Crunch vs. fluff in supplements

Crunch vs. fluff in supplements/splatbooks

  • 100% crunch, 0% fluff

    Votes: 5 6.4%
  • 75% crunch, 25% fluff

    Votes: 15 19.2%
  • 50/50

    Votes: 25 32.1%
  • 25% crunch, 75% fluff

    Votes: 20 25.6%
  • 0% crunch, 100% fluff

    Votes: 3 3.8%
  • other (explain below)

    Votes: 10 12.8%


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Wiseblood

Adventurer
I voted other. because I'd take 90/10 in either direction if it improved my game. Fluff for the sake of strokin' the ego is as irritating as redundant crunch. IME flavor is something that is found at the table not in a book.
 

25% Crunch, 75% Fluff. Really 10/90 might be better.
I blame splatbook power creep for killing 2E and 3.5. Fluff doesn't do that.

The absolute best 3.5 book was "Lords of Madness," for its fluff content. BECMI had some great supplements (the Gazetteers) that were maybe 95% fluff and 5% crunch. 2E's class books varied, with some heavier on the crunch and some on the fluff. In some cases, even when they had crunch, they managed to restrain themselves and limit the crunch to options that didn't increase power (such as Complete Priest and, IIRC, Complete Thief). Unfortunately, the Players' Option set didn't have that restraint.
 


TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Psion said:
if you can't write good, pertinent fluff (and I don't use the term flavor, because flavor almost defines "impertinent" to me), then I'd rather you spend more time on crunch.

In the early going, I really hated fluff heavy supplements, or at least I thought I did. But that's until I read a product that had good fluff in it. Then I realized that a lot of fluff I disdained really isn't all that good.

I picked a high level of crunch for just this reason: fluff scepticism.

But if it is well done, like in a Green Ronin mythic vista book, or old Ed Greenwood article, its just fine.

In the obligatory 4th ed comment: so far, really liking the crunch, ho-humming the fluff.
 

InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
I said other.

Players' supplements should be heavy on crunch. That's new feats, new equipment, new classes, races, etc. It should be big on numbers, light on letters. That way, everyone will know what the rules are up front, the player can ask the DM for use of this or that, and the rules are as setting-free as possible.

DM's supplements, on the other hand, should be heavy on fluff. They should talk about new societies, flesh out areas of campaign worlds, and give advice how to take pieces and plunk them into your campaign. Crunch should be limited to thematic elements--a magic system based on chakras, for example.

The issue, as I see it, is that most books try to straddle the line. Crunch and fluff try to be presented together, and they end up stepping on each other's toes. Books could be divided into player and DM sections, as they were in the days of yore, or kept in separate books.

The long list of poorly received supplements on divine spellcasting is a prime example of crunch and fluff getting in the way of each other. The Player's Guide to Divine Spellcasting should be a book of feats, classes, equipment, and the like. The DM's Guide to Divine Spellcasting should be a book that talks about the role of religion in a campaign, different ways for religion and spells to work together, and how to design a pantheon, along with a few pre-generated pantheons.

For example, the Player's Guide could describe a number of different (prestige) classes of cleric/druid/paladin, each one tied to a different aspect of religious life. A Healer acts as a medic, a Chorister melds bardic music and divine magic, an Herbalist is a potionmaker extraordinaire, a Friar enjoys huge social bonuses because of their vow of peace, a Witch Doctor taps into the primal core of a tribe, that sort of thing. New spell lists, new feats, new equipment, all that.

The DM's Guide then talks about polytheism, monotheism, animism, and how they intermingle in a campaign. What are pharaohs and gods who walk the earth like? What happens when there are conflicting faiths? Conflicting pantheons? The book would describe a few different religions and religious systems that could be dropped into a campaign world. It would also talk about how to combine elements into a cohesive whole. Finally, it would describe how Healers, Choristers, Herbalists, Friars, and Witch Doctors would appear in the campaign. There may be no Friars of Hextor, for example--not by alignment, there may be Friars of Vecna. The focus of the book would be how to build a framework for a campaign through which the crunch makes sense. That's different from presenting the framework and telling the DM that's what to use. Give the DM ideas.

Psion, could you talk more about "good fluff" vs. "bad fluff"? I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject.
 

InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
Brother MacLaren said:
The absolute best 3.5 book was "Lords of Madness," for its fluff content. BECMI had some great supplements (the Gazetteers) that were maybe 95% fluff and 5% crunch. 2E's class books varied, with some heavier on the crunch and some on the fluff. In some cases, even when they had crunch, they managed to restrain themselves and limit the crunch to options that didn't increase power (such as Complete Priest and, IIRC, Complete Thief). Unfortunately, the Players' Option set didn't have that restraint.

Hooo yeah.

The Complete Thief's Handbook is still my favorite splatbook. However, it's quite divided on fluff vs. crunch. The kits and equipment broaden options without adding power; there is still no arms-racing there. It also talked about how to make a thieves' guild, which is precisely the sort of DM-fluff that I just described.

Player's Option, though, was Crunch Gone Wrong. It was all about the adding rules so that the rulesmonger could break the game better.
 

Greg K

Legend
InVinoVeritas said:
Hooo yeah.

The Complete Thief's Handbook is still my favorite splatbook. However, it's quite divided on fluff vs. crunch. The kits and equipment broaden options without adding power; there is still no arms-racing there. It also talked about how to make a thieves' guild, which is precisely the sort of DM-fluff that I just described. .

Defintitely one of my favorites as well.

Player's Option, though, was Crunch Gone Wrong. It was all about the adding rules so that the rulesmonger could break the game better.

Are we talking about PO: Skills and Powers or the entire line. I thought PO: Spells & Magic and PO: Combat and Tactics were both pretty good. The latter definitely had some influence on 3e combat while the former had some things I wish had been core in 3e.
 

InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
Greg K said:
Are we talking about PO: Skills and Powers or the entire line. I thought PO: Spells & Magic and PO: Combat and Tactics were both pretty good. The latter definitely had some influence on 3e combat while the former had some things I wish had been core in 3e.

Skills and Powers, mostly... That's the one that always seemed to come up in games. Or at least, that's the one that the munchkins I knew always referenced.
 

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