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General Forge Forums => Independent Publishing => Topic started by: Kevin Vito on September 09, 2008, 12:46:29 PM

Title: Scrolls?
Post by: Kevin Vito on September 09, 2008, 12:46:29 PM
I don't plan on using this for my own game, but I wanted to just ask...

What sorts of hurdles would one run into if they published their game not in the form of a book, but in the form of a scroll that comes inside a plastic tube? (Or possibly a wooden tube for a special edition?)

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on September 09, 2008, 01:32:20 PM
I've been thinking on this as well at some idle moments. Could be quite cool. No concrete data, though, aside from the possibility of making your own scrolls by hand for a limited edition.

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Clyde L. Rhoer on September 09, 2008, 03:25:27 PM
I would try researching to find suppliers who service the Jewish community, as they use scrolls for their religious services. At least based on my small bit of knowledge gleaned from a cultural program I was involved in as a 6th grader. There might be solutions there.

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Seth M. Drebitko on September 11, 2008, 04:22:06 AM
  When trying to find info on scroll making I did find the site ( For about 8 dollars you can get one of their kits with the stuff to make scrolls in it. With the kit you could get a better idea of what materials you could use bulk order them and then hand bind them. They seem like they may possibly be a bit simpler to do than hand binding actual books. The only three problems I see are as follows:

1. The "book" will be awkward to read if it is long as one would have to scroll a bunch to fund a specific part.
2. It seems more likley to be damaged.
3. The materials will be more expensive, like silk paper.

  Cost wise I think this option might serve best as a special limited edition hand bound by yourself and then numbered. You could put say 100 out a year (or less) which would build peoples desire to obtain them before their gone for another entire year. What ever you decided it will surley prove interesting and I will keep my eye out for it.

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on September 15, 2008, 06:55:58 AM
Just to note, I have no solid data for you guys. Just wanted to pop in to say it has been done before, so presumably it is doable.

(about 7-8 years ago there was an indie circle which produced an RPG which came in PDF form, or in the form of three scrolls for something like $8.00 total for all three. This was in Japan, though. And while i have the PDFs floating around here somewhere, I've never been able to find them to ask where/how they did the scrolls).

I imagine if you contact a company in the west that can do poster prints (in other words, a huge plotter printer or something) there's a chance they can cut the paper into scrolls, but it's probably going to be expensive.


Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on September 15, 2008, 07:12:48 AM
I just did a lightning-quick search, no real investigation or anything.

In Japan, you can buy blank scrolls of varying quality. This one is a very nice scroll, at a size of 18cm by 273cm. That's an incredible amount of usable space, probably could fit an entire bible to that depending on how you write. The price is about $65 on sale. Smaller ones are $45-50.

Good luck!


Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on September 15, 2008, 12:08:09 PM
And sorry for the third post in a row, but I've been thinking here and there about, "What would a game in the form of a scroll *look like*? How would it be laid out?

It would take a ton of work, unless you just slap pages in order into the scroll (which takes away the point of writing it on the scroll).

But I'd like to see someone try it, in English anyway.


Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Valamir on September 16, 2008, 11:05:36 AM
We had actually, mostly jokingly, talked about doing a scroll format for Blood Red Sands.

We chose to bind the Ashcan along the top edge so we'd have that oversized vertical scroll look (complete with scroll graphics at the top and bottom).

This thread makes me wonder if perhaps a limited edition printing as a scroll would be doable...

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 16, 2008, 05:33:22 PM
Two thoughts ...

1. Dice tubes are standard items. If the production concept includes the possibility of a smaller format (as opposed to the ginormous two-handed "emperor's decree" scroll), then a tube about 8" long might be easy to bring into the design. I dunno about the document itself.

2. Wasn't there a pirate boardgame about six or eight years ago that came rolled-up in a tube - basically a cloth treasure map? I did some desultory searching but you can just imagine what you get when you type "pirate game" into a search engine. It was pretty high-end, though.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: David Artman on September 17, 2008, 08:09:38 AM
Printing and cutting: trivial, but likely expensive due to non-standard handling of the press output. But, yeah, most web presses could print a scroll 60" wide and, like, thousands of feet long.

Rolling: not so trivial. In fact, the printer is likely to want to just send you flats and let you do the rolling and tube stuffing.

Tube printing: trivial. Track down a press that does packaging.

Layout: Hmmm..... at first blush, I think a highly formal, linear-process game would work well. Something in which the need for rules references "advances" in a way that takes advantage of the roll-out/roll-up handling of a scroll. I'd favor a left-to-right orientation over a top-to-bottom, but that's just an instinct about ease of use at a table. Obviously, any game which is effectively memorized after first or second reading would work, too--very little or no reason to use the scroll for reference. And it could be, maybe, cool in a game which requires simultaneous reference--folks sitting side-by-side, to reference stuff at different stages of the scroll (frex: a script of some sort, where GM uses one ref and Player uses another, a bit further down the scroll).

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: Valamir on September 17, 2008, 01:39:31 PM
side to side scrolling would absolute be easier to read (and AFAIK actually more common than long vertical scrolls).

But at that point you just have individual pages bound side by side in a long ribbon instead of in a stack...which strikes me as not nearly radical enough to justify such a radical form factor.  Oh, you might get away with eliminating the margins and just have essentially a single page with 200 columns...but the experience I don't think would be dramatic enough to overcome the frustration of dealing with scrolls.  The vertical orientation would be even more frusutrating to deal with but the impact would I think be even greater yet...such that if there were an occassion where the experience and coolness factor would outway the annoying factor...that a vertical orientation would be more likely to achieve that...but even that's a pretty big maybe.  Scrolls are just really futzy to deal with.

Title: Re: Scrolls?
Post by: David Artman on September 23, 2008, 07:30:54 AM
I hear ya, Ralph--that's prolly why books replaced scrolls. :)

Another point or two, for shits and giggles:
* One must decide if the scroll will have sticks (or whatever they're called) and if it will have one or two. That would impact packaging and cost, but could go a LONG way towards evoking flavor.
* The practicality of a scroll might take a backseat to the aforementioned flavor, but it needn't in all cases--see my example above about dual-referencing, which would be easier with a scroll  if the reffed material is longer than two pages for each referee. Another idea I just had, for example, is a map of a ringworld (yeah, yeah, how often does one need THAT?).

In the end, though, without leveraging the long, linear, sharable nature of a scroll, you've just got a gimmick. A cool, evocative gimmick; but not something that "uses" the scrollness.

This makes me want to finish Of Gods and Men, as that form factor would suit it very well (it's a highly staged game, which would fit my "scripted" notion above--scroll to World Building, the God Building, then World Morphing, then Disciple Placement, etc...).