Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour? - Page 110
  1. #1091
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    I think that you underestimate, if not vastly exaggerate, the problem of communicating the basic ideas of the game. And we usually have a basic awareness of some cognitive contexts that our gaming group will likely have experienced.
    I could perhaps agree with you that there is some exaggeration from the other side, but I also feel you vastly reduce the importance of the language used within RPGs. @Hussar touched on this upthread, but I feel it requires to be reiterated - we have literally volumes of D&D supplements, magazines, books and fan-created material on settings, monsters, characters and the like. All that literal endeavour is not just to communicate the context and stakes in which their actions take place. Fluff is important for many gamers.

    I also agree with @Imaro in that if the DM is using conversational language to the point you seem to indicate in these posts (which I'm pretty sure you do not), I would quickly excuse myself from that table.

    As an aside, I have even used/stolen lines from fantasy novels, whether it be cool dialogue or an evocative description of something/someone, for my RP games. Words matter. I keep my 2e-4e MM not just for the mechanics, but also for the fluff.

    EDIT: Evocative words help fuel the players' imagination / immersive experience.
    Last edited by Sadras; Thursday, 6th June, 2019 at 01:40 PM.

  2. #1092
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    That's what I am asking you.
    My response included the "and" as far as I can tell. You're need to be clearer with your question if you want an answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    "It's a part of the universe that is about like combining outer space with heaven."

    "Oh, cool. Okay. Got it."

    Did you miss the part - which would not surprise me at all at this point - where I said that the GM and player can engage in a conversation through their questions? I'm not sure why, nor have you done a good job, in explaining how evocative language is required for communicating this sort of information. And when people don't know a term or thing, then you attempt to find a frame of reference that would potentially be more familiar for the person. Which is what normal people do in normal conversations about everything. I don't necessarily think the point is to get "anyone's heart aflutter" but to communicate the context and stakes in which their actions take place.

    Hussar, my D&D group for the past few years was with four other people who had never played D&D before. I think that you underestimate, if not vastly exaggerate, the problem of communicating the basic ideas of the game. And we usually have a basic awareness of some cognitive contexts that our gaming group will likely have experienced.
    So, your putative conversation is going to be nothing but modern references and not a single bit of "flowery language"? Githyanki are green space aliens, like Romulans only with swords?

    I'm pretty sure that the four poeple, while they've never played D&D before, have been exposed to enough genre fiction and other media that they have a fair bit of context.

    But, I've seen a lot of cases where, because the descriptions and language from the DM is so poor that everyone at the table has a different idea of what's going on and are working cross purposes because everyone's coming from completely different directions. I mean, the Astral Sea is outer space and heaven? So, it's filled with angels? Githyanki are good then right? After all, there's no evil in Heaven. Why are they attacking me? You said they were from heaven. I'm a good aligned character, they should be welcoming me with open arms and helping me.

    I really don't think I'm underestimating anything. I've spent far, far too long dealing with non-native English speakers who do not share our culture to take any description for granted. Every single reference you've made presumes a native English speaker (or near native anyway) with a deep grounding in western Judeo-Christian culture. As soon as you lose that background, none of your allegorical explanations are going to work. Imagine teaching D&D to ten year olds and you're trying to reference Men In Black - a 20 year old movie they've likely never seen.

    Look, I get that you don't feel the need to do this. I think it's very bad advice to tell DM's that no, they shouldn't pay attention to word craft. That the only thing that matters is the situation. This leads to very bland games, IMO, where it doesn't really matter what game you're actually playing. You could be playing a fantasy game or a supers game or a spy game or a horror game. Since none of the actual descriptions matter, and only the situation does, it's going to get really repetitive. "He's stealing your horse/car/hovercar/spaceship (circle the one that's appropriate for this game). What do you do?"

    Without the language to back it up, what's the difference between a Call of Cthulu game and a D&D game? Situationally, there's virtually no difference - some evil baddy wants to eat your brains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    I also agree with @Imaro in that if the DM is using conversational language to the point you seem to indicate in these posts (which I'm pretty sure you do not), I would quickly excuse myself from that table.
    The thing is, even with a Q&A session, evocative language is still being used.

    DM: A githyanki is a race that lives in the astral sea. The bolded evokes imagery of a humanoid and an ocean.

    Player: "Hang on. "Astral Sea"? What's that?"

    DM: "It's a part of the universe that is about like combining outer space with heaven." The bolded evokes imagery of space and the afterlife.

    Player: "Cool. What does it look like?"

    DM: "Well, it's a silvery liquid with stars at the bottom of it." The bolded evokes imagery of space at the bottom of a sea of silver.


    Showing a picture is using a short cut to evocative language in the form of a picture being a thousand words, and conversational Q&A uses evocative language in a long cut. Both methods use evocative language, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    The thing is, even with a Q&A session, evocative language is still being used.

    (snip)

    Showing a picture is using a short cut to evocative language in the form of a picture being a thousand words, and conversational Q&A uses evocative language in a long cut. Both methods use evocative language, though.
    Sure, if one digs into it, (and I realise this was not the thrust of your post) but all that Q&A could have been avoided if one front-loaded the necessary evocative language in the setup. The problem with giving bite-size evocative information is the start-stop immersive experience. If one describes the githyanki and their place of origin at the outset, one is immediately immersed in the shared imagination.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Sure, if one digs into it, (and I realise this was not the thrust of your post) but all that Q&A could have been avoided if one front-loaded the necessary evocative language in the setup.
    It actually was the point. That's why I called it a long cut.

    I find having to get all the information via a Q&A session like having to pull teeth. It tells me that the DM is stingy with information, and that's just not fun for me. Further, it also yanks me out of any sort of immersion I could possibly have in his game. I'll have to Q&A constantly, which is done out of character, in order to just find out what could have been told to me in a few seconds.

    The problem with giving bite-size evocative information is the start-stop immersive experience. If one describes the githyanki and their place of origin at the outset, one is immediately immersed in the shared imagination.
    Yep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Sure, if one digs into it, (and I realise this was not the thrust of your post) but all that Q&A could have been avoided if one front-loaded the necessary evocative language in the setup. The problem with giving bite-size evocative information is the start-stop immersive experience. If one describes the githyanki and their place of origin at the outset, one is immediately immersed in the shared imagination.
    I will address your earlier post, but I will shortly say here that this entire conversation has never been predicated on the presumption that constant immersion was required for TTRPGs or should be required. So it feels like you are moving the goalposts by requiring extra standards to be met.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    Showing a picture is using a short cut to evocative language in the form of a picture being a thousand words, and conversational Q&A uses evocative language in a long cut. Both methods use evocative language, though.
    This seems like some major BS that relies on a trite cliche to make a truth statement. The ontology or nature of a picture as a picture does not change into literature or evocative language just because "a picture is worth a thousand words."

    I would also add that the argument that pemerton put forth is that RPGs are devoid of evocative language, but (1) they are not a primary concern, and (2) its presence does not make TTRPGs literary endeavor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    I would also add that the argument that pemerton put forth is that RPGs are devoid of evocative language, but (1) they are not a primary concern, and (2) its presence does not make TTRPGs literary endeavor.
    This is not a great argument to engage in mostly due to the clash of definitions and clarifications which generally us squabblers fail to agree on, everytime.
    Literary endeavour, wordcrafting, and now probably primary, if it has not been already battled over.

    Furthermore I fail to see what can really be gained from such a debate (and I know I have somewhat asked this before), besides XPs from one's usual supporters.

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    So an example that lacked context was provided....the zifnarb....and then the argument that any attempt to provide context is an attempt at literary quality?

    I dont get it. Quality is of course a range. Aspiring to literary quality seems to me that youre placing a focus on trying to achieve a certain artistic level that's higher than simple communication. I dont think that establishing context needs to be an attempt at literary quality. It can be, yes, bit I dont think it must be.

    So....if the players have encountered a red dragon, chances are they have a good idea of the context, so I think its likely a waste of time for the GM to spend a whole lot of time trying to describe the dragon beyond whats necessary. I mean, as a player, I want to do something about the dragon, I dont want to listen to the GM give a soliloquy.

    Thats not to say that he should say its a big red lizard that spits fire but is a whole lot more needed?

    Now something like the githyanki...something that many folks wont already have an idea about...sure, maybe more of an effort is needed. But again, it just needs to be enough to establish context for the specific scene. If some action is about to happen, why go into the whole history of the gith and the lore about the lich-queen and all that? I just want the relevant context for that moment of play, and save the other stuff for another time.

    So maybe its a question of the level of immersion in the sense of the fictional level....immersion in the specific scene thats happening now versus immersion in the larger fictional world. If theres a scene going on...the githyanki are doing something and the characters have to decide what to do about it, then Id think keeping the narration focused on that would be the best approach, no?
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