Best backstory manuals

The topic about great single player Rts, has me thinking about some of the best game manuals I’ve read. Strange enough all of the ones that come to mind are from Blizzard.

I remember reading the Diablo 2 manual for all the backstory, such as how Tal Rasha beat Baal, or the pretty decent introduction to each class. The other part that I really enjoyed from Blizzard’s manuals is how they find a way to rationalize how each power or unit fits into the game universe.

I can’t think of any other game series that gives that much backstory that I played. Not any of the Aoe, Bfme2, or any of the Cnc games come to mind. Does anyone have any other examples of great manuals (Rts or not) like the one’s blizzard puts out?

Ultima 6

The Balder’s Gate manuals are written by an explorer from the Forgotten Realms. I forget his name, but I remember it was unusual because he’s not what I consider a reliable narrator, so you have to take his descriptions of places and such with a grain of salt. Kind of unusual for a manual.

Homeworld had a lot of nice backstory in its manual.

Diablo? Surely you jest.

I’d like to point to the Fallout vault user’s manual and Arcanum, which IIRC was similar to the Baldur’s Gate approach.

Clive Barker’s Undying was terrific, full of family history.

Also: American McGee’s Alice. Crappy game, but it had this fantastic psychiatrist’s journal of clinical notes from the doctor who treated Alice before her return.

Actually, both Diablo and Diablo 2 had a huge amount of backstory in the manuals. In fact, most of the manual was backstory.

I don’t think I’ve read backstory in a manual since Warcraft 2.

FALLOUT!!! Without a doubt, just so well written in that great 50’s style. breaks out spiral manual and reads it again for what must be the millionth time

There’s another one I’m thinking of too… I think Starlancer, although it may have been a Wing Commander game. It was like a cadet’s handbook that talked about the Fleet or whatever it was called, the political background of the various empires, enemies, and the like. It had been annotated throughout with handwritten notes by your squadmates that gave you a sense of where your group fit in and how they felt about each other. Pretty cool.

Ultima IV-VI definitely had some good back story in their manuals, IIRC. Interstel’s Star Fleet I included a 2nd manual devoted entirely to backstory (but not, I think, in the Commodore 64 version) that I remember loving at the time. I would also have to say SSI’s Colonial Conquest manual included “At Play in the Imperial Sandbox” which remains my favorite historical essay included in a wargame/strategy game.

Arinn Dembo wrote both. She’s currently the lead writer for Sword of the Stars

Found another one: Across the Rhine. The game not only came with a thick 200 page manual but an entirely new supplemental collection that went over in excruciating detail of all the battles featured in the game, complete with strategical/tactical maps, analysis of the battles, good stuff like that. Even went over the weapons and bullets used! Jeez, that’s some hardcore commitment to your game right there.

Huh. Musta forgotten that one. I must have been projecting Diablo’s blah gameplay to misremembering it as having blah docs as well. I’m usually such a whore for good printed stuff, too. Shoulda remembered it.

It’s always a disappointment when the only paper that’s in the box is either a dry recitation of commands, or even worse, the little 3x5 card with installation guide.
“1. Turn on computer.
2. Put CD in CD player. (If you purchased a DVD version, substitute ‘DVD’ for ‘CD’ in the previous sentence.)
3. Click 'install” on the screen that comes up."

Fallout for sure.

Darklands - an amazingly big manual which had a TON of information in it, including page after page lists of the various and sundry saints you could pray to and what they’d do for ya.

Ah, interesting! She’s really terrific. Now that I know, I’ll have to keep an eye on SotS. Even though it doesn’t really sound like my kind of game, her stuff being included would definitely make it more interesting and worth a buy.

The first manual I remember reading and enjoying as something more than an instruction book was the one for the original Wizardy. Black and white, very whimsical. I remember the part on taking on Giants or Ogres, and the illustration of a guy sitting on the shoulders of another guy, trying to hit a giant with a club.

To echo pfreak’s comment, I love Blizzard manuals too because of the abundant backstory as well as referencing how different in-game assets like buildings, heroes, spells, etc. all fit into the game environment. This was from reading the WC3+expansion extended manuals, they give you a breakdown of each race and their units and buildings and a little backstory about them.

I also love the GTA San Andreas manual, which came as a sort of book which held the CD, like a tourist brochure, and it read like one too. I enjoyed flipping through it a few times.

Thanks for reminding me about alice’s journal. I think I have it somewhere still even though I traded in the game a long time ago.

I also forgot about how well the bioware and black isle manuals were(Bg, Fallout etc).

The gta books were pretty great as well. Vice city came that way as well.
I would think that Rise of Legends would be perfect for the Wc style of manual.

I liked the original Sims manual alittle bit, since it had little jokes and such in it.

I just remembered that part in alice where she stabs the guy with a spoon, I’m going to have go and look for it now. Also I remember the quake 2 manual, how it had that very old beaten up look to it. I remember my dad found it and said"you have to start throwing all this crap out, look this book’s pages are turning yellow already." I had to explain that that’s how the book came.

1942:Pacific Air War had a very similar collection of awesome manuals. Man, I loved that game.

At least one of the Heroes of Might and Magic had a beefy manual with lots of fluff. Three, I think?

You poor kids. Back in “the day” games didn’t come with a few skimpy pages of backstory in the manual. No, they came with whole seperate booklets stuffed with backstory. The most recent of which I can remember being released is this sweet Starsiege Compendium: History of the Conflict booklet sitting next to me. Starfox II (?) and Drakkhen are two more games that come with entertaining novellas that spring to mind. That’s backstory!