- Text should be ideally be delivered as Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf).
- Extensive formatting is not required (this will be taken care of during final page layout) but some formatting for the sake of readability is appreciated: two columns, bolded section headings, larger section headings for higher-level sections (e.g. 30 point font for chapter name, 20 point for sections within a chapter, 15 point for sections within a section within a chapter, etc.).
- Do not tab at the beginning of paragraphs. (Tabs are for the beginning of list elements, see below).
- Use paragraph spacing (in MS Word, go to Format, Paragraph, Choose 6 for Before and 6 for After) so that each paragraph is separated by only one paragraph mark.
- All sentences should be separated by two spaces.
- All compilations of short items should be presented in an indented list. The format should be either: new line, tab, label in bold, dash, space, description beginning with a capital letter, OR: new line, tab, dash, description starting with a capitol letter.
Item 1– Description goes here.
Item 2– Description goes here.
Item 3– Description goes here.
-Description of item 1 goes here.
-Description of item 2 goes here.
-Description of item 3 goes here.
- When putting in a text box, simply say: “[Text Box:” then the text box title and text, then “]” at the end. Example:
[Text Box: Are People Stupid?
Yes. Yes, they are. ]
- Difficulties should list the name and then the number in parentheses, (e.g. “This would be a Hard (30) difficulty STH feat.”)
- When you are referencing a subject that hasn’t already been described, or has been described many pages back, insert a page reference, using “p.xx”, e.g. “for more, see Talon-Beasts,p.xx.”
- When referring to a hypothetical person, use “he or she.” Use “they” only when referring to multiple hypothetical people. Use “he” or “she” only when referring to a specific person. Examples:
They like to drink the blood of humans.
He goes to the opera every Tuesday.
The drinker of this fluid will find his or her skin turning jet black.
- Narration in the main body of the text should be passive, opinionless, characterless, neutral and use plain language. It should be told from the point of view of an outsider, not an insider, of the game setting. Slang should only be in quotes (e.g. ‘Only about 1 in 5 members of the group are true “world-fuckers.”’)
- Text boxes with quotes, fictional vignettes, letters, lyrics, and anything else from the “mouths” of game world characters, will give the ‘color’ that the regular narrative text lacks.
- Avoid long unbroken sections. Each paragraph should have no more than 4 or 5 sentences. Each section should have no more than 4 or 5 paragraphs. Each section should have a title that describes that section.
- Each section should be conceived of as a narrative describing a particular aspect of the game universe. Anything that doesn’t quite fit in with the current narrative should be put into a text box.
- Any section which is more than 1 or 2 paragraphs should begin with a text box that says “In Brief- “ and then has a 1 or 2 sentence summary of the section.
- It doesn’t matter if a sentence is technically correct; if someone has to read it over more than once to figure out what it means then it is not a good sentence.
- When describing multiple items, come up with a standard template and use it for each. E.g. when describing character classes each should have entries for In Brief, Favorable Stereotypes, Unfavorable Stereotypes, History, Lifestyle, Dark Side, Skill Costs, etc. Even if the entry only says “none” you should still have it for consistency’s sake,
- Rules should be followed by examples with named characters. Example text should be italicized. E.g. “The STH difficulty to lift something is equal to its weight in pounds, divided by 10. Example: Tim wants to lift the body of his injured comrade, who weights 180 lbs. Tim must make a STH +1d20 roll and beat 18 (180 divided by 10).”
- NPCs should be listed in text boxes, in the following format:
- Name (title, or short phrase describing what makes that person interesting). Example: Bob McKenzie (Leader of the Bam-Boozlers)
- Level (if applicable). Example: Level 5 Sociopath.
- Appearance (should be short, suitable for GMs to read to players during game play).
- Personality Metrics (specific to the game, for instance in Fates it’s Personal Ideals and Worldviews, in Tibet it’s attachments, etc.).
- Social Status
- Motivations (it’s okay to leave this out if it’s redundant with personality)
- Methods (how the NPC gets things done)
- Special Skills (no need to list every skill, just the ones that would probably be important when PCs deal with this NPC)
- Special Equipment
- Special Abilities (any special powers)
- Typical Action (give the full computation and the simplified version, e.g. “Will strike with his club at STH (15) + AGY (15) +5 (skill) +1d20 vs. 25 (or 1d20 +10 vs. 0), doing 3 blunt damage if successful.”)
- Typical Reaction
- Adventures should generally have:
- Synopsis (one paragraph, describe the adventure in brief to GMs)
- Character Introductions (how to get PCs involved in the adventure)
- Sections detailing each of the places, encounters, problems, mysteries, etc. that players might encounter.
- NPC writeups for every significant NPC.
- Possible Solutions (a discussion of some of the ways PCs might solve the problems encountered in the adventure, and what the aftermath of different solutions might be).
- An XP sheet showing XP specific to the adventure (e.g. “Kill the lion, or otherwise render it harmless: +5 XP”).
- Each game should generally have:
- A one or two page introduction geared for first time players.
- Other introductory materials.
- A character creation chapter.
- A rules chapter.
- A chapter describing the game world for players.
- A chapter for GMs, describing and giving advice about the type of adventures that might be run, and giving in depth info on various dangers/threats to PCs and detailing any “game world secrets” not included in the chapter for players.
- Two introductory adventures.
- Appendices with stuff like maps, glossaries, etc.
- Realism. Although Vajra games often start with a fantastic premise, they proceed by asking “if that were premise were true, what would the logical consequences be?” All game material takes as it’s first and foremost goal to be as realistic as possible.
- Research: Similarly, whenever possible we base everything in the game setting on research into the real world. For instance, if a setting has a group of high-tech-skateboarders, we would want to look into the history and culture of real-world skateboarders. We believe that reality is often more interesting than anything writers can make up.
- Adult Audiences: Our games are marketed to adults, so there is no need to self-censor any references to sex, drugs, violence, religion, politics, etc. There is also no need to spend excessive time teaching people how to play a role playing game (we assume our audiences already know or can find out elsewhere).
- Dark: We don’t go for the gross, scary or disturbing purely for shock value. However, there are a lot of topics that have not been thoroughly explored elsewhere because some people might find them “disturbing.” We try to explore those topics thoroughly.
- Hope: Although typically dark, all of our settings offer some glimmer of hope, no matter how small, that the PCs can actually make things better for themselves or the world.
- Underdog Heroes: We are bored with heroes that are rich, handsome, beloved and supported wholeheartedly by the government. Instead, we prefer heroes that from the underside of humanity: criminals, heretics, rebels, street punks, homeless people, the mentally ill, sexual deviants, political radicals, etc.
- Thorough Analysis: A setting can be limited in scope (in fact, this is preferred) but it should be considered from all angles: every group and minority, no matter how small, and their viewpoint and history, should be discussed. Similarly, every character creation option should be given to players, not just those we think they would want.
- Low Power: Heroes generally have greater-than-human abilities, but we avoid comic-book-superhero or god-like levels of power for heroes. We want characters to be powerful enough to do interesting things, but not so powerful that whether the PCs live or die might not hinge on a PC thinking of a clever use of a piece of duct tape.