Time to bring back the prose? - Page 2




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  1. #11
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    If there's ONE thing from 4E that should NEVER go back to Dungeons & Dragons is the medical prescription style of language.

    No thanks, that should burn in hell or be exclusive DDI content for those who enjoy the style.

    Books must be evocative.
    F I G H T E R

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkyle View Post
    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".
    I have to disagree on some of that. The more the rule set implies precision of language, the more wrangling I've seen over the meaning of the language. We had rules lawyers back in 1e, but I saw a lot less dickering over RAW and RAI. I think a game master had more authority (as perceived by your average gaming table) to interpret and make a decision.

    I do think simplicity and clarity of prose is important when laying out the specifics of the rules, but it's also possible to take things way too far in an RPG in writing for comprehensiveness and completeness.

    And for my money, anything that puts a character more into the mood and in immersion is what enhances role playing. That's a strength of evocative prose.
    Bill D

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  • #13
    Definitely the prose, although I guess it doesn't need to be over-the-top. After reading Trail of Cthulhu and some of his other work, I think Kenneth Hite would be just the person for the task.

  • #14
    Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
    I have to disagree on some of that. The more the rule set implies precision of language, the more wrangling I've seen over the meaning of the language. We had rules lawyers back in 1e, but I saw a lot less dickering over RAW and RAI. I think a game master had more authority (as perceived by your average gaming table) to interpret and make a decision.
    Well, arguments over RAW vs. RAI happen because of insufficiently clear and precise language. Mistakes happen.

    I think the big change is that there used to be a much bigger acceptance of the DM being the absolute arbiter of the game, and that it was OK for the DM to pretty much make up the rules as he went.

    But as far as I'm concerned, that's all something to be avoided.

    And for my money, anything that puts a character more into the mood and in immersion is what enhances role playing. That's a strength of evocative prose.
    But how many players actually really read the books at all, let alone at play-time? I'm not seeing much real benefit there, compared to what the DM provides at the table. Sure, if the evocative prose is in addition to well defined, precise language, that's great, but it's important to set priorities. And I think imprecision and contradictions cause much more difficulty at the table, than textbook-style language.

  • #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Halivar View Post
    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).

    Thoughts?
    I prefer 3), a clean, economical writing style that eschews Gygaxian bloat, but also avoids sounding like a textbook or legalese. Keep it focused on the fiction of the game world; make it clear that the mechanics are a tool for shaping the fiction, rather than the fiction being decoration for the mechanics.

    Good writing is tight, clear, efficient writing. Evocative prose does not require burying your nouns under masses of adjectives, or packing half a dozen four-syllable words into every line, or taking a paragraph to say what could be said in a sentence. Quite the opposite, in fact. Pick up a Stephen King novel sometime to see how it's done.

    The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
    Last edited by Dausuul; Tuesday, 1st May, 2012 at 06:02 PM.

    There is no fluff. There is no crunch. There are only rules of varying precision.

  • #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
    I prefer 3), a clean, economical writing style that eschews Gygaxian bloat, but also avoids sounding like a textbook or legalese. Keep it focused on the fiction of the game world; make it clear that the mechanics are a tool for shaping the fiction, rather than the fiction being decoration for the mechanics.
    I guess part of the reason for my preferences is that I usually jettison the "fiction" of published RPGs in favor of my own. So I prefer there be a clear separation between the two, so I know what I can get rid of and substitute, without messing up the balance of the game mechanics. I basically want the fiction to be decoration for the mechanics.

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    I want a mixture. I want conversational tones that teach me how to play. And, I want modern, clean and well-designed layout for the crunchy bits that inform the conversation and are easy to reference during play.

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    Both for me. I want great prose with a bulleted list at the end with all the important stuff. After I read the rules, I just want a quick reference to glance at during play. This can include a bullet at the end, "and subject to DM approval"
    Thinking about what I want out of a game

  • #20
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    Really? Gygaxian prose? You mean this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e Player's Handbook
    Half-elves do not form a race unto themselves, but rather they can be found amongst both elvenkind and men. For details of the typical half-elf see ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, MONSTER MANUAL under the heading Elf.

    A character of half-elven race can play as a cleric (maximum of 5th level), druid, fighter (maximum of 8th level), ranger (maximum of 8th level), magic-user (maximum of 8th level), thief, or assassin (maximum of 11th level). A character of half-elven race can also opt to become a multiclassed individual, i.e. clericlfighter, cleric/ranger, cleric/magic-user, fighter/magic-user, fighte/thief, magic-user/thief, cleric/fighter/magicuser, or a fighter/magic-user/thief. Half-elven characters who choose the cleric as one of their multi-classes aren't limited by that class' proscriptions upon weapons usable, but they are quite restricted in level. Half-elven characters who choose the thief class as one of their multi-roles are limited to the weaponry and armor of that class when operating as a thief. All earned experience is always divided evenly between the classes of the multi-classed character, even though the character is no longer able to gain levels in one or more of the classes. (See CHARACTER CLASSES, and consult the various classes for more detailed information pertaining to half-elven characters operating within the stated classes.)
    The remainder of the entry is a series of paragraphs discussing the various racial traits of half-elves (charm immunity, languages, infravision, etc).

    I fail to find a sense of wonder in this paragraph. I find a huge chunk of misplaced multi-class rules and a reference to go read the Monster Manual (in a player book!) but nothing on how they look, act, fit into the world, etc.

    If you want some invocation and prose, get the Metzer boxsets or the RC.
    Last edited by Remathilis; Tuesday, 1st May, 2012 at 04:35 PM.
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