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Player Companions: A Matter of Voice


Pathfinder Player Companion

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

With little deviation, the majority of Pathfinder products have the same voice - that of a vague, third-person, semi-in-world yet omniscient persona. To only slightly varying degrees, that's how you see pretty much everything written, whether we're talking about the ruins of Kibwe in the Inner Sea World Guide or introducing new class features for the gunslinger in Ultimate Combat.

It's textbook voice. It's more flavorful than textbook voice - 'cause we're brilliant writers - but it's still, basically, textbook voice.

The Players Companions are where this breaks most regularly, slipping occasionally into second person and addressing the reader as "you." It doesn't happen terribly often, but when it does it's much more informal. And for guidebooks and advice pieces, it seems to make some sense.

What do you think about that? Is that a cool thing? Does it engage you more? Do you think it's clearer or more exciting to have an article say "ninjas of the Thousand Bleeding Stings do X, Y, and Z" or "YOU do X, Y, and Z?"

So that's topic one.

Topic two has to do with what I said above about the voice being "semi-in-world." That largely presents itself in the descriptions we choose to use - or perhaps more aptly, the descriptions we don't choose to use. How many times have you seen an object or an aspect of a creature or a feature of a room described as being about the size of a man's fist, or a buckler, or a wagon wheel? That's because all of those are examples that someone in Golarion, or any vaguely medieval fantasy land, would be familiar with, and because it's more flavorful than flatly saying "the glowing orb is 20 inches in diameter and weights 5 pounds." But can you really say that you're intimately familiar with the dimensions of a buckler or a wagon wheel (man's head, maybe - no I don't want to hear about your collection; also, those of you who regularly wield bucklers or drive wagons, pipe down)? We do this to keep readers immersed in the fantasy of the world, so even the experience of reading one of our books is in a similar voice to that which a GM uses to run a game.

But for players, is that immersive, or does it add an unnecessary barrier between the meaning and the reader's point of reference?

Just let me note that I don't think that hearing people saying this IS a barrier (even if a minor one), or that they just don't care, means huge changes, like describing all monsters in terms of MAC trucks or pieces of armor in terms of hubcaps. But, would it be a deal breaker for you to hear that the temple's gardens of singing crystal are the size of a football field, that the vegepygmy's spear is the length of a ski pole, or that the tarrasque is the size of the Space Needle? These aren't examples that would regularly come up in a line like the Player's Companions (and I am only musing about the Player Companions here - nobody worry that they're going to have to weigh in here to prevent the appearance of bus-sized behemoths in the next AP), but hopefully you get the idea.

In short, if you're a player having... say... a magic item described to you, does it help you more and/or get you more interested to know the orb is the size of a chamber pot or a basketball? And why is that?

And even if it would bug you to see a sword described to players as being the length of a baseball bat, would it bother you if real-world examples were relegated to sidebars or other call-outs?

No agenda here, and no strong preferences - just wanted to see what you all think.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

In world examples are cool, and most people are familiar with such descriptions thanks to Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean and similar movies. I think it might help if you kept the measurements in parentheses, that way the players/GMs who might be unfamiliar with any reference could have a clearer understanding.

Second person, where appropriate is engaging. It allows a reader to imagine themselves as a character pulling off cool stunts or acting in certain ways. In any case clarity is king, and as long as that's maintained I'd be willing to read guides through the lens of in-world characters. Such as Pathfinders warning about certain dangers, or explaining the origins of certain feats and spells etc.

I realize I answered your questions backwards.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

I buy the player companion to read them (cover to cover). As such I'm in favor of a more readable style.

The following are my personal opinions:

Weight and size descriptions like " as a wagon wheel" - yes please.

Modern world equivalents as "size of a basketball". NO, NO, NO. This really takes away my immersion. I can't tell why - but reading modern world equivalents in a Golarion book feels wrong to me.

Use of first person and addressing the reader as you - I haven't really noticed yet that it happens - so I guess I'm okay or even in favor.

Just a word of warning though - I'm just back from a RAW argument. I personally prefer more flavorful text and less repetition. But I can see issues creeping up with the RAW followers if you use flavorful text. It would be a shame if that kills it - but this would be the strongest argument against flavorful text I would likely accept.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

"Ninjas of the Thousand Bleeding Stings do X, Y, and Z" - gets my vote. The "you" narrative doesn't make me particularly happy.

And I also prefer the more in-world "size of a buckler" even if it is more wishy-washy in terms of precision.

I very very much DO NOT WANT to have references based on real-world metrics. That the dragon is the size of a MAC truck would be a deal-breaker. Seriously. Please don't.

If you need to give something that is easily related to, then I would prefer an accurate measurement (1ft diameter) over a real-world analogue (size of a basketball).

Finally, I understand that Paizo caters heavily for a US market - but the size of a basketball isn't nearly as relevant in other parts of the world. Likewise with a football field (which many would then confuse with a soccer field). I live in South Africa, and if you'd describe something as the size of a baseball ball, then I actually have no idea, other than it can apparently be thrown well, so cannot be too big. But is it bigger or smaller than a tennis ball? No clue.

Osirion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd vote for mostly textbook voice. The in-world voice should be like saffron- rare, exotic, and high quality. I liked it in the interlude pages in the Book of the Damned and the fiction in the forward to Rule of Fear, but I'd like to keep it rare. Making that sort of thing more common means you will have more varied quality, and when it doesn't connect with the reader, it's not as useful as other stuff, however dry, might be.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber

Actually, while we have Herr Schenider's attention, I would kindly ask to tone down the theatrics in writing. Book of Damned 1 was particularly guilty of those, with all those strings of damned roses entwined around cornucopias of mortality that shine a doomed light across the meadows of obliteration. You know what I mean :)

It's a terrific writing style for fiction or descriptive passages in adventures, but it's a terrible one for a sourcebook.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I would prefer consistent third person throughout (the second person always jars slightly for me - probably because I'm rarely reading specifically with regard to one specific character. I read the player's companions broadly as they come out to get an idea of all the options, then single out what seems appropriate when it comes time to roll up a character references to 'me' are not usually relevant and remind me I'm reading about a game, rather than reading about how things are in this fantasy world).

I definitely prefer references to bucklers over basketballs. The spatial dimensions are so rarely important outside of adventures (ie it might be important how much the statuette weighs, dimensions of the stone slab, etcetera) that adopting more precise language at the expense of immersion just doesnt seem worth it to me.


I am strongly in favor of use of third person over second person. Especially in mechanics-related parts (which apparently is exactly the opposite of Mr Reynolds opinion, and judging from his responses in another thread probably other game designers as well) but I don't want "you" in fluff-related parts as well, except fiction.

Also I am in favor of using only examples that are existing within the game world - so no baseball bats (unless it is a game known to local humanoids), no football fields and no basketballs.

I have no problems with using real world metrics or even imperial ones. It is better to say something is 3 feet long instead that it is of baseball bat length (ok, I have no actual idea how long baseball bat is - I only guessed that three feet).

Shadow Lodge

For #1, I honestly do not care. If I had to choose, I would go with the random changes in "preson", as it seems more interesting. I have always liked how White Wolf's books switched between the male and female in that sense, for the most part if they are talking about a mechanic from the fluff side of things, it used the feminie, while if it is talking about the mechanic from the rules side of things, it is masculine, but it doesn't at all distract. Is that what you are asking?

As for #2, it really depends. If it is a comparrison to something in the setting, (like a man's fist, a sword, the size of a wagon), I much perfere that that specifics, because it allows different people to interpret it as they need to at the time, but still has a certain generalization. If it is something modern, absolutely not. I don't like hearing how a spells area is roughly the size of a larger van, or the wand is designed to be wielded like a common pistol. I wouldn't mind maybe a single line at the end (also designated as Out of Character in some way, describing the item in modern terms if it is somehow uncommon otherwise. If no one knows what a chamber pot is, than saying it is basket ball sized might help, but then again, if it is Football sized, is that Non-American Football (American Soccer), or is it actually shapped sort of like an egg? Leads to confussion moreso than not, I think. Along those lines, not everyone lives in the same areas of the world, and thus has the same assumptions of what you might be describing. Even a car or a house is typically much smaller outside of America, whereas if you say something like a wagon, (I think) it is much more commonly understood.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber
Drejk wrote:


I have no problems with using real world metrics or even imperial ones. It is better to say something is 3 feet long instead that it is of baseball bat length (ok, I have no actual idea how long baseball bat is - I only guessed that three feet).

Ooooh oooh this.

There are no measures of my dislike of authors using country-specific items as basis for comparison.

"The area is about as big as a baseball field" - saw that once in a White Wolf book. Cringed. Eurogamers have enough to put up with shipping fees, delays, lack of FLGS so that treating them in-writing as third class readers is just rubbing it in, really.


LoreKeeper wrote:

"Ninjas of the Thousand Bleeding Stings do X, Y, and Z" - gets my vote. The "you" narrative doesn't make me particularly happy.

And I also prefer the more in-world "size of a buckler" even if it is more wishy-washy in terms of precision.

I very very much DO NOT WANT to have references based on real-world metrics. That the dragon is the size of a MAC truck would be a deal-breaker. Seriously. Please don't.

If you need to give something that is easily related to, then I would prefer an accurate measurement (1ft diameter) over a real-world analogue (size of a basketball).

Finally, I understand that Paizo caters heavily for a US market - but the size of a basketball isn't nearly as relevant in other parts of the world. Likewise with a football field (which many would then confuse with a soccer field). I live in South Africa, and if you'd describe something as the size of a baseball ball, then I actually have no idea, other than it can apparently be thrown well, so cannot be too big. But is it bigger or smaller than a tennis ball? No clue.

Lorekeeper pretty much sums up my view (except I am from denmark not south africa). When something is a certain size and it is that important I rather see a picture like this:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/Diplodocus_size_comparis on.png

then have a "size of a mac truck" (how big are those anyway? I certainly don't know.)

Taldor

I'm a fan of the old ways that Elminster used to describe the world of the Forgotten Realms in Dragon Magazine or how the Van Richten's Guides for Ravenloft used to be written. It was interesting to read and gave everything a nice flavor while at the same time they usually had good sidebars with the rules crunch in them too.

Something like that would be wonderful, thought it'd kind of like writing everything twice maybe....

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Gorbacz wrote:
Actually, while we have Herr Schenider's attention...

Anyone who ever wants my attention is welcome to e-mail me at wes@paizo.com, where I will happily discuss my writing style, choices in freelance work, gothic literature, fingerless gloves, and diverse topics as prickly as a half-stitched doll discarded amid the thorns of a rabid rose. ;)

For this thread though, on with the regularly scheduled show.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

After Steve's comment I'm totally going to refer to this as the "barrels over basketballs" discussion. :)

The opinions on modern analogies has been intriguing so far, so thanks to everyone stating and explaining their reasonings.

Now - at the risk of further diverting this conversation from the topic of voice, which is actually a more significant concern to my mind (So please, do keep weighing in on that!) - in your opinion, do you think limiting descriptions "medieval" analogies is a helpful thing to most readers? There's no question that if you're reading this post that you get it, but would your mother, wife, 12-year-old nephew, or anyone who isn't a career gamer?

What if we change the arena of this topic. Say we were talking about a sci-fi game. Would saying an asteroid is roughly the size of a cruise ship irk you?

Again, this is largely a thought exercise and I've kept my own opinions and those of the Paizo editorial department out of this, so no one worry that I'm trying to push some new editorial agenda here.

Taldor

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

After Steve's comment I'm totally going to refer to this as the "barrels over basketballs" discussion. :)

The opinions on modern analogies has been intriguing so far, so thanks to everyone stating and explaining their reasonings.

Now - at the risk of further diverting this conversation from the topic of voice, which is actually a more significant concern to my mind (So please, do keep weighing in on that!) - in your opinion, do you think limiting descriptions "medieval" analogies is a helpful thing to most readers? There's no question that if you're reading this post that you get it, but would your mother, wife, 12-year-old nephew, or anyone who isn't a career gamer?

What if we change the arena of this topic. Say we were talking about a sci-fi game. Would saying an asteroid is roughly the size of a cruise ship irk you?

Again, this is largely a thought exercise and I've kept my own opinions and those of the Paizo editorial department out of this, so no one worry that I'm trying to push some new editorial agenda here.

I think 'medieval' is the wrong way to put it.

Barrels still exist, if you said something was curved like a scimitar I would expect a huge amount of people to get it, if you said it was as swift as a trireme then I would expect many to be confused.

Your job (thankfully, not mine) is to find analogies that feel timeless.

Most vaguely educated modern readers wil recognise a scythe, so you can use that, but they won't recognise other bits of ancient farming gear, so they're out.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

With little deviation, the majority of Pathfinder products have the same voice - that of a vague, third-person, semi-in-world yet omniscient persona. To only slightly varying degrees, that's how you see pretty much everything written, whether we're talking about the ruins of Kibwe in the Inner Sea World Guide or introducing new class features for the gunslinger in Ultimate Combat.

It's textbook voice. It's more flavorful than textbook voice - 'cause we're brilliant writers - but it's still, basically, textbook voice.

If you are looking at the "voice" for the Pathfinder Player Companions, one setting element that has not been used enough when describing the world is the "Pathfinder Society." One idea for making these "player friendly" resources more "in world" would be to have them be written as if they were excerpts taken from the Pathfinder Chronicles.

That would make them more “in world” and allow for a more "player's eye level" view of the subject, because an "in world" character is the actual writer. (This would of course require moving any "rules" content to the back or to side-bars.)

It would also allow a little novel "tie-in" as you could use those existing heroes (such as "Pathfinder Varian Jeggare") for some of the reports, without making those novels "manditory" for the reader.


At the Good Mr. Schneider's request, I've decided to pass on the way things are going in the other thread. I'd count myself among the advocates of a first-person voice (not necessarily for the entire book, indeed... I'd loveto see some of what Lord Fyre's suggesting) that presents players with character and story ideas directly. That's the kind of product I'd want to hand to the players of my new group.

Ithink Weirmonken said it better than me.

'weirmonken' wrote:

In my experience, many players are not interested in granular details about setting, flavor, and the like, especially if it is written in a neutral, even tone and in a dense block of text. GMs like that stuff, of course, but players wonder, 'Why do I care about this?' What they are interested in is clear, concise information that excites the imagination and is easily referenced and applicable to their character, right now.

As an example, let's take a look at a passage from Faiths of Corruption:
Colin McComb wrote:

Like Lamashtu, Shub-Niggurath is thought to be responsible for the introduction of frightening species into the world, but unlike the Demon Queen, the Outer God's children are a more aberrant get. Your rites sacrifice to aberrations, offering children and the infirm to tentacled and oozing horrors that should not be. You have an unholy fascination with that which slithers, scurries, and oozes, and you believe that one day, should you mate with such a beast, you will achieve unity with your master.

Starting with a comparison to Lamashtu is likely to alienate many players, because unless they have some reason to know who Lamashtu is, they'll have to look her up. This is a barrier to this short article's usefulness for a player making a decision about which evil god to play, or when referencing information about their evil god to use in-game.

Things start to spice up, however, once the text starts addressing the reader directly. Sacrifice children to tentacled monsters? Mate with ooze fiends? For a player looking for a 'metal' concept, this is going to sing to them.

That said, the presentation could be more straightforward, with bullet points, quick story hooks, roleplaying tips, and a how-to guide of options that will make a character uniquely 'Shubby'. This does not necessarily have to be new options presented, but can also reference other books, preferably with a page citation. It should also be written in a way that talks directly to the player, with an eye for presentation that jumps off the page and demands that you play this concept because it so damn cool.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

GeraintElberion wrote:
I think 'medieval' is the wrong way to put it.

It absolutely is. Like I say up top, we don't write things assuming a medieval standard, we write them with a semi-in-world, semi-in-character voice with "vaguely medieval fantasy land" assumptions. In other words, we try to write as though we were talking to a common resident of Golarion... who likes RPG rules.

GeraintElberion wrote:

Barrels still exist, if you said something was curved like a scimitar I would expect a huge amount of people to get it, if you said it was as swift as a trireme then I would expect many to be confused.

Your job (thankfully, not mine) is to find analogies that feel timeless.

Most vaguely educated modern readers wil recognise a scythe, so you can use that, but they won't recognise other bits of ancient farming gear, so they're out.

This is a HUGE part of what I want to see discussed here, and you're totally right. Is making "must know what a scimitar and a scythe is," or even, must be "educated modern readers" the baseline of entry for a product like this valuable, or is it just the way it's always been done? And additionally, do you think getting to analogies that you have no reference for would deter you from playing or stymie your interest if you were someone coming to these books with only a passing interest?

(Again - and I feel like I have to keep restating this - there's no agenda here, I just want to get the sense of the room. That, and I am just waiting for someone conspiracy theorist to get bent out of shape an decide "OMG! Piazos is tying to take away how my Pathfinders is writen and sell it to 5 graders and my MOM instead!" So, again, that's not the case. We love you, baby, and we'd never do you wrong.)

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Add me to barrels instead of basketballs for references. As long as the reference is in world appropriate, I'm in favor of more use of those types of comparisons for descriptions, especially for non-rule sections. Obviously, what causes a trap to trigger or how a spell works should use more concrete descriptions, either real world measurements like feet or pounds, or game terms such as "more than one Medium sized creature", etc.

As for when in character voice should be used instead of omniscient voice, I think it's great for things like the lead in to chapters, or sidebar type sections (like some of the connecting material in Book of the Damned Vol 1), but wouldn't want to see it used extensively in a player guide to XXX type book.

On the other hand, it would be very cool to see a product along the lings of the Volo's Guides from Forgotten Realms that was almost entirely in character. Those did a lot to brin the setting alive and seeing something similar for Golarion would be a great product.


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
that the tarrasque is the size of the Space Needle?

Is it really? That's enormous.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I have a little time to kill at the office today, so I thought I'd chime in with my two cents...

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
With little deviation, the majority of Pathfinder products have the same voice - that of a vague, third-person, semi-in-world yet omniscient persona....The Players Companions are where this breaks most regularly, slipping occasionally into second person and addressing the reader as "you"....What do you think about that? Is that a cool thing? Does it engage you more? Do you think it's clearer or more exciting to have an article say "ninjas of the Thousand Bleeding Stings do X, Y, and Z" or "YOU do X, Y, and Z?"

Personally, I like textbook voice more than addressing the reader by saying "you." That's because whether I'm a GM or a player, I can read it as if I were perusing a reference manual. And, if I'm the GM, it's world-specific content I can then adapt and use for my campaign. On the other hand, if I'm a player, I can read it as if the material were written by someone "in world" and incorporate that into how my character would perceive such information. I don't need the use of the word "you" to make it more personal for me.

So, if you write as "YOU do X, Y, and Z..." it's far more jarring for me. It breaks the immersion, even for text that's just conveying new game-related information. By keeping it textbook style, you can imagine it however you want. If it's written in second person, you can't imagine it however you want (as player or GM). That's because "you" puts you in the middle of it whether you want to keep a more detached, omniscient view or not...

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Topic two has to do with what I said above about the voice being "semi-in-world"...But for players, is that immersive, or does it add an unnecessary barrier between the meaning and the reader's point of reference?...In short, if you're a player having... say... a magic item described to you, does it help you more and/or get you more interested to know the orb is the size of a chamber pot or a basketball? And why is that?...And even if it would bug you to see a sword described to players as being the length of a baseball bat, would it bother you if real-world examples were relegated to sidebars or other call-outs?

To me, it's always more immersive when the voice is "semi-in-world." As I said above, whether I'm a GM or a player who's reading that material, I can relate to it better if it's presented in terms of how it would be viewed or experienced "in world." And that's a good thing, because it helps to widen our collective understanding of the game world itself. It brings things alive and fires the imagination better. If you introduce real-world terms like basketballs, baseball bats, MAC trucks, etc., it's going to be too jarring. Those terms evoke imagery that clashes with the immersion too much.

Instead, you should reach for comparative terms that still make sense "in world." And, for those occasions where you use a word that some new readers might not know, instead of frustrating them, maybe you just helped them learn a new word? I can't tell you how much my vocabulary expanded as a result of reading RPG material. If I was reading a fantasy RPG, I learned all about medieval times. And, if I was reading a sci-fi RPG, I learned all about cutting edge technologies, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, medical advances, etc. RPGs are basically learning vehicles wrapped around a whole lot of fun and entertainment. And even moreso when the stuff you're attempting to learn about is world-specific to that campaign setting. So, I think you do the hobby a greater service to always use "in world" descriptions without overly concerning yourself if you're drawing upon a word that not all readers might know. The internet makes looking up such things infinitely easier than pulling out the encylopedias and dictionaries at home.

So, short answer: Yes, it would bother me if real-world terminology got introduced into these descriptions. And yes, that would also include real-world examples relegated to sidebars.

I will note, however, that I think sidebars in the Pathfinder AP bestiaries which explain how a real world myth inspired a particular monster is cool. That's educating people on a relevant historical connection and just might get them to go back and study mythology to discover all sorts of new cryptids. But a sidebar explaining how the tarrasque compares to the Space Needle just because people might be more familiar with the latter, wouldn't play well with me. And a thousand times so if you invoked Megatron's name while trying to describe a certain villain's mentality. Or, perhaps in keeping with RPG Superstar's wondrous item advice, comparing a magic item to a real-world item like a tape recorder or an iPod. That way lies madness!

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Now - at the risk of further diverting this conversation...do you think limiting descriptions to "medieval" analogies is a helpful thing to most readers? There's no question that if you're reading this post that you get it, but would your mother, wife, 12-year-old nephew, or anyone who isn't a career gamer?

If people have an interest in fantasy gaming, presumably they also have an interest in medieval times and terminology. If they don't, they lose interest in the game eventually anyway. And, as long as you keep coming with the medieval analogies, you'll be educating them in ways that may develop a new love and appreciation for the fantasy genre as a whole. As such, "limiting" descriptions to medieval analogies isn't really a limitation at all. It's in direct service to your campaign world and generating interest in the products which define it.

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
What if we change the arena of this topic. Say we were talking about a sci-fi game. Would saying an asteroid is roughly the size of a cruise ship irk you?

For the sake of world immersion, it might be appropriate to compare an asteroid the size of a cruise ship in a sci-fi game. Even moreso if you compared it to a cruise liner, since that might imply a space cruiser moreso than the water-going variety. So, yes, I'd feel differently there, because world immersion for that kind of game isn't threatend by the comparison. Modern and sci-fi games have that built-in benefit to helping people relate to their game worlds. But fantasy games are fantasy for a reason. They deal in the past...or a magical, medieval-esque "other" place...and you should really use terminology and language that supports the imagination of that kind of world. Not words that jar people out of those kinds of imaginings.

Lastly, I'll make one other "short" point. Much like we freelancers avoid use of the word "you" in presupposing anything when writing adventures, we have no qualms whatsoever about invoking it in dialogue with NPCs. That's because it's natural to use "you" in everyday conversation between characters. Thus, I wouldn't mind seeing some in-character dialogue or written Pathfinder reports or even other commentary from world-specific NPCs show up to accompany the Player's Companion books. That kind of thing helps players (and GMs, honestly) get a better idea of how to portray characters from certain organizations, in-world countries, etc. That said, I wouldn't want to see any of them talking about basketballs. ;-)

As always, just my two cents,
--Neil


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Topic two has to do with what I said above about the voice being "semi-in-world"...But for players, is that immersive, or does it add an unnecessary barrier between the meaning and the reader's point of reference?...In short, if you're a player having... say... a magic item described to you, does it help you more and/or get you more interested to know the orb is the size of a chamber pot or a basketball? And why is that?...And even if it would bug you to see a sword described to players as being the length of a baseball bat, would it bother you if real-world examples were relegated to sidebars or other call-outs?
To me, it's always more immersive when the voice is "semi-in-world." As I said above, whether I'm a GM or a player who's reading that material, I can relate to it better if it's presented in terms of how it would be viewed or experienced "in world." And that's a good thing, because it helps to widen our collective understanding of the game world itself. It brings things alive and fires the imagination better. If you introduce real-world terms like basketballs, baseball bats, MAC trucks, etc., it's going to be too jarring. Those terms evoke imagery that clashes with the immersion too much.

I run into this a lot writing logs for the games. Heck, I even try to avoid descriptions of game mechanics, because I want the log to read like an actual experience. So, I'll take "she used the power of nature to call forth a tremendous wall of water" over "she cast tsunami."

The trick is to not go too White Wolf about it (which is how I think of that writing style due to my experience reading such rulebooks). It is a rulebook, after all, which means that people expect rules in it. In a rulebook I don't find use of actual spell names and the like jarring, but peppering in little parenthetical statements about size such as "the malignant creatures leave small leather sacks at the doorsteps of their victims (1/2 lb. weight, 1/2 cubic foot capacity)" would be as distracting as the "you" thing that I agree with Neil about.

The big problem I have is that we end up faced with sets of facts enclosed in giant blobs of text. In order to assimulate the facts, we must read and memorize the paragraphs of prose, and this is a problem for me as a GM. After all, this isn't my job, it's just a hobby, and anything that makes it harder for me to run my game is undesirable to me.

Thus, it's great to include all that prose so I can read it to get the concepts, ideas, and flavor of what's going on, but for sanity's sake please don't do the same with facts that I need to run the game. If a needed fact is buried in the 7th paragraph of a two-page write-up, I have to either have it memorized (unlikely given the volume of material put out), or I have to scan all the text of that section until I find it.


Neil Spicer wrote:
If people have an interest in fantasy gaming, presumably they also have an interest in medieval times and terminology. If they don't, they lose interest in the game eventually anyway.

To me, this sounds way off base. I'm a history nut, but my group as a whole tend to focus on the adventure side of things. Whether the commoner with the awful deep south accent is a serf or a peasant is totally irrelevent. It's not to say that it's out of place or anything, but to say players that aren't interested in medieval minutae can't enjoy, or even immerse themselves in the game seems a bit...

Well let's just say it's jumping to conclusions as much as I am. :P

Neil Spicer wrote:
I will note, however, that I think sidebars in the Pathfinder AP bestiaries which explain how a real world myth inspired a particular monster is cool. That's educating people on a relevant historical connection and just might get them to go back and study mythology to discover all sorts of new cryptids.

This on the other hand I can't get enough of. Can we see more of this? (However this probably isnt the place... I dont think I've ever seen a monster in the companion line.)


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
We love you, baby, and we'd never do you wrong.)

If you're trying to get me to subscribe, I don't think I'm ready for that kind of commitment. :P

Until Skull and Shackles comes out in any case...

Qadira

JoelF847 wrote:
... should use more concrete descriptions, either real world measurements like feet or pounds...

Real world measurements use metres and kilograms, but most of us non-US gamers are able to convert to medieval measurements such as feet and pounds ;)

Using feet and pounds does add to the feeling of a fantasy game.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Maps Subscriber

another vote for the 3rd person and not "you".

also no similarities with "real-world" object.
if this object exists in Golarion, go for it and use it as a comparison.
if not, let it go.

asteroid = size of cruiser ship (in sci-fi) why not, as cruiser ship might exist in scifi-settings.

also, even if I'm european (and as such "metric"), keep feet and pounds, that's fine.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Neil Spicer wrote:

As always, just my two cents,

--Neil

Neil. Thank you, as always, for the detailed and well considered post.

I have only disregarded it because I enjoy wasting your time. Nah. ;P

gbonehead wrote:
The big problem I have is that we end up faced with sets of facts enclosed in giant blobs of text. In order to assimilate the facts, we must read and memorize the paragraphs of prose, and this is a problem for me as a GM. After all, this isn't my job, it's just a hobby, and anything that makes it harder for me to run my game is undesirable to me.

I've quoted this because it resonates with me as being particularly insightful. How do people feel about having elaborate rules elements listed in running text? Would clarity be improved by a list format for complex topics - even if that means losing a few words per line? Does anyone have a good example of a type of rules element we present frequently that might be more useful in a new format - be it a list or some sort of new "statblock"-like format (kind of like how feats or spells have their own discrete formats)?

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Neil. Thank you, as always, for the detailed and well considered post....I have only disregarded it because I enjoy wasting your time. Nah. ;P

Oh, it wasn't wasted. Those long posts are more for me and my own entertainment than anyone else. ;-P

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
How do people feel about having elaborate rules elements listed in running text? Would clarity be improved by a list format for complex topics - even if that means losing a few words per line? Does anyone have a good example of a type of rules element we present frequently that might be more useful in a new format - be it a list or some sort of new "statblock"-like format (kind of like how feats or spells have their own discrete formats)?

I'm trying to think of anything that doesn't already have its own format. You've got a template for presenting racial abilities, character classes, feats, spells, magic items, NPCs, monsters, city stat-blocks, vehicle stat-blocks, haunts, traps, result ladders for Knowledge skill checks, planar traits, poisons, diseases, curses, universal monster rules and monster types, prestige classes, archetypes, etc. I guess there's no consistent format for presenting more complex rules of grouped mechanics like combat maneuvers, but each one is so unique that may not be possible.

Maybe the OP is imagining how to improve the presentation of rules that explain how to conduct mass combat (which appeared in Kingmaker) or rules for romancing NPCs (in Jade Regent) or other small self-contained rules systems within non-core rulebook products?

Shadow Lodge

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Does anyone have a good example of a type of rules element we present frequently that might be more useful in a new format - be it a list or some sort of new "statblock"-like format (kind of like how feats or spells have their own discrete formats)?

One, fairly minor thing I've noticed in the later two Faiths of Books, it lists the deities important game info (favored weapon, alignment, Domains, etc. . .) at the end of (but part of) the presented text. I would like it presented either as a side note, a different text, or away from the "fluff", just for ease of finding it at a glance.


There seems to be a lot of opposition to the use of first person, I wonder why that is?

I think the gyst of what I'd like to see is grounded in what I think the purpose of the Player Companions are.
a) they teach the players about the setting
but... more importantly (to me, anyway. ymmv.)
b) they fill your players heads with character ideas (especially the AP players guides!)

If the text can bounce ideas off of readers from the word go, without burying them in prose, all the better. That flavour text is going to be gobbled up once the creative gears start grinding. This wouldnt NECESSARILY have to be in first person, but if the writers can distance themselves enough (or manage to use an in-setting voice like some of the sidebars and chapter openings) to make this initial setup, to tell me that Gnomes could be collectors, charlatans, or minstrels with a manic need for attention... Just that little something to jump on makes all the difference. I actually thought the opening text to Gnomes of Golarion was fantastic for this, so perhaps I've chosen a bad example...

Of course, this is merely my attempt at constructive feedback. I have the utmost faith in the paizo staff to draw my interest every time (and draw open my pursestrings, at that.)


Neil Spicer wrote:

I have a little time to kill at the office today, so I thought I'd chime in with my two cents...

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
With little deviation, the majority of Pathfinder products have the same voice - that of a vague, third-person, semi-in-world yet omniscient persona....The Players Companions are where this breaks most regularly, slipping occasionally into second person and addressing the reader as "you"....What do you think about that? Is that a cool thing? Does it engage you more? Do you think it's clearer or more exciting to have an article say "ninjas of the Thousand Bleeding Stings do X, Y, and Z" or "YOU do X, Y, and Z?"

Personally, I like textbook voice more than addressing the reader by saying "you." That's because whether I'm a GM or a player, I can read it as if I were perusing a reference manual. And, if I'm the GM, it's world-specific content I can then adapt and use for my campaign. On the other hand, if I'm a player, I can read it as if the material were written by someone "in world" and incorporate that into how my character would perceive such information. I don't need the use of the word "you" to make it more personal for me.

So, if you write as "YOU do X, Y, and Z..." it's far more jarring for me. It breaks the immersion, even for text that's just conveying new game-related information. By keeping it textbook style, you can imagine it however you want. If it's written in second person, you can't imagine it however you want (as player or GM). That's because "you" puts you in the middle of it whether you want to keep a more detached, omniscient view or not...

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Topic two has to do with what I said above about the voice being "semi-in-world"...But for players, is that immersive, or does it add an unnecessary barrier between the meaning and the reader's point of reference?...In short, if you're a player having... say... a magic item described to you, does it help you more and/or get you more interested to know the orb is the size of a
...

I agree 100% with Neil. I really don't like second person in sourcebooks, I support "semi-in-world" text and terminology, and I love "real world inspiration" sidebars (but not real world analogies, like "the size of a basketball").


Shadowfoot wrote:
JoelF847 wrote:
... should use more concrete descriptions, either real world measurements like feet or pounds...

Real world measurements use metres and kilograms, but most of us non-US gamers are able to convert to medieval measurements such as feet and pounds ;)

Using feet and pounds does add to the feeling of a fantasy game.

Yes! Our national insularity has produced a cultural advantage in seeming archaic! <pumps fist>

<weeps silently>


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
gbonehead wrote:
The big problem I have is that we end up faced with sets of facts enclosed in giant blobs of text. In order to assimilate the facts, we must read and memorize the paragraphs of prose, and this is a problem for me as a GM. After all, this isn't my job, it's just a hobby, and anything that makes it harder for me to run my game is undesirable to me.
How do people feel about having elaborate rules elements listed in running text? Would clarity be improved by a list format for complex topics - even if that means losing a few words per line? Does anyone have a good example of a type of rules element we present frequently that might be more useful in a new format - be it a list or some sort of new "statblock"-like format (kind of like how feats or spells have their own discrete formats)?

I can give you an example of what I'm talking about, but let me first off acknowledge that I love this AP volume, and was looking forward to running it (and have not been disappointed):

Carrion Crown/Haunting of Harrowstone:
I ran into the issue with facts in giant blobs of text when trying to smoothly run the encounter with Vesorianna. Take a look at S11. Workshop on pages 33-36.

Now, obviously, this is the crux of the entire adventure, and deserves the amount of text devoted to it. On the other hand, the information I need to give to the characters is interspersed in no particular order with cool backround information and other beautifully written prose that sets the mood.

So, I'm running this encounter, and now I've got to repeatedly skim over two pages of solid prose repeatedly in order to glean the bits that I need to tell the characters. It was quite a challenge to keep the pace of the conversation up while simultaneously trying to make sure I passed on all the tidbits that needed to be passed on.

There's 1600 words here in 15 paragraphs across 4 pages (not including the stat block), and pieces of what I should pass on are scattered throughout. That's a lot of text to scan while trying to run a game. In hindsight, I could have gone over it and made a checklist for myself, but the whole point of using an adventure path for this group (my second group of players) was to keep prep time to a minimum so I could focus on my really challenging roup of players.

But, just reorganizing it so it was not a wall of text would have made it easier for me to run.

Now don't get me wrong; we're having a great time, it just sticks in my mind because I had a noticeably hard time keeping that encounter smooth.

And actually, there's a second thing in here that I haven't used yet but which will have a similar issue:

Carrion Crown/Haunting of Harrowstone:
In S17. Hidden Vault on pages 37-39, where it lists the five linked items.

Here, there's another huge wall of text that's a combination of history, mechanics, and general facts. Some of this is just cool background, while other parts of it are actual rules that affect gameplay in a significant way, but during a game I'll have to scan large chunks of text to find the bits I need.

In this particular case, the game mechanics should have been split out, but weren't, which is somewhat different than the previous example where there were no specific mechanics mixed in.

And, also, thank you for the compliment :)


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

The "You" stuff is OK but is often being used to seemingly command the player, which is a problem. An example from Faiths of Corruption - "As a Kuthite, you want only to increase the suffering in
the world, starting with yourself. Your sense of honor is
atrophied and alien, though you protect your toys from
others, and will extract revenge if anyone harms those you
consider yours. You work to establish new outposts in taste
and feeling,..." Well, maybe "I" don't, maybe "I" vary from whatever this platonic Kuthite you're describing is. It comes across as grating in those cases, not because of its informality but because of its overbearing prescriptiveness.

Osirion

I think that a choice of voice is less urgent than the need for the material to engage the player. If speaking directly to the reader works towards that goal, so be it. I don't think it's a necessity, as long as you tell me why Zon-Kuthonites are so unbelievably awesome that I should be dying to play one. The important part, to my mind, is that this is made boldly apparent. A Player's Companion book should be jam-packed with concepts that scream 'play me!' Otherwise, only GMs will read them, and then you might as play just publish an extra Campaign Setting book a month.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

gbonehead wrote:
I can give you an example of what I'm talking about...

Again, fine example and definitely something that will be considered here in-house. Do you feel like this is a problem that ever shows up in the Player Companions?

Ernest Mueller wrote:
Well, maybe "I" don't, maybe "I" vary from whatever this platonic Kuthite you're describing is. It comes across as grating in those cases, not because of its informality but because of its overbearing prescriptiveness.

I get this. I also understand the folks who say this sort of voice sounds like a call to action and feels like its speaking directly to their characters. So it sounds like I've got camps on both sides here.

The one thing I'm hearing that seems like it could satisfy both sides is an in-character voice. The downside about that is that it takes time and space to set up. If Dr. Perrithwist Peppiweyht is going to tell us all about worshiping Zon-Kuthon, there's got to be a set up on who the good doctor is, otherwise it's just using second person voice and throwing a random attribution at the end. Or, we'd use the same character as the voice for the whole book, setting him up once in the beginning, but then that means we've got to have an obvious distinction between text from Dr. Peppiweyht and text he just wouldn't know or that breaks the character, like any rules. Even if we cordon off some pages as in-character text and some as rules pages (and probably some more as general, third-person elements that just need to be there to serve as introductions and explanations and what not), I'm not sure how we make it obvious which sections are which without just relying on the reader to get this from the content alone. Sidebars seem like an obvious answer, but that means all the rules text in a book needs to fit into sidebars (which means being fewer than 300 words per rules element). That works fine for feats, even short spells, but not for something like a new archetype. And what I certainly don't want to do is what they did in the old Van Richten's Guides, where you'd get all of the description, then they'd change the color somewhere along the line (essentially creating a massive, running sidebar) and restate much of what was just stated in rules terms. It's an uneconomical use of space, and it's ugly.

Any ideas?

weirmonken wrote:
I think that a choice of voice is less urgent than the need for the material to engage the player...

Well doesn't that just seem like an excellent topic for a new thread.

Player Companions: What Engages Your Players?

Contributor

I've found that the best descriptions of measurement are the ones that touch on common things that everyone should know reasonably well. For example, this:

"No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door,
but 'tis enough, 'twill serve." -Mercutio, Romeo & Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1

Or this:

"The king couldn't refuse; and the soldier took out his tinderbox and struck it: once, twice, tbree times! Instantly, the three dogs were before him: the one with eyes as big as teacups, the one with eyes as big as millstones, and the one with eyes as big as the Round Tower in Copenhagen." -Hans Christian Andersen, "The Tinderbox"

Now, I've never been to Copenhagen, have never seen the Round Tower therein, and short of looking at Wikipedia, couldn't tell you if it's still standing or what the dimensions might be. That said, a dog with eyes the diameter of even a small tower is a pretty big dog, and I'm going to hazard a guess that the third tinderbox dog is about the size of the tarrasque. It may not look like a giant corgi like it did in my childhood fairytale book--though a corgi the size of godzilla is pretty impressive--but I've got a pretty good frame of reference.

Wells, church doors, teacups, millstones, and towers are all easy frames of reference for modern day readers. Maybe not the millstone so much, but you should have seen one on television at least, and if it's that much of a deal breaker, you could swap it to "cartwheel" which is also period and even the least read readers should have seen somewhere.

Comparing things to eggs and produce also works. Is it the size of a plover's egg, a hen's egg, an ostrich egg, or a rukh egg? How about a pumpkin or melon? An unhusked coconut?

And even without giving specific numbers, you can provide reference points so that if you say that, for example, the White Queen moves "faster than a bandersnatch," if the bandersnatch has been statted out in one of the bestiaries, you know that the White Queen has a movement rate better than what's listed there.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I prefer 3rd person writing style I just find it easier to get into. Though occasionally throwing in something written in 1st person wouldn't be bad. More like you are reading a report made by a Pathfinder from their point of view and they are sending it back to HQ to be read, that type of 1st person if that makes sense.

As for the other unless the exact size is needed I prefer things to be vague, but with some dimensions included in for items. I would at least like to know roughly what size and shape it is. Such as, a orb the size of a apple, or a orb the size of a goblin head, or a head as round as a halfling is tall. it is descriptive and gives me a rough idea of what it's shape and size is.


Twigs wrote:
There seems to be a lot of opposition to the use of first person, I wonder why that is?

For the purpose of clarity, do you perhaps mean second person, i.e. "you"? First person is the use of "I" or "We" (if plural)...

Third person would be "everyone else" (he, she, it, one, the PC, the character, the GM, they, etc.).
And it's entirely possible that you DO mean first person - just making sure, since it seems that most of the post before were referring to 2nd vs. 3rd person...

____________________

As to the topic itself:
Third person for rules presentation and general setting fluff, but for 'flavor text' or 'in character reports', second (or first, if appropriate) person is fine - in moderation, of course. (And in context: a book that's supposed to be "all in character", like the Volo Guides of FR, would probably be far beyond the 'in moderation' caveat I just mentioned because it's supposed to be so...)

Definitely "semi-in-world" comparisons over real world comparisons (i.e. buckler is better than basketball). Especially since even real-world comparisons are not always as helpful as one'd think - especially if they're based on country/culture specific things, e.g. saying that something is "the size of the Space Needle" has no meaning for me. My first thought was some space station or something. :D
Although it was just an example used for the post, it's not really as iconic as some might believe, nor is it the only one... (There's another "Space Needle" in Tennessee, which is much smaller than the one in Seattle - which I think was the reference. Not to mention that there's also a rock band...) And 'No', I do not appreciate having to look up things that aren't actually relevant to the book I'm reading, thank you.

Another reason against real-world comparisons is that they're not necessarily the same thing across different cultures or countries, as the aforementioned 'football field' shows...

Real-world inspiration and clarification sidebars, however, are cool.

-- C.

Osirion

Revisiting this, I don't believe the divide should really be drawn with first person vs. second person, but rather dry and formal vs. informal and conversational.

There are many times when a formal, textbook style is called for. Specifically, when providing rules text, this is necessary to prevent confusion. It also has its uses when providing 'canonical' information on the world of Golarion, although this can be varied with first-person narration (like in the Volo's Guide series).

However, that does not mean a conversational tone is never appropriate. These instances which 'break character' should be an opportunity for the author to speak directly to the audience, explaining why they've made these design choices. Presumably, your authors write these books because they believe that the options presented within will provide fun concepts for players. Employing an informal style explains to them, directly, why you thought this was a good idea. This means that the players doesn't have to deconstruct the text to find out what's cool, because the point is no longer obfuscated in a block of text about Osirioni trade regulations.

Why does this matter? Players who pick up a Companion book on Orcs are trying to make an evaluation: are Orcs awesome? They'll flip through the book, skimming past any large chunks of text, and stop to look at anything that grabs their attention. At these points, whether it be on a piece of art, a feat, or a section on Orcish culture, they are asking 'why should I care?', and unless that question is quickly and clearly answered, they are going to move on. Therefore, it is imperative to get down to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible, and an informal tone allows you to do so. This sort of quick decision making by players is not only a reality, but a necessity - there are so many options in Pathfinder that your average player does not have the time to review them all.

Once you've gotten them sold on your premise (i.e. 'Orcs are awesome because they cleave skulls and eat babies'), then they are more willing to invest the time in all those canonical details we GMs wish they cared about enough to learn. This is because cleaving skulls and eating babies is still fresh on their minds, so it seems a little less odious to read three paragraphs on Orcish clan hierarchies.

Strangely enough, Paizo used to be more comfortable with using an informal tone: we saw this in the early modules, which gave advice directly to the GM and explained the creative process of the designers. Needless to say, I loved those sidebars. They provided a window into the mind of the author and often helped me understand how to present an encounter to my players.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
gbonehead wrote:
I can give you an example of what I'm talking about...
Again, fine example and definitely something that will be considered here in-house. Do you feel like this is a problem that ever shows up in the Player Companions?

I just went back through the most recent five Companions I read (Faiths of Balance, Goblins of Golarion, Halflings of Golarion, Humans of Golarion and Inner Sea Primer) and was pleased with how the information is laid out. Mechanical aspects were typically easy to find and centrally located except for in Faiths, where they were in the middle of the section on the deity; understandable, but it does make it more difficult to find the information; I'd rather see them grouped together like in all the other Companion books.

Also in Faiths, and this was brought up by someone else, I believe - the Faiths book, unlike the Inner Sea World Guide, does not have a concise summary at the beginning of each entry giving the pertinent information about the deity.

That's a really handy thing and it's a shame it's missing; and like the entries I mentioned in Carrion Crown, would require me (or a player) to root around in the text to find the relevant info.

I haven't checked the other Faiths books to see if they're the same, but I have a suspicion they will be, unlike, say, the Books of the Damned, which do have such information blocks for the major powers.


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Ernest Mueller wrote:
Well, maybe "I" don't, maybe "I" vary from whatever this platonic Kuthite you're describing is. It comes across as grating in those cases, not because of its informality but because of its overbearing prescriptiveness.

I get this. I also understand the folks who say this sort of voice sounds like a call to action and feels like its speaking directly to their characters. So it sounds like I've got camps on both sides here.

The one thing I'm hearing that seems like it could satisfy both sides is an in-character voice. The downside about that is that it takes time and space to set up. If Dr. Perrithwist Peppiweyht is going to tell us all about worshiping Zon-Kuthon, there's got to be a set up on who the good doctor is, otherwise it's just using second person voice and throwing a random attribution at the end. Or, we'd use the same character as the voice for the whole book, setting him up once in the beginning, but then that means we've got to have an obvious distinction between text from Dr. Peppiweyht and text he just wouldn't know or that breaks the character, like any rules. Even if we cordon off some pages as in-character text and some as rules pages (and probably some more as general, third-person elements that just need to be there to serve as introductions and explanations and what not), I'm not sure how we make it obvious which sections are which without just relying on the reader to get this from the content alone. Sidebars seem like an obvious answer, but that means all the rules text in a book needs to fit into sidebars (which means being fewer than 300 words per rules element). That works fine for feats, even short spells, but not for something like a new archetype. And what I certainly don't want to do is what they did in the old Van Richten's Guides, where you'd get all of the description, then they'd change the color somewhere along the line (essentially creating a massive, running sidebar) and restate much of what was just stated in rules terms. It's an uneconomical use of space, and it's ugly.

Any ideas?

Easy! Have a few characters, less than a handful, that you use repeatedly; but only for however long of a section makes sense, instead of trying to force most of a book into one voice. A bonus is that you could use different kinds of in-character voices: a charismatic travel writer would be trying to make places pop off the page for his audience, while the personal notes of a reference librarian who makes a cheat sheet for FAQs would be brief and to the point -- possibly even bullet-pointed -- and a pessimistic Pathfinder might write florid, grim, confidential reports on adventuring concerns such as dangerous creatures, interesting ruins, and unique social pitfalls.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber

Pett's KQ articles have a really effective narrative voice.

Similarly, the selfish adventurer in the werecabbages books (PC Pearls and the other one) is a really effective, lightly comic tone.


JoelF847 wrote:
Add me to barrels instead of basketballs for references. As long as the reference is in world appropriate, I'm in favor of more use of those types of comparisons for descriptions, especially for non-rule sections. Obviously, what causes a trap to trigger or how a spell works should use more concrete descriptions, either real world measurements like feet or pounds, or game terms such as "more than one Medium sized creature", etc.

That actually reminds me of something, and why I mention it here should I hope make sense.

A friend of mine told me about a GM who once thought a WotC adventure was so badly written, that if he went with the rules and ignored flavor text and sections where the GM is expected to "cheat" for story (none of which actually says that's what you are doing... just this happens and if you look at the rules, that can't happen... so you are therefore GM cheating), bad things happen.

So, the characters had this guide who was a halfling. So, figure 30-40 pounds. The guide is said to run ahead and fall into a pit trap and dies, alerting the players that OMG there's traps! Problem is, the pit trap was given actual stats. Requires 75 lbs. of weigh to trigger it. So, he went with TRAP rules, and the halfling ran over the trap no problem, then when the human paladin in full plate walked past, he got skewered.

My reason in mentioning this is, this is a case where you have BOTH actual measurements and "flavor text" measurements. They should have noted that a "small" creature can trigger the trap, not giving an exact weight that is more akin to a half way between small and medium sized creature (really, a small creature that is 75lbs is FAT and a medium creature is like close to anorexic levels of THIN). If you are going to use flavor text, then it should be used throughout the book and even for rules and such, or else you have problems like this just asking rules lawyer GMs (especially ones who despise "GM cheating" for any reason, like that GM did) to have a field day heh.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GeraintElberion wrote:
Your job (thankfully, not mine) is to find analogies that feel timeless.

Agreed! Modern references, while not deal breakers, don't feel right. Timeless references are just that - timeless.

As for voice, I prefer third person with the occasional sprinkling of second person for emphasis.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Maps Subscriber
AbsolutGrndZer0 wrote:
So, the characters had this guide who was a halfling. So, figure 30-40 pounds. The guide is said to run ahead and fall into a pit trap and dies, alerting the players that OMG there's traps! Problem is, the pit trap was given actual stats. Requires 75 lbs. of weigh to trigger it. So, he went with TRAP rules, and the halfling ran over the trap no problem, then when the human paladin in full plate walked past, he got skewered.

That happened to me while I was GMing a PFS Scenario. Except for the second party member getting skewered. The halfling ran ahead, did not set off the trap, and grabbed the Macguffin before returning to the party. Didn't even know there was a trap to be set off after the scenario ended.

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