“Control Panel” Page Layout in the OSR

More and more books in the OSR have been making layout and information design a priority, in particular the “control panel” format that puts all of the relevant information from a single topic on a single page (or two page spread). It’s a term I first used on my video review of B/X essentials, but it seems to have hit a chord. Visuals often take priority, with flowcharts and diagrams replacing traditional text, in order to facilitate faster absorption of the information. I’ve put a bunch of examples below.

It got me wondering whether you could make an entire RPG in the form of cardstock handouts, somewhere between A4 and A5 sized. Player wants to play a wizard? Hand him the card with the magic rules and the card with the spell list. Going exploring on hex C12? The DM pulls out the card for that hex and places it behind the screen. Going shopping and need to see what goods are available at a high-end potion shop? Pull out that card and put it in the middle of the table.damagetable_design Dg32VG0U8AAXuhO flowchart_design strikepoints

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2 Comments

  • VC

    November 24, 2018 at 10:51 PM Reply

    I’ve been working on exactly this. Each class doesn’t need to know the rules for all classes jus their own. The wizard’s fighting rules are very simple, but the warrior has more skills to charge and evade. The rules for dungeon crawling procedure are one sheet and the rules for wilderness exploration, politicking, or resting/camping are all separate. Player facing rules also have light advice—what tips on how to explore a dungeon? Why is wasting too much time or fighting monsters head on bad? Rules can be learned as you go this way.

    The GM book would be AD&D style for GM eyes only—tables for everything. Or a binder of large cards. One sheet for encounters. One for combat. One for dungeon procedures—from the GM side.

    Why do RPGs need to be single volume books anyway? I love DCC for example, but why should I have to carry the whole thing with me if I’m just a player cleric?

  • Trentin C Bergeron

    November 25, 2018 at 10:47 PM Reply

    What game is that first example from? I’m intrigued…

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