FGG Style Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
|The following Style Guide is “adapted” from the internal Style Guide we give to our freelancers. At times it will refer to you possibly as writing for Fat Goblin Games. We attempted to adjust the language in most places, but this document in no way is a contract or obligation by yourselves or Fat Goblin Games to work with one another. It is offered as a public good to the RPG industry, especially to help small Third Party Publishers (3PP) of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game published by Paizo Publishing. 3PP should feel free to copy, then modify, and otherwise use this document as they see fit to create their own company-specific Style Guide. A downloadable version of this document can be found via this link here.
A reference to a Line Developer (LD) would be a content editor that works on a specific line of books, making sure they are consistent from author to author (for more of a Lexicon for the Tabletop RPG Industry, see this blog post available in this link). This specific version is adapted from our former Goblin Army, and just know that when we refer to the Fat Goblin Hoarde, we are affectionately referring to our own freelancers.
An additional note: We use very specific formatting marks like [H1] for “Header 1,” in this document. That is a case of us trying to “show, don’t tell” how to properly format — at least as far as we (FGG) are concerned.
[H1]Fat Goblin Games Style Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game[/H1]
Welcome to the Fat Goblin Games Style Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (FGG Style Guide for PFRPG) . As needed, we will endeavour update this Style Guide with added rules, techniques, and directions that we have received from feedback and industry sources.
At FGG we firmly believe that our writers and developers are the foundation for our success. We are not going to tell you how to write. We are going to trust that you know how to put together a sentence, figure out a Challenge Rating, create a feat, and otherwise ply your trade from thought to paper. If we don’t think you are “hitting the mark” we are quite likely to point it out, suggest how to change it, and improve your product to meet the standards we at Fat Goblin Games hold.
Every industry has standards, and ours is no different. As the “Pathfinder Edition” of this Style Guide, in general, you can assume Paizo Publishing and their Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products set an industry-wide standard, which we intend to meet or beat with our own. Similar standards exist for other game systems, for instance Wizard of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons, and internally we offer the Fat Goblin Hoarde supplements which include what we can about those. There are for instance specific ways that you write a feat, and specific rules that you follow when putting the prerequisites for that feat down on paper. It is important that you understand these rules and that you get them right the first time. That is what this document is for.
This is the style guide that tells you how things are formatted in two respects:
[Begin Bulleted List]
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: If you are writing for this particular game system, then these are the rules and formats you need to pay attention to. If you are writing for D&D, FATE, Savage Worlds or something else then ask for a style guide for that product. We may have one, we may not. We may only have addendums to this style guide, or a list of best practices.
- Templates: FGG has numerous individual lines of products. Many of these have an Outline or Template document that shows you how that line is laid out. We may share some of these documents in the future.
[/End Bulleted List]
[H1]Special Thank You to Owen KC Stephens[/H1]
We’d like to take a moment to thank Owen KC Stephens (of Paizo Publishing, Rogue Genius Games, Green Ronin Publishing, Rite Publishing, et. al.), and the other freelance writers for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that have taken the time to EXPLAIN the rules, the formats, and the other things that make it possible for us to write and format intelligently. Much of this document comes from them and without them, we would be writing in a vacuum.
[H1]Title Pages and Understanding This Document[/H1]
The next page of this document is a mock-up, with formatting marks (typically in brackets like [title] etc.), filler text, and other various comments referred to as “boilerplate text” that you need to include on any title page for a product by Fat Goblin Games. We’re including this so you can see how WE do it, but you of course would include your own information or that of the company you are working for.
Throughout this document you can see we “left the formatting marks in” — this is to aid you in seeing how to apply them to your own writing. There is of course variation in the industry, with for instance the original RGG Style Guide talking about there is no need for a hard line break (that blank line) between paragraphs, or no need for an ending annotation (the [/H#]). This is how WE do it, and it's also not hard to “remove’ them as needed, but it helps to do something like this as most companies prefer it (though every company has their own twists and bends).
The [Header] text are formatting marks.
Filler text is often color-coded, sometimes with examples and sometimes just XXX, specifically with filler as GREEN and then various explanations of what information should be included, or special circumstances of when such text should or shouldn’t be included, in a different color like PURPLE. The colors are done for YOUR benefit, but should be converted back to BLACK text when you submit a first draft.
Example: Editor: Editor’s Name <If someone edited/proofread include their name, if not/delete>
The bolded term “Editor:” should be left in your document, the person that edits your document should have their name added in black text where the green text is, and the purple text can be deleted once you know if this line should be added or not.
Throughout this document, a number of boilerplate examples like this may be presented. Feel free to copy/paste this text directly into your own document, but be sure to retain the font, font size, bolding, italics, etc. of each section. The sizes, styles, and even hyperlinks on this title page are the way they are for specific reasons, often legal due to the nature of the Open Gaming License.
Following the Mock Up of the Title Page, the text of this document is formatted as an example as well as continuing to explain how else to format your document. You make it easier on editors, publishers, and you as a writer, to do this right the first time, every time. We can take a rough draft to a final manuscript in a week here at FGG, but only with your help.
WE WANT TO SEE YOU PUBLISHED, so learn these guidelines so that we don’t have to teach them.
[Title]Title of Line: The Title of Your Book Goes Here[/Title]
Author: Your Name
Editor: Editor’s Name <If someone edited/proofread include their name, if not/delete>
Copy Editor: Copy Editor’s Name <If someone edited/proofread include their name, if not/delete>
Artist: Artist’s Name <If someone edited/proofread include their name, if not/delete>
Design and Layout: Designer’s Name <If someone edited/proofread include their name, if not/delete>
Special Thanks: Names of people you want to thank like beta readers, galley copy checkers, Patrons, Backers, etc. <this listing is completely optional>
Publisher: Publishing Company’s Name
Title of Line: Book Title Goes Here © 20XX Publishing Company’s Name
Compatibility with the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game requires the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game from Paizo Publishing, LLC. See http://paizo. com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game. Paizo, Publishing, LLC does not guarantee compatibility, and does not endorse the product.
Pathfinder is a registered trademark of Paizo Publishing, LLC, and the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game Compatibility Logo are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC, and are used under the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game Compatibility License. See http:// paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/compatibility for more information on the compatibility license.
Open Game Content: All material — including but not limited to art, place and character names, character and setting descriptions, background, and new class descriptions—is Product Identity. All other content is considered Open Game Content.
Reference in non-Open Game Content (thus not covered by the Open Game License) in this work to content owned by others is not a challenge to their ownership and is used under Fair Use.
About Publishing Company’s Name
Text about the company.
For any document that will end up being at least 26 pages final version (with Cover, OGL, etc., assume 12,500+ words) you have the option of making it a Print-on-Demand book for spaces like OneBookShelf (the parent company of DriveThruRPG and RPGNow), which will require a “Back Cover” that should include ad-copy for the book. Even for books shorter than this, you’ll have the need to make posts and various related “sales pitches” for what is included in said book, with the actual listing on sales sites, with Fb posts, forum posts on Paizo.com etc.
This section should include a Tagline, clearly labeled, and Back Cover Text, clearly labeled.
[Tagline]<insert suggested tagline here>[/Tagline]
Taglines are subtitles meant to be used in conjunction with the formal title. Famous movie taglines are things like “In space, no one can hear you scream” for the movie Alien, which makes it clear “this is a horror movie.
Example Taglines for Books
- "Pick up your Sword!"
- "It's time to get Crazy!"
- “Answer the Call!”
[H3]Back Cover Text[/H3]
This should be 250-300 words, broken up into at least two paragraphs at least. Can be taken from the product, also works for product write-up. Line developers should provide the description for the book line with a template.
Back Cover Text Paragraphs
1st Paragraph = Describes the product in as much detail as needed
2nd Paragraph = Describes the line of the book
Most books have introductory text. Whether or not that introduction has a Chapter Title varies by product. This text should be between 350 – 500 words. This text can be generic text discussing the product line itself, or a more personal introduction discussing that specific product. It can be a reprint of what is used for ad copy, if fitting, but this text should be specifically written with the assumption the read is looking at the book now.
Certain lines, like Call to Arms or Astonishing Races from Fat Goblin Games, have specific boilerplate text that is essentially form introductions for those products (this same basic text is also used and reprinted above as Back Cover Text).[H2]Normal Text Formatting[/H2]
First and foremost, if you know what “styles” in Microsoft Word or Google Doc are, create ALL TEXT in “Normal text” style. Titles, Subtitles, Headers, and all such things are manually entered and “accidentally” using styles can interfere with layout programs like InDesign.
Unless otherwise specified, ALL document should be in a single, consistent font. We at FGG default to Times New Roman, 12 point Font.
Do not double-space after a period in your document. If you naturally write this way, please Find/Replace all double spaces with single spaces. We no longer need to enter these double spaces because of how formatting in digital fonts vs. using a typewriter work.
All paragraphs should be single-spaced, with a space between paragraphs entered manually. See the example how the different paragraphs of this section are separated by a manually entered space, not automatic formatting. This is a Fat Goblin Games thing, other companies want no space, or space entered by formatting. Its very easy to do it other ways but Rick finds it aids in layout to have it manually entered.
Do not indent the start of a new paragraph, and never use “Tab” to do so. Every time you use “Tab” for an indention, your layout person has to manually undo it, and then apply the paragraph style. Indenting the start of new paragraphs is something InDesign or similar programs automates. Applying paragraph styles in various programs is something covered separately from this document.
The following is the way to format Headings, with formatting marks. In other guides, merely the [H#] mark is enough to denote it, but to aid your editors and layout people, we suggest you use something like the following. It works very well here at Fat Goblin Games, and it's easy to normalize text if needed.
Chapter titles should be Times New Roman, 24 point font, and bold. “Chapter Titles” here mean “Top Most Header” for all documents. Even in a short document, and if using only a single Header, default to that header being this style. All Chapter Titles need to be marked as above with [H1] and [/H1].
All Headings need to be marked as above with [H2] and [/H2]. Headings should be Times New Roman, 18 point font and bold.
All Sub-Headings need to be marked as above with [H3] and [/H3]. Sub-headings should be Times New Roman, 14 point font and bold.
In the event enough layers of heading are needed to be four styles deep, they should be Times New Roman, 12 point font, and bold. All Sub-Sub-Headings need to be marked as above with [H4] and [/H4].
If layers of headings deeper than 4 header styles is needed, you most likely either combining too much information under a single “Chapter Title” or you breaking it down too much. If it is absolutely unavoidable, talk with your your editors and layout people about how to format it. In all likelihood, you will adjust UP all formats, so that Chapter Titles become a 30 font size, etc.
[H2]Formatting Tables, Sidebars & Bulleted Lists[/H2]
The following are how to format tables, sidebars, and bullet lists.
When in doubt, alphabetize all lists. People like organization, and while others may be viable (like by price) alphabetization is a standard to go to when no other obvious method exists.
Never make a “table” in your document using the word processor, layout people have to strip them out manually and reformat it to use in InDesign and they often give difficulties transferring. When building a table you need to place a single “Tab” between each entry, and use “enter/return” to establish a new line on a “Table” as indicated below.
Most tables should have a title, bolded and most likely in 14 point, Times New Roman font to have it stand out from surrounding text. The first line all tables should always be the headings of the title’s columns, and that text should always be bolded and 12 point, Times New Roman font to have it stand out from the surrounding list. Additional formatting may be necessary, for instance putting all magic item names in italics, so be sure to check line specific templates for this information, compare similar lists to existing Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products, or talk to your editor/publisher.
Item Name Cost Weight
Sword 10 gp 4lbs.
Axe 5 sp 15lbs.
Knife 3 cp 1lbs.
Now, often these entries will not line up vertically — that is fine! When it comes to converting them to a Table, Rick will select the entire entry and apply a Table Design to them using InDesign’s software, and they will be pretty. Each “Tab” space between an entry is recognized as cell in a Row, every new line created from using enter/return creates a new Column. Occasionally, a tab can be entered between one entry and the next and it appears no space exists. Check that this is the case and otherwise leave it that way, It will all be fixed in layout.
If you want to “test” this kind of table making out for yourself, create a blank Excel or similar spreadsheet and copy-paste in your table. If you have all the pieces lined up correctly, it will automatically assign columns and rows etc.
All sidebars need to be tagged with appropriate format markings indicating both their start and finish in brackets. Ideally, so Rick is less likely to miss them, they should be BOLD and BLUE or otherwise tagged to be caught by him. All sidebars need a title, which should be bold and in Times New Roman 14 point font.
The text of your sidebar would go here. If a sidebar begins to run too long, it might just need to be another section. Ideally, a sidebar should never take up more than a full column of a two-column spread in the final PDF (standard final layout design for FGG). That means, typically, less than 500 words. Ideally a sidebar is significantly shorter than that.
Lists using bulletpoints need to be manually pulled out by Rick before layout, then inserted using in-program methods. As such, you can use bulletpoints in-document, but you also need to tag them as follows. Ideally, so Rick is less likely to miss them, they should be BOLD and BLUE or otherwise tagged to be caught by him.
Here is a block of text leading into and describing the forthcoming bulleted list.
[Begin Bulleted List]
- Thing in Bulletpoint 1
- Thing 1.a
- Thing 1.b
- Thing in Bulletpoint 2
- Thing in Bulletpoint 3
[/End Bulleted List]
[H1]OGC, the OGL, and Referencing Pathfinder Products & Content[/H1]
|ADDED DISCLAIMER: We are NOT lawyers, and you should keep in mind the Open Game License IS a legal document -- and if you are not sure, you should pay a professional to make sure you are in compliance.|
The following is mostly pulled directly from the Paizo Inc. Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License available online at http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/compatibility It is not required, but highly suggested you consider reading over that document. Common terms to know and use regarding the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game are the following:
3PP: Third-Party Publisher. If Paizo Publishing is the primary publisher of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (1PP), and if a company was ever specifically licensed by Paizo Publishing to release material for their own game was a secondary publisher (2PP), that makes the rest of us, releasing content under the OGL but not specifically for Paizo Publishing or their IP third-party publishers (3PP).
Exhibit B Book: Books released by Paizo Publishing for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that are included in their OGL. While all books published by Paizo Publishing are under the OGL, only Exhibit B books may be called out by name in text. As such, you could for instance use information (stats, mechanics, subsystems, etc.) from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: SuperCool Book on Stuff, but you can’t refer to that book in the text of your FGG book the way you could the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide.
IP: Intellectual Property. While the mechanics and even some of the “other text” from all Pathfinder Roleplaying Game books is technically OGC, any references to world-specific materials from any publisher, be they Paizo Publishing or a 3PP, like the names of characters, cities, countries, gods, societies, etc. are all “intellectual property” of that company. A common example of IP is how the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game has no official “beholder” creature because the beholder was retained as IP by Wizards of the Coast. Even as a freelance writer for a 3PP, creating world-neutral material, you should keep the nature of IP in mind as giving proper names to spells or magic items could make them IP of FGG and they would need to be “scrubbed” to be published on a site like d20pfsrd.com.
OGC: Open Game Content. This is material that has been released under the OGL, and thus is free to be used as written in any 3PP product.
OGL: The Open Game License originally referred to specifically the OGL v. 1.0a released by Wizards of the Coast for 3.5 edition, but Paizo Publishing has a slightly modified version that adds compatibility rules for releasing books under the Pathfinder OGL. This is a level of problem that is rarely yours to worry about.
|Liz Courts (support her Patreon) has a incredible tool that makes some of this section redundant. We recommend you read up on all these things BUT you use this to create your own OGL Section 15's. We recommend you do so.|
[H2]In-Text References to Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Books[/H2]
If you wish to reference sections of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or supplemental products in your product, you may do so in the following form:
See the "Elf Racial Traits" section in Chapter 3 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.
You may NOT use page numbers, as they may change in licensed translations and in subsequent printings. When referencing Exhibit B Books in-text, you MUST write out the full name of the book every time. Likewise, you MUST write out the full name of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game every time you want to reference it. You can not use shorthand like “Pathfinder” or “Pathfinder RPG” etc. by the OGL.
The Exhibit B: List of Products which May Be Referenced by Name
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bonus Bestiary
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 2
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 3
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Equipment
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: NPC Codex
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Mythic Adventures
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 4
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Monster Codex
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Pathfinder Unchained
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 5
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures
- Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Villain Codex
Open Gaming Content from other products may be used, but these are the only products that can be mentioned by name as an in-text reference.
Note: The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bonus Bestiary is included in Exhibit B, but you shouldn’t need to reference it anymore as all the monsters in it have been republished in later Bestiary books. The actual BB “might” make it into your OGL though if you reference a Bestiary as ALL the books in a book’s Section 15 that you included in any book you wrote will also need to be listed.
[H2]Exhibit C and Foreign Languages[/H2]
If the book you are writing is or will be published in any other languages, keep an eye on Exhibit C list, which is included below. The reason for this is the fourth paragraph of 5. Compatibility on the license:
If you want to publish in a language other than English, and we have published (or have licensed the rights to publish) the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game in that language, you must use the exact translations prepared for that foreign-language edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. In the case that the licensed translation has not yet been released, you must wait until the translation is released before you can release your product in that language. The list of currently licensed languages is provided as Exhibit C, which may be updated at any time.
So, if you want to publish in one of the following languages, you need to use that version of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game book. For any other language, you can’t release the product with a your own translation of the rules.
Exhibit C: List of Licensed Languages
- French (Black Book Editions)
- German (Ulisses Spiele)
- Italian (Giochi Uniti)
- Portuguese (Devir)
- Spanish (Devir)
- Chinese (Guokr)
- Hebrew (Monkey Time)
- Russian (Hobby World)
- Belarusian (Hobby World)
- Kazakh (Hobby World)
- Ukrainian (Hobby World)
This is an OPTIONAL THING! We, at Fat Goblin Games, like to do it when we can so that people can quickly and easily reference existing material in its original source. IF YOU ARE DOING IT, you need to do it very carefully, because you really aren’t meant to. There are other ways to say a spell or feat come from a particular book, or you can completely hide that fact. We like to show it when we can.
References to Exhibit B Pathfinder Roleplaying Game books can be called out with a superscript to indicate the title of that reference. This should ONLY be done when there is not enough space to write out the full text, AND the referent for the superscript MUST immediately follow. For instance, if you are are using a superscript to call-out where a feat is from in a class write up, at the end of that write up the following text should appear in some fashion. Every time you reference it in a different place too.
- CR=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
- B1=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary
- BB=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bonus Bestiary
- GM=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide
- APG=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide
- B2=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 2
- UM=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic
- UC=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat
- B3=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 3
- ARG=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide
- UE=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Equipment
- NPC=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: NPC Codex
- UCamp=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign
- MA=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Mythic Adventures
- B4=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 4
- ACG=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide
- MC=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Monster Codex
- PU=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Pathfinder Unchained
- OA=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures
- B5=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 5
- UI=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue
- HA=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures
- VC=Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Villain Codex
Class Ability: If you do XXX then treat it like casting spellnamehereAPG<superscripted> but instead it does XXX.
APG This spell can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide
[H2]Creating & Tracking Your Own OGL[/H2]
As you begin any project, ESPECIALLY if you use d20pfsrd.com, you should immediately begin tracking what books you pulling information from. We mention d20pfsrd.com, because compared the the official Paizo Publishing PRD, content from non-Exhibit B books is included, and it can be important to note which you are allowed to call out by name in-text, and which you are not. Also, FGG would be in violation of the OGL if content was taken from any book but was not included in the Section 15a. of your document. This can lead to your book being pulled from sales sites and from potential legal action — SO DON’T DO IT!
You also might like to use other SRDs like the one from Archives of Nethys. His site is very clear on where everything comes from and can be very useful if you’re confused by a thing on d20pfsrd.com The Archives, however, are a Community site, so they include IP matters that John Reyst of d20pfsrd.com scrubs out or only includes on “his” Community site: Pathfinder Community.net
Starting on the next page is a boilerplate example of the OGL language you should include as the last page of any book submitted to Fat Goblin Games. Ideally, you can copy/paste the following directly into your document when you start it and modify (subtracting books or adding them) as needed. In the following boilerplate text, under the Section 15a heading, certain books are listed in GREEN. These are the standard Exhibit B books properly formatted for the OGL. If your work includes information taken from one of these books or otherwise references content from one of these books, include it in your OGL. Otherwise, feel free to leave it out of your OGL. For example, if you don't reference any monsters from Bestiary 4 you don't need to include Bestiary 4 in your OGL. When in doubt on whether you pulled information from a book or not, add it to your OGL. The other books in BLACK must ALWAYS be included as-per the rules of Paizo Publishing’s OGL (these include the OGL, the SRD, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, The Book of Experimental Might, and the Tome of Horrors).
This gets more complicated too — if YOU include a book in your Section 15a, you need to include ALL THE BOOKS that book includes in its Section 15a. For Bestiaries in particular, such lists get insanely large. We may make templates for you to use of books but owning them is best. See here.