Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour? - Page 118
  1. #1171
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    The second isn't a literary answer to the question, which is probably why it does almost nothing for the person asking where the elevators are. Perhaps if you come up with an example that has both the increased literary quality AND answers the question, we can figure out which is better, worse, or whatever. Until then, these examples don't help us with this discussion.
    It does answer the question. Just not in as direct a manner. “Follow these guys in the suits because that’s where they’re going” is an answer to the question.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    I think it's sufficient for immersion and wouldn't require a Q&A session to figure out what it looks like. I also think it qualifies as literary in quality. Your description has more literary quality than mine would. And yes, it goes beyond mere clarity to say something in a creative way.
    How so? It is descriptive, yes, but I don’t think it aspires to be more than that. But if you think so, what is it specifically that you feel is an attempt at craft beyond mere communication?
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    It does answer the question. Just not in as direct a manner. “Follow these guys in the suits because that’s where they’re going” is an answer to the question.
    So is Alcatraz, but like your example it doesn't answer the question where they are. It could be an answer to how do you get to the elevator, though. For example, if I ask you where Los Angeles is, telling me to join the wagon train going west does not tell me where Los Angeles is. Telling me to get on that airplane over there does not tell me where Los Angeles is. I didn't ask you how to get there.

    How so? It is descriptive, yes, but I don’t think it aspires to be more than that. But if you think so, what is it specifically that you feel is an attempt at craft beyond mere communication?
    The extras. Describing the grin as rictus, the sword as shining in the near darkness. Holding a silvery greasword is enough. Yellow skin is enough. Adding in leathery is a nice extra touch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    So is Alcatraz, but like your example it doesn't answer the question where they are. It could be an answer to how do you get to the elevator, though. For example, if I ask you where Los Angeles is, telling me to join the wagon train going west does not tell me where Los Angeles is. Telling me to get on that airplane over there does not tell me where Los Angeles is. I didn't ask you how to get there.
    I feel perhaps this is a bit pedantic. “Where are the elevators?” - “Follow these guys.” It answers the question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    The extras. Describing the grin as rictus, the sword as shining in the near darkness. Holding a silvery greasword is enough. Yellow skin is enough. Adding in leathery is a nice extra touch.
    To me, this is a very low bar then, and I doubt it’s what was in mind with the OP. I feel like including a few adjectives isn’t what we’re talking about.

    That’s why I asked @Hussar for an example of what he had in mind after providing my some of my own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    I feel perhaps this is a bit pedantic. “Where are the elevators?” - “Follow these guys.” It answers the question.
    It's neither pedantic, nor does it answer the question, except that ANY answer is technically an answer. "Where are the elevators?" - "Goonygoogoo!" It's an answer.

    To me, this is a very low bar then, and I doubt it’s what was in mind with the OP. I feel like including a few adjectives isn’t what we’re talking about.
    The problem is that the OP doesn't get to decide what is literary quality for anyone but himself. Some people will have a low bar, others middle, and yet others high. That's the problem with using terms like literary quality or using personal definition. @pemerton often kills his own threads by using contentious terms that get people arguing over what the term means, rather than talking about the OP. If he just described what he liked without using contentious terms, this sort of thing would happen far less frequently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    It's neither pedantic, nor does it answer the question, except that ANY answer is technically an answer. "Where are the elevators?" - "Goonygoogoo!" It's an answer.
    As I said, I feel it’s pedantic because I don’t think the distinction you’re making is all that meaningful. Feel free to disagree, but don’t tell me my opinion is wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    The problem is that the OP doesn't get to decide what is literary quality for anyone but himself. Some people will have a low bar, others middle, and yet others high. That's the problem with using terms like literary quality or using personal definition. @pemerton often kills his own threads by using contentious terms that get people arguing over what the term means, rather than talking about the OP. If he just described what he liked without using contentious terms, this sort of thing would happen far less frequently.
    Yes, it’s all a matter of opinion. And though I would agree that a lot of time is wasted on arguing definitions, I think if people look beyond the term and look at what’s said, perhaps we’d get somewhere. This is true of many discussions, and on all of us involved.

    So, instead of arguing with me about what would be an answer about the elevators, why don’t you give an example of your own that somehow displays your point? That would be refreshing compared to the constant arguing and “technically it’s this” stuff that you continue to bring up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    As I said, I feel it’s pedantic because I don’t think the distinction you’re making is all that meaningful. Feel free to disagree, but don’t tell me my opinion is wrong.
    So opinions aren't something sacred. You can be wrong with one. For example, if you felt that the sun was a cold, dark ball of ice. You are free to feel that the distinction isn't that meaningful, but that won't make me pedantic

    To the example.

    Me: "Excuse me, but would you please tell me where the elevator is?"

    You: "Follow those lemmings."

    Me: ::begins following the lemmings, but accidentally drops my cell phone on the way. Stopping to pick up my phone, I lose sight of the lemmings.:: "Crap! Now what?"

    Had you answered my question, I would still be able to get to the elevator. Since you didn't answer it, I'm forced to ask someone else where it is. The difference between being able to find the elevator and not being able to find the elevator is a pretty darn meaningful distinction.

    Yes, it’s all a matter of opinion. And though I would agree that a lot of time is wasted on arguing definitions, I think if people look beyond the term and look at what’s said, perhaps we’d get somewhere. This is true of many discussions, and on all of us involved.

    So, instead of arguing with me about what would be an answer about the elevators, why don’t you give an example of your own that somehow displays your point? That would be refreshing compared to the constant arguing and “technically it’s this” stuff that you continue to bring up.
    1. You see a staff on the ground.

    2. You see a carved ironwood staff on the ground.

    3. You see an ancient ironwood staff on the ground. From here you can tell that there are carvings of little figures along the length of the staff and that the staff is capped by a blue stone.

    4. You see an ancient ironwood lying on the ground as if casually tossed aside. Along it's dark, lustrous length are carved thousands of tiny figures that are engaged in battle with one another. Here and there the staff has been notched in battle, marring the battle scene. Atop the ironwood staff is a brilliant blue star sapphire.

    All 4 of those get to the same point. However, they progressively give more and more information about the staff that is before the PCs. I typically go back and forth between 2 and 3 for the amount of detail I give, depending on what it is I am describing. Occasionally, especially for magic items or pieces of artwork or antiques of value, I will go with 4.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    That's been done. You're correct.

    There seems to be an underlying assumption by some posters that any disagreement must be the result of having confused the definition of our terms, and that if only those could be sorted out then everyone would see that what is being said is true or false.

    Or, to put it differently, there seems to be some sort of reluctance to recognise and talk about actual differences of opinion.

    Hussar seems to be an example, because he keeps insisting that he agrees with me whereas it seems obvious to me, and must be obvious to anyone else who's read this thread, that he has a very different view from me about what is important in RPGing:

    No.

    Not everything the New Yorker reviews is high art.

    Not everything that aspires to literary quality achieves it. So even things that aspire to be high art don't always make it.
    /snip
    Oh, FFS, after all the criticisms of "equivocation" we have one of the biggest waffles of all. Good grief, @pemerton. "Oh, RPG language doesn't aspire to be good enough to be reviewed in the New Yorker", sure, great, I agree. "Oh, no, not everything in the New Yorker is literary that gets reviewed." Round and round and round. Total and complete baloney.

    Yeah, what a freaking waste of time. You're not even trying to hide that you are no longer arguing in good faith.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    /snip

    “The creature you see is humanoid, taller than the average human, and gaunt. It has leathery yellow skin, sunken eyes, and a rictus grin. Its armor is of a style you’ve never seen before. It wields a great silver sword that shines even in the near darkness. The creature scans about for signs of enemies. It does not appear to have noticed you, but it soon may. What do you do?”

    This would be my attempt to describe a githyanki clearly to my players, and to establish some action needed on their part. Obviously, I’d expect there to be a hit more context already established through play. Would you deem this insufficient for immersion? Do you think that my description goes beyond mere clarity in an attempt not to just say something, but to say it in a creative way?

    Also, can you provide an example of a bit of narration that aspires to literary quality and does so while still serving as a call to action?
    I would call that a literary description. You are certainly using several words that would almost never appear in conversation - "gaunt" "rictus", "scans about" "wields". I mean, "rictus", as far as I an tell, doesn't even appear in the top 10000 of most common English words. Nor does "gaunt". These are quite obviously words that would only appear in writing (or close enough to only that it can see only on a clear day). Which, to me, qualifies it as an attempt at "literary" rather than conversation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    So opinions aren't something sacred. You can be wrong with one. For example, if you felt that the sun was a cold, dark ball of ice. You are free to feel that the distinction isn't that meaningful, but that won't make me pedantic

    To the example.

    Me: "Excuse me, but would you please tell me where the elevator is?"

    You: "Follow those lemmings."

    Me: ::begins following the lemmings, but accidentally drops my cell phone on the way. Stopping to pick up my phone, I lose sight of the lemmings.:: "Crap! Now what?"

    Had you answered my question, I would still be able to get to the elevator. Since you didn't answer it, I'm forced to ask someone else where it is. The difference between being able to find the elevator and not being able to find the elevator is a pretty darn meaningful distinction.
    The same thing could happen with the first example if you didn’t know your left from your right. But regardless, this is exactly the kind of discussion I think distracts from the main point. I’m going to assume you understood my point and move on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    1. You see a staff on the ground.

    2. You see a carved ironwood staff on the ground.

    3. You see an ancient ironwood staff on the ground. From here you can tell that there are carvings of little figures along the length of the staff and that the staff is capped by a blue stone.

    4. You see an ancient ironwood lying on the ground as if casually tossed aside. Along it's dark, lustrous length are carved thousands of tiny figures that are engaged in battle with one another. Here and there the staff has been notched in battle, marring the battle scene. Atop the ironwood staff is a brilliant blue star sapphire.

    All 4 of those get to the same point. However, they progressively give more and more information about the staff that is before the PCs. I typically go back and forth between 2 and 3 for the amount of detail I give, depending on what it is I am describing. Occasionally, especially for magic items or pieces of artwork or antiques of value, I will go with 4.
    So does length equal literary quality? There doesn’t appear to be anything different to me about these other than their length. None seem to be attempting anything other than describing the item.

    So again, I’d say that mere description doesn’t quite equal what’s being discussed. Having four details rather than one simply makes a description more detailed rather than more artistic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    So does length equal literary quality? There doesn’t appear to be anything different to me about these other than their length. None seem to be attempting anything other than describing the item.

    So again, I’d say that mere description doesn’t quite equal what’s being discussed. Having four details rather than one simply makes a description more detailed rather than more artistic.
    The description alters interest in many, if not most people. I've seen a lot of people who will ignore a staff on the ground, fewer who will ignore description #2, and very, very few who will ignore one described with #3 or 4.
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