Time to bring back the prose?




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  1. #1
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    Time to bring back the prose?

    This is coming from my new AD&D kick. I'm loving the Gygaxian prose in the rulebooks and the adventures. I'm wondering if maybe part of the problem with the "sense of wonder" in 4E stems from the clinical, obviously rules-lawyer writing style. HOWEVER... as a trade off, the language is more precise, and there is far less head-scratching over what the text means. It's like a lawyer wrote it (for good or for ill).

    So what would you prefer?
    1) A more flowery, open-to interpretation writing style, even if it means more vagueness, less precision, and possibly contradictions.
    2) A continuation of concise, concrete language using defined terms and keywords.

    I'd definitely choose (1). I think 4E would not have rubbed as many people the wrong way if it didn't read somewhat like a frog dissection. Using prose to express the game rules instead of legalese using Official Terms would have removed a lot of the blatantly gamist feel (I didn't have a problem with that, but most people in my group did).

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    Nope.

    Eschew obfuscation, espouse elucidation, and all that. Clear language takes pressure off DMs by reducing the need for judgment calls. It in no way handcuffs the DM, however. We should all know that by now, but it's a good idea to make sure that's clear in 5e.

  • #3
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    Precise concrete language all the way. I don't need to buy a "sense of wonder". I can provide my own. What I can't (easily) provide on my own is high-quality game mechanics. I have no interest in buying something that fails to precisely and concisely describe the game mechanics.

    Now, the tone could be less clinical, and still be precise and non-contradictory, but the more goals placed on a piece of writing, the more likely it'll come up short on them.

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    For all I think 4E is a much better game, from my perspective it definitely suffers from the writing having all the charm of a computer instruction manual especially in the PHB. (Essentials is much fluff-heavier).

    That's not to say you need to be flowery and unclear. Just more flavour made explicit than was in the 4e PHB.

  • #5
    In some areas, such as flavourful descriptions of objects, monsters and certain abilities: yes.

    In the vast majority of areas, no, though as has already been said being overly clinical should be avoided as well. It can result in a somewhat sterile tone which is one of the more voiced complaints about 4th ed.

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    1 please. I'll take the prose. One, cuz I like/enjoy it better, myself.

    And B: Anything that can take the rules-lawyering and munchkin gaming down a few notches/out of the game, even if its something as subtle as the tone of the writing, is aces in my book.
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    For me, I think that at this point if I can't sit down and read it, I'm unlikely to buy it. I only have four 4E books.

    Reference books just can't excite me. Dictionaries, cookbooks, IKEA instructions all leave me cold. And if it doesn't excite me, it's not gonna get bought!

    So yes, prose please.

    That's largely what this thread, yesterday, turned into. So you might want to pop into that one for many extensive differing opinions on the subject.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steeldragons View Post
    1 please. I'll take the prose. One, cuz I like/enjoy it better, myself.

    And B: Anything that can take the rules-lawyering and munchkin gaming down a few notches/out of the game, even if its something as subtle as the tone of the writing, is aces in my book.
    I think you have it backwards. Option 1 is a "rules-lawyer and munchkin" dream. The more ambiguity and contradictions, the more grounds there is to gain advantage by arguing with the DM.

    Whereas in 4E, the DM's answer to such shenanigans is generally: "the rules very clearly state how it works; moving on".

    To me, Option 2 makes for better roleplaying. When everyone has a clear picture of how the world works, they can roleplay within it more effectively. The more the world operates on DM whims and judgements, the more roleplaying becomes "try to figure out what your DM is thinking".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    For me, I think that at this point if I can't sit down and read it, I'm unlikely to buy it. I only have four 4E books.

    Reference books just can't excite me. Dictionaries, cookbooks, IKEA instructions all leave me cold. And if it doesn't excite me, it's not gonna get bought!

    So yes, prose please.

    That's largely what this thread, yesterday, turned into. So you might want to pop into that one for many extensive differing opinions on the subject.
    There's a time and place for more evocative prose and a time and place for straight forward explanation. The latter belongs in places where the rule structures are described explained. How to apply a modifier, what modifier applies, what a move action is, what a condition is, how a special ability is implemented in the game. The former belongs most other places as far as I'm concerned.

    And fixed the typos in the link.
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  • #10
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    Mix of both?

    I like it when I can sit down and read the books, but not being able to use them quickly and easily at the table is a real PAIN.

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