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Philo Pharynx

Absolutely! Make it readible. There's lots of design elements that you can use without messing with usability. Spend the time proofing it, indexing it, and hyperlinking your PDF.

One thing I have seen more often is that sometimes the PDF versions of overly designed books have a "printable copy". When they have them, I always use that copy because they usually get rid of the shaded backgrounds.


AD&D 1e DMG was the greatest RPG book published, for just these reasons! Great reference material still useful 34 years after I bought it!

Greg Gorgonmilk

Totally agree. In particular, 3rd Edition D&D was a horribly gaudy, bejeweled and hideous example of design that deserves gasoline and fire.


All of your points are exactly why the AD&D 2nd Edition core books are my go-to example for excellent rulebook layouts.


Third edition rulebooks were just horrid for the eyes.
And I couldn't avoid the nagging feeling that they expected me to pay 45 Euros just for the glossy paper…


While a lot of people would want to disagree on principle because they hate the system, the 4th Edition D&D books did a great job with their page layout.

Lowell Francis

Would you name some recent layouts you like? I'm curious about who you think's doing a good job.


A lot of people tend to confuse "crowded, lots of colors and images, and unusual" for "good design."