HinterBlog

July 10, 2010

The Practical Side of Brevity

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:51 am

There is a time and a place to go verbose and profound, and there are times when brevity is better. Brevity can drive a point home or fire the imagination. Let’s look at an example.

The forest is covered in a gloomy fog, forbidding to look upon, the trees dripping with moss. The darkness seems to cling to all areas as though made of molasses. A smell of a an ancient healthy forest gone to rot assaults your senses in waves declaring, “Leave this place or join us!”. At first, the forest seems quiet then you realize, in the back of your head, there is a screaming, a terror that speaks with your voice. You know this wood is evil and will be your end.

The above might be considered verbose and I would agree. However, it is to the point and appropriate. It would decrease the description, the art of setting the mood to shorten it too much. For example.

The woods are evil and will spell your end.

The above does nothing to fire the imagination. However, we could tighten a bit and spin a different feel.

The wood is dark and forbidding. You are not sure why, but it seems there is an eerie quality that warns you to stay out, to fear it. It warns that your fate will be met here.

Brief and it leaves much of the details to the player. Also, and this is important, it stimulate questions.

Hmm, you ask, why are questions important?

Simply, because it engages the players. It engages their curiosity. The first description engages their senses, describing each one by one. This is a valid means to describing interaction in your games, getting your players to ask questions, to mine for more detail. To build that imagery with their own questions int heir own way, makes for the players to make the setting their own.

So, the practical side of brevity:
1. engages the players in a DIALOGUE with the GM and allows them to be involved.
2. Gets the players thinking about the setting in terms of their interaction with it.
3. Helps them define how they can understand the setting through their own methods of doing so. For example, some folks may care little for “senses” and need hard measurements;i.e. how far from the forest are we, how tall are the trees, how long is the grass. This allows them to engage on their terms, not just the GMs.

Good Gaming!

6 Comments »

  1. Brevity rules! 😉

    Comment by scott — July 13, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  2. True. . . true.

    Comment by Mike Noorman — July 23, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  3. Verbose all the time suckas’ :.)

    Comment by Alan Hume — August 1, 2010 @ 6:20 am

  4. Wow. Wow. I mean… wow. Well, if you guys were trolling for ufusel feedback here, I’d say you got some. :) I was fortunate enough to be present during the live recording. That was on a Tuesday morning, as Craig mentioned. I was on pins and needles the rest of the week. I could hardly wait until Saturday to see what was going to happen. (We typically attend the 7:00 at OKC campus.)The only negative (?) feedback I have is that the music transitions from live to pre-recorded were too loud for me. I couldn’t hear the last several words Craig was speaking in the final moments of each transition. IMHO, that could have been more subtle. Besides that, I got nothin’.As for all the comments people have had about whether the Holy Spirit can work as effectively in post-production as He can live… I guess I’d encourage you to watch one of Rob Bell’s amazing DVDs with a small group of people in your home, or something like Louie Giglio’s on DVD. Or even listen together to a Francis Chan podcast ( or It blows me away every time I see grown, studly men reduced to tears as God speaks directly to their hearts, into their lives… through a video, or even just a humble voice recording.You might argue that that’s different. But if you really think about it, ironically, the Bible itself is really kind of pre-recorded. Of course I would have loved to be present when Peter spoke at Pentecost… but one of my kids had a baseball game that evening. :) Thank God somebody had the presence of mind to write down what happened!

    Comment by Nelisiwe — December 21, 2015 @ 12:38 pm

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    Comment by http://www.paquetesislamargarita.com/ — May 12, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

  6. Păi și nu au ajutat-o? Mălina cânta (uneori) la Dansez pentru tine, împreună cu mama ei si Petre Geambașu. Balerinii lucrau cu ea, iar ceilalți îi erau colegi de trust, așa că gestul lor de aseară a fost unul normal, din punctul meu de vedere.

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