GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION? - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    Some posters saw the GM's role as that of narrator, preferring a style of description that felt like prose from a novel, others preferred a more conversational approach
    It almost goes without saying that this is a good thing -- people preferring different styles. But then this thread would be quite pointless, so I'll elaborate a bit. However, I do think the biggest effect is what you like. Outside of roleplaying, I like lyrical descriptive novels. So I read LOVE IN THE AGE OF CHOLERA and MOBY DICK, and loved both of them. My wife, an English Lit. major, dislikes MOBY DICK for the same reason I like it, and I'd never recommend the former book to her. In poetry it's the same. I don't see any reason to believe it's not the same for role playing games -- people like different things.

    However, I do think that genre has an effect of what people expect. It might be that it's just that people who like more evocative descriptions prefer some genres, but thinking over my experiences, I think it's also the game style and genre. Let's take the following example description:

    You've never seen a room with so much furniture and so many hues, nor a room you could love so much. Most of the rooms have clean lines, simple and mostly white; but these walls are all burnt orange and reds. The furniture is rustic and dark, sprinkled liberally with vibrant cushions. There is a table in easy reach of every seat and the walls are more paintings than paint. Every one is of a happy memory, a smiling child, a birthday, a new baby. There is lively music in the background and the scent of cilantro in the air. You feel like you want to sink into the couch and never move

    - adapted from an excerpt from Angela Abraham

    If I was playing in a game of BLUEBEARD'S BRIDE, where room descriptions are a central experience, this would be perfect. The game is about emotion, feeling, safety (and lack of) and sensuality. I would be delighted to hear the above, if slightly worried about what it hid underneath ....

    On the other hand, i also play in a regular online D&D4E game, focused on tactical combat. Very much a GAME; numbers, actions, rolling, success, fail, damage, consequences, status, conditions, target -- we mostly speak technical language to make our tactics clear and lean towards in-game jargon rather than narrative description. In that genre, I'd be a lot less excited about the above. I'd be all "how many seats? tables? are they blocking terrain? should I just assume all movement is halved?"

    So I don't think it's entirely about the players. I think it mostly is (some people just plain dislike evocative descriptions, for example), but the genre and tone of the game come into it also. As with most things, by the time you are into your third session, you should have a good feel for how the group likes to work. If you are running at a con, match the default tone. If your running for Indie Games on Demand, it's going to be different than if your're running DDAL. And be prepared to switch!
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  2. #12
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    I prefer the way it was when the first RPGs hit the market. The GM was the eyes, ears and senses of the PCs and verbally conveyed just that information so that the players could immerse themselves and experience other world in a somewhat natural sense. Story telling has nothing to do with that. When you walk down the street is there a person telling stories in your ear?
    Last edited by Bobble; Saturday, 15th June, 2019 at 09:42 PM. Reason: typo
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    This comes from a topic in another thread where GM description came up. Some posters saw the GM's role as that of narrator, preferring a style of description that felt like prose from a novel, others preferred a more conversational approach. The first approach was more literary, placed emphasis on being evocative and building a sense of atmosphere. The second focused more on plain spoken language and interaction between the players and GMs as the descriptions unfold. This is a simplification of the topic, but that is the basic division. And obviously there are many approaches in between and from totally different angles. I am curious what other posters think about how a GM should sound when describing things to players.
    False Dilemma fallacy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

  4. #14
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    DO YOU NEED TO SHOUT?

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragoner View Post
    This was the division that existed in the thread in question. Not saying it has to be one or the other.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    This was the division that existed in the thread in question. Not saying it has to be one or the other.
    As written, it comes off as semantics. I know the most basic/earliest examples of play given in books such as Basic D&D and Understanding Traveller, starts with the GM giving a description (narration) and goes to a Q & A between the GM and players, which on the whole would be a conversation. If either plain or florid language is used is due to someone's vocabulary, or their changing it up to give voice to an NPC.

  7. #17
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    As appropriate for the situation?

    If I'm giving a recap of last session, or describing a grand new vista in front of the characters, I'll be as eloquent and evocative as I can be.

    If it's an established scene where the characters are interacting, as DM I will also be interacting with the player and getting them information in a streamlined manner.

  8. #18
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    As a player, I prefer short narration followed by interactive for additional details.

    As a GM, I try to be more evocative than descriptive, when practical, which reduces the needed amount of narration, and increases the player investment...
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  9. #19
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    I go for a mixed approach, depending on what is necessary to set up the scene. Not every scene needs to have a high literary element to it, and there's a balance that exists somewhere that makes the moments that do better, because the moments that don't aren't overdone.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    DO YOU NEED TO SHOUT?
    No, apologies.

    EDIT: Just want to draw attention to the comma (that should probably be a period).
    Last edited by Bedrockgames; Sunday, 16th June, 2019 at 07:09 PM.

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