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Rule Book Writing and Repetition

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jonathanflike's picture
Joined: 03/09/2016

Hello Everyone,

I'm working on my rule book (ugh), and I wanted to know your opinion on repetition. Is it okay to repeat elements multiple times in different sections to hammer the message home? For example, if you talk about a creature's abilities that happen during a specific phase of the game, can you write about it again when you go over that particular phase? Also, in regards to referencing keywords and icons, would you highlight these every time it is mentioned or just if it appears for the first time on a each new page? Or what is your method? I was looking at the Enchanter's rule book (I attached a link) and every mention of the icon has the icon appear on the page. This feels a little excessive? Like on one page you see the monster icon 8 times. What are your thoughts? Thank you in advance.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
My opinion is....

Make ONE MASTER TABLE and list all the items with their respective ICON... Call it the "Icon Table". Your cards may use ONLY the icons.

BUT In your RULEBOOK, NEVER use the ICONs and only use the TERMS (Monster, Dragon, Items, etc.) I see no reason why do both, let alone why have the icons at all UNLESS you needed to convert.

...And that's what the "Icon Table" is for: understanding the icons on your cards.

It's a pretty rulebook. And they even DO an "Icon Table" at the very back of the rulebook (last page — 24).

Aside: I wonder if this was the INSPIRATION for White Wizard Game's SORCERER... Or was it "Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre"... Could be a bit of BOTH maybe?!

Update: McTeddy makes a good point that if you have icons everywhere, if you make a CHANGE, it's going to be a nightmare to "replace" all of those ICONs on each page (or even worst multiples on a page)... Stick to one master table and you can use ICONs on the cards.

Joined: 11/19/2012
Some repetition is good, or

Some repetition is good, or at least saying "As explained on Page X when activating abilities"

As for every page? I wouldn't even consider it. Have it thoroughly explained in ONE easy-to-find section that they can use for reference. Maybe a reminder half ways through the book or on a player aid.

You just need enough repetition to solidify the idea in the players brain. After the first or second time they have been introduced to the idea, it should already be learned. If not, they can refresh in the previous section.

The other thing to remember is that repetition can highly dangerous. If things change in the future it's waaaaay too easy to miss a reference and end up with conflicting data in the rulebook.

By referring to the other section instead of repeating the info you ensure that there is ONE correct place to look.

jonathanflike's picture
Joined: 03/09/2016
Thank you!

Thank you guys, yeah I figured too much repetition would be troublesome, I just wasn't certain. I've looked at a lot of rule books, and that Enchanters one really threw me with the amount of repetition.

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
It depends (surprise)

Some will say that repetition should be avoided (just as in computer programming). I think you have to judge when something is so important it bears repeating, or when yet another reference to a different rule becomes burdensome or annoying (then you repeat).

Jay103's picture
Joined: 01/23/2018
One thing to look at, if you

One thing to look at, if you find yourself repeating something, is whether your rules are properly organized. It's possible that by reordering your sections, you could remove the need for the repetition.

Rick-Holzgrafe's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
McTeddy wrote:The other thing

McTeddy wrote:
The other thing to remember is that repetition can highly dangerous. If things change in the future it's waaaaay too easy to miss a reference and end up with conflicting data in the rulebook.

Yes, but... it's your job to make the rulebook not just correct, but easy to use and understand. Proof-reading to find inconsistencies is a pain in the rear, but it's part of your job. Don't shirk it, and don't avoid the issue at the expense of your players.

I think a master table of icons is a tremendously useful reference; of course your rulebook should have one. But I think repetition of icons is also useful. Human memory works by association; the more connections you provide, the better your points will be remembered. So if taking a card also means taking a food token, mention the token in the section about taking cards, and in the section about tokens remind people that you can get them by taking cards. Use the token's icon when you mention the token to provide another association. It all helps cement your rules in people's minds, so that they don't have to look things up in the master reference tables so often.

I do this in my own rulebooks. Yes, it's an error-prone pain to change all the icons when I change a rule or the iconography. I do it anyway.

Corsaire's picture
Joined: 06/27/2013
The repitition feels a bit

The repitition feels a bit overdone to me. That manual has three layers of emphasis: proper case, bold, and symbols. I would only use the icon once a page then drop it on the next occurrence. I'd tend to want the bold also dropped on the second occurrence and only retain the proper case, but definitely by the third+ time it's mentioned on a page. Lots of icons and bold distracts from the reading flow.

But some icons help to visually connect the rulebook to tableau when looking up a rule.

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