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


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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallstorm View Post
    I
    I agree with you in theory that the game can't just be data blocks and nothing else. It has to capture the imagination as well as giving rules and as I mentioned there are things the 4E books could do to improve upon their presentation. I just don't think longer texts lines is the way to do it, and in my personal experience when bringing new gamers into the fold (including trying to get my girl friend to play) it has not been the rules per say (which she picked up on very quickly) instead she was turned off by how long the descriptions of things were in my PHB (3.5 at the time) she thought because the book was so thick and had looong descriptions of things you had to be an engineer to play the game, so in my experience the long walls of text has not helpled.
    my experience has been the complete opposite. I also think the 4e stat blocks have much more of an "engineering" feel than the longer prose of 3e, 2e or 1e. Honeslty 4e looks like it was designed by math or business majors, whereas previous editions have much more of a humanities feel to me. Personally I have a much easier time absorbing mechanics if they are woven into text than just being given a bunch of numbers and data.

    I have no illusion about convincing you. But people who are enthralled with the 4E format should understand that adherence to it in 5e will likely mean the end of dungeons and dragons. Becuase the major critiques of 4e centered around:

    1) its gamist design
    2) restructuring of the game
    3) specific mechanics that were problematic to immersion (healing surges, second winds, martial powers, etc)
    4) the entry formats and the lack of flavor text

    I may be missing something but in any thread where people are debating 4e, of you pay any attention to the anti-4e camp (whether you agree with them or not) these are the issues they normally raise. I wouldn't underestimate the power of number 4 to sink the mext edition.
    http://www.rpgnow.com/product/131611/Sertorius

 

  • #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallstorm View Post
    I agree with you in theory that the game can't just be data blocks and nothing else. It has to capture the imagination as well as giving rules and as I mentioned there are things the 4E books could do to improve upon their presentation. I just don't think longer texts lines is the way to do it, and in my personal experience when bringing new gamers into the fold (including trying to get my girl friend to play) it has not been the rules per say (which she picked up on very quickly) instead she was turned off by how long the descriptions of things were in my PHB (3.5 at the time) she thought because the book was so thick and had looong descriptions of things you had to be an engineer to play the game, so in my experience the long walls of text has not helpled.
    An anecdote, however, is not data.

    I certainly believe your girlfriend held that opinion. However, the 4E approach did not work; this is evidenced by the fact that Pathfinder now rivals - maybe exceeds - D&D in sales, and that a new edition has been announced far earlier than one would normally expect. At this point, it's pretty hard to argue that 4E worked commercially.

    So our available data suggests that your girlfriend is not typical, and should not be the basis for decisions regarding the future of D&D. Pathfnder attracted half of D&D's customer base with those "walls of text" as you characterise them (I characterise them as "words" which I am saddened - dismayed - to hear present an insurmountable obstacle to people these days: what happened to us?)

    It's hard to argue that the "walls of text" edition of 3E did not outperform the "data blocks" version of 4E significantly.

    Man, I gotta say, I find that "walls of text" phrase dismaying. They're words. We're supposed to be able to handle words, dagnammit!

  • #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallstorm View Post
    I think the rate of new players to DnD including DnD Next will be about the same as it ways with all editons, except for what it was in the 1980's with DnD 1E where DnD was almost a hip social phenomenon for a time. Yes, I know "geek" culture is somewhat popular know via shows like the Big Bang Theory, etc but I'm sorry whether DnD has fluff texts or stat blocks I don't see DnD drawing in the same number of geek fans as World of Warcraft or Diablo or whatever is the new hot online game. I don't see it drawing the numbers of people in that video games draw and I don't see it becoming the past time for Joe Six Pack. I know, you don't think this either, point is I think that you and I can probably agree with each other that DnD is and will probably remain a niche market. Not saying, the game will not be around years from now and new players will not come into it, but it the game is what it is, a game that is part of a market (non-computerized table top rpgs) that appeals to a select group of people.

    .
    I am definitely not suggesting anything they do will bring D&D to the level of video games. It has always been a hobby that people trickle into. I do think the pele who play D&D are far more diverse than we are given credit for. But it does tend to attract people who like fantasy and read a lot.

    Where I think we disagree, and this is probably just a point in the discussion where neither side can make headway because it has been argued to death many times alread, is that I believe there was a serious drop in the number of people who came into 4e versus 3e, or even 2e (and most certainly 1e).

    I also disagree that D&D will continue to survive in its current niche no matter what they do. There have only been a handful of moments as long as I have been gaming where D&D had the kind of competition it is currently getting from pathfinder right now. It is becoming less and less true that D&D = RPG. There are lots of people coming into the hobby from games like pathfinder (and I hope through other games like savage worlds). RPGs will continue to be a niche for a while. But I do think D&D is at a major turning point. It well could continue to decline and other games will step in to take its place.
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  • #34
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    I Defended The Walls!

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    Instead of seeing this as a linear scale, I'd prefer to see a mix of both Gygaxian & 4E's approaches. Something like:

    Sleep (Klaus Edition)
    Daily, Standard✦ Arcane, Implement, Sleep
    Area: Burst 2 within 20 squares
    Target: Each creature in burst
    Attack: Intelligence vs. Will
    Hit: The target is slowed (save ends). If the target fails its
    first saving throw against this power, the target becomes
    unconscious (save ends).
    Miss: The target is slowed (save ends).

    With a wave of your hand, you cause a burst of magical sand to explode in a nearby area. Creatures within the sand cloud are overcome with weariness, falling asleep if they fail to shake off the initial effect. The spell can only keep creatures asleep for so long before they wake up, and an ally can try and shake a sleeping creature awake (through use of the Grant Saving Throw action).

    Even creatures that don't normally sleep, such as elves, are subject to this spell's effects.
    Last edited by Klaus; Sunday, 6th May, 2012 at 01:10 AM.

  • #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    OK. I thought I specifically said that I didn't think anyone was advocating Gygax's writing style, and that my preference was 3/4 towards 3E/Pathfinder. I'm no writer, though, so f that wasn't clear, please consider it so now.

    Theq spell example was 3E. Decades after Gygax left D&D.

    For reference, though, 4E's interminable list of powers takes up a far larger portion of the book than 2E's spells. I find that a curious objection.



    Yup. They can't win. If you like it, I won't; and vice versa. They'll lose one of us, whatever they do.



    I'm definitely not being clear enough, then. That ring fencing is what I hate. It was the very thrust of my article; at least it was supposed to be! To clarify: I don't like the way prose and data are separated out into separate entries. I prefer them mixed. Thus my first example, rather than my second.



    Oh, art is certainly vital. I've avoided the subject so far, but I believe that's even more of a landline. The choice of art style is as inviting/alienating as the rules themselves. Again, that's going to polarise people. Spikes and anime? Count me out. A portly fighter with a beard? Works for me. A ninja halfling? Count me out. A stubby hobbit with hairy feet and food stains on his clothes? Count me in. A muscular, beautiful scantily-clad adventuring party? Count me out. A group of adventurers weary and burdened down by their backpacks? Count me in.

    Art choice is probably the most subjective part of the design process. I don't envy them, because art is the most evocative part of design. You picture speaks a thousand words. It will communicate the intent of the game far quicker and more viscerally than any text will.
    Morrus,

    Here is what is the confusing part for me. You keep talking as if there was a significant difference in Pathinder/3.5 descriptions of spells and Gygaxian 1E/2E descriptions of spells when there absolutely is no difference unless you are perhaps talking about vocabulary used. For example, you mention not wanting long walls of text and the sleep exampe you give is true of this, but when I look at spells overall for 3.5 the spells descriptions are equally verbose if not more so than those presented in 1E/2E. For example again just turning to a random page in the DnD 3.5 PHB the spell "Fireball" on page 231 is a full 3 paragraphs long. 3 paragraphs for simple spell like fireball. Flipping randomly I come across a spell "Holy Aura" which is about 6 paragraphs long. So again, I don't really see a difference between 2E and 3.5 in terms of spell description because if you say you lean towards 3.5 spell descriptions those were/are fairly long consisting of multiple paragraphs just like it was in 2E.

    Also, I fail to understand why you find my objection to the space given to spells in the 3.5 vs. the 4E PHB curious. The class section of the 4E PHB, which si where all the powers are located last from page 52-171 of the 4E PHB. That is a total of 119 pages given to the power system of describing what characters can do. Note, that these pages also contain descriptions of the character class, etc so it the entire 119 pages are not just dedicated to spells. The spell section of the DnD 3.5 PHB last from page 181-303 that is a total of 122 pages more than in the 4E PHB and those pages are nothing but lines of text with no class descriptions or anything else thrown in. So again, it is truly not my intent to be contentioius on here but I just don't get the point you are making and wonder if there is not just a tad bit of romanticazation going on when it comes to prior editions of the game?

  • #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallstorm View Post
    Morrus,

    Here is what is the confusing part for me. You keep talking as if there was a significant difference in Pathinder/3.5 descriptions of spells and Gygaxian 1E/2E descriptions of spells when there absolutely is no difference unless you are perhaps talking about vocabulary used. For example, you mention not wanting long walls of text and the sleep exampe you give is true of this, but when I look at spells overall for 3.5 the spells descriptions are equally verbose if not more so than those presented in 1E/2E. For example again just turning to a random page in the DnD 3.5 PHB the spell "Fireball" on page 231 is a full 3 paragraphs long. 3 paragraphs for simple spell like fireball. Flipping randomly I come across a spell "Holy Aura" which is about 6 paragraphs long. So again, I don't really see a difference between 2E and 3.5 in terms of spell description because if you say you lean towards 3.5 spell descriptions those were/are fairly long consisting of multiple paragraphs just like it was in 2E.
    ?
    There is a large difference between gygaxian prose, 2e prose (2e was not gygaxian) and 3e prose. Part of it is vocabulary (and that mattrs here because some people are throwing the term gygaxian arounf suggesting Morrus is advocating a return to Gary's writing style. Gygaxian also refers to organization of information across the book, in paragraphs and in sections (just compare the 1e phb to the 2e phb). Finally it says something about clarity. Some peope find gygaxian prose unclear.

    I will just add that three paragraphs isn't all that much. I am certainly happy to read a three paragraph spell description.
    http://www.rpgnow.com/product/131611/Sertorius

  • #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
    Instead of seeing this as a linear scale, I'd prefer to see a mix of both Gygaxian & 4E's approaches. Something like:

    Sleep (Klaus Edition)
    Daily, Standard✦ Arcane, Implement, Sleep
    Area: Burst 2 within 20 squares
    Target: Each creature in burst
    Attack: Intelligence vs. Will
    Hit: The target is slowed (save ends). If the target fails its
    first saving throw against this power, the target becomes
    unconscious (save ends).
    Miss: The target is slowed (save ends).

    With a wave of your hand, you cause a burst of magical sand to explode in a nearby area. Creatures within the sand cloud are overcome with weariness, falling asleep if they fail to shake off the initial effect. The spell can only keep creatures asleep for so long before they wake up, and an ally can try and shake a sleeping creature awake (through use of the Grant Saving Throw action).

    Even creatures that don't normally sleep, such as elves, are subject to this spell's effects.
    Actually, Klaus that example if I saw it in the DnD Next PHB woudn't bother me so much as the rule/mechanics presentation are concise and the texts don't take up that much room. I might just remove the part about "the spell can only keep creatures asleep for so long" and just say, "Any ally can try and shake a sleeping creature awake throught the use fo the Grant Saving Throw Action." We know the spell doesn't last forever via the fact that that creatures can make a savign throw to overcome it every round so that line is redundant. Likewise you MAY not need to put the part about elves etc in there because under the racial description of elves they would probably say something like elves also don't need to sleep but are not immune to magical sleep effects like the SLEEP spell etc. I know this last part may seem petty, but we want as much information in the core books as possible so anything that saves space is valuable and if they included information about what creatures were not affecting by spells under every spell description, when they could just write one line under the race/creature description itself that and state in the beginning section of spells that unless a monster stat block says it is immune to such spells the spell functions on them seems like a waste of space.

    Overall, I really like this approach though. Good job.

  • #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallstorm View Post
    Morrus,

    Here is what is the confusing part for me. You keep talking as if there was a significant difference in Pathinder/3.5 descriptions of spells and Gygaxian 1E/2E descriptions of spells when there absolutely is no difference unless you are perhaps talking about vocabulary used. For example, you mention not wanting long walls of text and the sleep exampe you give is true of this, but when I look at spells overall for 3.5 the spells descriptions are equally verbose if not more so than those presented in 1E/2E. For example again just turning to a random page in the DnD 3.5 PHB the spell "Fireball" on page 231 is a full 3 paragraphs long. 3 paragraphs for simple spell like fireball. Flipping randomly I come across a spell "Holy Aura" which is about 6 paragraphs long. So again, I don't really see a difference between 2E and 3.5 in terms of spell description because if you say you lean towards 3.5 spell descriptions those were/are fairly long consisting of multiple paragraphs just like it was in 2E.
    I guess I'm just not getting my position across, then. I keep trying, but it ain't what you think it is.

    Sorry, man. I'm far from an expert writer, and I've failed at communicating here. I can't think how to clarify it, except to say what you're receiving isn't what I intended to send.

    I'm not suggesting rereleasing 3E, if that's what you mean. But 3 paragraphs for a spell? That's fine to me; I don't see the difficulty. Clearly you disagree.

    Some 3E spells may have been badly written, sure. I could probably find some examples, too, just like you did. Like I said, I want 5E to be well-written, not badly-written.

    I don't believe that "prose" and "badly written" are synonyms, though. I believe well-written prose is possible.

  • #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    It's hard to argue that the "walls of text" edition of 3E did not outperform the "data blocks" version of 4E significantly.

    Man, I gotta say, I find that "walls of text" phrase dismaying. They're words. We're supposed to be able to handle words, dagnammit!
    Agree on both counts. Words are good. They are beef and potatoes. Stats don't make a game come alive. It is all those annoying "walls of text" that make modules and rule books work. WOTC tried its best to strip out that stuff, and the result was a very wordy game nibbled at their heels (possibly their neck).
    http://www.rpgnow.com/product/131611/Sertorius

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post

    I will just add that three paragraphs isn't all that much. I am certainly happy to read a three paragraph spell description.
    Yeah, that bit scares me. I think I'm safe in saying that a game written for people who struggle to or are unwilling to read three paragraphs probably isn't a game I want to play. It's certainly not what D&D is to me. You can scan three paragraphs for the info you want in a second or two, but sacrificing everything in the name of "ease"? Not my cup of tea! Isn't the ultimate end of that line of thinking a video game?

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