Time to bring back the prose? - Page 9


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  1. #81
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    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.
    Playing a game is a study. Storytelling is personal composition.

 

  • #82
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by howandwhy99 View Post
    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.
    He- like a lot of people who emulate his style on these boards- could be described as "wordy."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scribble View Post
    He- like a lot of people who emulate his style on these boards- could be described as "wordy."
    I'm sure I have no idea what you mean.

    Playing a game is a study. Storytelling is personal composition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    I don't think that when anybody says "make the books something you can read" ...
    And, taking this in a really different direction, that line leads me to the crux of the issue.

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    And, taking this in a really different direction, that line leads me to the crux of the issue.

    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.
    Ah, but that was my point. I can only speak for myself, obviously, but I used to read and reread the 1E and 2E rulebooks. Additionally, I'd frequently grab them off the shelf, sit down, and read a bit of them for 10 minutes or so. I still do.

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scribble View Post
    He- like a lot of people who emulate his style on these boards- could be described as "wordy."
    Hey, merely because I'm verbose and interested in shades of meaning in vocabulary, doesn't mean I'm emulating a particular style of a particular person. There are lots of variations on wordy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    Ah, but that was my point. I can only speak for myself, obviously, but I used to read and reread the 1E and 2E rulebooks. Additionally, I'd frequently grab them off the shelf, sit down, and read a bit of them for 10 minutes or so. I still do.

    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.
    I'm much the same way. I often wonder if that's why some of have such different approaches to the game, different approaches, and different appreciations of the design that went into elements of the game. The number of times I've found something interesting that got me thinking about the game in a slightly different way simply by picking up the rule book and reading parts of it again and again is actually pretty high. This applies to more than D&D as well. I found some editions of Champions as fun to pick up and simply read as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    Ah, but that was my point. I can only speak for myself, obviously, but I used to read and reread the 1E and 2E rulebooks. Additionally, I'd frequently grab them off the shelf, sit down, and read a bit of them for 10 minutes or so. I still do.

    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.
    I'm right there with you. Later D&D 4e books were better (Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporeum is really good), but still not in the class of AD&D books for sheer "pull it off the shelf and give it a read" fun.

    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?

  • #90
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent_Nall View Post
    I'm right there with you. Later D&D 4e books were better (Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporeum is really good), but still not in the class of AD&D books for sheer "pull it off the shelf and give it a read" fun.

    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?
    At least for adults, I don't think a great many rules were ignored because they were incomprehensible. I would guess that most ignored rules were ignored because (1) they were more complicated that they were worth and/or (2) the DM wanted to do something else.

    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.

    -KS

    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...

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