Handout Madness

Ranking high among the feedback from visitors are questions rtegarding the making of the Lantern, and specifically the fonts used herein (and the Master receives much feedback indeed – a thank you to all those who have taken the time to send their kind words and regards!).

Rather than provide an article on nothing but fonts, today we talk about handouts. The Master simply loves handouts of all types: maps, listings of characters, terminology and slang, stories, geneology charts, etc. Players usually enjoy and appreciate such (see the “warning” below, however).

Like background music – among other techniques – handouts are an opportunity to reinforce the “reality” of the game world, and assist in communicating a common picture of the Rokugan you and your players visit. And making good, evocative handouts is not as difficult – or expensive – as one might think.

  • Fonts. Let’s address the #1 question that the Lantern receives: the title font for the site is created in the “Mandarin” font. Mandarin is not a free font, however. It is part of the CorelDRAW 8 package (both Mac and PC) and presumably in the recent upgrades to that package. There are similar fonts on the web: try a search by “fantasy fonts” and see what you find. We are sad to report that the font used to create the “kanji” menu items was lost in the switch from a PC to Mac… assuming we find it again, we’ll update this article appropriately.
  • More Fonts. Limit a handout to only a few fonts per handout – generally a title font (such as Mandarin) and a body font (perhaps something normally readable (Times New Roman, for instance). Severral fonts are available for simulating handwriting and script – these can come be quite convenient for making “handwritten” clues for the scenario.
  • Paper. A variety of interesting paper is available in most office superstores. A walk down the paper isle will turn up various parchment, rice paper, and specialty papers (such as ones with preprinted scrolls or other designs). Combined with a font or two and run through a printer, one can produce excellent quality handouts with nothing but said printer, paper, fonts and simple word processing software.
  • Images. With a scanner at home (or work, or at the local copy shop), one can make short work of the various L5R books, supplements and catalogs, pulling images for use as NPCs, on handouts and newsletters. Of course, most players have seen the bulk of the published images – and then there’s that pesty copyright issue. Instead, check out a local bookstore’s art section. Most carry a line of “clip art”, “scanner art”, or photocopyable design elements. Specific to L5R and oriental fantasy settings, coloring books, nature and floral print designs, and woodblock designs all provide easily scannable black-and-white line art which capture the setting. Additionally, most of those resources allow users to freely utilize the images on-line or in print, providing certain (usually reasonable) limits are met… most ask that no more than 10 images from the book be utilized in a single project.
  • Photocopiers. A more low tech solution (one utilized here when the computer was down for awhile) is to photocopy the design elements, then hand-write in the text, then run off copies in the required number (usually one for each player, plus a GM copy…and one extra to “archive”). The 1st edition digest sized character sheet booklets have several blank “scroll-like” pages which can be used for such purposes. Just be sure to keep a clean original of the basic “form” for future use.

Madness run amok. Beware…too many handouts can flood a single session. Additionally, handouts and the like should enhance a good story and roleplaying session; not substitute for a good story.


1 Comment

  1. Shuzento said,

    December 4, 2005 at 12:13 pm

    And perhaps the Monk will grace us with some of these handouts in the future?

    Mirumoto Shuzento
    Master of the Plum Gardens

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