This is more graphic design than game design, but does anyone have any resources for creating a visually appealing document for game rules? My method has been to use google docs, create a 12x12 table, and merge cells creatively; but that method is both limited and exhausting. Any tips or links?
Are you looking for publishing software or just something to clean up files for homebrew?
Adobe InDesign is kind of the standard, but of course like all adobe software nowadays it’s behind a subscription. I’ve recently started using Affinity Publisher, and it’s just as functional except you only have to pay once.
If you’re looking for a free method of generating good-looking files, I do a lot of my initial notes in Typora – it’s a markdown editor that’ll output to PDF.
Affinity is also only $50 or so compared to InDesign’s $20 a month…
If you have A Microsoft Office Suite check to see if it includes Publisher - it’s not as nice or as functional as Affinity or InDesign, but it might be bundled with your word and it’s quite intuitive for basic layout stuff.
Using layout programs have a high initial learning threshold. The easiest way to get over it is to attend a course. If you do that, you probably learn typography as well, which is actually more important than learning the program. You can’t learn it from just looking at and copying books, where I think most American roleplaying games have sloppy typography.
You should always write in a text editor, like Word och Google Doc, and then export it to a layout program.
My suggestion—if you don’t want to dive deep inside the knowledge of handling publishing softwares—is actually to use some sort of CV template and go from there. There are probably even online templates for publishing - I haven’t tried it myself.
I use Pageplus, personally, and have since version X8. It’s not as flashy or deep as some of the other options, but as others pointed out barrier of entry is important - I found that I could pick up pageplus remarkably easily, with no prior knowledge of design. I’m certainly no master, but I have had positive comments from others (of course, having artists on board helps a lot there too).
Not so much software, but I have found The Non-Designer’s Design Book to be a quick and easy read that helped me get basic layout looking so much better.
this may be only half-helpful, but Natural Crit’s Homebrewery - https://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/ - makes you look a 5e sort of good.
I wrote an article about how to set up an appealing layout called Layout and the Grid.
For programs, I recommend Affinity. It’s $50 and can do want you want, and it scales into professional work if you ever have the inclination. Avoid programs that make it hard to take your work somewhere else or want you to print/publish through them.
Rickard’s advice is the best advice. Learn basic typography. Write in a word processor to save your sanity. Download a template and modify it to your needs.
Make creative decisions one thing at a time and borrow the other 90% from others.
Rickard, I didn’t realize you were the author of that typography primer, but I want to take this opportunity to thank you! It’s such a great resource, I have it printed out and folded inside my copy of Bringhurst’s Elements of Typographic Style.