|WikiProject Role-playing games||(Rated Start-class, Low-importance)|
Hmm. I'd always thought the name "Splatbooks" came from the sound made when you drop one of the (thin softcover) books on the table.
I did a fairly serious overhaul. I believe the definition I give is more correct: the name is derived from the similarity of titles within a given series (Clanbook: *) not for the similarity of multiple series (*book).
The earliest Usenet reference I can find is 1996/07/05.
The term was certainly not limited to online. Somewhere during the 1990s (I'm guessing around 1996) I attended a talk by Erick Wujcik (designer of Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game) at Gen Con on game publishing. He used the term "splatbooks". Specifically he suggested that any new RPG should have groupings suitable for expanding in marketable splatbooks. At the time this was not new terminology to me, but I was reading Usenet at the time and may have first seen it there.
The alternative derivation I've heard refers to the extremely 'hit or miss' nature of such books. More than most sourcebooks, they tend to divide the target audience into those who love the book and those who hate it. The analogy was something along the lines of tossing the books at a very small target. A few would hit, the rest would just go *splat*... Having said that, the White Wolf thing sounds much more likely.
Why is no-one asking the obvious?
Who are these people who say "splat" to mean "asterisk?" Literally every person who I have ever heard refer to an asterisk in my entire life calls it a "star" (if not actually "an asterisk"). As in "star dot star" for the wildcard filename. Perhaps there is an alternate "splat period splat" wildcard? 188.8.131.52 (talk) 05:39, 18 January 2011 (UTC)