is it? - a description of the book
Nitpicker's Guide - errors big, small, and ludicrously small
Storyline summary - the story behind this book, summarized in a couple of paragraphs
Etc - whatever's left, random thoughts and comments, sometimes my opinions on this book, and/or the State of Shadowfist at the time of printing
The Players' Guide is an 8.5 x 11 inch, 94 page softcover paperback book published by Daedalus in 1996. It included the then-most recent set of rulings (which also appeared on-line in FAQ v.5), plus a compendium of card-by-card rulings and notes put together by Rob Heinsoo. Robin Laws also contributed a number of point-of-view fiction pieces, and there are some interesting concept art sketches too.
What most old-timers remember about it is the mail-in White Ninja offer - there is a coupon in the back that could be clipped and mailed to Daedalus in exchange for a White Ninja card (the upgraded one from Flashpoint). For a while after relaunching the game in the early 2000s, Z-Man Games honored the coupon too until they ran out of reprinted White Ninjas. I haven't heard of anyone trying to talk Inner Kingdom Games into honoring the coupon, let me know if you do.
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There are several significant ruling errors in the Players' Guide, which is unfortunate since it defeats the purpose of a book like this and overshadows all the "correct" rulings that were really good to have in print. The two that came up most often were the infamous Kung Fu Student ruling, and the Vivisector ruling. Randall Gee compiled a list of errata on his site [gummiwisdom.com, 7 Jan 2013], so I won't bother to dig up my old list (it's around here somewhere...). That, and the current Inner Kingdom Games rulebook supercedes what's in the Players' Guide anyway, so a list of errors isn't useful at this point.
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The Players' Guide doesn't have a single cohesive story, but does include a number of point-of-view stories and little snippets in the card-by-card rulings section that fill in big chunks of the background material. The story of Flashpoint is sort of explained here, if you read all the little blurbs and stitch them together. Other pieces:
A bit written screenplay-style, where Tricia Kwok meets Kar Fai, and they take on Ta Yu, a Lotus sorcerer. This was actually the background for Daedalus' planned Combat in Kowloon expansion, which never materialized.
A transcript of a tape recorded by Bruce Frischmann, son of the Unspoken Name, that summarizes the history of the Ascended along the way. And we find out that the Unspoken Name is a transformed tiger, too.
The daily BuroPresidential briefing, a five page memo to Johann Bonengel that includes a summary of the Architects' view of the other factions, among other things.
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At the time the Players' Guide appeared, it seemed obligatory for a CCG to put out some kind of paperback guide, and Daedalus went right along with the crowd. I think Daedalus did a reasonable job, and the White Ninja promo mail-in offer was a nice touch. But I was disappointed that the card-by-card section didn't include all the cards from Limited or Netherworld, and the card images themselves are both black-and-white, and pretty small. They left out quite a few cards that I thought had tricky or non-obvious rulings that had been made on Usenet, and if you didn't have access to Usenet, you'd never know about the rulings. The large format made it convenient to read, but not so easy to carry around as a reference book. Complain, complain, complain... it was still a pretty cool book, if nothing else for the background info and the Phil Hale cover art. As of 2012 though I wouldn't recommend buying it unless you are a collector.
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