I'm crossposting this between a number of the game design communities and my journal so I can get a wide variety of response.
I'm trying to figure out how much is too much, and how much is too little, when putting together a roleplaying game from scratch.
My current roleplaying game project, which I've been agonizing over for this entire year, is combined System Mechanic and Setting.
This is not my first game, nor my last. I'm hoping to support the material in combination with an online wiki for the game (my previous project Zamani ended up as a combination of Wiki and a printed handout book for the players of about 60-70 pages which gave the basics for character generation and a Codex of World setting info, all of which duplicated information in the wiki. (And another 10 pages of handout that they received during the game based up expanded knowledge they found or created for the world.)
My current project, in regards to what will be printed, is likely to end up larger (I don't have a good grasp on how large as yet).
Looking at other recent published works out there, I see the recent Mongoose Edition of 'Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon' which weighs in at 164 pages. This has received mixed reviews, with a lot of folks saying the world info is too sparse, the borders too large as are the fonts. (There is one supplemental book in print at about the same size).
The recent 2nd Edition of Earthdawn, from Living Room Games, which also is a combination of system and setting, weighs in at 352 pages. (They apparently have plans for a lot of supplemental books for setting).
The Dying Earth RPG, from Pelgrane Press, runs 192 pages for the basic book (but they're publishing a lot of supplemental material for it as seperate books).
So, my question is, how much is too much to start players off with when introducing them to a new mechanic and setting? Does the number of pages others have needed to explain themselves in this way work as a good measure? Do you think players will balk at a 100 page book? 150? 200? 250? 300? 350? Since the industry has, from the examples, gone into these directions and seem to work their books these days more as serial publications, adding a few hundred pages of stuff every month or two, is it unreasonable for a GM producing an original system/setting combo to do things simiilarly? Or is it better to have it all written and in hand at start?
What do you consider reasonable?
Does setting up a wiki for more in-depth material to look up on various elements, rather than putting everything in a printout at start (like I did with Zamani) sound like a reasonable method of information delivery/availability with immediate overwhelm?