Presenting Emergent Play

There's a discussion on Story Games about how to go beyond minimum instruction in game texts. The primary problem, at least in my view, is the increased word count necessary when entering the realm of advice and strategy guide.

Player A wants just the reference text, not to be bothered with advice on this and that. Player B wants to know why he's doing what he's being asked to do, even if it reveals otherwise emergent elements of play. Heck, Players A and B may in fact be the same player at different times in their learning of the game.

Here's one way I'm trying to reconcile the tastes of both players: There is a section explicitly called out as non-procedural "advice" text. It is set apart from "instruction" text by a variety of layout conventions (smaller font size, leading, number of columns, etc.).
Example: You're in a part of the book where there are are a number of branching options, some of which will call on you to describe a scene. Rather than repeat the same advice in each branch, there is a preface titled "How to Describe a Scene." It is set in an 8pt sans serif while the main instructional text is set in 11pt serif.
This is distinct from a typical sidebar because the content isn't quite so tangential to the flow of reading. It's something that is just as important and deserves as much attention to the instruction, but can be visually skipped for those readers already familiar with those details and are now only using the text for reference.
Example: When you were first learning the game and reading the book, you read the instructional text and the advice text as a single continuous flow. When you go back for reference, you can easily skip the advice because it is so visually distinct.
That advice text is split up into a number of subsections concerning particular issues that frequently come up in play. Sections about long-term strategies, when it is appropriate to choose Door 1 or Door 2, optimal decisions to make here or there, and all supported with a peek under the hood of the game system.
Example: "How to Describe a Scene" is split up into sub-sections like "Describing a Scene Using the Five Senses" "How to Build on Another Player's Contributions" and "When You Should Save or Spend Plot Points."
Not all this advice is relevant in all branching paths of play, but it is relevant enough that it's useful to have it available all in one place. That advice established, you can continue into the branching paths of instruction and back-reference to specific advice where necessary. This method also allows enough space to write advice text that really is only relevant to branching path 1, 2, or 3, without burdening Branch 1 with advice that is only relevant in Branch 3.
Example: You're reading a later part of the book concerning one particular branch of play procedure. The instruction says "Describe a scene where the antagonist and your character have a heated argument." The advice section calls back to "How to Build on Another Player's Contributions" and "When You Should Save or Spend Plot Points." It does not call back to "Describing a Scene Using the Five Senses" because it is not especially relevant in this part of play. Furthermore, this part of the book has very specific advice like "How Antagonists Argue" and "In Case Things Turn Violent."
Having general advice in one place also allows you to work back references into an example of play.
Example: Ted is describing his character Tarak getting into a heated argument with Lord Bonecrusher. He's having a little bit of creative block, so he refers back to the advice on page XX. Specifically, he's having trouble deciding the nature of the argument without it turning violent. He sees in "How Antagonists Argue" that the antagonist may have a subordinate do the arguing. That subordinate doesn't have the authority to start a fight, but may shout and gnash teeth viciously. So, Ted describes Lord Bonecrusher leaning back in his throne, shrouded by shadows while his lackey Squick Anklebiter rattles his saber at Tarak.
This is one way we might be able to reconcile the amount of space required to go beyond minimum instruction while still being economical with our word count.

» Story Games: RPG Texts: Going Beyond Minimum Instruction
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.