Now I'm putting together a monster book. I've got my monsters from BECMI (minus some that don't seem to fit, modified others - chimera and griffons are part tiger instead of part lion, for example). I've got monsters from Chanbara. I've got monsters from Flying Swordsmen. I've got monsters from OA (minus the overlap among these three sources). I've got monsters that I wanted to add to Chanbara but didn't for space concerns. Not sure how many of this last group I'll actually add, because it's already an awful lot of monsters! BECMI has the Gargantua template, but I'll probably at least want to add a Kaiju template as well. And for eventual release, I'll want to add some introductory text to explain the entries, hit bonuses, calculating XP awards for modified monsters, saving throws, etc.
While I edit together the monster book I'm thinking of what goes in the GM's Guide.
And I had the realization today that I'm a lot like Gygax back at the beginning of the hobby. OD&D didn't have a lot of explanations or contextualization of the rules, because Gygax knew his audience. They were tabletop wargamers like him. They could contextualize just fine. It was only once D&D started to spread out beyond the wargamer market that things like the Basic Sets and AD&D became necessary to spell all this stuff out.
And I'm in a similar situation. I doubt anyone who's purchased Chanbara wasn't already an experienced gamer. Likewise, anyone who would purchase TSR-East from me is also likely to be an experienced gamer. They've got the context. Do I really need to spell it all out for them?
Sure, it can give some insight into how I run my games, and how I expect the moving parts to work together. But if I released a bare-bones GM's Guide, would it be a problem? Do I need to tell you how to create a dungeon or a wilderness? How to prepare interesting NPCs for encounters? Or do I just need to give you the systems, algorithms, and processes you need to run the game all on your own?
Running the Game:
- adjudicating traps/hazards
- reaction table
- adjudicating special abilities/spells/etc.
- combat round sequence
- morale checks
- adjudicating special attacks/spells/etc.
- death and dying
Hirelings and Specialists
Strongholds for High Level Characters
- magic items