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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    Alright, let me make sure what you're saying here. Is this something about forum etiquette?
    No?

    1) LE made a statement that he felt hooked into/supported his position as it relates to boxed text. This was a statement about the focal points and values of beginner GMing or what the mainstream culture should push as the focal points and values of beginner GMing.
    So, here's the full post you were responding to.

    Maybe. If you have someone to teach you.

    But, as the growth of D&D over the last decade has shown, many many many new players and DMs have no one to teach them (other than innuendos in shows like Stranger Things and Critical Role). They need the game to be accessible. This includes their first module or two to be simple, straight forward and something that they can pick up, skim through, and start playing. Besides, such games may be as far as they ever go, and that's fine if it meets the DM and players desires (even if they "don't know better").

    Sandboxing, spontaneous creation or whatever you want to call it take more. More time, more skill, more effort, more interest. Not everyone wants to spend that amount of x.

    Sure, if we were to develop a new DM from scratch with the goal of having a world class DM, we would start some how like you mention. But since ~95% of DM will never go there, it's more important that the game be accessible.



    You snipped out the meat of that- the second paragraph; the one about D&D. The need to make the game (D&D) accessible. It's kind of important given the context of this overall conversation! That's what I was trying to get at. Many of us (if not all) are talking about experiences we are having, or had, with D&D- which is, well, kind of sui generis in some way, despite its popularity.

    Trust me- I am CERTAINLY not the person to police thread drift, or threadjacking- I am all for both of those. I am just trying to point out why I think, IMO, you are missing some important context that the rest of us are using for this. We are talking about boxed text on D&D modules, which is kind of orthogonal to greater theories of TTRPGs AFAIK.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think I am?


    So exactly where do you come in here?

    * LE's initial statement isn't topic drift (at all).

    * LE's statement isn't controversial and therefore cannot be topic drift.

    * LE's statement could be construed as topic drift (either because it plain is or because it isn't an outright truism) but isn't absolute topic drift. The only way it becomes actual topic drift is if someone voices their disagreement and related conversation ensues.

    * Your (not?) topic drift engagement on my topic drift to LE's (not?) topic drift is appropriate because topic drift principle x?

    * Topic drift principle x allows for drift after y number of pages?
    Don't know? Don't care?

    But context is helpful in understanding things. If I say something is red, that means one thing if it's a red umbrella, and a different thing if I say that a person is a red-a$$.




    Can I just say that I'd much rather be talking about the genesis of GMing and then discussing how that hooks into the utility (or the problem) of "boxed text"?
    Sure! Knock yourself out- but try and remember that at that point it's a very different conversation; for example, I would discuss why it's important (IMO) for D&D, and then maybe you can talk about why D&D isn't the best game to learn, but others would say, "Hey, that's what people would end up doing anyway" and someone would post a picture of a snake eating its tail ...

    BUT I AM NOT THE BOSS OF YOU (yet .... I HAVE PLANS!).
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  2. #82
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    I have to admit that I like boxed text. Heck, I really dont mind the presumptions usually because often they are either on target - the party did the expected thing - or they are probably more interesting than what Id come up with on the fly.

    Improv is not something I do well. So having that box there is usually a good thing for me.

    Then again, if I wanted to do rpg improv, DnD is probably the last system Id use. Far, far too rules heavy.
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  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowkey13 View Post
    you seem to be going out of your way to ruin other people's fun by demanding that modules be written to your preferences, which are not shared by other people (and which do not matter to you).
    As best I'm aware @Manbearcat and I exercise no influence over the hobby-gaming publishing industry other than as participants in the consumer side of the market. Whose fun do you think we're ruining? Are you saying we're morally obliged to pay for or advocate for boxed text modules so that others can derive their perceived beneift from them?

    The OP asked for views and preferences. I gave mine, and offered some explanation for them. You would prefer my preferences not be univesalised. Fine. I would prefer that others' preferences not be universalised, for two reasons.

    (1) I prefer a hobby where fewer GMs are taught that pre-secripted narration and railroading is at the heart of RPGing;

    (2) If the preference for boxed-text was universalised then I wouldn't be able to purchase excellent products like the Prince Valiant Episode Book. Nor would I have the use of such classic, box-free scenarios as B2. Part of what makes B2 usable by me is that it presents a place (the Keep) and a series of situations (the proximity of the Cves; the evil cleric; etc) but no pre-supposed plot in the form of boxed text.

    Which goes back to @Manbearcat's recent posts: the claim that beginning GMs need the support of boxed text because spontaneous creation of imagined content and narration is hard is a controversial claim. And the idea that there's something special about D&D in this respect is also conroversial. D&D benefits from pre-drawn maps, and from pre-statted NPCs and creatures; but in my view there's nothing about D&D as a RPG that makes pre-packaged narration especially important.

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    (2) If the preference for boxed-text was universalised then I wouldn't be able to purchase excellent products like the Prince Valiant Episode Book. Nor would I have the use of such classic, box-free scenarios as B2. Part of what makes B2 usable by me is that it presents a place (the Keep) and a series of situations (the proximity of the Cves; the evil cleric; etc) but no pre-supposed plot in the form of boxed text.
    I'm not buying what you're selling.
    B10 is (1) an excellent product worth purchasing (2) that you can still use well despite the boxed-text

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post

    (2) If the preference for boxed-text was universalised then I wouldn't be able to purchase excellent products like the Prince Valiant Episode Book. Nor would I have the use of such classic, box-free scenarios as B2. Part of what makes B2 usable by me is that it presents a place (the Keep) and a series of situations (the proximity of the Cves; the evil cleric; etc) but no pre-supposed plot in the form of boxed text.
    So, one more time. Not everyone plays Prince Valiant. In my experience, you are the only person I am aware of that plays that system. The reason I bring this up is because, for example, if I were to regularly use examples of Amber, the Diceless RPG (a system I very much enjoyed in the early 90s) in a thread about the use of boxed text in D&D Modules, then people would rightfully be confused. It does not shed light - instead, it obfuscates, as D&D tends to have certain idiosyncrasies that other systems do not.

    B2, OTOH, is a good example, slightly ruined by the fact that it is a distinct outlier (which I already went through). By 1980, the use of boxed text was de rigueur in all D&D modules; again, I brought this up the last time you mentioned this and you didn't acknowledge it. AFAIK, this is the exact cuttoff- that's why, for example, S3 (no boxed text) and A1 (boxed text) were published in 1980 and differ, and AFAICT, S3 is the last example.

    You can even see the struggle with how to present information to be presented; contrast B2 with T1 (using what appears to be proto-boxing with the difference in bolding/non-boldign and parentheticals). While both were published the same year, B2 pre-dates T1, having been made for the Holmes edition.

    Which means that any DM learning to DM by 1980, when the game went mainstream, had plenty of examples to use to buttress his play and to gain confidence.

    And I will repeat and reiterate what other commenters have said regarding the last sentence I have quoted here- there is nothing necessarily that pre-supposes plot when there is boxed text regarding a room description; you appear to be shoehorning an argument that you have about RPGs in general into a thread that is not about that. Stop trying to make fetch happen, and please stop trying to turn this into a debate about preferred styles of RPGing, especially given that you don't seem to be playing much D&D or 5e or using the new modules for those systems (which is what this discussion is largely about).

    I mean, if you are- if you regularly playing 5e, and have a lot to say about the future APs, then great- let's chat about that. We can start with a discussion of the use in APs, or just LMoP.

    Which goes back to @Manbearcat's recent posts: the claim that beginning GMs need the support of boxed text because spontaneous creation of imagined content and narration is hard is a controversial claim. And the idea that there's something special about D&D in this respect is also conroversial. D&D benefits from pre-drawn maps, and from pre-statted NPCs and creatures; but in my view there's nothing about D&D as a RPG that makes pre-packaged narration especially important.
    But ... is it? I mean, neither of us have actual data, do we? Have there been surveys? So, I will once again point out that despite your framing (it's hard to imagine!) that I can confidently state the following:

    1. It was hard for me. Yes, I eventually became good at it. In fact, extemporaneous speech is a lot of what I do, and I have D&D to thank for that- for giving me that confidence. But it didn't come naturally. I don't particularly feel like recounting my awkwardness, or my struggles, but it was important for me to have examples of things to read. It gave me confidence in descriptions, in language, in public speaking. I'm not you- I wasn't born fully formed with those abilities. Which leads me to ...

    2. I've seen it be hard for other people. I regularly DM for middleschoolers; and it's so rewarding. And their imagination is something to see! But you know what? They struggle too, sometimes. They have the usual issues, but they lack the confidence in themselves that we sometimes take for granted. And it's even harder for them because these are their friends and their peers and at this age, things are so very important (in both a sweet and terrifying way). I don't envy them how hard it is, and I am so happy and proud when they take to the game and make it their own; but you know what helps? Being able to use room descriptions. Having that bit of text as a first anchor to get them going. I've seen it- and maybe my eyes keep lying to me. Maybe my experience does. Maybe I've just been so indoctrinated into the tyranny of Big Box(tm) that I'm just not seeing the obvious things you see. But I'll trust my own senses, thank you.

    Anyway, that's my point. I'm happy with it, and you don't have to use it. And my experiences are different than yours, which is cool. People can homebrew, and people can take from adventures and make it their own, and people can skip the boxed text, and whatever. But there is a sizable contingent of people who appreciate boxed text in the D&D products, and they may have good reasons to do so.

    K?
    Last edited by lowkey13; Thursday, 18th April, 2019 at 02:47 PM.
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  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77IM View Post
    James Introcaso is my new favorite person. I thought he was just a dude who hangs out with Johnn Four, but it turns out he's EVERYWHERE. Mark my words, James Introcaso is the Shawn Merwin of our generation.
    Hey thank you so much!!! Shawn is one of my favorite people, so I consider this a HUGE compliment.
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  7. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowkey13 View Post
    And I will repeat and reiterate what other commenters have said regarding the last sentence I have quoted here- there is nothing necessarily that pre-supposes plot when there is boxed text regarding a room description; you appear to be shoehorning an argument that you have about RPGs in general into a thread that is not about that. Stop trying to make fetch happen, and please stop trying to turn this into a debate about preferred styles of RPGing, especially given that you don't seem to be playing much D&D or 5e or using the new modules for those systems (which is what this discussion is largely about).

    I mean, if you are- if you regularly playing 5e, and have a lot to say about the future APs, then great- let's chat about that. We can start with a discussion of the use in APs, or just LMoP.
    Thank you.

    I'm the last person to take the high ground on discussing preferred styles of RPGs turning up in various threads that aren't ostensibly about that, but holy cow, at least I'm talking about D&D.
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  8. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    * LE's statement could be construed as topic drift (either because it plain is or because it isn't an outright truism) but isn't absolute topic drift. The only way it becomes actual topic drift is if someone voices their disagreement and related conversation ensues.
    Can I vote for this one?

    Can I just say that I'd much rather be talking about the genesis of GMing and then discussing how that hooks into the utility (or the problem) of "boxed text"?
    Then start a thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Nor would I have the use of such classic, box-free scenarios as B2. Part of what makes B2 usable by me is that it presents a place (the Keep) and a series of situations (the proximity of the Cves; the evil cleric; etc) but no pre-supposed plot in the form of boxed text.
    And see this is why when I was 10 years old we thought B2 sucked and was useless. Because we didn't know what to do with it.

    Now a days I would have no trouble using B2. But that's because I had boxed text to train educate me on one way of DMing.

    Look, we have examples from @Azzy that boxed text did him harm. We have examples from me that boxed text benefited us.
    Good thing their isn't only one way to play the game huh? Or that not every module and system is written according to some monolithic approach.

    But, based on my experience, the good boxed text, or scripted narration, provides to new DMs is why I will keep recommending to authors that they use it.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    @Manbearcat, such a good example!

    Well, I'll answer for my part (given that I'm advocating dot points over boxed text): I pay adventure designers to think of situations (characters, motivations, places pregnant with phantastical possibility, etc) that I can't think of myself. A good recent example: Jerry D Grayson's contribution to the Prince Valiant Episode Book, The Crimson Bull. No boxed text. Here're the opening paragraphs:
    EPISODE TYPE: Assistance. The heroes are asked to help deliver a bull to an ancient pagan ceremony

    Begin With: It is a rainy day as the Adventurers travel down a muddy rural path. As the heroes round the bend, the see an overturned cart and scattered bodies of peasants. A single old man lies beaten and moaning against a tree. In his right hand, he holds a silken black rope tied to a large Highland red bull. The bull eyes the Adventurers passively, but does not leave the old mans side.

    I can't remember how I narrated this opening, but the resulting session was full of atmosphere and suspense and a dramatic resolution in which one of the PC knights converted the pagan wise woman to Christian worship by his demonstration of the power of St Sigobert over an evil spirit. We have only one player in our group who is a 5e player - to quote from my linked actual play post, "he was very impressed with the Crimson Bull scenario, and the uncertainty he felt right up until the end about the nature of the evil in the bull and the way it was going to resolve." He compared it favourably to the 5e treatment of magic and the supernatural.

    I think atmosphere created through nicely crafted narration leans on the weakest aspect of RPGing: as narrative experiences, how is RPGing meant to compare to the well-written and edited fiction of a book or a film? Whereas I think that atmosphere created through nicely crafted situation plays to the strength of RPGs, which is providing players with the opportunity to provide their own creative, what-would-I-do-if-I-was-there responses to those situations.
    To add some clarification, I pay them to do that, but I pay them to do it well. Any old sod can be creative and I'd argue that most of us here are probably particularly skilled at at. But we (well, we might) don't have editors and publishers and playtesters to ensure that what we are creating is particularly refined. We might have the raw information and a general idea of how we want to present it, but until we actually go out and do that we don't have a nice and refined approach.

    This, frankly, is the only reason I assume that people actually buy modules, adventures and settings, because not only do they provide interesting information, but they also provide cohesive thematic elements that bring all of these bits of information together in a very particularly appealing way. You're not just getting a wiki article, you're getting a wiki article with some dramatic flair.

    In your Strahd example, what creates atmosphere is not the narration, but the invitations the situation offers to my PC: Do I shut the window and block out the moonlight? (And if I entered the room by flying through the window, does that mean I'm shutting off my own path of escape?); Do I uncover the furniture; and, perhaps most importantly, Do I shatter the mirror?
    Er, no. These things are quite frankly, not atmosphere. Those are all things you are doing in response to the situation you find yourself in, which is not atmosphere. Not even close. I'm actually a little befuddled how you can even argue that. The atmosphere is the "pervading tone or mood", in this case, of the room. Your decisions are a reaction to the atmosphere of the room.
    The furniture unsettles you, so you uncover it. The mirror weirds you out, so you smash it. The open window is both a means of escape and saftey, but also a venue for attack and danger.

    Your choices there are reactions to the atmosphere I established. Yes, you would have reactions to those objects without the atmosphere injection, but would those reactions be ones of fear? Which is the guiding theme of Curse of Strahd (and its predecessors).

  10. #90
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    The new AL modules I have looked at have nothing and the DM needs to squirrel out bits to relay to the players. I would argue that there needs to be something saying this is what the PCs know, see, whatever. This can be boxed text or bullet points that I expand on. Something needs to be in a 'box' so DMs know what players need to know.

    Personally, I have no problem with boxed text and use it most of the time, but if the PCs are doing something different than normal I modify it. The writers need to assume how most parties, or their home party, would enter the room and it becomes a starting point.

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