Doorstopper / Tabletop Games

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  • Warhammer:
    • The 8th Edition rulebook is 5cm thick and 28 wide, as well as being full colour and 512 pages long. There is a reason it's known as the Really Big Red Book.
    • While individual codexes are rather small (ranging from magazine size to a respectable 100 page hardback), you gotta remember that you have to read this on top of the aforementioned rulebook. Since there are several armies, a comprehensive set of rules that would include every single army and their own rules would be big enough to serve as a tank trap.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Rulebooks played this straight until the 7th edition rules. Prior editions were a single book that contained the rules, extensive fluff about the game's setting, and guides for model building and painting and related materials, and were comparable to the Warhammer rulebook cited above in size. With 7th edition, the rules are now their own book that is about a third the size of previous editions, packaged as part of a box set with separate books for the fluff and a showcase of models.
    • Got to near comical heights with the Tyranids in 7th edition. To just play a Tyranid army with Citadel miniatures (and thus no Forge World) you'll need: The core rulebook, the Tyranid Codex, three different E-books (Rising Leviathan series), the Shield of Baal: Exterminatus campaign book, two different Tyranid Erratas, and a copy of the special units from Deathstorm campaign box. If you do want to play with forge world, prepare to lug around Imperial Armor: The Anphelion Project and the Escalation expansion book as well.
    • Hilariously inverted with the Imperial Knights codex. While the codex itself is pretty thick, the Renegade Knights box revealed that they could have condensed all of the rules for the Knights onto one page (the Renegade Knight datasheet can literally make all the knight variants in the Imperial Knights codex) and the formations could have taken up, at most, three more pages.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Ptolus by Monte Cook is a monstrosity of almost seven hundred pages — over if you include the CD of extra material — that describes a single city in meticulous detail. And if anyone wants to leave the city, the book makes for a handy bludgeoning weapon, too.
  • Similarly "The World's Largest Dungeon," an 800-page Dungeons and Dragons adventure which details a very large dungeon apparently containing enough content to level up the characters from 1 to 20 — in other words, an adventurer's career, from birth to death. Parodied in Knights of the Dinner Table as Biggest Damn Dungeon Ever, which was just a huge listing of monster encounters. The map of the dungeon takes up 16 full sized posters; when put in their 4x4 layout, the resulting mega-map is about 10 feet tall. Most normal D&D dungeons can be fit on a few sheets of standard 8x10 paper.
  • Hero System:
    • The 5th edition rulebook is about 600 pages long. It could stop several bullets when it was shot by HERO Games staffers, as seen here. Though, possibly in response to concerns that the massive Doorstopper book was intimidating and physically suggestive of the tabletop equivalent of a Continuity Lockout, HERO Games put out a smaller version called "Sidekick". It's the HERO rulebook in bare-bones format, marketed for something like a quarter of the price of its big brother. This can be summed up by a quote from the comments:
      "New headline: Gamer survives shooting by using two tabletop gaming rulebooks as shield."
    • The new sixth edition of HERO is out, it's 2/3rds bigger than the previous version and is split across two volumes.
  • The two most infamous boardgame "rulebooks suitable for scaring people" (or beating them upside the head) would probably be the ones for the wargames Advanced Squad Leader and Star Fleet Battles. Both are capable of filling a large 3-ring binder to bursting. The most recent edition of SFB caries the barely unofficial nickname of "Doomsday". When a new edition was mooted one former champion wrote a satirical ode to it after Poe's "The Raven". Several stanzas described the proposed rulebook as resting on (and breaking) a forklift pallet. It hit very close to the truth. Advanced Squad Leader fills two 3-ring binders. In the case of Star Fleet Battles at least, the length of the latest edition is due entirely to the designers exploring every possible interaction. It's quite possible to play using less than half the rules (even less if you cut out fighters and carriers.) At the other end, if you pile up everything that can reasonably be called a rule or part of a rule within the definition used within SFB, you can easily get a stack of stuff over a foot thick. (The definition is such that all the scenarios, ship descriptions, ship forms, racial background information, and pretty much everything else in the game constitutes a rule or rule component. Even things like the playtesting credits come under the heading of rules.)
  • One commentator on RPG.net made a remark to the effect that the learning curve of the RPG Burning Empires takes a sharp upward turn around page 400. Another poster pointed out that this sums up quite succinctly why he doesn't play the game.
  • While not as monstrous as some, the Pathfinder Role Playing Game: Core Rulebook, clocking in at 575 pages, excluding end papers and promotional blurbs, makes a good defensive weapon in time of need. This is because it covers what equals to D&D 3.5 Player's Handbook AND Dungeon Master's Guide (each sitting at 300 some pages) AND how to convert stuff from those and Monster Manuals.
  • FATAL, in addition to being generally considered the worst roleplaying game ever written, checks in at over 900 pages. 900 pages of unplayable rules designed to "realistically" simulate rape as a combat action and tables to randomly determine a character's anal circumference.
  • The 4th edition GURPS: Basic Set consists of 580 pages split between two volumes. GURPS doesn't have a setting so that's nothing but game stats. As a joke SJGames managed to reduce the system down to a single page. To be fair, like some of the other entries here, the Basic Set covers every interaction the authors could conceive of; rules and modifiers for mounted combat, magic of all sorts, pressure/temperature changes, poisons and diseases, drowning, and grappling and fatigue. You could probably cut out a healthy number of pages by simply not using <insert rules here>, and GURPS Lite is 32 pages of the core rules.
  • The comprehensive errata to Magic: The Gathering, since it has to cover every interaction, loophole, and so forth. For thousands of cards. It has to be huge, for keeping up with the devious minds of tournament gamers.
    • The rules for the "banding" and "bands with other" abilities have this in spades.
    • A lot of individual cards could qualify, in their original rulings. Some early ones, such as Oubliette, had to be printed in a smaller font. More recently, the necessary text is smaller (the way of phrasing rules text has been standardized and streamlined), but they add reminder text, which explains things known to anyone who has even taken a cursory look at the rules.
    • Certain cards allow you to win when your deck has over a certain number of cards (almost always in the hundreds) when they're played. As your deck (called library) is suppose to look like a book (with the back of the cards as the book's "cover") this gives the implication that you are willing for merely having a doorstopper.
  • Cubicle 7's Starblazer Adventures clocks in at 629 pages (plus a few extra for ads at the back). The forthcoming second edition will be split into two books.
    • This is curiously somewhat common for Fate system rulebooks — even Spirit of the Century, admittedly printed in a smaller paperback format, works out to just over 400 pages plus index and ads in the back. This isn't because the system itself is horribly complex, though (a modern lightweight "introductory" incarnation, Fate Accelerated Edition, manages to cram all the key core rules, some advice for both players and game master, four example characters plus a blank sheet to copy for your own, and its share of illustrations all into a handy 50-page brochure without feeling forced in the slightest); rather, it seems to be that especially in the earlier days many designers couldn't resist the temptation to expand on it with long shopping lists of gear, example stunts, add-on rules for special cases that might just come in handy...
  • EN World's War of the Burning Sky campaign path (Edition 3.5) is 708 pages and is heavy enough to use as a weapon.
  • The Dark Eye 4.1 edition has several books for the rules, four to be precise with over 300 pages each. That's just the rules, admittedly with much of the setting in them. Stuff like bestiary, spells, rituals, weapons and armor have four other books, each over 300 pages. The sourcebooks for the setting (all the regions on the continent, with geography, cultures, religions, races, food, clothing, ...) have at least 250 pages, all 13 of them. Then there are some others, for things like gamemastering, dungeons, oceans, organisations, buildings, trade, city life and so on, eight more books with at least 250 pages. Add to that the 186 "normal" adventures, the 50 or so other adventures (beginners, promotion and such), over 150 issues of the periodical since 1985, the other continent with around 9 books for rules and setting, 13 adventures, the 136 novels and the new continent they'll be releasing in the future.
  • Frog God Games' The Slumbering Tsar saga, sold in one volume, comes in at just under 1000 pages. This includes no rules, as the saga is released for the Pathfinder ruleset. A typical Adventure Path for Pathfinder lasts months, brings characters to the pinnacle of power, and might have 350-400 pages of crunch in its six volumes. (The rest is fluff and ads.) This is 954 pages of crunch and some pages to write the obits of all the dead characters.
  • Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine comes in at 578 pages. However, it's nothing compared to the pre-formatting version released to kickstarter backers, which would weigh in at a cool 1093 A4 pages if it was printed. (One or two backers did, usually those in possession of extremely large binders.)
  • The rise of the internet in general and the PDF revolution in particular has produced a trend towards increased size in RPG books. PDF means you only need to worry about the size of physical copies if you want to, because a fair whack of gamers will be used to using laptops and E-readers. Another online utility, Kickstarter, has led to a lot of games having "extra content" stretch goals; Onyx Path, who handle White Wolf's tabletop games, are particularly enthusiastic about this, with Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition weighing in at a hefty 700 pages, and Exalted Third Edition at 686.
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