Concrete Details and Other Grey Spaces

People’s sensibilities differ. Some like sweet. Some savory. Others a mixture of the two. As with food, so it goes with detail. A question every writer faces (be they a creator of comic scripts, technical manuals, books, stories, or RPGs) is “how much is enough?”

We’re going to focus strictly on how to handle this with RPGs.

I’ve struggled with it from time to time and the truth of the matter is it differs depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish, though there are a few general rules to keep in mind.

1. Make easily digestible chunks.

Within each chunk:

2. Provide enough to easily suggest time, space, and place.
3. Provide enough for atmosphere and intrigues.

4. Expand and embellish as necessary.

While some folks like lavish detail, it’s hard for anyone running or playing a character to keep it all in their head at any given time. Providing short sections giving overviews is helpful, and then moving on from there with additional details or pointing to sections for additional information allows everyone at the table to move comfortably forward and focus on the game.

On the other hand, it’s important to provide a bit of space for the individual group to make their mark. If everything is detailed down to the nth degree, then it sometimes can feel like folks are going through the motions. Every day someone challenges these boundaries and reshapes them and pushes them in novel, new directions. And, yes, that’s totally cool. Unless you’re trying to get all post-modern in your style, you want to clearly communicate, and these guidelines will serve you in good stead.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!


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