Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Tale of Two Sourcebooks

As someone who loves superhero comic books and role-playing games, it's inevitable that I would get into superhero role-playing games. I've played a lot, but the main one I have focused on is the Marvel game put out by TSR. Among the many supplementary materials that TSR made was the "Gamer's Handbook of the Marvel Universe", which contained many of the comic characters that you could use in your games. Here's the entry on Captain America:

This gives you game stats for Cap and his equipment as well as a set of role-playing notes for either the GM or someone who wants to play him and a history for the character. Much of the non-gaming information was taken from the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" entry, seen here (taken from this entry on the "oHOTmu or Not" page from the Fire & Water Network):

Now let's compare this to the Distinguished Competition, the DC role-playing game from Mayfair, which was produced around the same time. Here's the entry for Firestorm (as seen in this post from the "Firestorm Fan" blog):

One thing that I notice right off is the lack of a character picture, so a GM can't hold the entry up and say, "You see this guy coming towards you." There's also no history written down here, but there are role-playing notes and stats. This is by design, as this entry was meant to accompany the Who's Who entry that DC proper put out. Here's what that looks like, from the same blog post:

You can see how the layout matches up great with the Mayfair supplement and is very easy to go from one to the other. The Mayfair way also allows for more information to be put in that relates strictly to the game while letting the Who's Who entry cover everything else.

All that being said, I prefer the TSR/Marvel way of doing things, and that's for one reason. I don't want to have to buy two products. I didn't buy the OHOTMU issues because 1) I had a bunch of comics to refer to, and 2) I had everything I needed in the GHOTMU entries. I also didn't have any issues of Who's Who, also because I had the comics. When I later got some of the Mayfair supplements, I was severely disappointed. Some of these characters I didn't know, so I didn't know their histories or even what some of them looked like. Even some of the ones that I knew had updated looks, such as Firestorm, so I was picturing the wrong thing when reading.

The bottom line here, I think, is simplicity. It's much easier for the user to get one thing, even at the sacrifice of some details, than to have to buy two items and hope you get everything you need.

Like what I'm doing here on the blog and podcast? Why not check out my Patreon Page to see how you can help me do more?

No comments:

Post a Comment