I've started a new category for ideas that sound really neat, but I don't really know where they lead. Sometimes, like today, it may be a really bad idea. It's posted because it contains a certain "What If?" quality that for whatever reason feels compelling or fascinating.
So here goes:
What if you combine a different arrangement of RPG rule books with a box that contains the perfect Newbie DM kit?
The first thing that pops into my head is "A Box for GMs and separate boxes for players? What the? Are you nuts?"
Then the second thing is "It's just like the Red Box except that you have more than two books."
Somehow, I'm thinking of something that is not either of those two ideas. I would like a perfect newbie GM kit *and* a perfect newbie player kit. It's just that the newbie player kit would be focused enough to be a few pages and limits choice in a way.
Maybe the GM kit features a four page handout that provides an overview of various races and classes so that players can pick which newbie player kit to use. Then the player kit has everything needed to play that specific race and the classes available to them.
What say you?
The first thing that came to mind was ‘product proliferation’ if there’s a different kit sold for each character type. However, if it were bundled like this it might be workable:
* core rulebook (all rules and shared material
* GM rulebook (expanded processes for GM, basically)
* character-type specific documents
I would be inclined to make the character-type specific documents looseleaf and allow free copying for personal use (mind you, I give pretty much all my RPG work away anyway…). They contain enough to get started with each character types, and perhaps a little bit of customization, but otherwise are inadequate for ‘full play’.
So, in D&D 3.x terms you might implement different character archetypes (‘knight’, ‘archer’, ‘healer’, ‘holy warrior’, ‘fire wizard’). I’m thinking about four pages each, for as many levels as can fit (including feat selections and descriptions, and possibly even spells — so it might be only 3-5 levels). Enough to get them started, then point them at the core book for more. Include selection criteria and build suggestions (the knight probably wants a fair bit of Strength, for example, so “description of archetype” and “what it takes to be good at this” should probably be near the top).
New player kits would be obvious candidates for web enhancements.
The details may change a little, but I have to admit that I like the idea. Enough to bootstrap new players without bogging them down too much, provide guidance in viable builds, but not so much that it removes the value of the more core rules.