5E To boxed text or not to boxed text
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  1. #1
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    To boxed text or not to boxed text

    Stumbled across this headline:

    https://comicbook.com/gaming/amp/201...xt-adventures/

    Fierce Debate Breaks Out Over 'Dungeons & Dragons' Boxed Text in Adventures

    So where do you come down?

  2. #2
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    I love boxed text because it makes it clear what information is freely available to the PCs and what information is either gated behind PC actions or is variable based on the situation.

    I'm all on boxed text.
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  3. #3
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    Not a fan. I want clear descriptions (dot points are good), but the actual narration is something that I prefer to arise organically out of play.

    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by guachi View Post
    I love boxed text because it makes it clear what information is freely available to the PCs and what information is either gated behind PC actions or is variable based on the situation.
    The availability of information to the players, via their PCs or otherwise, is the sort of thing that I prefer to arise organically out of play.
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    Strange, I followed a lot of the 'debate' that spilled over onto twitter and only one person seemed vehemently opposed to boxed text. Several others were in the "meh" category and all other were for boxed text.

    I too am for boxed text, even when it is an adventure of my own design. It clearly separates what the characters perceive and know upon entering a location from what only the DM should know.

    I'm finding Dungeon of the Mad Mage frustrating in this regard. That group meets once a month at best, and even though I've read through the chapter more than once, if I don't re-read it right before game night, I feel like I'm fumbling through the evening.

    Even when boxed text is there, I rarely say it verbatim, but it is a good starting point.
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    I'm a 'meh'. I re-read all the text whether it's within a box or without, and then improvise around it. Thus how any of the information is presented becomes relatively the same. It doesn't really matter to me either way.
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    Is it nostalgia, maybe, but I think the boxed text helps separate the immediate PC information from DM information when scene framing and reflects it in a way that is easy for narration. That said, @pemerton's idea of dot points does the same thing in a way, and then the issue would have been to dot points or not to dot points so I don't believe it changes the conversation much.
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    I think it's a great tool for less experienced DM. When I was younger, in an age where streaming and YouTube didn't exist, it helped me a lot in my job as a fledging DM and showed me how to set an encounter.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Is it nostalgia, maybe, but I think the boxed text helps separate the immediate PC information from DM information when scene framing and reflects it in a way that is easy for narration. That said, @pemerton's idea of dot points does the same thing in a way, and then the issue would have been to dot points or not to dot points so I don't believe it changes the conversation much.
    I think dot points does two things:

    (1) Separates establishing the fictional content from narrating that content;

    (2) Separates establishing the fictional content from determining what the players, and/or the PCs, know about that content.

    Boxed text tends to make especially strong assumptions about (2). That's why I don't like it. It encourages presuppositions abouit what it is in the fiction that the players and/or PCs know, or will know, or find salient.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FXR View Post
    I think it's a great tool for less experienced DM. When I was younger, in an age where streaming and YouTube didn't exist, it helped me a lot in my job as a fledging DM and showed me how to set an encounter.
    Much this.

    I think theoretical debates by people with 20-40 years+ gaming experience regarding fictional content and narration is great and all, but it helps to remember that not everyone has that.

    Boxed text is wonderful for beginning DMs, and even more experienced DMs with a time crunch or doing a quick one-shot; and if you don't need it, you don't need it.
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  10. #10
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    I think box text is useful when it's well written, that is it actually describes all the pertinent information about the current room or situation. I've encountered some adventures where the text will describe in great detail some things in the room but then make no mention of other things that should be obvious to the players, so as a DM sometimes you have to go "oh wait there's also X, my bad." It's especially annoying when the box text makes no mention of monsters that are in the room.

    "You enter the chamber to find an old wooden rocking chair placed in front of a hearth. The hearth is filled with only ash, but there is a faint aroma of smoke in the air. On the opposite wall there is a bookshelf bursting with tomes in surprisingly good condition. Some of the tomes are scattered on the floor and open.... Also there's three goblins, roll initiative."
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