Whenever I pick up another 400 page setting my heart sinks a little. It’s not the length so much as the dry read it promises. Like reading the Wikipedia entry on your holiday destination.
As I’m writing a straight up WW2 game, I run the risk of doing something similar. So, what I want to do is make it about stories rather than about facts and figures. When it comes to research, I’m both lucky and cursed that my subject is so well covered. Whenever I’m overwhelmed, I turn to the kids section.
I first learned this technique years ago when I remember being a bit baffled as to what exactly was going on in the war that was tearing up the old Yugoslavia. I tuned into the kids show Newsround by accident. In just a few minutes I was completely up to speed. Note, none of this was dumbed down in any way. It was just relayed simply, clearly and with the facts in order.
For my War game, I’m currently reading this for inspiration, and inspiring it is. You can pick it up on Kindle for a quid, and trust me, this is the book I wish Stalingrad had been.
After this I’m diving into Horrible Histories.
RPGs should take more lessons from books for teenagers really. They shouldn’t be work, or study, they should facilitate playing the game. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to play Eberron, don’t grab all the big campaign books. Instead spend a couple of quid on The Adventurers Guide to Eberron, which is basically a hardback brochure for the game. Add your system, and off you go. Your campaign will be no worse, and probably much better, than anything ‘official’.