I’m willing to take the next step and write “the book” in contrast to my current preview/playtest-material. Therefore the tool question came up again and I decided to switch from Word to LaTex. If you have tried that and came to the conclussion that this is a bad idea please let me know. This would be helpful before I invest countless hours, so in advance thanks for your time, effort and insight.
Some background about this decision which may be helpful for you if you’re thinking about using those tools. (sorry for the long post)
- InDesign is no option because of the price tag, because I’m on windows and because of (missing) know-how. The gap is to large to make the leap.
- I tried Scribus on my preview document and it was a huge pain. What I want is floating text (in contrast to page by page) because major part of my text is not fixed yet. I still change a lot and therefore I need a more flexible flow.
- Word is just the usual pain. It’s ok when you have a text which is 30-40 pages but no more. Main pain point: You don’t see where the pagebreaks / formatbreaks are and it’s very hard to create them at the right place in the document. You delete one character and the documents behaves strange. Even more painful: You may not notice that because the change is not on the page you see but some other page and you save/save/save before you recogize that you did something wrong. Word promises that you can start right away with near to zero knowledge. In my experience this is not true if you want low-hassle documents with > 10 pages
- I already used LaTex for my thesis which feels like yesterday but is actually >30 years ago. But a beautiful type and very professionally looking books are still unchanged since then. The missing WYSIWUG is not a problem with integrated tools like TeXworks and MikTex and write/compile is a mindset a like (read: I’m used to programming). I know the downside (s. below) and I’m willing to invest some/a lot of time for the groundwork of “programming” the framework first. There are a lot of (free) know-how resources out there and and even a free (D&D-based) RPG template, so I’m willing to give it a try.
I hope for a beautiful book with little hassle when I decided to switch something consistently throughout the book. You may hear my cry of pain in the following weeks.
Downsides of using Latex:
- No WYSIWYG: If you want that it is not your tool. There are online tools trying to give you that but it’s still editing source code-view the results and not edit in what you see.
- Get the system up and running: Solved with MikText installer + TeXworks installer. This used to be a huge pain back in the old days but this is working like a charm now. Just DON’T use standalone installer but the regular ones and you’re ready to go in 5 Minutes.
- Tables are ugly: My hope lies with the template (see above) where this is already solved. I hope to learn from there.
- Including pictures is painful: Full page pictures as well as small ones included in the text. I really liked that in my old document, so I hope I can pull that off here, too. Solution: Some of the problems are solved in the template (see above), solving the rest will be sweat & tears.
So, if you have something to say about writing rpg books using LaTex I’m all ears about that.