Time to bring back the prose? - Page 11


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  1. #101
    Quote Originally Posted by hanez View Post
    I think its defintely true of spells. I play wizards/druids a lot when Im not DMing. Heres a comparison of a few wizard spells.





    For me. The old way of writing spells made me want to curl up, find out what the spell does and imagine if my character would want to do that. The new way makes me feel think they are all basically the same and instead of doing the tedious math work to find out whats the "best" ill just take a build off of a forum and play that (actually thats a lie, I'd rather just not play).

    For me, the old way is an actual description, whereas the 4E way is a wargaming stat block. In fact, it is the kind of stuff I see in the back of a Warhammer guide in the stats summary.

    We need to return to a minimum level of description. The ENTIRE game revolves around imagination and make believe. If all that is presented is a bunch of numbers, well, not much to build on.

 

  • #102
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    I find the 4E version in those examples marginally more dry than the 3E version. I still find the 3E version pretty darn dry. It's just technical stuff written out as prose instead of in a more reference manual style. It reminds me of a math class I had in college where we had to write out the explanation of certain problems in plain English--more accessible to the non-major, but not literature!

    Interestingly, the BECMI spells are fairly dry, too, if you look at the spells alone. However, most of the spell descriptions are much shorter, because they don't have all of the rules lawyer qualifications in them. (A few of them do have such. It's hardly universal.) I find these far more evocative than either the 3E or 4E versions, perhaps because I'm not automatically thinking in game terms when I read them?

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    So is it just spells vrs powers? Or are we talking about other rules like combat and what strength is as well?

    (From my own point of view, I can understand about spell description... but the strength example... I don't really find anything about the 1e example that is particularly better for reading. )

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    Quote Originally Posted by KidSnide View Post
    And let's remember that 4e uses some super-dry language, but it's not like it's easy to understand. Players have to remember a ton of key words and special language for the powers to make sense. (For example, if you don't remember the technical meaning of "Hit" and "Effect", huge numbers of precisely described powers become really confusing.) For players who have trouble remembering these terms, a more prose-like approach could actually be less confusing than the technical writing approach. It is more important for players to understand the book than for the book to provide precise answers to "corner case" situations.
    Yeah, that's true. I don't know whether it's actually harder mentally to read a few over-wordy sentences or game-specific jargon and notation. They both make the game harder to understand.

    We're definitely talking about a trade-off in terms of ease of reference for experienced players, not how easy the game is to pick up for new players.

    I don't think either the AD&D style or the 4e style of rules presentation are particularly concerned with accessibility. Some people in the other thread seemed intent on making this out to be the issue, but it's really not. As it turns out neither game would be my first choice to recommend to someone new to RPGs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Halivar View Post
    I think Morrus hit on something here in talking about wanting to sit down and read the books. I got the 4E books, but in retrospect I didn't need to. I have DDI for a reference. I no longer pull out the books at all. In fact, I leave them at home when I go game. DDI is my reference, and I no longer have evocative reading material to get me jazzed up to game.

    Well, I do, but it's for 1st edition, not 4E. Thus, I'm running a 1E game right now.
    I really think we could have both. When it comes to quick rules reference, nothing beats an online rules compendium with a search function. Why not write that in a way focusing on clarity and rules lawyer-mitigation, and write the physical book in a way focusing on reading for pleasure.

    Those who like a more sparse yet evocative BECMI-style spell writeups can just game from the book, those who like the hyperclear yet bonedry 4e style can just game from the online rules compendium. Those who want both (AD&D/3e style) can use both.

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    Simple.

    Rules= Plain and straightforward. It is a game after all, and clarity is important.

    Flavor Text= As flowery as you want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Target View Post
    Simple.

    Rules= Plain and straightforward. It is a game after all, and clarity is important.

    Flavor Text= As flowery as you want.
    I'd rather see no torrid fiction. I'll read a George RR Martin book if I'm jn the mood for a story. I'm just talking about the rules.

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    Can someone give an example of rules text other then spells vrs powers?

    I'm trying to figure out what the difference is in the majority of rules in the system, or if it really is just things like spells and powers should have more descriptive elements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanez View Post
    I think its defintely true of spells. I play wizards/druids a lot when Im not DMing. Heres a comparison of a few wizard spells.

    For me. The old way of writing spells made me want to curl up, find out what the spell does and imagine if my character would want to do that. The new way makes me feel think they are all basically the same and instead of doing the tedious math work to find out whats the "best" ill just take a build off of a forum and play that (actually thats a lie, I'd rather just not play).
    I'm looking at the examples you provided and I've copied one of them below. I've colored the "fluff" yellow and the "crunch" red. I've left out the really "technical info" (e.g. casting time, duration, etc) - they read like this:

    3e sleep

    A sleep spell causes a magical slumber to come upon 4 Hit Dice of creatures. Creatures with the fewest HD are affected first. Among creatures with equal HD, those who are closest to the spell’s point of origin are affected first. Hit Dice that are not sufficient to affect a creature are wasted.

    Sleeping creatures are helpless. Slapping or wounding awakens an affected creature, but normal noise does not. Awakening a creature is a standard action (an application of the aid another action).

    Sleep does not target unconscious creatures, constructs, or undead creatures.


    Material Component
    A pinch of fine sand, rose petals, or a live cricket.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    4e sleep
    You exert your will against your foes, seeking to overwhelm them with a tide of magical weariness.

    Hit: The target is slowed (save ends). If the target fails its first saving throw against this power, the target becomes unconscious (save ends).
    Miss: The target is slowed (save ends).


    It seems to me, that in this instance at least, 3e has more "rules language," but that rules language is not simply technical information (It doesn't exist solely as a "stat block") and less instances of discrete "fluff" (or prose, or whatever we call it). The 4e example seems very concise - nearly bordering terse (in my opinion). With the effects of the spell written in more technical terms (which is comprised of 4e specific jargon such as keywords, etc...) So, I'm wondering if it's not so much "prose" vs. "technical," but rather it's about representation and engagement.

    I'm not arguing the language of one edition over another, but perhaps what is important is the "discourse" of the game. This involves written rules, jargon, the language of the game as it is played, the language used to describe how the game is played - essentially all linguistic elements that represent D&D and orient our understanding of what "D&D" is (like how a glass [the discourse] shapes water [our understanding of the game]). This needs to match player expectations, or at least is engaging/compelling enough that players can allow their expectations to be changed.

    But, in any case, the representation (discourse) of D&D must be such that it is engaging - and that didn't seem to happen with a number of people when 4e arrived, because much of the traditional discourse of D&D changed. I'm not saying 4e isn't D&D, but just that the discourse changed, and that change disoriented some players.

    So, perhaps a task of 5e is to also reconstruct the discourse of D&D so that it reorients people to a more unified (or acceptable) representation of D&D.
    Last edited by kevtar; Thursday, 3rd May, 2012 at 12:13 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Sleep:

    A sleep spell causes a magical slumber to come upon 4 Hit Dice of creatures. Creatures with the fewest HD are affected first. Among creatures with equal HD, those who are closest to the spell’s point of origin are affected first. Hit Dice that are not sufficient to affect a creature are wasted.

    Sleeping creatures are helpless. Slapping or wounding awakens an affected creature, but normal noise does not. Awakening a creature is a standard action (an application of the aid another action).

    Sleep does not target unconscious creatures, constructs, or undead creatures.

    Vs

    You exert your will against your foes, seeking to overwhelm them
    with a tide of magical weariness.

    [Sleep keyword]

    Target: Each creature in burst
    Attack: Intelligence vs. Will
    Hit: The target is slowed (save ends). If the target fails its first saving throw against this power, the target becomes unconscious (save ends).

    I just don't feel this amazing contrast.

    The 3E version tells me about HD affected and wasted HD. The 4e version tells met that I attack all targets in the AoE.

    The 3E version tells me that it's a magical slumber which can be broken by slapping or wounding (as a standard action - doesn't get more immersive than that!) but not noise, and that it doesn't affect the unconscious or the unliving.

    The 4e version tells me that it's a sleep effect (via the keyword) that slows the target and might render them unconscious. Some other things - like the effect or non-effect on unliving targets, and the possibility of waking someone as a standard action - are shunted to other parts of the rulebook (MM glossary, and PHB Heal skill rules, respectively).

    I don't feel any contrast. The Rolemaster sleep spell is even more spartan in its description than 4e, but Rolemaster is nevertheless (in my experience) a very immersive game, because of the intricacy of the interaction between ficiton and mechanics.

    In each case, reading the sleep spell isn't about being immersed by reading. It's about envisaging about how an episode might play out in the game.

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