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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Unofficial Poll - Artwork Behind Your Text in RPG Purchases or "Plain Vanilla"?

Simple poll.

Simple answers, unless you want to explain your choice.

Do you like artwork behind your text in the RPG products you buy, or "plain vanilla"?

One random commenter will get an as yet undecided prize from The Tavern's prize closet.

68 comments:

  1. Definitely plain vanilla. Art, watermark, design elements, etc. should never be behind the text IMO.

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  2. B&W, two column. Like God and Gygax intended.

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  3. Plain vanilla...unless the image is a parchment effect to give the text a specific feel. Blocks of text should not be over the top of pictorial imagery or maps, it generally looks too busy.

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  4. I don't mind it as much in print, but in PDF form keep that crazy textured background out please. I don't need a 100MB+ PDF for a 100 page book.

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  5. I have two answers:

    Book: So long as the artwork does not obscure the text. The text is more important than a pretty drawing.

    PDF: B&W text only, please. Maybe some artwork here and there, but never "behind" the text. I also love folks that make two PDF versions. One for printing (B&W only, low-res, etc.) and one for viewing on the screen.

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  6. Both, as long as I can choose which layers I want to see/there's another pdf with plain vanilla.

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  7. Black and white in the margins? Great. The adventurers sequence in the DMG is still one of my all time favorites.

    Color plates? Fine.

    Any kind of artwork behind the text? No thank you.

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  8. black and white, line art for the most part. and a seperate pdf file for the quickreferance sheet character sheet

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  9. Plain vanilla. No artwork behind body copy, but I've seen graphical elements (not _artwork_ per se) behind table header text that looks good.

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  10. Plain vanilla. No artwork behind body copy, but I've seen graphical elements (not _artwork_ per se) behind table header text that looks good.

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  11. Stuff behind is okay, so long as it is not competing with the text.

    The trouble seems to come along when someone wants to you see the details in the art behind the text, which is the wrong idea altogether. If I *need* to see it, then it has to stand alone. If it's basically 'texture', I'm okay with it.

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  12. Nothing behind the tex, please. Plain vanilla.

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  13. Black and white. Best for my eyes. Best for my ink budget.

    - Ark

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  14. Plain vanilla with easy to read type face.

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  15. Either is fine. If I had to choose though, I'd go with art. More for my money. Doesn't bother my reading either way, though.

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  16. I've been reading a lot of early Forgotten Realms lately. It makes me love plain vanilla.

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  17. Plain and readable text. Art can go in the margins.

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  18. I prefer French Vanilla actually. I do prefer the 'Printer Friendly' version some publishers offer.
    But since I do all my printing at an office supply store, the cartridge burning artwork isn't really an issue unless it obscures the text. The parchment textures are very annoying as they tend to print out as a gray tone which is unhelpful practically and aesthetically.

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  19. Plain and readable. Normal two or three column formating. No stupid insert art. No "cool ass fonts that invoke the setting or that you sister-in-law designed", because if you need a font to invoke your setting, your setting blows anyways.

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  20. Plain vanilla. Cranky old man wants to be able to read it.

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  21. Plain vanilla unencrypted single-layer* pdf, preferable as a dedicated screen or tablet version (with appropriate size constraints for the device you read it on. Good hyperlinking optional, but always welcome.

    [* Even if you allow multiple layers that can be switched off, they still occupy memory space in almost every reader I know of - which is still a render overhead.]

    [My ideal is actually an adaptive electronic book that can vary in its effective configuration depending on how it is used. So you could read it linearly (as a normal book) or collapse it into a more convenient tree structure, perhaps referenced off the player's character sheet. I never got over the utility of the old Apple Hypercard stacks for this sort of thing. After all, one of the advantages of electronic publication is that you can readily escape the confines of page size or order constraints. And yes, at the moment, until someone builds an extension to Adobe that allow you to do this automagically, it is definitely pie in the sky.]

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  22. Plain text is far more functional. I cannot imagine art nice enough to make it worth the cost in reading and printing

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  23. Simple Answer: It varies.

    Plain and reasonable should always be an option, but if it makes the book look nicer without screwing up how legible the text is then I'm all for it.

    I rather liked the pages in D&D 3.0 that had the sort of "pseudo-journal" lines occasionally under words in blue or the red edges to the pages. I like Pathfinder's current source book set-up as far as under-text graphics are concerned. But those are more akin to textures or at least trying to make it look as though it were printed on fancy old paper. Always looks better in physical than on PDF too.

    But then you get crap like how Outbreak: Undead set-up their book or the distraction of Numenera's backgrounds; and it just degrades the work.

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  24. Vanilla, allows smoother reading and overall enjoyment.

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  25. Vanilla is easier on the eyes and easier on the printer (for PDF products). A general texture that is more or less uniform across a page (e.g. to evoke the feel of reading from ancient vellum) is usually fine, but an actual image is rarely a good idea.

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  26. PDF: only allow background as a layer toggle
    Print: not a big fan of, but it doesn't influence my purchasing decisions

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  27. As much as I prefer vanilla and loathe the alternative, I am still surprised how many people feel the same way. Does any marketing research at all weigh into one's decision to obscure text with a crap mist of art?

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  28. By and large I'd rather not have it, but used judiciously I think it can be good-- the 3.x core rulebooks had a thematic sketch in the background of the first page of every chapter and I found them pleasing without being too distracting.

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  29. white space please -more like text book less like over designed cofee book

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  30. I've seen a very few things that have images behind the text that are still comfortably readable. I'm all for vanilla.

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  31. Plain vanilla. Uncolored background, black text, simple two column layout with occasional art to break up text walls.

    I realize that companies like WotC seem to believe that the complex layouts and watermark art make them seem more "professional", but to me it just looks like amateurs trying to look like they've done enough to be perceived as more professional than they are. Roleplaying manuals are practical tools, not display objects.

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    1. "...to me it just looks like amateurs trying to look like they've done enough to be perceived as more professional than they are."

      Yep. And the poor writing quality on most tarted-up books usually confirms this.

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  32. For PDF? Plain vanilla. For print, however, I actually prefer the background art UNLESS it makes it less readable.

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  33. I like the background art, as long as it is subitle enough to not obscure the text.

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  34. I'd prefer to have the fancy stuff around the edges, never behind the text.

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  35. I don't mind it per se but I would love to see it be a removable option for pdf users - especially those who want to print from what they've paid hard-earned cash for.

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  36. Plain Vanilla, images do not belong behind text.

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  37. Whatever works when I print the .pdf... which most of the time means plain vanilla.

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  38. Any PDF ought to provide the "jazzed up" version with a printer-friendly PDF. However, any PDF with background art should get vetted first, and preferably by more than the author or artist's family members. Pick a few people with good eyes and a few with bad eyesight if possible, make sure it works as intended (aesthetics, presumably) and not as an obstruction to enjoying the book. Too many graphic designers out there don't realize that their young, spry eyes are the exception to the rule in this hobby.

    TL;DR: plain vanilla if you can't do it right.

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  39. I prefer the text wrapping around the picture.

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  40. I prefer plain vanilla for on-screen reading (tablet or desktop) and printing. Save the fancy backgrounds for professionally printed and bound volumes where the paperweight and/or glossiness is more amenable to it.

    But it's possible to do both if the designers really want to do so. The background images should be in a layer that can be turned off for printing--on the Mac, this only works if using Adobe Reader, not the built-in Preview app. Øone Games does this for many of their blueprints, and I've seen it in some Pathfinder PDFs, too. Does Raggi use layers? I think he has in the past.

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  41. Plain vanilla. After the sanity-rending mess of Call of Cthulhu 6th edition, I won't even consider buying a book with watermarked art behind the text.

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  42. As some in my circles are fond of saying: Read the black, do the red. (Red being whatever gestures/actions might accompany the words.) Please give me vanilla.

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  43. Vanilla. I have ADHD as it is and I don't need any more obstacles to slogging through someone's cliched flavor text or mind-numbing rules minutiae.

    DCC rulebook basically did it right. DCC RPG FOREVER.

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  44. Vanilla. There's a place for artwork...and it isn't underneath the test I'm trying to read...

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  45. I HATE elaborate watermarks and artwork behind the text. Just give me plain readable pages please.

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  46. Plain Vanilla with Black and White spot illos only. When I put together Five by Five ver. 2, I put a watermark behind the text and went with all color illustrations because I thought that is what needed to be done to make it look "professional" and I hated it. I wonder how many other publishers independent or otherwise end up doing that crap just because they think they are "supposed" to.

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  47. Gimme vanilla, with the rare exception of maybe a chapter splash page with light background art in a color print product...but only a COLOR, PRINT product.

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  48. Plane vanilla. The backing art/lines in the third edition D&D PHB made it almost unreadable. One of the major reasons I never bothered with that edition.

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  49. Plain vanilla. It's a tool for play, not a status symbol or focus of worship.

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  50. I'm going to keep this open for comments until Friday night, at which point I'll tally up as best I can and award two random commenters a $5 RPGNow GC each.

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  51. Ok, so this is my opinion... Plain vanilla! :)

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  52. plain vanilla text but Sergio arogones style art in the margins and along the footer is encouraged :)

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