View Full Version : Have you ever been sold on an RPG book by something OTHER than the rules?

2011-02-07, 06:35 PM
It could be a character description, the way the book was constructed, the artwork, the genre, or even just a friend's recommendation.

If you don't mind sharing what it was, please do so. Keep in mind, this is an instance where you didn't consider the rules AT ALL prior to purchasing.

For me, it was the artwork, and engaging writing in the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting.

2011-02-07, 06:38 PM
Sure. Dragons of Faerun was a big one for me in this respect. I loved the detail of the descriptions and the depth of the character analysis and creation of the titular dragons.

Faiths and Pantheons was another great one for this. Man, that book is awesome in almost every respect, but not mechanically.

2011-02-07, 06:39 PM
I dunno if this counts, but my friends got me into Aberrant a couple years ago because the whole superhero angle is pretty cool. I didn't even consider that it was the d10 system which I do not particularly care for (or have a good grasp of, for that matter).

2011-02-07, 06:43 PM
If I could buy them now, I'd get the Pathfinder books. The art and layout are just so eye-catching.

The Rose Dragon
2011-02-07, 06:57 PM
Does anyone buy Exalted for any rules-related reason to begin with?

Also, Qin and Weapons of the Gods.

2011-02-07, 07:02 PM
I think the only book I bought for the rules were core. Otherwise its always been "Ooh pretty cover!".

2011-02-07, 07:05 PM
The Eclipse Phase rulebooks, the setting is increadable, and the detail is fantastic not to mention the concept of the TITANS

Temet Nosce
2011-02-07, 07:07 PM
Excepting 3.5 I don't think any other systems I play are for the rules. However, if you want a specific example - Nobilis (if there is any other book which can live up to the complex nuances of its flavor I have yet to hear of it).

2011-02-07, 07:08 PM
Violence, the roleplaying game of egregious and repulsive bloodshed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_%28role-playing_game%29)

And it is one of the funniest things I ever read

2011-02-07, 07:12 PM
I'm just getting into Exalted, right now, after having missed the bus for a good long while. And I have to say the main reason is the fluff.

Edit: oh and add every Rifts book, ever, to this as well.

2011-02-07, 07:14 PM
Anything about 2e Forgotten Realms. BS setting rules (2e epic...), but really interesting fluff once you got past the irritating Mary Sue NPCs, imo.

2011-02-07, 07:22 PM
I dont remember ever buying a book because of the rule's, usually it's the setting or concept that makes me choose it.

Mark Hall
2011-02-07, 07:23 PM
A number of times. Vampire and the World of Darkness stuff because it was cool in the early-mid nineties, and the ideas seemed interesting. Shadowrun, too, for that matter, for all of the system-wank we did. Eclipse Phase I purchased in SPITE of the rules (which read a lot better in paper than they do in PDF), and Fading Suns, too. Ars Magica has always been a setting-over-system for me.

2011-02-07, 07:25 PM
Shadowrun 4ed Anniversary Edition.

I enjoyed the setting and the look of the book.

2011-02-07, 07:28 PM
I bought 3.5's Draconomicon because the artwork was so fab. There have been tons of cool pics of dragons in D&D's long history, but that book had illustrations that looked like they were out of some sort of old style textbook, and really gave the different types of dragons their own identities.

2011-02-07, 07:28 PM
I bought Deliria and one of its splatbooks sight unseen, because I was really impressed with the author's work in oWoD Mage. Didn't turn out to be one of my better purchases. I bought GURPS Shapeshifters for the fluff and ideas. Likewise BoED, BoEF, and a third-party 3.0 book called Evil -- better fluff than BoVD, but mechanically weak.

Most 3rd-ed GURPS books are worth the price regardless of what system you run.

I bought oWoD Wraith in order to be able to play the game (i.e. for mechanics) but if I'd known what was in there I would've snatched it up anyway. That book oozes Jungian psychology, and a game could easily lead to someone becoming a more whole person IRL -- maybe even just a read. Also, I totally freaked out when I got it home, went to bed, and found out the cover included glow-in-the-dark material ... freeeeeeaked out.

2011-02-07, 07:30 PM
I can't stand GURPS mechanics, and still have god knows how much GURPS stuff, simply because of how well researched it is. Then there is the matter of Qin: The Warring States.

2011-02-07, 07:34 PM
Of course.
Other than systems for which I buy everything (such as D&D), I initially want flavor, rules come later.
I could say Time of Thin Blood and Era do Caos (Age of Chaos), a brazilian RPG with a conspiracy theme.
Time and time again, this aproach disappointed me greatly. I regret to this day the money I spent on BESM d20.

2011-02-07, 07:35 PM
Call of Cthulhu books, Paranoia, several Rolemaster books for creatures and treasure, Amber.

D&D is really the only system I know where people seem to obsess so much about rules.

2011-02-07, 07:35 PM
...no, not really.

I'm the kind of person who stands in the bookstore being an obstacle to other shoppers until she's absolutely sure she wants to spend her money. :smallcool:

2011-02-07, 08:54 PM
Pretty much every non-D&D game book I've obtained has been for the art, setting fluff, or the intrigue I felt when thinking about playing something from it. :smallamused:

This includes Exalted, Shadowrun, Paranoia, Vampire: the Masquerade, and even a few D&D books, like Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss.

2011-02-07, 08:57 PM
World of Darkness, because it was $5 at the library book sale. I'm not even all that familiar with it, but I can tell it looks fun!

The Rabbler
2011-02-07, 09:05 PM
This was the reason that I bought Weapons of Legacy over Tome of Battle. Granted, I didn't understand what the Book of Nine Swords was at the time (it looked like just another incarnum), but my actions stand.

2011-02-07, 09:08 PM
I don't own it(yet), but I'd buy Bliss Stage just for the concept descriptions I've read.

2011-02-07, 09:22 PM
I've gotten Conspiracy X, GURPS, and World of Darkness titles for the flavor, and I've gotten Pathfinder titles for the flavor and art, so...yep.

2011-02-07, 09:24 PM
I like Cityscape for all the DM advice it has along with the info on building cities. Very little of it is actual rules, but I've found it very helpful.

2011-02-07, 09:30 PM
...no, not really.

I'm the kind of person who stands in the bookstore being an obstacle to other shoppers until she's absolutely sure she wants to spend her money. :smallcool:

Glad I'm not the only one.

Once a clerk said that the store wasn't a library. I replied that I wanted to be sure before I spend over thirty bucks on one book. In my own defense, I probably bought 250-300 dollars worth of material from that store before I moved.

2011-02-07, 09:30 PM

People say art doesn't matter in game books? Bull. Maybe in the long term, maybe, but in the short term, it sure as hell helps sales.

2011-02-07, 11:41 PM
In Nomine. I still have no idea whatsoever how the mechanics worked, but the fluff text made for awesome reading.

2011-02-08, 12:18 AM
I don't even play Gurps but I've bought a few of their source books (e.g. Celts) because they are usually reasonably researched, well written, and a fun read.

2011-02-08, 12:36 AM
Actually, most of the non-D&D books I have are because of this.

I bought Iron Heroes core rules because the cover looked cool, and the idea of character > magic item Christmas tree appealed to me, without ever reading the rules until recently.

I bought 7th Sea Player and Nationbooks because I thought that if the art was any indication of the style of play they expected, it looked like a kickass game to play. I was right :smallbiggrin:

I bought Deadlands material for the idea of the Weird West. While I'm not very likely to ever play it, I've mined all of the ideas and mechanics I wanted out of it, and I know a friend who will be very happy to own all of that stuff.

Looking back, I should realistically start researching my buys...

2011-02-08, 12:40 AM
I bought Races of Dragon out of a deep and abiding love of the mild refluffing of Kobolds. To an extent I bought all of the Races books for the fluff. With the exception of Races of Destiny. I bought that because it existed and have regretted it since.

2011-02-08, 12:43 AM

Okay to clarify: I got the Monster Manual because the monsters were cool. Got the PHB and DMG so I could use these cool monsters. Got the Complete Book of Dwarves to learn more about Dwarves. The same for the Book of Elves and the Book of Gnomes and Halflings (had to return that because they printed the Book of Gnomes twice and not the halflings). Got Planescape because I got the Planeswalker's Handbook (it took me a few days to realize it even had any rules, and another few days to figure out what kits were) and the box set so I could understand it better. Spelljammer because D&D in space sounded awesome (so kind of rules, kind of fluff). Edit: Forgot to mention Dark Sun which I had heard about and bought the box set for the fluff after having already bought the book on Preservers and Defilers off my brother for the fluff.

Then I got into 3.0 because of looking through the Monster Manual, although that mostly stopped my "let's buy stuff for the fluff" phase. Although I did get Races of Stone for the fluff (which like Complete Book of Dwarves was the best of the series of race splats, despite Races of the Dragon possibly having the most rules I actually use) and the Draconomicon and Lords of Madness for art and fluff respectively (although I use them for the rules oh so often).

2011-02-08, 12:43 AM
Gary Gygax put out a series of How To style books about various campaign topics. My favorite one (well, the only one I bought) was called the Canting Crew. The first part went into great detail about how thieves guild worked. The whole second part of the book was a cant dictionary. Before I got my own copy of the vulgar tongue, the Canting Crew was my goto book for cant.

Fuzzie Fuzz
2011-02-08, 12:49 AM
Honestly, my first D&D book. I didn't really know how the game worked at all, and didn't bother to read it until I bought it. I just knew that RPGs sounded cool, and D&D was such a nerd pastime that I decided I must play it.

2011-02-08, 12:53 AM
Actually, since the rules are usually inside the book, and also often more than you could browse in YFLGS, i have yet to buy a book because of the rules.

2011-02-08, 12:57 AM
Actually, since the rules are usually inside the book, and also often more than you could browse in YFLGS, i have yet to buy a book because of the rules.

I used to buy mine at Borders... they were 20% off because I was homeschooled. You could also browse them quite a bit (note that the 2e settings I bought at my FLGS and didn't look at in the least). That said I bought Sword and Fist for the PrCs, Tome and Blood for the fluff actually and was disappointed (Sword and Fist had more and better fluff) and for the most part started buying them only for the crunch before 3.5 came out. It actually has gotten to where for the most part I will buy 2e books for the fluff and the 3.X equivalent for the crunch to go with it.

2011-02-08, 01:36 AM
Now that I think about it, I have bought some AD&D 2e books purely for fluff reasons, since I actually have little idea how the 2e rules work. I bought the Forgotten Realms Lands of Intrigue boxed set and Calimport book for my 3.5 campaign, and I also own the Ravenloft red box, most of the 2e Van Richten's Guides, and a couple other Ravenloft products purely for the fluff.

I was going to say that I bought the Star Wars d20 RPG because it was Star Wars, but the truth is that I picked that edition because it was d20 and would therefore be easier for me to pick up than the WEG one, so I guess that technically is for the rules.

I also bought the Vampire: the Masquerade core book back in like 1997, four years before I ever played my first game of D&D. It seemed cool, but I still have no idea how to actually play VtM.

2011-02-08, 06:10 AM
Every Rifts book I own - which is many. The rules for Rifts aren't great, but every book has something in it which makes me go 'YES'.

On a grander scale, all the Planescape stuff I own. Screw the rules content, Planescape is awesome.

I bought Anima without knowing anything about it because it looked gorgeous.

Other than that, what motivates me to buy books is more whim and friend recommendations than the contents. In fact, now that I think about it, the only game I ever bought because someone told me the rules were good was Burning Empires - a game which I have yet to play. (Although the rules do look good.)

2011-02-08, 06:18 AM
Listen to the cubic Solanum above me, Planescape is awesome.

In fact, despite never having played AD&D, not knowing the rules and having no real interesting learning them, I have bought Planescape books on Ebay. And they ain't cheap. Because people know they are good.

2011-02-08, 06:21 AM
Except for the basic rulebook of a new RPG, I never buy books based on the rules inside. It's always for the fluff.
(Which is why I think the Complete line sucks.)

2011-02-08, 07:14 AM
Dark heresy.
Me and my friends flocked to it for its setting and premise. For soemone who loves 40K and doesnt want to be a space marine...or someone wishing they were one. its the only avenue

2011-02-08, 07:19 AM
I've never bought an RPG book for the rules. It's always a combination of setting, art, theme and recommendations from other people.

edit: Actually, that's incorrect now that I think about it. Some games have the rules as an integral part of how they present their themes and setting in a really innovative way and not just a vague 'simulation' of cause and effect. So there, some books I've got for the rules.

2011-02-08, 07:50 AM
Sure have. Back in the days of AD&D 2e, I bought the Monstrous Compendium Annual #2 because of the artwork. All done by Tony DiTerlizzi. Awesome stuff, there. Also, he did a lot in Planescape, so I have a few books of that setting, too.

EDIT: Also, BESM: The Slayers d20. Bought it for the setting, stayed for the hilarious rules.

2011-02-08, 07:53 AM
I think I have to join the group of people posting saying, that I never by book becuase of rules its always the fluff, the setting or whatever.

In one case I was buying shadowrun books to play the guess whos posting game in all the forum text in the books and playing the conspiricy game.

Moosie Madness
2011-02-08, 07:59 AM
Me describing Tagers to a friend for a CthuluTech game...

Think of the most righteous man you can, put him in a world where everday he watches his world crumble that little bit more. Someone approaches you, saying they have this amazing gun. It will let you protect those you love and care for, it will give you the ability to stop the suffering just a little bit. The catch? Once you are given the gun it'll probably kill you straight up. It'll turn you into a cruel and apathetic person, also, one day down the track the gun will kill you. It'll remove the very reason you picked up the gun in the first place.

Annnddd then we played for a year, he became a blood god by the end of it. The last session was him gaining a sliver of clarity and realising what he had done (read what you actually have to do to become a blood god). Using his hands of magic flesh moulding he removed all memory of what he was. Then his crow came for him later that night... Once the gun is picked up you can never ignore it.

Jay R
2011-02-08, 09:59 AM
I bought D&D because it was the first role-playing game.

I bought Chivalry and Sorcery because it wasn't D&D, and because the heraldry was well-researched.

I bought Melee / Wizard / In the Labyrinth, and then later GURPS, because they were designed by a friend.

I bought Champions because it was the only Super-Hero role-playing game.

I bought En Garde because it was the first musketeer role-playing game.

I bought Flashing Blades because it was the first playable musketeer role-playing game.

And I bought TOON for the concept of cartoon role-playing.

2011-02-08, 10:19 AM
In Nomine and Deadlands would both be examples of ones I bought before knowing mechanics. They both turned out to be very fun to play. Most other rule books I have are out of a need for the rules though

Edit: actually bought deadlands solely because I discovered Bruce Campbell was involved in the development.

Kurald Galain
2011-02-08, 10:26 AM
If you don't mind sharing what it was, please do so. Keep in mind, this is an instance where you didn't consider the rules AT ALL prior to purchasing.
Every single White Wolf and GURPS book that I own.

I don't play GURPS, but I have several of their books because of the excellent setting info. I don't think I've ever "been sold" on an RPG book by the rules.

Also, Paranoia: you can't be sold by its rules since they are above your security clearance.

2011-02-08, 10:27 AM
The whole of Exalted. It has some very nice pieces of fluff (some not so good ones too, but awesome stuff like Alchemicals and Graceful Wicked Masques can overcome the bad parts a dozenfold), which is what makes the books so nice to reread. But the rules... well, to put it nicely, aren't really that good.

big teej
2011-02-08, 10:31 AM
I bought Chivalry and Sorcery because it wasn't D&D, and because the heraldry was well-researched.


as someone who plays the Knight class on a regular basis...

i am intrigued, tell me more.

also, outside of the DMG and PHB
every book I've gotten is because "I gotta get my hands on X because that sounds like it's right up my alley"

Mark Hall
2011-02-08, 11:31 AM
I'll add another one: Dungeons and Dragons.

I wanted to play D&D for YEARS but, in the late 80s, my mom was totally against it. D&D was verboten, even though neither of us knew much about the game.

2011-02-08, 12:21 PM
I got into Burning Wheel and Mouseguard because of an indie games panel at PAX East last year. They were describing things that I had alwasy wanted from games and telling us about systems that did those exact things. I played a demo(which had little to do with the rules and a lot to do with the how and why of playing...it took me about 6 months to really sort out the rules) and watched the guy who had written the rules run a demo, and the rest is history.

2011-02-08, 12:46 PM
I'm sure I'm not alone in being introduced to Exalted by the Keychain of Creation webcomic.

2011-02-08, 12:46 PM
I have never played 2e, and likely never will.
I own Thri-kreen of Athas, a 2e book, because I like thri-kreen, and the book has loads of nifty information about them.

2011-02-08, 01:11 PM
I have never played 2e, and likely never will.
I own Thri-kreen of Athas, a 2e book, because I like thri-kreen, and the book has loads of nifty information about them.

I want that book. Athas was awesome (yes I bought it after I'd upgraded moved to 3e).

2011-02-08, 02:03 PM
I bought every Scion book that White Wolf published because my friend told me that he would allow any White Wolf publication in his WoD game, as long as it followed the dot scheme and d10 system. So we had a Vampire, a Promethean, two Changelings, a Mage, and me, a Scion of Odin. Then I fell in love with the source material, quit his WoD campaign, stole his players, and started a Scion game. He grudgingly admitted to me the other day that Scion is WAY cooler than WoD.

2011-02-08, 02:28 PM
Fluff is what sells games to me.

Rules (or more specifically, rules problems) are what turns me away from them.

The interaction between the two usually works as follows: I try to run a game based on how much I like its themes and descriptions, and how long it lasts depends on how long it takes for me to burn out on the rules. Good games don't burn out. ;)

2011-02-08, 02:32 PM
Of course. The style and story count more than rules for me. I'm good with rules, i know how to remake them so things are balanced. So style, story, and feel of the above two make the biggest difference by far.

Well no, the biggest difference something makes by far is if there's a game near me running something lol. And since its mostly D&D...sigh.

Jay R
2011-02-08, 04:48 PM
as someone who plays the Knight class on a regular basis...

i am intrigued, tell me more.

When Chivalry and Sorcery came out around 1980 or so, it was the most beautiful, highly orchestrated, well-researched, unplayable mess I'd ever seen.

It separated fatigue points from body points, so that you could recover quickly from the fatigue damage but not the body damage.

The heraldry rules and drawings were by Bill Keyes, then the Laurel King of Arms (#1 herald in the SCA).

The feudal system was carefully described, as was the clerical organization.

There were elaborate and very different rules for different kinds of magic-users. Alchemists were very different from enchanters, necromancers, etc.

Thieves got more experience for backstabbing and stealing gold than for killing in a straight-up fight.

The rules for knights were very different from the rules for other fighters. They got 100% points for defeating an opponent, but only 50% for killing him. A knight also tracked Honor Points, which determined reputation. You got triple honor points if you did your deeds in a lady's name.

Great ideas, wonderful background, extremely realistic and mostly unplayable fighting system. (Yeah, I played it for awhile, but left it to go back to D&D just to get through combats quickly.)

2011-02-08, 07:20 PM
I got the OWoD Technocracy book purely for the fluff, and the NWoD Underworld book mostly for the fluff. I also got a couple Exalted books known for having atrocious rules (Scroll of the Monk and Scroll of Heroes) mostly for the fluff and partly to learn what broken material looks like in Exalted. Also Compass of Celestial Directions: Yu-Shan, which is almost entirely fluff.

As many have stated above, White Wolf games in general and Exalted in slightly-less-general tend to be have better art and story than rules.

2011-02-08, 07:26 PM
Every system I've ever bought has been for a game concept, and I don't really look into the rules until afterward. Which means my shelf is filled with things like Scion, Tales From The Floating Vagabond, Qin, the Serenity and Leverage RPGs......

2011-02-08, 07:28 PM
I've never been sold on an RPG book by the rules.

Twilight 2020? The concept was cool. Praedor? Bought it 'cause I liked the comics. Lord of the Ring Roleplaying Game? Beautiful artwork from movies, decent size, decent price. Lamentations of the Flame Princess? The cover of the book was cool!

The only games where rules have been the first concern have been those I've tried to make myself. In others, I've just played by them and enjoyed the feel they evoked.

The Rose Dragon
2011-02-08, 07:33 PM
Every system I've ever bought has been for a game concept, and I don't really look into the rules until afterward. Which means my shelf is filled with things like Scion, Tales From The Floating Vagabond, Qin, the Serenity and Leverage RPGs......

You have Qin? You simply must run a game so I can play!

The Big Dice
2011-02-09, 10:52 AM
You have Qin? You simply must run a game so I can play!

I too have Qin. I didn't think anyone else had bought it.

Rules are almost never a consideration when buying an RPG book. Sure, the sysem might matter if you're buying a splatbook. After all, it's very rare to buy one for a game you don't own, plan to play, or are playing. That said, it's not unheard of.

I tend to buy RPGs because I like the setting, genre or premise of the game. So my shelves are flled with L5R, Pendragon, Qin, Star Wars and Cyberpunk. There's a large section of D&D books as well, but that's mostly because the game is designed like a CCG. It is made to draw you in and encourage you to purchase more stuff. And I was suckered by it for a while.

2011-02-09, 10:56 AM
Oh yeah. Rules are a consideration, but hardly the only one. Fascinating setting is a solid reason. Good art at least helps attract initial attention.

Lotsa reasons to buy RPGs.

2011-02-09, 12:33 PM
I've bought a number of indie games just to support their creators, even though I've never been able to get a group together to play them. And I bought the 4e Gamma World because of my deep and abiding love for the setting, although it's looking like it's another one going on the "I'll never play this" pile.

And I bought a couple of games that were recommended to me as being good for kids to play, although that might count as "rules".

2011-02-09, 01:04 PM
I too have Qin. I didn't think anyone else had bought it.

I think a lot of people have this feeling.

2011-02-09, 01:24 PM
Anything with Dragons in it. Seriously, I don't know why I can't resist those books.