I offer this ingenious idea to anyone for free.
(I also posted it to Analog RPGers on Tribe.net and RPG Creatores on Tribe.net)
ANYWAY, here's the gist of the idea:
Game Designers release CD's w/'core rules' + splats. CD contains character sheets, NPC generator(s), and maybe some nerdy tools like die rollers or whatever. People use CD to print customized books, and don't gain access to rest of the material.
GM buys CD and prints up the 'GM rulebook', adding or removing optional rules as they like. They can post their 'game settings' online if they want, maybe even on the game's forum site. (The settings could be an .xml file that anyone could see through if they want.)
Gamers use the 'player' CD to generate their character. The CD helps the player 'build a book' that includes everything their character needs, nothing they don't need, and contains the GM mods, and they can print the book out -- and send a 'config' file to the GM so they can see what the character is.
Players also can print 'future' sections for their characters by listing some areas they'd like to grow and see the options for those paths.
(Game Creators could pool their resources to make this framework for this 'game printing' kit. If it's standardized, it'd be easier for designers & more fun for players, IMHO. Maybe make it 'open-source' and have some programmers make it for free, if you can coerce enough prog'ers.)
** THIS REVOLUTIONARY IDEA will cut down paper waste, gameshops being flooded w/unneeded splat books, and make games cheaper for gamers **
A few additional thoughts:
If player or GM wanted a sexy hardbound book, they can send their config file to the publisher and pay the $40 or so to have it printed & bound.
Players might not know what a 'mysterious' character (or object) could do, b/c THE RULES WOULD NOT BE IN THEIR HANDS. Only the GM & the applicable character would know what their options were. Imagine a fantasy game where only GM & magic player know how spells are cast, or psi characters and GM only know the available psi powers. The 'oooh' and 'aaaah' are immediately back! (Same goes w/Magic Items, Cyber Gear, mutations, superpowers, etc etc) The same concept is applicable to NPCs & monsters as well.
The RPG CD can come in a hardbound (or just nice quality) quick ref sheet or GM screen, & has sample PCs & NPCs & monsters or background flavor, so the new gamer can appreciate what's being offered.
The printing companies could lose in profits -- but their production costs would drop like rocks. Their net profit might be higher if they have more volume, b/c CD's could be released for $10 or less -- for an entire game. The printouts could still have beautiful art imbedded, so the quality could still be high.
Game upgrades, a la D&D 3.5 (which was infuriating to those like myself w/all 3.0 splat-books -- I stopped playing), would cost maybe $5 or $10 for the entire game.
Game updates could be posted online & added into game for a minor fee, like $1 or so.
** I give this idea to all of you and to the world. If you do it, give me a credit. :D -- rekz karz **