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MoonHunter Sayeth 20170825


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I have to admit. I am a frugal gamer.
(PRB or Personal Reference Binders formerly known as a Quickbook)

When I run a chronicle I would really like everyone to have their own books. That way everyone can look up what they need when they want to. Few, if anyone, ever seems to buy the books. So they spend all that time using my copies. It applies a lot of wear and tear to my books... the ones I need.


Did I mention that I tend to run older games, many of which are no longer in print? I want to protect my books ...and cherish my precious, my precious...


Related to this is the ever present gamer whine

"But I don't have that book."

Have you heard this one before? Suggest a new game and most players balk at it.

While most players don’t like learning new rules, part of that balk is the expense of buying all those new books for the game system (that the GM has recently fallen in love with with no guarantee that he won't fall out of love with it).

Sometimes the world background in the setting is so deep that until you study it enough to get a PHD in it, you can't really use it. For most of us, that means you need to keep referring back to the books.

Sometimes players must hold the rules like talismans against bad GMing. They refer to every possible page to make sure the action is appropriately judged.

People are constantly checking the books. (Often taking them away from the GM, who needs them.) There are problems because there are not enough rules going to go around, so the game slows to a crawl.

The solution? PRB or Personal Reference Binders.

PRBs are photocopies of important pages of rules bound together for ease of use. (If you own the electronic copy, then it is simply page printing.) These usually run five to thirty pages. I have used three ring binders, punch clips, and any number of binding systems found at better stationary/ office stores.

Personally, I have made a GM copy of the core resolution rules and combat rules to save wear and tear on my personal books. The rules are now in the order in which I commonly need them and have tabs to make finding them easier. It becomes a great personal reference. (note: These are copies for personal use and should never be sold. )

This solution was originally implimented in a Role-Master group I was familiar with. Role-Master is terribly chart bound, as each character will be using one to three charts per attack action. There is a lot of flipping around. Using PRBs, they managed to cut the time spent in combat to 1/4th of what it was before. Once they eliminate the flip factor and became proficient with their books, they were faster than most gamers in combat. The idea expanded. They created RuleBinders or three for the players, a GenBinder (for building characters), and a WorldBinder for the troupe. (Their character sheets became character books that eventually held all the rules and charts they needed for their abilities, skills, weapons, and spells.)

Rule Binders:
In a perfect game, every player would have a rulebinder of their own, using photocopies of certain key pages of the rules. These pages would include the basic resolution rules and any “over view” pages. If the book is for a specific players, they might have any rule pages that apply to their character. Rather than looking up pg 47 every time you wanted to use their abilities, you would have Pg 47 right there. (If your game has a lot of spot rules, adding them to the book will make things easier to find.)

Gen Binders:
Character Gen Binders included copies of all the rule needed for character generation and character advancement. This should also include any information from the character section of the Chronicle Packet.
In the group I know, the GM made two of these for the group. This gave them three books for the 10 or so players to make characters and expend advancements.

World Binders:
This book contains all those key pages of world source material and flavor text from the game. (A bit plus if you add a copy of the Setting Summary from The Chronicle Pack. This book ended up being the most used.

There are other binders:
Some of the players made Combat Binders (or combat binder sections) that have all the combat rules and any charts for equipment that are being used in the chronicle.

Power using and Magic using players will want (and usually make) PowerBinders for each type of power in the system, which contain the spell rules and their spell writeups. To be honest, most players will make these up for their power users.

Subsections of Choice Many gamers have characters that utilize specialized rules sections which are often spread around several books, like Shapeshift in Amber, Rigging or Netrunning in cyberpunk games, and so on. Having a book on hand will save you time and effort on these subsections, especially since you won't be using them all the time.

No matter which book it is, make sure to make a Table of Contents for your Personal Reference Binder. They are created to make finding things easier, and a ToC will make it even easier. Putting in dividers and tab to mark section and specific important pages is also a good thing to do.

As a GM, I recommend making a set of PRBs for yourself and the rest of the troupe. Since I am both a tightwad AND running games no longer in print, saving my master rule books this way is a good idea.

Even if a player has the rulebook, making a quick book can put needed information at their fingertips.

Now some players will combine the PRBs they needed into one UBER-BINDER. This is okay to do, but be warned that it will never be in your hands when you need it because some other players is using another section. (In many ways this is just a copy of the rule book, minus fluff.)

Keep in mind that eventually all these binders will often be a notable expense with paper, ink/ printing, and binding. (Sometimes as expensive as actually buying the books, if not more.) Keep an eye to costs and keep "the production" of books to a minimum.

Still doing this is a good idea if you just want to “try out” a game. If everyone likes it, then people will buy the rules. (or so they say.) If they don’t, only the GM is out the cash.

(The MoonHunter Way- I actually ask that either they chip in some for all this printing/ cartridges/ paper/ bindings.... or they have to buy all my snacks and foods for the duration of the chronicle... it is usually cheaper to chip in for the books.)

Let us keep in mind that if you don’t support your friendly game company, they will stop making cool new stuff for your beloved games. So buying books(best) or PDFs (still good) from the company is a great idea. (Then make your PRB from it.)

So if your players don’t have that book, make some PRBs and run them to your heart’s content.

Note: These were called Quickbooks 35 years ago. However, as was pointed out in the comments, there is naming confusion using that. So now we have Personal Reference Binders. (or Books... the preference is yours.)


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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In this world of tablets and PDFs, one would think Quick Books PRBs would be a thing of the past. Let us look past the fact that most players still like paper books to use. The Quick Books PRBs can be made digital just as easily. You can make an edited PDF for any of the Quick Books PRBs , then view it on a tablet, laptop, or even phone. Electronic PRBs will still make it easier to find things, when we can compare the time to looking through a full book. (If you make shortcuts, and the searching is even better.)
Last edited:


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I might rename your concept reference books, because I immediately thought of one of the common small business accounting software programs.

I agree that having short sections of the book is helpful. I tend to print out vital character pages from the PDF into smaller PDFs for player use. One of my two regular players prefers everything in print.

I do not have a full PDF editor, but if I did, I could work up shorter books for players without all the stuff. Since the next game I plan to run is Mage: the Ascension, using some Mage 20th Anniversary material, this is crucial. Mage 20 is a 700-page book and then there are two additional books plus all the older Mage books I have in PDF. . .


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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You are right. I have been using the term quick books for nearly thirtyfive years. While I predate the program, you are right... I should find a substitute name.

There are PDF engines that can do the editing that are available for free or cheap.

If you get one, your Mage project is a perfect one for this.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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I was moving some game stuff around yesterday and found all the work for my one and only D&D Dungeon. It was a PRB actually. I had a monster book, where I copied all the monster manual material for the monsters and types of monsters in the first and second level of The Dungeon (Spiders, Spiders in all sizes, Acid Spitting critters, four elementals of medium size, a selection of oozes/ slimes, and the stat for the gelatinous cube of large size (which was the scariest thing in the whole dungeon and acted like Rover from the Prisoner... to scare them to run away. ) The Map for the dungeon was the map templates I had and their number.. so it laid out in a grid.

So there are more types of book
Monster / Ecology Binder: This is a collection of animals and other things that would be found in a given region or dungeon. This way you don't have to go scrambling around looking for the book and the stats, when you can just go through the binder fairly fast.

Location's Character Sheet: This is a collection of maps, bits, notes, and game mechanics (Oh I need the fog rules handy for this city or the barter rules or the ice weather rules) that you need for a given location/ region. Everything else is in a binder, having this all in one place in a similar format will make it handy to carry with everything else.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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Validated User
This was implied in the text, but it really should be stated

Character Binder
This is taking the concept of character sheet to the next level. It will have...
  • Character Sheet (usually in a page protector)
  • Character History and Plot hooks
  • Rulesbinder, if you don't like to share or really need your own.
  • Combat and Magic Binder appropriate to the character
  • Subsections of the rules that your character's skills and abilities use.
  • Note sheets

This can be pretty thick, but you won't need anything else to play... except maybe dice and imagination.
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