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Thread: Time to bring back the prose?
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 03:15 PM #81
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Gary needed a really good technical writer. He did have an amazing vocabulary and his novels were fun and interesting, while not perhaps literary greatness. What he could do well was intuitively design great games. The only uniformly agreed upon advancement in RPGs I know of is game writing's improved technical clarity.
Perhaps that's why it can be difficult to bring prose back into them? I think most indie games are way ahead of the curve on this.There's no such thing as stories or storytelling. RPG roleplaying is game system mastering
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Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 03:41 PM #82
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
I think a 75%/25% ratio of prose/tech manual writing would be great. Prose os what makes me read the books over and over and get my imaginatation going. I read the 4e book FAR less than 1e, 2e, or 3.x.
The tech style is appropriate in some areas where it's needed.
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 04:13 PM #83
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 04:35 PM #84
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 04:44 PM #85
Time Agent (Lvl 24)
How often will a person actually read the rulebook? As in, open the cover, start at page one, and read on through to the end? Maybe once? That is an important once, but it is once. After that, the book is being used primarily as a reference - to look up specific things.
Those two agendas ("read through to learn and absorb" and "reference") call for markedly different writing styles.
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 04:49 PM #86
Hydra (Lvl 25)
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I don't do that with the 4E books, though. I just look stuff up in them.
For me personally, the way the books were presented actually affected how I interacted with the game. And that consequently created in me a sense of excitement and wonder which 4E fails to do. Pathfinder still does - to an extent - and it's presentation is a halfway house between the two styles.
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 04:53 PM #87
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 04:56 PM #88
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
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Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 05:02 PM #89
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
The flip side is that a great deal of the fun in reading AD&D books came at the expense of good, clear, understandable rules. How many rules in AD&D were ignored, forgotten, or lost because they were obscure or difficult to find buried in fun prose?
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012, 05:38 PM #90
Magsman (Lvl 14)
I came to AD&D in grade school, so -- yes -- I'll admit that there were plenty of rules that I ignored or misinterpreted because I didn't understand them. But I think kids working out what the complicated rules mean is part of the RPG experience. Sure, they'll play it "wrong", but who cares? Kids aren't stupid -- if their "custom variant" sucks badly enough, they'll read the rules again and come up with something different.
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.
Maybe I'm in the minority here because I don't really care about convention play, but I think having all the tables in the world playing RAW is totally overrated. I don't propose making the rules deliberately obscure, but I don't think it's a big deal if different groups interpret the rules differently.
P.S. Also, the comic illustrations in the original AD&D DMG were funnier than 98% of the D&D comics published since. D&D has been taking itself too seriously for several editions now...