Was it the format?


RPG Superstar™ 2008 General Discussion

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm having a lot of trouble with some of the entries.

I feel like I have to scroll through 2/3 of the stat blocks and junk before I come to a description of what the heck a thing is.

For example, the antler guy: I'm reading about the power of his antlers or something before I even know he has them. So I'm like "Okay, he's a humanoid. And ah! He must have antlers because here's an ability that uses them."

I really could have used the little italic block early on, MM5 style, so that I get the little descriptive flavor text before being overwhelmed with stat block detail.

Time to go root in the rules and look at the sample stat blocks. If that's an artifact of the rules ... man, that's a poor layout. I hope it's not the trend of the future.


That, I suspect, is the disadvantage of not having a picture of the thing, as you would in a published book. Those pictures are often such a key element of the monsters... a picture speaks a thousand words, and all that.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

gbonehead wrote:

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm having a lot of trouble with some of the entries.

I feel like I have to scroll through 2/3 of the stat blocks and junk before I come to a description of what the heck a thing is.

For example, the antler guy: I'm reading about the power of his antlers or something before I even know he has them. So I'm like "Okay, he's a humanoid. And ah! He must have antlers because here's an ability that uses them."

I really could have used the little italic block early on, MM5 style, so that I get the little descriptive flavor text before being overwhelmed with stat block detail.

Time to go root in the rules and look at the sample stat blocks. If that's an artifact of the rules ... man, that's a poor layout. I hope it's not the trend of the future.

Yup. The rules said:

Intro block first

Then monster 1 stat block
Then monster 1 description

Then monster 2 stat block
Then monster 2 description

Then monster 3 stat block
Then monster 3 description

What makes it seem off from the MM style is that the tactics/special ability description in the MM comes in the middle of the descriptive block. In the contest instructions it is part of the stat block and so comes ahead of all the descriptive stuff.

Hmf... "antler guy"! sigh

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:


Yup. The rules said:

Intro block first

Then monster 1 stat block
Then monster 1 description

Then monster 2 stat block
Then monster 2 description

Then monster 3 stat block
Then monster 3 description

What makes it seem off from the MM style is that the tactics/special ability description in the MM comes in the middle of the descriptive block. In the contest instructions it is part of the stat block and so comes ahead of all the descriptive stuff.

Oi, don't I know it. I've had, like, thirty people tell me that they don't like my format.

"You should have changed the format!", they say.

And here I am, going "Yeah, but . . . if I had gotten Wayne Reynolds to draw a picture of them, you wouldn't need a format at all!"

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

thatboomerkid wrote:
Jason Nelson 20 wrote:


Yup. The rules said:

Intro block first

Then monster 1 stat block
Then monster 1 description

Then monster 2 stat block
Then monster 2 description

Then monster 3 stat block
Then monster 3 description

What makes it seem off from the MM style is that the tactics/special ability description in the MM comes in the middle of the descriptive block. In the contest instructions it is part of the stat block and so comes ahead of all the descriptive stuff.

Oi, don't I know it. I've had, like, thirty people tell me that they don't like my format.

"You should have changed the format!", they say.

And here I am, going "Yeah, but . . . if I had gotten Wayne Reynolds to draw a picture of them, you wouldn't need a format at all!"

Dude...

fist bump

Totally.


Yeah, the format really killed me on some of the entries. I really want to know what the monster looks like before anything else. Without illustrations the descriptions really need to come first.

Dark Archive

Agreed. The format was a bit rough.

Liberty's Edge

my eyes glaze over reading monster stat blocks ... you guys couldn't have chosen "CR1" as a unifying theme? ;-)


I believe that some posters got around the format issues by using spoiler tags to hide the stat. blocks. Perhaps I should give creedit for that when trying to allocate my third vote.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

That is my fault. I didnt intend for the format provided to mean a short description like in the real books couldnt go up front of the stat block.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 , Dedicated Voter Season 6

Clark Peterson wrote:
That is my fault. I didnt intend for the format provided to mean a short description like in the real books couldnt go up front of the stat block.

I remembered some of the guidance in the country round, and decided a small tweak like putting the description in front would be fine. I do admit that the sample gave me pause, but ultimately I decided that reproducing the Pathfinder/Gamemastery standard should be safe.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
I believe that some posters got around the format issues by using spoiler tags to hide the stat. blocks. Perhaps I should give creedit for that when trying to allocate my third vote.

I was thinking about it and it's probably a fair point. Readability, however you want to judge it, is a valid critique you can make on an entry. People who come up with clever ways to make things more readable (I wish I were one of them) should probably get some kudos for that, if things are otherwise pretty even.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

I put a small description before each, and part of the stat block (13 special abilities!) in spoiler tags, and I still think it's hard to read. Another reason for this is the format and options of messageboard posts.

Take a look at the Pathfinder bestiaries. First, they're in 2 columns, which automatically makes it easier to read, as you have shorter lines. Posts on the boards, on the other hand, turn 1.5-2 lines from Word into one loooooong line.

Also in Pathfinder, there are more font options for headings, as well as indented lines (something I haven't figured out how to do on the boards) for all the information under one heading.

So I guess the point is that professional typesetting can really make a difference!

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Clark Peterson wrote:
That is my fault. I didnt intend for the format provided to mean a short description like in the real books couldnt go up front of the stat block.

Meh - you did a fine job.

It just goes to show that us Superstars are a superstitious and cowardly lot - presumably, we all would have worn chicken-hats while submitting if you had requested it.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:


Hmf... "antler guy"! sigh

Heheheh. I have not made my second full reading through them all yet. But after reading one or two, I found myself doing the same thing:

1. Read unifying blurb (if any) until it made my eyes glaze over (if too long and convoluted).
2. Read monster name and ponder if I could possibly say it.
3. Scroll scroll scroll scroll "ah, there's the description."
4. (scroll all the way back) continue reading details.
5. Repeat 2-4 for each monster.

Anyways, I used that one as an example because that's the one that struck me the most, I was like "Antlers!? WHAT antlers? Where's the darn description of this thing??"

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
I was thinking about it and [the format issues are] probably a fair point. Readability, however you want to judge it, is a valid critique you can make on an entry. People who come up with clever ways to make things more readable (I wish I were one of them) should probably get some kudos for that, if things are otherwise pretty even.

Yeah, this is the first round that it's really gotten to me. It got to me a little bit in the country round, but the readability is really making some of the entries pretty opaque.

thatboomerkid wrote:
Clark Peterson wrote:
That is my fault. I didnt intend for the format provided to mean a short description like in the real books couldnt go up front of the stat block.

Meh - you did a fine job.

It just goes to show that us Superstars are a superstitious and cowardly lot - presumably, we all would have worn chicken-hats while submitting if you had requested it.

WHAT??? You guys don't have to wear chicken-hats? They told us we had to wear chicken-hats if we wanted to vote.

Tears off hat. Throws on ground. Stomps on it.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

thatboomerkid wrote:
Clark Peterson wrote:
That is my fault. I didnt intend for the format provided to mean a short description like in the real books couldnt go up front of the stat block.

Meh - you did a fine job.

It just goes to show that us Superstars are a superstitious and cowardly lot - presumably, we all would have worn chicken-hats while submitting if you had requested it.

Hey, I got a "check-plus" in following directions on my 2nd grade report card. It's okay if you throw something out there and lose, but you don't wanna go out like a punk, DQed on a technicality, so I think I've just been very conscious of trying to follow the format exactly. Maybe too much so. It wouldn't have been so hard to make spoiler tags for the stat blocks or to put the descriptions ahead.

IOW, sign me up for a chicken-hat!

Scarab Sages

Russ Taylor wrote:
Clark Peterson wrote:
That is my fault. I didnt intend for the format provided to mean a short description like in the real books couldnt go up front of the stat block.
I remembered some of the guidance in the country round, and decided a small tweak like putting the description in front would be fine. I do admit that the sample gave me pause, but ultimately I decided that reproducing the Pathfinder/Gamemastery standard should be safe.

Good call.

The format works if there is a picture, but without that, the format knee-caps many of the entries.

Chalk it up to a lesson learned by the judges for next year.

Contributor

In the monster format we actually use for our products, the name of the monster comes first, followed by a physical description of the monster, followed by its stat block, followed by its ecology and other information.


Hm, this makes me want to go through and reorganize the stat blocks into spoilers so that I can read the descriptions first.

Its like showing the math problems written in number form and then giving the word problem. I'm confused in most cases on the board thus far. I kinda feel bad for some of the contestants because of that.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

I noted the problem (I belive I even commended Russ for putting his description first). It wouldn't be a problem if we had pictures of the monster first, but I did find it a bit more difficult they way it was laid out. I thought it was wierd how nearly everyone had done it that way, though it being in the rules formatting make sense.

Don't lose too much sleep about it Clark; it's not like you're on just as much a learning curve as everyone actually in the contest or anything, is it?


At the end of the day, the format was inconvenient, but didn't stand in the way of making the decision. Voting came down to content. Though I give a nod to Christine for the little "Use It Tonight" tag above her spoilers/stat blocks. I thought that was clever.


I did notice the format seemed wonky, but I hadn;t realized how.

I cut-and-pasted the ones I watned anyway, so it's easy enough to rearragne them.

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