Current Work: Firefly RPG Layout

Current Work: Firefly RPG Layout


Client: Margaret Weis Productions

Project Scope: Book layout, layout assistance.

Project Description: A series of PDF and print books for roleplaying in the setting of the Firefly television series.

The Firefly Roleplaying Game project comprises two lines: the game core books and the Echoes of War series of adventures. The core books include the Gen Con (2013) Exclusive, the forthcoming Core Book (Spring 2014), and other elements. The Echoes of War line consists of twelve different adventures, a character and ship book, and some repackaging of material (for instance, the basic rules appear in all Echoes of War books).

On this project, I began work from the layout document created by Daniel Solis for the Gen Con Exclusive book. Here, I have taken that book’s layout and reverse engineered a template for use through the entire series. There is a lot of stuff with the new template: column spanning styles, sidebar specifications, and standardizing the statblocks/character pages. After Daniel does a first pass of layout with my template, the files are passed to me where I make copy edits, realign graphics, and adjust layout elements for consistency throughout the product. From that point on, I work on additional edits and changes to the document.




Dominion: a design doodle

Dominion: a design doodle

dominion villageOne of the many, many games I enjoy is Dominion, a deck-building game. In the game all the players start off with the same set of cards, with which they use to buy cards from a common supply to add to their deck. As their deck grows, interesting combinations can be made from playing cards that have effects that feed off of each other. Eventually, one of the scoring card stacks in the common supply (or three of the other stacks) will be depleted and whomever has the highest total of victory cards in their deck wins.

Dominion was originally published in 2008. A typical card, Village, appears to the right. It’s a nice little card: a decorative frame that can be color-coded to the card type. Here, it’s an Action card, as shown near the bottom. On either side is the cost for the card and a symbol for the game set. (That’s that castle graphic.) On that slate is what this card does when played: draw one card and play up to two more actions. There’s also a black frame around the card.

Me? I like card games that have art that bleeds off the edge of the card. King of Tokyo looks great. The Lord of the Rings‘ hero, enemy, and ally cards (Living Card Game) also are fantastic. Why not go for a look like that with Dominion?

king of tokyolotr card

So here, a design doodle for reimagining the Dominion cards.


During play, cards are typically fanned out in hand, but the information for what cards do is found in the text area. In order to find out what a card does, you have to actually look at the whole card in your hand. By incorporating icons in the upper left corner, when a hand of five cards is fanned out, a player can get an idea of each card’s effects. For Grain Mill, the card can allow the player to gain two coins and one card. The text of Grain Mill has the player gaining the two coins when the card is played. Additionally, if no other Action card has been played, the player can gain one card.

(The in-game effects of Grain Mill isn’t the purpose of this design exercise, however… This card would generate some income each turn and, if it is the only card in play, may allow the player to draw up an additional Treasure card. If the extra card isn’t Treasure, it helps to slowly grind through one’s deck.)

Forest Path is a Reaction card, so we’ve got the blue color coding from the existing game to reinforce this. Forest Path also has a bit of text (it’s taken mostly from Horse Traders). All Reaction cards seem to begin When another player plays an Attack card… We can get rid of all that text by using a Reaction keyword. I’d like to remove the Reaction keyword from the card type bar below and just use the keyword as the indicator, but there are probably some cards in the various expansions that refer to a Reaction card type. The Action card type is referred to quite a bit in the text of other cards, like my Grain Mill. Plus there are several combination cards: Action – Attack, Action – Treasure, Action – Victory, Action – Prize… That list just goes on.

The upper left corner, I want a banner that’s dropped into the artwork instead of the worn paper thing. That’s probably my next step. Also to be redone: replace the card icon with the card back artwork, a slightly different paper effect for the reaction card type, and a slight tweaking of the body font.

Illustrations for these come from Andree Wallin, used without permission. Some of Andree’s work can be found at Coin design taken from the Dominion board game.