit of crunch in the game.

        The WoDCodex has a lot of information regarding the mechanics, from there you can decide whether you want a book or not.
        Last edited by nofather; 06-12-2018, 05:18 PM.

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        • #5
          The WodCodex is a great resource, and one that I use. However, Onyx Path does not get paid when I do. I would like a way to pay them for what I use and value, without subsidizing what I do not.

          Thanks for the replies


          There Are Four Lights!

          [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

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          • #6
            Putting asides the problem that fluff is crunch, the bigger problem is that the reality of the matter is fluff sells. Most people who buy these books will not play them, and even if they do, the odds of them playing all of them is small. RPG books tend to sell better as daydream spaces and open fiction, and fluff facilitates that better than crunch.

            Sure, "crunch" is where the action is, but the fact of the matter is that the "fluff" is more in demand simply because it's used more.


            Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
            Work Blog Coming Soon
            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
            Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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            • #7
              Do you have any numbers to back that? To my knowledge, Onyx Path has not been selling to crunch divorced from fluff. So, there are not sales figures to compare.

              It might cost a little more in the way of page layout to release rules, merits, etc divorced from the setting and fiction, but could potentially lead to more sales. Regardless, we won't know unless they try it. Thanks also for your feedback.


              There Are Four Lights!

              [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

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              • #8
                Originally posted by figurehead View Post
                Do you have any numbers to back that? To my knowledge, Onyx Path has not been selling to crunch divorced from fluff. So, there are not sales figures to compare.

                It might cost a little more in the way of page layout to release rules, merits, etc divorced from the setting and fiction, but could potentially lead to more sales. Regardless, we won't know unless they try it. Thanks also for your feedback.
                That would involve me being one of five people that I am clearly not-but it's not like it's hard to get anyone to admit to this, or to compare success rates without numbers. It's common industry wisdom, and pretty easy to see when you actually look at it.

                You don't have to look far for this-putting asides the strong bet that I have that you think more about the games than you play them, most conversations around the subject are far more about fluff, and a large part of that conversation is contextless, with a lot of players admitting in the open space to a minimal play time, if any at all.

                Also, on the crunch vs fluff subject, one need not look farther than how settingless material performs versus setting based books-hell, any of the Fate games with a setting outsell Fate period despite the mechanical flexibility of the core, with Dresden Files really blowing it out of the water, and that's just an easy example. GURPS, D20 Products, etc., etc. frequently lose out against stuff that has more fluff than mechanics. An argument can be made over the successes of stuff that is lean-but-still-fluff-based versus those of heavier fluff, particularly since a lot of the heavier fluff stuff also forms a lot of old guard material, but pieces like Numenera indicate the trend I'm talking about.

                A broad view of what's selling, how well, and how the conversations about games are going reinforces those notions, and what commentary we get from people who do handle the numbers supports the notion, and that's before you account just for how pretty much ever long-standing professional I have put the question to has affirmed the idea that fluff is what people respond to financially. If I get different results once I start pushing The Noble & The Sovereign Trilogy, I'll let you know (since those games will be ones I actually would have 'numbers' on).

                None of this is to say that "crunch" isn't important-I got whole new characters for Beast from the BPG based on some of the Atavisms-but a box of crunch doesn't excite and inform the imagination nearly as much fluff does. Using another case in point, I have seen more conversation about Hurt Locker, a still fairly light fluffy supplement, versus Armory, a book entirely about crunch.

                It's a weird reality to fit to, but it is how RPG's are.


                Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
                Work Blog Coming Soon
                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                • #9
                  I am not an industry insider, so some of this is new information to me. Thanks for sharing. Also, if i have given the impression that I think Onyx Path should stop printing anything other than rules and new merits and such, I apologize. That was not my intention. However, I would still like an opportunity to purchase the crunchy bits separately. They have already been written, and we now use a PDF/PoD business so it's not like they have to take the risk of publishing and stocking thousands of physical books. I suspect even those that love the fluff would consider buying a single tome with all the rules in one place.

                  As for whether I spend more time playing in or thinking about the games: I am fortunate in that I have been playing WW/OP games for over 20 years now. I run a game of mage and play a game of vampire every other week.

                  Thanks again for your input.


                  There Are Four Lights!

                  [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                    Putting asides the problem that fluff is crunch, the bigger problem is that the reality of the matter is fluff sells. Most people who buy these books will not play them, and even if they do, the odds of them playing all of them is small. RPG books tend to sell better as daydream spaces and open fiction, and fluff facilitates that better than crunch.

                    Sure, "crunch" is where the action is, but the fact of the matter is that the "fluff" is more in demand simply because it's used more.
                    Okay, this is anecdotal, so grain of salt, but if I buy a book, I plan to use it. Why would I buy something I'm not going to play? If I decided I was never going to play vampire, I wouldn't purchase VtR and SotC. I just buy an RPG I and my friends would play with the same money.

                    That aside, I do agree with the op that OPP books are a little on the fluffy side. There is a time and place for fluff, don't get me wrong- I just wish we could get a few more other bits in instead of the 'slice of life stories' in every chapter- save those for the anthologies. Let me buy that separate, and please don't put it in those weird fonts and colors, because those get hard to read sometimes.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ArchonAres View Post

                      Okay, this is anecdotal, so grain of salt, but if I buy a book, I plan to use it. Why would I buy something I'm not going to play? If I decided I was never going to play vampire, I wouldn't purchase VtR and SotC. I just buy an RPG I and my friends would play with the same money.
                      You already use the book when you read it. It is true that playing with it is using it more, but i think you already can get something out of the book by simply reading it.

                      Also, sometimes just the hope that you may someday run or play a game from that book is enough, at least thats what i tell myself. (looks at my copy of Promethean, sigh)
                      I guess it also depends on the available funds you have. Right now my money is low enough that i've decided to only buy new books if i'm certain i'll play them. But when i'll have more money i'll probably be more loose with buying books that sparks my interest.


                      Currently running: VtR - The most serene requiem of Venice
                      Currently playing: Being a dad for a 1year old daughter and a newborn son.
                      Currently planning: Scion 2nd edition

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ArchonAres View Post

                        Okay, this is anecdotal, so grain of salt, but if I buy a book, I plan to use it. Why would I buy something I'm not going to play? If I decided I was never going to play vampire, I wouldn't purchase VtR and SotC. I just buy an RPG I and my friends would play with the same money.

                        That aside, I do agree with the op that OPP books are a little on the fluffy side. There is a time and place for fluff, don't get me wrong- I just wish we could get a few more other bits in instead of the 'slice of life stories' in every chapter- save those for the anthologies. Let me buy that separate, and please don't put it in those weird fonts and colors, because those get hard to read sometimes.
                        If we're gonna get anecdotal, let me counterbalance.

                        I also buy books with an expectation to use them. I want to play and run every single line of this game, and every single variation of Golden Sky Stories, and Don't Rest Your Head and Misspent Youth and Chill and Ryuutama and Mouse Guard and Monsterhearts and 5 Acts in Tragedy and Starlit Kingdom and Tenra Basho Zero and

                        at some point, I realized that while I intend to, there's no realistic way I will be able to use all of the material on RPG's I get in the way they were intended. I never buy stuff thinking I won't, but I end up not being able too. Any single game I get alone has at least five or six games in them at a minimum. None of that makes it useless, because I still fun exploring these worlds imagining stories and characters for them, and none of that changes my intent-I want to and will work to run as many games and play as many of these games as I can.

                        But at some point, my games outrun them, and none of that makes the games less of a waste for me.

                        Hell, I live in a household of gamers with the weekends open, coming up on a year of gaming and we still have only gotten around to two games, neither of them being the games on my bucket list.

                        Now, using myself as a point of comparison is not where my point here comes from. I thought I was an exception with that, since it seemed to me like a lot of people were much more niche and loyal to their niche than I was a very exploratory type. But then a lot of experts I chatted with, including Matthew McFarland and Olivia Hill, basically laid out the facts as they had seen over the years annnnnd yeah.

                        I think a lot of people plan to use them. But unless you manage to actually use all of it, the difference between a plan and a daydream is moot.


                        Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
                        Work Blog Coming Soon
                        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                        Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the anecdotes.

                          To my original point though: Would you have a problem if Onyx Path decided to offer some or all of their books such that the rules/merits/powers could be purchased separately at a reduced price, while still offering the full book including all the setting/fiction at full price for those that wanted it? Or even the setting/fiction without the crunch?

                          I feel like the thread has become a thread of 'fluff defense.' I am not trying to take away setting/fiction from those that like it. I am just realizing that all (and I do mean all) of the setting/fiction that I have purchased and read from Onyx Path in several years has been, in my opinion: not very good. I have not and will not use any of it in my games.

                          What I do like, and what I have always liked most about white-wolf and later onyx path, is their dice system. It is simple to understand and quick to implement at the table. Combat and other tests can be adjudicated quickly without slowing down the story. I love it. So for me, being able to buy the 20 or so pages which are relevant to my gaming experience without having to buy the art and stories I do not care about would be really attractive. Considering the existence of markets like DrivethruRPG, I would think that this would be relatively painless to implement. I would even settle for a barely formatted text file.

                          I am not saying 'stop liking what I don't like.' I am asking for an option to purchase what I like about Onyx Path games without subsidizing what I don't.


                          There Are Four Lights!

                          [Actual Play] Baltimore: The Kiddie Pool Saga

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by figurehead View Post
                            Thanks for the anecdotes.

                            To my original point though: Would you have a problem if Onyx Path decided to offer some or all of their books such that the rules/merits/powers could be purchased separately at a reduced price, while still offering the full book including all the setting/fiction at full price for those that wanted it? Or even the setting/fiction without the crunch?
                            I don't object to it, I just don't think it would provide enough returns to actually warrant the practice. And that actually goes in either direction-pure fluff pieces do suffer from lack of crunch (consider how fiction compilations do seem to undersell, as a minor point).

                            But when discussing Fluff vs Crunch, I want people to consider the range between, say, the VtR Clanbooks,the Beast's or Demon's Players Guide, and Hurt Locker the vast approval of all of those (and how that is expressed), and the contrasting amounts of fluff and crunch in those pieces.

                            I do want to clarify I get the crunch desire-back in the DnD days, I didn't grab any of the setting books because I felt like the fluff got in the way of me getting to the actual tools for making my own story. I may not run that way anymore, but once upon a time and all that.


                            Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
                            Work Blog Coming Soon
                            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                            Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by figurehead View Post
                              To my original point though: Would you have a problem if Onyx Path decided to offer some or all of their books such that the rules/merits/powers could be purchased separately at a reduced price, while still offering the full book including all the setting/fiction at full price for those that wanted it? Or even the setting/fiction without the crunch?

                              I feel like the thread has become a thread of 'fluff defense.'
                              Yeah sorry about that. I wouldn't have a problem with it, though I don't think it's that wanted, there's a lot of 'fluff' questions in regards to how to run certain things, and once you get into the supernatural, pure mechanics without context is just nonsense, looking at the disciplines and merits alone wouldn't really inform you about the clans or covenants, which are really 'one' with the mechanics, to paraphrase ArcaneArts said, much fluff is crunch. Plus there would be extra work where it comes to editing out all the fluff, which would have to be balanced out by extra sales of this abbreviated copy.

                              I have stated on occasion how I'd like a version of the pdf without the graphics, similar to the 99% complete examples we had with Kickstarters, just because it's easier to put onto and read from an eReader. But I don't think it would justify a cheaper price, just something that comes with the full pdf purchase.
                              Last edited by nofather; 06-12-2018, 11:38 PM.

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