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Thread: Time to bring back the prose?
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 04:34 PM #21
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
I've always liked the Games Workshop approach: present the rules in a concise, straightforward manner (or at least attempt to); provide lots of evocative flavor on the side.
If I have to choose between the two, I want the rules to be as clear and unambiguous as the designers can get them.
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Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 04:35 PM #22
As much as I used to think that unambiguous rules relying on strong key words were a great idea, having spent the past few years with 4e books, I now seriously regret that WotC adopted that approach. I now think that a strong separation between fluff and crunch is a huge mistake (as is that terminology itself), as it promotes the mechanics over the in-game fiction.
I don't think ambiguity should be inserted into rules that don't need it, but the game should tolerate powers and abilities (e.g. illusion and divination spells) where the effects are inherently more subjective.
Likewise, the rules themselves should be embedded into the description of the spell. Yes, that makes the rule books harder to use as reference texts, but the reference book approach makes the books terrible to read and, frankly, less fun to use. If the game is to succeed, reading the rulebook has to make the reader want to play the game. If the rulebook reads like a text book, that will be off-putting to too many potential gamers.
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 04:38 PM #23
Guide (Lvl 11)
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 04:38 PM #24
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
There is a name for the writing style of 1e AD&D: purple prose. Remember q.v.?
Luckily for us, the new edition isn't headed back in that direction. It was a part of the game that made it more arcane, less accessible. It lent to some of the "nerd snobbery" D&D fans espoused back in the day.
One of the reasons people liked BECMI (and didn't move to "advanced" D&D), was the clearer language.
Good writing does not need obscure vocabulary, Latinized sentence structure, and archaic expressions.
Glamour is a rocky road!
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 04:38 PM #25
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
Mixture for me, too. I think part of the problem is a well-earn distrust of "fiction" in an RPG. Lots of folks in the 80's and 90's tried to imitate Gygax or even go him one better, when they really didn't have the skill to make it work. So given a choice between more of that or a clinical style, I'll pick the clinical style every time. There is nothing wrong with what Gygax did that a better editor couldn't have fixed (including the organization).
However, mainly I think that the resulting prose was bland because the person writing it didn't have much to say, but had a page count to fill. Perhaps a game system should be consciously designed with places for a prose substance to matter? Then maybe someone can be found to write good prose on that substance?
Ideally, I'd like a D&D with the bones lovingly crafted by the technicians, and then the prose filled out by Terry Pratchett. Alas, no way for that now.
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 05:30 PM #26
While I do not want to have to sift through 5 paragraphs of a spell description to find the "+1 to damage", I also do not want the dry, eye-watering 4th Ed powers format, i got about a 3rd the way through the cleric powers section of my 4th Ed PHB and had to put the book down (painful).
I've been reading the Basic Rulebook (Moldvay) lately, there's one you can sit on the crapper with for a while.
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 05:36 PM #27
Scout (Lvl 6)
And I'd rather have 4e's layout if i needed to look something during a game as well.
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 05:42 PM #28
I am not always playing the game, so getting enjoyment out of the books when not playing is important to me.
Has anyone sat down and read all of Adventurer's Vault?
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 05:51 PM #29
Scout (Lvl 6)
Tuesday, 1st May, 2012, 05:57 PM #30
2) I have a ridiculous amount of books to peruse, of all varieties, but i like to read RPG books sometimes; I hope you weren't tying to imply I have nothing better to read than PHBs?