D&D 4th Edition Prose, Terminology, Fluff, & Presentation: Spreadsheets or Haiku? - Page 12




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  1. #111
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    Anyone can make up fluff. It isn't as easy to pull together crunch. Fluff is more interpretative, crunch is not. Crunch makes for better game systems. Fluff.. well add all you want as long as its got the crunch.

 

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    Look closely at the two examples given. If you remove the mechanical parts, the only difference is that that description for the 4E version is much more evocative and the 3E one includes spell components. That's it. Everything else is just rules. The 4E one is shorter partially because the rules on conditions and the rules for dealing with them (waking people up) are standardized and in their own section.

    While I agree that 4E cut a lot of evocative fluff that detracted from the game, this is a poor example. I would have picked one of the many powers in 4E whose description is too brief or vague to get across exactly what is actually happening, or (the best example) the difference in monster manual entries, where the early 4E books often didn't tell you anything about a creature other than its stats, often not even telling you what they looked like.

    In the new edition, I want the rules to be just like they are in 4E: precise, clear, and well organized. The Rules Compendium is a marvelous reference tool. However, I want a lot of the old color and fluff added back in, on top of that. Not replacing it.

  • #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by bergec View Post
    Look closely at the two examples given. If you remove the mechanical parts, the only difference is that that description for the 4E version is much more evocative and the 3E one includes spell components. That's it. Everything else is just rules. The 4E one is shorter partially because the rules on conditions and the rules for dealing with them (waking people up) are standardized and in their own section.

    While I agree that 4E cut a lot of evocative fluff that detracted from the game, this is a poor example. I would have picked one of the many powers in 4E whose description is too brief or vague to get across exactly what is actually happening, or (the best example) the difference in monster manual entries, where the early 4E books often didn't tell you anything about a creature other than its stats, often not even telling you what they looked like.

    In the new edition, I want the rules to be just like they are in 4E: precise, clear, and well organized. The Rules Compendium is a marvelous reference tool. However, I want a lot of the old color and fluff added back in, on top of that. Not replacing it.
    You're misunderstanding me. Or conflating "fluff" with "prose".

    The example illustrates rules presented in prose, not spells with added fluff. 4E has fluff; it's fine; I've not claimed it hasn't. What I've said is that I prefer rules presented in prose form rather than tabular, because I find it more engaging. And what little fluff there might be (if any) is intermixed with it.

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    I've updated the original article to explain what I mean when I use the word "prose" and to clarify that I'm not attempting to argue that 4E does not have "fluff". These are two diffferent things in my mind, and the article is intended to discuss the former.

  • #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    I've updated the original article to explain what I mean when I use the word "prose" and to clarify that I'm not attempting to argue that 4E does not have "fluff". These are two diffferent things in my mind, and the article is intended to discuss the former.
    So, per your update, is this what you'd like to see?

    Sleep (4th Edition, prosified)
    Daily ✦ Arcane, Implement, Sleep
    Casting Time: Standard Action
    Area: burst 2 within 20 squares
    Target: Each creature in burst
    Attack: Intelligence vs. Will

    You exert your will against your foes, seeking to overwhelm them
    with a tide of magical weariness. All creatures in the are are slowed
    until they succeed on a saving throw. Targets hit by this spell that
    fail the save are rendered unconscious, as they fall asleep.
    A successful saving throw against the unconsciousness awakens
    a sleeping target.

  • #116
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    Not too bad at all, <!-- BEGIN TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->@Klaus <!-- END TEMPLATE: dbtech_usertag_mention -->. That prose, despite showing the exact same information, feels more like a sleep spell to me than the default 4E stat block.

    I think I'd still like to see "Attack" moved out of the statblock portion (because I feel it trends the thinking into the idea that all spells must have an attack roll and I fervently hope that 5E spells contain the variety and utility that pre-4E did without separating them into rituals) but that's a very minor quibble as long as "Attack: N/A" doesn't end up being a rare feature. I can live with that if people find it easier.

    One thing I didn't really touch on earlier is that in prose form you can pretty much do anything, whereas a predefined statblock layout limits you to (not literally, but it tends to make you write spells that way) to specific entries which as a template don't necessarily fit all.
    Last edited by Morrus; Monday, 7th May, 2012 at 05:38 PM.

  • #117
    I think one thing people are forgetting is that 4th edition's book printing is incidental; the model intended is promoting DDI, which the 4th edition style is easily supported by. The prose of before (and Pathfinder uses now), while it might be better in tabletop play, is unquestionably worse as an online reference.

  • #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fergurg View Post
    I think one thing people are forgetting is that 4th edition's book printing is incidental; the model intended is promoting DDI, which the 4th edition style is easily supported by. The prose of before (and Pathfinder uses now), while it might be better in tabletop play, is unquestionably worse as an online reference.
    The online stuff should be nothing more than support for the books anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus
    One thing I didn't really touch on earlier is that in prose form you can pretty much do anything, whereas a predefined statblock layout limits you to (not literally, but it tends to make you write spells that way) to specific entries which as a template don't necessarily fit all.
    Absolutely true. Prose is open-ended, while the existence of a template or table tends to force designers into shoehorning things into said template/table whether they fit properly or not.

    Layout-wise, one thing that could be done to shorten the write-up space for spells is to use the 1e format, where some of the "table" is in a second mini-column to the right. Example (from the 1e PH):

    Sleep (Enchantment/Charm)

    Level: 1 < . . . . . . . TAB . . . . . . . . > Components: V,S,M
    Range: 3" + 1"/level < . . . . TAB . . . > Casting time: 1 segment
    Duration: 5 rounds/level < . . TAB . . > Saving throw: none
    Area of Effect: Special

    [followed by a prose write-up including a small chart of how many creatures of what hit dice are affected]


    The table takes 4 lines instead of 7, with room for one more entry: 4e might have the attack-vs.-defense entry on the same line as area of effect, for example.

    Also, glancing at ye olde 1e PH shows me they've got about 5-7 spells written up per page on average, plus occasional small bits of art, and they don't care (and neither should we, really) if reading a spell write-up forces one to turn the page partway through.

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  • #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    Absolutely true. Prose is open-ended, while the existence of a template or table tends to force designers into shoehorning things into said template/table whether they fit properly or not.
    I'd characterize prose as a blank canvas, whereas a statblock is a constraining box. On a blank canvas, you can paint anything.
    Last edited by Morrus; Monday, 7th May, 2012 at 07:21 PM.

  • #120
    I am beginning to see your difference in meaning of prose versus fluff.

    In that case, I would personally, definitely, lean toward the "Excel" version.

    What I would like to see in 5E, though, is a more condensed version of the statistical block for spells, with a simultaneous enlargement of the fluff, and possibly the additions of sidebars and introductory fluff text.

    For instance, perhaps the whole concept of "power source" can be done away with, but keep the keywords. Maybe "Area" and "Target" can be combined into one line. Etc...

    However, make the one sentence description a two or three sentence description...

    I really appreciate the tabular format. I do agree that the books must be more evocative that 4E, but I think more "fluff," while maintaining the tabular format (and not presented as prose) is a good compromise.
    Last edited by hbarsquared; Monday, 7th May, 2012 at 10:32 PM. Reason: Meant the opposite in that last line...

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