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My original question was too broad, so I hope this is a better question for what I'm looking for.

What is the absolutely necessary information for a setting book to have to be published as a complete system-based setting for a roleplaying game, and be useable by a gamemaster who only wants to buy this book and the rules?

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closed as too broad by Wibbs, SevenSidedDie, KRyan, Miniman, Joshua Aslan Smith Dec 12 '14 at 0:01

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Although not enough for an answer in and of itself, I think you've left out "important contemporary people". Current rulers, adventurers of note, famous wizards, that sort of thing. They will need stats if your players stand a good chance of needing to interact with them. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandalfoot Dec 11 '14 at 20:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately this is the sort of question that is best answered by the synthesis of survey results and business/writing requirements/taste. It can't be answered by a single authoritative answer written by an expert, only by a collection of feedback. That's the kind of question which doesn't work here in our Q&A format; though it's a fine question to ask, it is better asked on a forum where surveys and discussion do work. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 11 '14 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ For your crunch versus fluff part: make sure they're clearly delineated. I need to look up mechanics, I don't have time to dig through the fluff for my answer. For examples of what not to do, read any cWoD book. Great to read, terrible to run from. \$\endgroup\$ – Xander Dec 11 '14 at 23:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm afraid this edit of the question can't have a "best" non-opinion answer either. In a hobby that is about creatively building on ideas, there's no minimum (or maximum) amount of information for something to be "complete"—useful settings have been published as merely a map with some names on it, and some settings are still incomplete in thousands of pages of material. You can ask for opinions on a forum, or survey the industry's existing output to get an idea of best practices, but neither of those are things we do here. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 12 '14 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ My apologies for wasting your time, then. Is there a way I can delete this question or do you have to do that? \$\endgroup\$ – 13thSyndicate Dec 12 '14 at 20:12
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In terms of what you are missing, I think you're missing the most important thing. Ideas for how to actually use this stuff in a game. Setting books always seem to contain History/Geography/Sociology stuff like some sort of massive, confused textbook, and forget that at the end of the day, this content needs to be useful to actually running a game.

Provide as many story hooks, inspirations, setups, events, and situations that player characters could influence as you can. You don't have to turn them into "adventures" but each section of the book should contain a list of ideas for how this stuff is useful to a GAME, instead of just "Well gee, now I know how to conduct myself if I ever get invited to dinner at Count Vordario's Castle, and I can make dinner conversation about the causes of 143 month war."

Remember: This is for running games. Very few people care about the "history" of your world in any other context.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify, what you're suggesting is add tips and suggestions and ideas for different ways GMs and players could practically use the content to create games, adventures, and characters - make sure everything in the book could be used in or related to a game, and then show people how? Like, 'here's the shiny stuff, and here's why you should care', type thing? \$\endgroup\$ – 13thSyndicate Dec 11 '14 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, exactly; How would you suggest adding that to my answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Airk Dec 11 '14 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hm. I'm not entirely sure, as your answer did get it across clearly enough for me to make the necessary conclusion. I sometimes find it helpful to restate an answer that's given me, though, in order to make sure I wasn't missing some essential piece of information. I've been informed earlier though that this isn't the best place for my particular question, so, don't put yourself on the hook too badly for it, either. \$\endgroup\$ – 13thSyndicate Dec 11 '14 at 21:57
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In addition to giving the DM loads of hooks for creating adventures (as already suggested) also definately include a chapter on "Stuff a PC should know" that quickly brings new players up to date on the most important things that anyone living in your world should know.

Most people I know at least prefer to just jump into a world, and that means a combination of "here's how the world is different from others" and "here's a bunch of great ideas that are specific to this world" are a great way to get a feel for a world.

Also, in addition to describing key features and the most important buildings, also provide tips and information on how to quickly grind together something typical for that world (rather than something extraordinary)

For eaxmple; information on how to quickly determine the key structures in villages in different regions, tips on regional cultural behaviour, a quick breakdown of who worships what in which location, the kind of dungeons and other quests most commonly available in an area, perhaps a list of sayings and lore.

One of the things I most often miss when reading a new setting book is how, when the PCs come across Meaningless Hamlet #2 I can quickly make something that´s unique and tailored to that specific setting rather than something generic.

Likewise as a player, one of the hardest things is to come up with something that really makes your character a part of this world, and some helpful advice in that area would really help the immersion, I think.

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