When I first started working on my Consolidated Index for Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Role-playing, I was hard pressed to discover any resources to help me assemble it. Thankfully, I asked around the FFG Forum and received some great assistance. I am bringing that assistance to my blog and I hope that this style guide will help anyone who is working on a fan-made supplement for Edge of the Empire.
The first thing you need to consider before you even write one word is what you are going to use to create the layout and the text of your creation. There are some very good options, even if you can’t afford the latest and greatest offering from Adobe. While I would love to own and learn their software, the fact is that I can’t justify the expense as this is a hobby and not a profession.
Most people are very familiar with word processors, but they are not always the best choice for contemporary documents, especially those that will become PDFs and digital files. They are often easy to use, and you should use one for creating the text that will go into the document, but they often do not have an option to display a background image across the entire page. A white bar around the beautiful background you have chosen looks cheap and unprofessional.
Desktop Publishers are great for projects like this and they are intended to make your work look beautiful with a bit of planning and design. If you are reading this style guide, you probably want it to look as accurate to the original game books as possible. A desktop publisher is the way to go.
I wish I had a great option for a desktop publisher, but I do have a good one to suggest: Scribus. I used it to create my Consolidated Index, and it worked pretty darn well and didn’t cost me a dime. Another piece of open-source software, this one has much less documentation available and seemed to do odd things when I asked it to do something at times. It has a bit of a learning curve, but it won’t set you back $20 a month with Adobe or over $100 for something else. If you just need a cheap alternative you could do far worse.
For the actual text, use whatever word processor you know well and have available. If you don’t have any word processor currently on your computer, you may wish to consider the one that I personally love: OpenOffice. It is a free open-source software suite that includes an entire suite in the vein of Microsoft Office. I used it to create Alpha Chronicles and I have yet to regret my decision to utilize it.
Finally you will need a good program to manipulate images and artwork. There are a bunch of these out there, and you should use the program you are most comfortable with. If you don’t have anything but MS Paint on your computer, then perhaps another recommendation is in order: GIMP.
I used GIMP when making most of my logos, manipulated artwork, and every thing else related to graphics. It is yet another open-source program with limited documentation, but I have enjoyed using it. Since you will probably not be doing anything too complicated for your first time out it should be just what you need.
If all of this seems too complicated, I have a Microsoft Word template created by Oggdude from the FFG Forum that is available for you to download. It is in a .zip file and will make things very simple if you want to just write up an adventure without worrying about all of this layout and design.
Unless you are an artist, (and if so why the heck are you reading this?) you will need help in procuring a good page background for your document. Several people helped me by giving me various pieces of artwork that I could use. It all looked pretty good and was really helpful, although I did make a few changes here and there to the files. You can enjoy their largess by downloading the .zip file with various page backgrounds in .png formats.
If you are looking to make Planet Pages, you can use this great background, but the artist specifically requests that you use a comment to tell him where it was used. It seems a simple and reasonable enough request for the use of his time and skill, so please tell him how much you appreciate it. You will find a slightly modified version of it with the .zip file mentioned above – complete with a place for page numbers.
The next most important element of a document style, next to the page background, is the fonts that are selected. Some may even say they are the most important element since they are what the reader will be focused upon nearly the entire time. This is also where you may have to spend a little bit of money to get your document looking right.
Front Cover Text
The front cover uses two sizes of Maqui Heavy in order to create the Book Title and the Tag line. The Book Title uses a 44 pt version of all-cap Maqui Heavy. The Tag line on the bottom of the various supplements is a 28 pt version that uses standard capitalization. This is one of the fonts that is not available in a free version. You can try Impact, which is a free option, but only looks superficially similar.
There are three headings used in Edge of the Empire. Each heading uses Elektra Medium Pro Bold and it is available as a free download. Remember to use ALL-CAPS for your headings and they will look correct. The colors I selected were determined by a scanned version from the core rules. In most cases the color does not have to be exact, but it helps to get as close as possible.
- Section Heading – This is the largest of the heading fonts. It is used for large sections within chapters. The section heading should use 24 pt Elektra Medium Pro Bold in a Dark Green (#384d3e) color.
- Planet Heading – The heading used for planet names on the various planet pages is also 24 pt Elektra Medium Pro Bold but is pure white (#FFFFFF).
- Topic Heading – This is the next largest of the heading fonts and is used for large topics and sub-sections. The topic heading is a 16 pt Elektra Medium Pro Bold in a Dark Red (#6e272d) color.
- Item Heading – This is the smallest of the heading fonts and are used for individual items such as gear and short topics. The item heading is a 10 pt Elektra Medium Pro Bold in a Dark Gold (#a48e3b) color.
Main Body Text
The main body text is the text that appears across the entire book as the standard font. FFG used a 9 pt ITC Symbol Standard Book as their main font. Unfortunately it is a licensed font and must be purchased in order to be used. Thankfully, there are a few options that, while not exact, will help you avoid shelling out cash. Almost any serif font that isn’t too pronounced should work as a replacement.
A font that you can download and try for free is Temporarum. It is another tiny serif font like ITC Symbol Standard Book. It looks fairly elegant, and is the right price. Take a look around the web, you may find one that you like more.
Table Heading Text
There are several sizes of Teuton Normal fonts being used in the tables. The Table Header (i.e. TABLE X-X: TABLE TITLE) uses an all-caps 12 point size in the same Dark Green (#384d3e). The sub heading (i.e. Item/Price/Etc…) also uses a 12 point Teuton Normal with standard capitalization in a white color on green table background. The Group headings use a white 8 pt ITC Standard Book on a black background.
The footers are a combination of fonts. The Chapter Title next to the page number is ITC Symbol Book in a 6 pt in all caps. The Book Title underneath is a 7 point Star Wars Font. Pick your favorite, but I use SF Distant Galaxy.
The little things make a huge impact, and artwork can help keep a document from looking sparse and lackluster. You can find helpful and willing artists all over the internet, but I would recommend trying DeviantArt and the Star Wars Artist Guild for the most appropriate pieces. Plenty of artists will be flattered by your interest, and will just ask for a simple artist credit and a link to their gallery.
I know there is a big thing about fair-use and creative common licenses, but I will always suggest asking permission to use the piece from the artists before you use it in a blog or fan-supplement. There may be a bit of leeway with using page backgrounds and elements taken from the Core Rulebook, but always try to get permission where you can. Artists really do appreciate the request before you use their artwork.
Much of the interior artwork in Edge of the Empire has a really interesting fade technique with jagged, brushstroke edges. This is likely going to take practice and messing about with it before it feels right to you. I have been using a technique involving layers and layer masking.
- Create an alpha channel for the intended layer.
- Use Layer Mask to create a mask on the same layer that will let you play with the transparency.
- Use a paint brush to make random looking funky strokes on the edge of the picture on the mask. I would suggest something with a mottled or grainy texture as a brush.
- Use a smudge tool to make it look smoother and more like actual brush strokes.
- Resize the picture to the needed dimensions.
I admit it, this is one of the elements that I borrowed directly from Jewel of Yavin for my Index. They just looked too cool not to use at least once. While the color of the screen and buttons isn’t exactly the same as the original piece, you can find a version in the .zip file with the page backgrounds. I used a 9 pt light yellow ITC Symbol Standard Book for the text inside.
I can’t draw worth a darn. Some days I really wish I could, but I have never had the talent to improve upon by training. Instead I have focused upon graphic manipulation using tutorials, software, and general bloody mindedness. I mention this only so you won’t feel overwhelmed or discouraged when I tell you that anyone can make a planet.
It will take time an effort, but there are some really good planet making tutorials out there. I have included a few options for you to peruse that specifically utilize GIMP. There are also a bunch of possibilities out there so try a few out based on what software you are using.
Sidebars are probably the easiest graphic element you will use to create your document. Most desktop publishing programs have a way to create a polygon in various colors and shapes. The width of the sidebar should either be equal to a single column or both columns with the gutter if you need a wide one. At the top of the sidebar you will need to add one point on each side in order to make the 45 degree angles. I like to have my angles 0.25″ away from the original point on each upper corner.
You want to use the same color as your Section Heading for this box and remember to have it come all the way from the top or bottom of the page as appropriate. Fill it with white body text and use a gold Elektra Medium Pro font as the Sidebar heading if you need one.
Use Oggdude’s Character Generator and GM Tools. They are fantastic and a heck of a boon to bloggers, adventure writers, and players of all kinds. You can see examples of them in my various blog posts as I use them regularly for my own games. Once you realize how much you love his software, go ahead and Donate a few bucks so he can keep up the tremendous amount of love and effort that goes into keeping it current.
I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my thanks to several members of the FFG Forum community for their assistance: Admiral Terghon, OggDude, Farsox, BradKnowles, and Kainrath. Thank you all for helping me compile and gather such wonderful background pages. I would also like to thank my good friend Daniel Greenberg for his help in identifying the various fonts and offering suggestions on alternatives that won’t cost a cent. And many thanks to JediHamlet from the FFG Forum for pointing me in the right direction about layer masks.