A new players' text for 'Flat Black'


As you may have seen, I have started writing a new description of Flat Black for the use of players.

As is my habit, I have been calling this document a “brief”, because I think of it as being like the brief that a solicitor assembles for a barrister to prepare him or her to try a case in court, or that an attorney presents to a judge as a written statement of his or her case. i.e. it contains the necessary information; it is succinct but complete. I am used to supplying players with “briefs” a couple of dozen pages long that will be the only document that they have to read to play a character in the setting described (though they may consult a separate gazetteer of encyclopaedia for details).

This is evidently a confusing usage, not widely understood outside the profession of law. I ought to abandon it. @RogerBW and @DrBob expect a document described as a “brief” to be an epitome or abridgement that is read as preliminary exercise to studying the actual contents.

So. The project in hand is to write a players’ document for Flat Black. I have in mind that it might be 36 to 48 pages long (21,000 to 28,000 words) and require an abstract. It may eventually be supplemented by reference documents, but basically it ought to be the “core book” for players: the text that they own or borrow, skim, refer to, perhaps study, and maybe (if they become fans¹) master.

“Brief” is the wrong word for this work. What should I call it? “Players’ Handbook”? “Players’ Manual”? “Players’ Guide”? “Setting Reference Document”?


I’ve been thinking of the first (small) document as a Players’ Introduction. This might be more of a Players’ Reference.

If I were doing it - and I realise that I’m not, this is your project - I might start each section with something like “History. For more detail, see the Big Book of History. But in brief…”


The first (small) document is the Introduction to (i.e first page of) the players’ book.

I’ve tried that, using on-line documents with hyperlinks. The problem is that I get writer’s block working on any project that has no end in sight.


Fair enough; I meant that, if you were writing more, you’d have somewhere to put it.


Less is more.

… except when there is a minimum limit on the length of messages.


When I hand out a similar document I call it “campaign protocols.”


At work we used to call this sort of thing a “Report”.

Perhaps “Players’ File”.

“Players’ Reference and Guide”?


Guide to the Flat Black Universe”?

Flat Black Handbook”?


“So You’ve Just Arrived From a Parallel Dimension”. :slight_smile:

I think “Players’ Guide to the Universe” would make it clear what was going on.


The plan of the work is starting to look like this:

  1. Introduction
  2. Abstract
  3. Technology
  4. Interstellar transportation
    • Cargo
    • Passengers
    • The Demi-Monde
  5. The Colonies
    • Astrography
    • Diverse origins
    • Habitable planets & moons
      • Size, density, & gravity
      • The colour & brightness of sunlight
      • Surface temperature
      • Atmospheric composition & pressure
      • Oceans
      • Daylength
    • Human population
    • Economy
      • Level of economic development
      • Mode of production
      • Prosperity, wealth, & inequality
      • Participation in interstellar trade
      • Spaceport facilities
    • Settlement structure
    • Social structure
      • Families & households
      • Firms & workplaces
      • Social groups & third places
      • Stratification & social mobility
    • Manners, customs, & culture
    • Government & legislation
    • Law enforcement, penalties, & the judiciary
    • Orbital habitats & the limits of colonial sovereignty
  6. The Empire
  7. Interstellar firms & NGOs
  8. Intelligent Aliens
  9. Campaigns, adventures, & player characters