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How did this start?
After some experience as an editor of d20 material, I found that the majority of mistakes involve a lack of standardization, especially regarding statistics blocks. While some companies compiled and distributed internal style guides, most had no such reference, forcing editors (like me) to rely on our personal preferences or the outdated samples in the DMG. After the experiencing one company too many without a style guide, I decided to solve the problem by searching for the “correct” format. I emailed various Wizards employees, asked others if they had any information, and even started a thread on the EN World message boards, but to no avail.
Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, I resolved to fix the problem another way. Through sheer ambition and naiveté, I decided to write an industry-standard style guide. I wrote many emails to anyone I thought would be able to help, from current and former WotC employees to programmers of online “generators” to those who were simple enthusiasts and “rules lawyers.” I hijacked my thread, renaming it “Quest for the One True Stat Block” and changing its purpose to creating, rather than finding, the ideal stat block.
In its early phases, I was nothing more than a repository for ideas about what would make the best stat block, but as the ideas piled up I was forced to compile, collect, and discard various ideas. Under the light-hearted code name “Project Otis” (a corrupted form of the acronym for One True Stat Block), thoughts and ideas were traded and discussion was often quite heated. Eventually, I had to make the hard decisions and write up a rough draft of the format requirements, in addition to a sample stat block for demonstration.
This three-page paper is, in a real sense, the origin of the SSBF. Since then, people have joined the project, large sections of the style guide have been changed or added, and more has been written. The project is not a static compilation, but a dynamic resource for the d20 community, publisher and consumer alike. No matter how far it evolves, though, it can always trace its history to its humble beginnings…