A monster on the verge of eating an adventurer.

With some serendipitous timing, Luke Gearing has written a blog post comparing room descriptions written in long form prose rather than bullet points. I think prose falls down as the descriptions get too long, as I noted in my review of Demon Bone Sarcophagus. If you’re presented with a page of information, that’s a lot to process, even if you’ve read it previously. Luke’s examples, written out nicely, are a good example of how to do prose well. They are still quite short and easy to quickly read. They present information in a similar fashion, but are nicer to read.

I have described the hex descriptions of Carcosa as tweet sized bites of information, descriptions you can quickly read in the midst of a game. They are both flavourful and useful. Well, sometimes. Sometimes they are too terse. Terse descriptions and bullet points can become too utilitarian, too boring. I often find it hard to read adventures written in this style because they are so dull. Silent Titans and Luke’s own Gradient Descent are both good examples of marrying beautiful writing written out in bullet points. I found both easy to run and read. (Patrick’s module is still quite wordy as that style goes, mind you.)

Of course, a lot of D&D books will never be run, simply read. I suspect this is actually the more common use case. DMs may harvest your book for ideas, a room or NPC, or simply something that will live in their brain. It’s perfectly reasonable to optimize for reading over play: sacraligous, I know.

— Ramanan Sivaranjan, microblogging, March 23, 2023 [osr lukegearing ] #