I'm setting up a Flat Black
videoconference game, and it is proving to require more spadework than I expected. Extensive discussions are going to be required about what exactly the PCs are expected to do, and those must be postponed a while because of health and scheduling constraints. In the mean time I’m back at my keyboard.
Two of the future players have been playing in my Flat Black
games since 1988 and 1996. The third has indicated that he does not want to start cold with a skeletal briefing and learn the setting from indirect and piecemeal exposition, but would like a substantial introduction. I ought to write one anyway, so it's good that I'm being spurred to action. So that’s what I’m working on now. I’m writing an introduction to Flat Black
with a very specific audience in mind.
The Audience indicated that he would prefer a brief consisting of about 5–10 pages. I hope he means to suggest pages of GURPS
layout and typesetting, which come to about 840 words to the page of text, because that gives me a budget of 8,400 words, and I’m one of those writers who feels that anything worth saying takes five thousand words.
Back in the day when I had excellent close vision and a very tight printing budget I used to circulate material to my RP gaming mates in closely-set 9.6-point, 8.4-point, and even 7.2-point type. I’ve got a handout here from 1991 that runs to 63 pages at 1,116 worlds per page*. My habit nowadays is to use 12-point Times on a 16-point leading, in two columns ragged right without hyphenation. With 19-mm margins left, right and bottom, and 25 mm for top margin and header, I get about 590 words to the page, and an 8,400-word limit will lay out as fourteen pages. If the Audience comes the ugly I will re-set in 10-point Times on a 14-point leading and turn on automatic hyphenation. 810 worlds to the page! Read them and weep!
So my word-count budget (aiming for twelve pages of 12-point Times) is as follows:
- Page 1
- Genre, a scant half-column
- Astrography, an ample half-column
- History, one column
- Pp. 2–3
- Pp. 4–5
- Two pages on The Colonies
- Pp. 6–7
- One column on interstellar travel.
- Three columns on the Empire
- Page 8
- One column on Other Interstellar Organisations
- One column on miscellaneous minutiae—money, languages, religions….
- Pp. 9–14
- Thumbnail sketches of 24 colonies at four per page.
* I wrote most of it in four days during a bout of hypomania.