One of the little things I did for The Lurker in the Limelight was create a short orientation brochure for new employees of Ghostbusters International. I used it as a way to get a laugh at the start of the game, help give the players some useful lingo and an idea of how a bust goes down.
A glossary and breakdown of the ghost classification system give them some lingo to throw around without feeling they’ve been spoon fed, plus they have something to refer back to. The meat of the piece, six and a half steps to finding and busting a ghost, not only give the players an idea of not only how the action will go down, but also the nature of their characters’ employer, through the cheesy corporate doubletalk, as well as some helpful game mechanics tips.
I ran across the idea of an explanatory pamphlet many moons ago, on RPG.net. Someone linked to a brochure they’d written for their Nobilis game, entitled “So You’ve Been Ennobled.” It was a quick primer introducing a newcomer to the Nobilis cosmos, in the guise of someone explaining how things work to a newly ennobled Power. It was also very clever, and I was taken by the idea.
Another game that would benefit from a prop like this would be Paranoia. There are already props like printable table tents to help troubleshooters identify team members like the leader, morale officer and hygiene officer. A “Welcome to Alpha Complex, Citizen!” pamphlet would be a hoot, as well as helping newcomers get past the barrage of lingo and newspeak that too often serves as a barrier to getting what’s fun about the game.
Making a pamphlet is easy with a little word processor fu. First I tried screwing around with premade tri-fold brochure templates for Open Office, but decided that they weren’t very good and not the worth the effort. Here’s the quick and dirty way:
- In your word processor of choice, open a new document.
- Change the page orientation from portrait to landscape.
- Decrease the page margins from the default to about .25″.
- Divide the page into three columns.
- Write your content.
- Each column is one of the brochure’s six panes, since you’ll print it double-sided. Here’s a quick guide to what goes where. The listing runs in reverse to the lettering in the diagram to the right.
- A is the cover of the brochure. Put your title and any enticing graphics you may have on this pane.
- B is the rear pane. When it’s all folded up, this will be, essentially, your brochure’s back cover. Typical elements include contact information, design or writing credits — depending on what the brochure’s intended to communicate — or maybe an advertisement or parting message from the writer.
- C is the pane to be revealed when the cover is opened. You could put something splashy or surprising here to catch the reader’s attention.
- D is the final pane in the FED sequence and probably last to be read, since the right flap must be unfolded to see it.
- E is the middle pane of the inner page and probably the first seen when the right flap is opened.
- F is the leftmost pane of the inner page and should be the starting place for the meaty information that will carry on to the E and D panes.
- Print the first page of the brochure. Insert the same page back into your printer’s feed tray, only flipped over so the next page prints on the blank side. Make sure you’ve got the paper oriented so the top and bottom of both sides match. Print the second page of the brochure.
- Fold the brochure into thirds. Looking at the inner page, with the F, E and D panels, fold the corners of D over to cover the E pane. Then fold the corners of F over to align with the right hand set of corners.
- Congratulations! You’ve made a brochure!