What do you see in your head in Theater of the Mind?

What do you see in your head in TotM?

  • Everything laid out clearly like a movie.

  • Detailed still pictures.

  • Rough sketches or blurry images of the set-up.

  • No visualization - just mentally keeping track of where things are.

  • No visualizations... and not really able to keep track for anything complicated.

  • Other - check comments


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R_J_K75

Legend
Rough sketches and blurry images, regardless of whether Im DMing or playing. Obviously if Im DMing I usually have a better grasp of things to better visualize positions and images of the surroundings. That doesnt necessarily mean I can always convey it any better. Reminds me of a funny story. I can't remember if it was a pre-published adventure or one I had written but I was DMing and the PCs were exploring a room in a wizards lab. We were playing TotME at the time. I think it was one of the Undermountain modules that came out later 90s. I forgot to mention that the bed in the room was a canopy bed, (which had a magical sword on top of it) just because in my minds eye I was only picturing bits and pieces instead of more realistic and complete detail. 3/4 of the way through the encounter and them exploring the room I said, "BTW, there's a canopy on this bed". They all said well that changes everything had we known that the encounter would have played out quite differently. So, for years after anytime the players and DM were picturing things differently someone would say, "Canopy Bed".
 

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aramis erak

Legend
For me, I see fairly clear schematics, but not rendered images, per se. I can, at times, mentally render images.
On the other hand, images I've seen pop up often, full color, often with surrounding context. Writing this trriggered one... it's from FASA STRPG, and it's a B&W illo of a star fleet officer, clearly rotoscoped from a Michael Clarke Duncan publicity headshot. Another is hitting, of a klingon, also rotoscoped. Both have background from my 1998-2004 apartment.
Aphantasia is where a person to some degree or other doesn't have a mind's eye (something like 3-4% of people apparently). Some can't summon up any pictures in their heads, while others can only get very rough or fleeting sketches. Sometimes it's accompanied by not being able to mentally summon smells or sounds. And some don't dream visually.
I have a friend who has total aphantasia; she noted that she struggled in school with fiction; I have very little clue how that is. She can't explain how she recognizes faces, but described how she recalls things as being "almost like collections of hashtags"...

I tend to visualize easily, and even can hear read text in authorial or character voice. (Writing that triggered a memory of B5 - Sheriden and Delenn at the paper recycler, complete with dialogue in their voices.) My therapist thinks this may be part of my PTSD.
 

I have a friend who has total aphantasia; she noted that she struggled in school with fiction; I have very little clue how that is. She can't explain how she recognizes faces, but described how she recalls things as being "almost like collections of hashtags"...
Yeah, that's what it's like. A mass of verbal tags that don't necessarily come into full focus.

Facial recognition is totally different. Can anyone explain how they do it? I will say that I seem to be slower in recognizing people than most - it can take ten or more meetings with someone before I start spontaneously recognizing someone. But not always! Sometimes it happens faster, and not necessarily because there's anything unusual about them. Dunno why.

The difficulty with fiction seems to be quite common among aphants. For whatever reason, I don't have any such difficulty. It does seem that aphantasia is a "chunk" term for a number of different conditions that have similar consequences for the imaging power.
 

Well, this isn't just an issue for D&D; any game that cares to any significant degree about distance and positioning (and an awful lot do to one degree or another) kind of needs you to remember what those are, and I have trouble just remembering what the layout is without visual representation, let alone where all the combatants are.
Fair, but our subsequent games were mostly a lot less demanding than D&D in that area. Also, we just plain didn't get in fights much. (We tend toward sneakiness and intelligence gathering, avoiding fights whenever possible.)
 

aramis erak

Legend
Yeah, that's what it's like. A mass of verbal tags that don't necessarily come into full focus.

Facial recognition is totally different. Can anyone explain how they do it? I will say that I seem to be slower in recognizing people than most - it can take ten or more meetings with someone before I start spontaneously recognizing someone. But not always! Sometimes it happens faster, and not necessarily because there's anything unusual about them. Dunno why.
I compare what I see to what I remember them looking like. Or more correctly, when I see them, if they're close to someone I remember, I then remember the face they had, and compare the two.
I'm not always right. I generally need to hear voices to be certain...

tho' I've occasionally recognized visually folks I'd not seen in 15+ years.

I've recognized students after 5-10 years and been able to compare... one, I remembered the family name, but couldn't tell which former student it was. He was surprised I remembered the family name... (I remembered both personal names, but couldn't tell which of the two it was.)

Visual triggers usually bring almost a HUD-like overlap of reality and memory. (This can be a problem when driving. Especially when it happens while at a key intersection in an unfamiliar place.)

There's a bloke in town who, every time I see him, he reminds me of a roommate from 30 years ago. I've seen him repeatedly... style of dress is right. Car? Looks like the same Geo Tracker. (Right year, right color, right top type, but it's been 30 years, and it's a different state... but if it is him, I'd not be surprised for him to still have it.) . Haven't seen him close enough to notice the very distinctive visual defect in his eyes to be certain. (If it is the former roommate, he's got a very distinctive iris defect.)
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I compare what I see to what I remember them looking like. Or more correctly, when I see them, if they're close to someone I remember, I then remember the face they had, and compare the two.
I'm not always right. I generally need to hear voices to be certain...

tho' I've occasionally recognized visually folks I'd not seen in 15+ years.

I've recognized students after 5-10 years and been able to compare... one, I remembered the family name, but couldn't tell which former student it was. He was surprised I remembered the family name... (I remembered both personal names, but couldn't tell which of the two it was.)

Visual triggers usually bring almost a HUD-like overlap of reality and memory. (This can be a problem when driving. Especially when it happens while at a key intersection in an unfamiliar place.)

There's a bloke in town who, every time I see him, he reminds me of a roommate from 30 years ago. I've seen him repeatedly... style of dress is right. Car? Looks like the same Geo Tracker. (Right year, right color, right top type, but it's been 30 years, and it's a different state... but if it is him, I'd not be surprised for him to still have it.) . Haven't seen him close enough to notice the very distinctive visual defect in his eyes to be certain. (If it is the former roommate, he's got a very distinctive iris defect.)

My problem is matching faces and names. I'm fine if I interacted with them a lot recently or if they are/were a friend or the like or if it's like a famous person... but for a lot of people I'll recognize the face is familiar and quite likely know the context, but I have no clue on the name. The only reason I know I'm apparently odd about it is the number of people who know mine and I don't know theirs (say we were on a committee together or were regulars at the same store or are cousins who see each other once every decade). I'm also awful on the street names in a similar fashion.

I have no idea if it is related to the aphantasia or not.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
Fair, but our subsequent games were mostly a lot less demanding than D&D in that area. Also, we just plain didn't get in fights much. (We tend toward sneakiness and intelligence gathering, avoiding fights whenever possible.)

There certainly are ones that are less so. And as you say if you avoid fights it at least reduces it (though dependent on handling, stealth process can kind of care too, but probably most people abstract that).
 

aramis erak

Legend
My problem is matching faces and names. I'm fine if I interacted with them a lot recently or if they are/were a friend or the like or if it's like a famous person... but for a lot of people I'll recognize the face is familiar and quite likely know the context, but I have no clue on the name. The only reason I know I'm apparently odd about it is the number of people who know mine and I don't know theres (say we were on a committee together or were regulars at the same store or are cousins who see each other once every decade). I'm also awful on the street names in a similar fashion.

I have not idea if it is related to the aphantasia or not.
Probably not. I have tremendous trouble with names. My friendly acquaintance Jax, I couldn't call up his name Wed at the store - ran into him in the correct context and immediately knew who he was, why he's important to me, what games he likes... but not his name. It hit me about 30 minutes later. Similarly Xavier... same place, same issue. (Jax is the point of contact for the store's saturday night D&D... last I heard).

Certain acquaintances, I pulled their surname from memories of their JROTC and/or CAP uniforms, and simply read it off the nametag. Doesn't always work. My memory is strongly visual - not quite photographic, and not quite immutable... but visual, and often short snippets pop up as if video.
 

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