Time to bring back the prose? - Page 3





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  1. #21
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    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.

 

  • #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.

    -KS

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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 agree with your general point, wholeheartedly. However, there is certainly room for some artistic license in the game books. The....sterility...of some of the books in later editions is a bit stifling. There should be some fun and humor when reading a book for a game, IMO.

  • #24
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    purple prose

    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!

  • #25
    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.

  • #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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely_Dan View Post
    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.
    Personally I odnt see why player handbooks need to be great reading. Those are setting books or other flavor intensive books. I dont see all this fuss over having a players handbook be some kind of great novel. You aren't probably going to use it except in character generation and leveling up.

    And I'd rather have 4e's layout if i needed to look something during a game as well.

  • #28
    Quote Originally Posted by herrozerro View Post
    Personally I odnt see why player handbooks need to be great reading. Those are setting books or other flavor intensive books. I dont see all this fuss over having a players handbook be some kind of great novel.
    Never said a "novel", but I have enjoyed reading every edition of PHBs so far (still do), save the 4th Ed one.

    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?

  • #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely_Dan View Post
    Never said a "novel", but I have enjoyed reading every edition of PHBs so far (still do), save the 4th Ed one.

    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?
    Actually I mine that one sometimes. Though I often sit down with the new MME book just for ideas.

    Though for me as a DM I guess I have the advantage of having more interesting books to peruse.

  • #30
    Quote Originally Posted by herrozerro View Post
    1) Actually I mine that one sometimes.

    2) Though for me as a DM I guess I have the advantage of having more interesting books to peruse.
    1) Do you ever read it for pleasure (The 3rd Ed Arms & Equipment Guide was hilarious)?

    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?

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