Extraneous Voices of Picayune > Citadel Tavern

Level of Detail (within a submission)

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Chaosmark:
Since it has come up in two different places now, I think it would be wise to address what my thoughts are with respect to the level of detail within a submission.

The key point, the one that remains above all else, is that you must have enough detail within your submission to adequately describe it. We can't use a submission that doesn't provide enough details, and a submission that we can't use, while not entirely worthless, is worth much less than one that is usable. We are, after all, a GM resource site. (Of course, there are times when you specifically disclaim detail in favor of just presenting the core idea; this is the purpose and goal of the 100 Word submissions. However, these are a special case, and not the general case.)

From this first point flow the rest of the ideals. On the one hand, you should have details. Details help add verisimilitude to a work, they help immerse the GM into it and allow him to truly understand the ideal of the submission, thereby knowing how to extend it on the fly while using it. On the other, you don't want to overload a submission with too many details. Nobody cares about the color on the armor of the statues, unless that fact has a special significance to the submission you're weaving.

The magic phrase is "relevant details". You want to include enough details that a GM can pick up your submission and use it with as much or as little modification as they desire, but you don't want to include so many pieces of minutae that they simply cannot process and use it all. This is a hard line to walk, and is extremely ambiguous. A larger submission lends itself to more detail than a small submission does, but again, the detail should always be important to the narrative set forth within the submission. Unimportant details should be exorcised like leech-demons, while significant details should be nurtured like sprouts, for they are the subtle lifeblood of a submission that provide all the options that the PCs might take.

Shadoweagle:
Here's my two-bob worth:

I think you're more or less bang on the money with many of my thoughts on the matter too, but as for everything I think it depends on many factors, so the level of detail required is different on a sub-by-sub basis.

The writing style of the product and the manner in which it is presented is a factor into the detail of the subs. Some subs can have much in the way of prose, backstories and journal entries which a GM would never add in-game, yet truly lightens up the Sub as a whole by making the reader more immersed in the moment (two beautiful examples spring to mind; http://strolen.com/viewing/The_Tree_of_Bone and http://strolen.com/viewing/The_One-Eyed_Red-Eyed_Crow ).
Other subs are far more systematic or mathematical in approach, and this is okay, too. Their precise manner helps the reader to understand exactly what is trying to be described. (A good example is http://strolen.com/viewing/Non-Euclidean_Architecture_Part_1 ).

Too much info can easily drown a sub, and in many cases more does definitely NOT equal better.

All in all, the core idea needs to be precise, detailed and useable. On top of that, the manner in which it is protrayed should be well-written, with few grammatical errors or spelling issues, if possible. I feel that as much crap can be added as one likes to add flair and colour to their Sub, as long as it doesn't ever distract from the core idea or make the sub a chore to read.

It should to be a set of ideas and descriptions which may be adapted by a GM for use in their personal situation. Whether this is a straight copy/paste into their game, or just taking the core idea and flushing out all the extras.

Lastly, it depends on personal taste. At the end of the day, I am a writer, not a roleplayer, as such, my posts tend to lean towards the dramatic, descriptive and in a linear path - twists and such aren't explained at the start, but rather described when they need to be brought out. This is not the way some people would like - GM's may like to have everything explained to them at the start so they know exactly what the sub entails.

In addition, what is plenty of details for one person, may not scratch the surface of what another person would like. Which is why constructive commenting and user-submitted ideas are a terrific feature of this website, which allows for more ideas to be presented and expanded on at any given moment.

And to conclude, I'll echo CM's words; "Relevant Details".

axlerowes:


How do you separate the details from the thesis in the context of items submitted to support gaming?  Does the content become fully realized only at the gaming table?  A central theme in both of the above posts is that the information should be useful and accessible to the GM. 

"It should to be a set of ideas and descriptions which may be adapted by a GM for use in their personal situation"

" You want to include enough details that a GM can pick up your submission and use it"

Does this criteria mean that the true meaning, value and merit of a submission will only be realized and formed at the gaming table?  If that is the case than can relevance and irrelevance be decided within in the submission?  Or will relevance be decided at the gaming table?  If sub mission is seeking to a tell story or make a point independent of what happens at the game table how do we evaluate it?  Shadoweagle discuss the this somewhat, because Shadoweagle is a writer not a roleplayer and the piece of prose  rather than the game is the end result.  He asserts that as long as the content does not become self-indulgent and the piece has clear message which is support by its content than all the content is relevant.

"feel that as much crap can be added as one likes to add flair and colour to their Sub, as long as it doesn't ever distract from the core idea or make the sub a chore to read. "

Shadoweagle also alludes to the fact that relevance in eye of the beholder.  Do you spend more time describing what your female lead is wearing or what she is thinking? 

But what if what you are describing is a detail?  What if the entire submission is content to support some larger message or narrative that is not present in that submission? Chaosmark's Gaol's post deals with the something like this, that submission is not intended to stand on its own. 

"the purpose of this prison isn't as a place that the players would be incarcerated in, it's a stopover point that they interact with as part of a larger set of goals" 

So unlike a writer, like Shadoweagle, Chaosmark's prose and the content of his sub is not the end product. The prison sub itself is only a detail and its relevance is determined by placing it in the context of other work.  If you view the sub autonomously does anything in it fit the criteria of relevance? 

By the nature of RPG fiction many of things are written out of context in as much as the context happens in game and therefore none of it will be relevant.  Thus do you need to create a narrative context within the submission? 
     

Shadoweagle:
Mmm, I will conclude one final thing to this discussion before I jump ship :p

 I personally believe that the act of arguing the depth of a particular submission is moot, as even though everyone is entitled to their own opinion, at the end of the day the submission is a piece of art made by the author, and the amount of detail added to the submission is the exact amount he either intended, or is willing to add. If the author takes the advice of a comment and adds to the submission, that is at his discretion, but it lies on the commentor to be satisfied (or dissatisfied, which may be the case) with the information that is given. The submission is a gift given to others to read, and it is not the author's duty to alter it to how a third party desires.

SE out!
*Takes a breath and jumps overboard!*

axlerowes:
I like the tone of S.E. last words must better than the first posts that included a lot of "must have" "needs" and "shoulds".  But can we and we should discuss a submission as one would discuss a house, a planned route for cross country travel or a set list? Should we consider the pragmatic (language, game use), narrative (does it tell a story, is it a good story) and intellectual (does it explore fully the concepts and ideas it lays out)?  Or are such considerations moot?  If they are moot than what contributions of the readers carry value and comment makers carry value?  But this is taking away from Chaosmark's theme to this thread.  This thread was another thread about how to write a submission, specifically to consider what details are essential to include. 

CM: "The key point, the one that remains above all else, is that you must have enough detail within your submission to adequately describe it. We can't use a submission that doesn't provide enough details, and a submission that we can't use, while not entirely worthless, is worth much less than one that is usable. We are, after all, a GM resource site. " 
So this point is moot?

CM: "Nobody cares about the color on the armor of the statues, unless that fact has a special significance to the submission you're weaving." 
The author care enough to write about the color of the armor.  Do we have the right as critics to dismiss it as moot or significant?

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