Bringing Back Ring Binders

Angel of the Dawn

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Validated User
I was just thinking about those 2nd Ed AD&D Monster Manual ring binders. They were big, and unwieldy, and pages got lost way too easily. Or torn out. Fuck those things.

I think, though, that maybe there's potential in a binder setup to be something really cool here in the future.

So, your physical foundation is a nice three-ring binder, standard sized, with a nice cover graphic and back cover. With the binder comes a nice lean set of hole-punched core rules, enough for you to run a game with no frills, but flexible enough to do what you want with them.

And then -- here's the gimmick -- sell expansions so people can just load them into the binder if they use them. You can sell expansions in cellophane-wrapped packs, already punched. So you can have the fantasy pack, a sci-fi pack, one for martial arts action, another guns, races, etc. Just plug in the ones that you're going to use and you're ready to go, in your custom binder. Every gaming group will have their own custom binder setups.

Production values? Through the floor, baby -- everything is printed on cheap stock card paper, with black and white art, and sold at a reasonable price. The major cost of this is going to be producing the binder itself, but you can make those at less cost than binding even a softcover RPG book, even with the core rules included. (Right?) And hell, you don't even have to buy the Official Game Binder if you don't want to -- just buy a three-ring binder at the dollar store and go with my blessings, you chiseling cheap fuck. Just buy the core rules so I can get paid, print 'em, and you can put them in your binder or whatever. And you can print your own expansions from the PDFs if you like.

(We can even do a limited run of deluxe binder covers with pockets for dice, slots for pens and pencils, and the like. And colored core book pages. We'll have to see what the demand is like.)

The best thing about this? This practically begs for homebrewed content. Make your own rules, print 'em, and put 'em in the binder. If your homegrown module is good enough, I'll sell it and split the profits with you.

Is this workable, or just delirious late night ranting?

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
The problem is, as you ascribe, binders and their contents are not set up for regular handling. The only way I ever found to keep things intact during my pre-digital days was to put everything in at least mediumweight sheet protectors, then put the sheet protectors in the binders--and even then they tended to fall out, just not rip.


Registered User
Validated User
You've heard of Harn? That was distributed in exactly this way. The individual modules had their own page numbering, so it still worked when you put multiple modules into the same folder. The pages were of a heavier paper stock than normal, so they stood up to being in a ring binder.

I think it's a great idea personally. The end product does tend to be a lot thicker and heavier than an equivalent book though.

The main problem is that 3-ring binders are an Americanism! Here in the UK for some reason we have 2-ring binders or 4-ring binders but not 3-ring. So you'd have to punch a whole series of holes and slots that could accommodate all variants of binder


Unregistered User
Validated User
It's gimmicky, and I mean that in the most positive way possible (I personally love gimmicks, and all the examples of old games that actually did this presented in this thread), but I am reminded at pretty much every turn these days that my penchant for physical media, gimmicky or not, makes me a dinosaur.

Tapping into the idea of "curating" your own personal version of a game is definitely a worthwhile idea--people, especially gamer people, love to collect and curate--but the fundamental concept of "keep adding more" runs right up against the idea that less is more, that large tomes are fun to look at but unwieldy to use, etc... Physical modularity and tactile experience are things that I think not enough RPG designers put a lot of thought into, and I'd love to see games that take those core ideas of The Binder Game but maybe not stick so literally to the form.


Statistical out-liar
Validated User
This is entirely personal, but I would hate that. I can't stand binders, particularly the noise they make when the rings are snapped open and closed. It's like nails on a chalk board to me.

On a more practical note, I think a digital version of this would do better. You buy a new supplement and it gets integrated into the PDF for the core. New material goes right to the correct section, with maybe a text color code to indicate it's from a supplement. Superseded rules would be crossed out with the modified rules right below. It would be especially cool if you could turn off rule changes/updates by section as well based on what you're using. No more consulting multiple books, no more ambiguity about what is in effect, and still searchable. I imagine formatting would be a nightmare though.
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