Monday, August 19, 2013

The Amazing Inflating Descriptions

This is just a strange social custom I wanted to note. People who join my games generally do not write very long descriptions. However, people who have been playing with me for a long time write character descriptions that are at least a paragraph long in which they encapsulate every visible piece of equipment and attempt to describe their character from head to toe. Over time, those who join up conform to this social norm and describe their character's in more detail.

It's an amazing process to watch.


  1. I think it's because starting characters have no real attachment to their starting equipment, but once they have a new piece of neat gear, they want to make sure the new person (for whom they are describing themselves for) knows about it. The starting scimitar is "eh, it's there, I have a scimitar." But their +1 magic blade that they find more impressive, they will describe in detail. It's sort of bragging, sort of letting them know "Hey, I have this thing, I'm to be reckoned with" even if their thing isn't obviously magical. I think it's also the same way with mundane gear they've acquired in the game, because it's a bit harder to buy something sometimes than it is to pick it from a table in the book and deduct the appropriate number of gold pieces.

    Each wound and scar is a souvenir of a time the character almost died, and those are important too. Listing off such prominent markings are like saying "Hey, I survived near death this many times. I might be tougher than I look." Such things are more important than a scar or mark gained in a character's backstory.

  2. I think a lot of us START characters with lengthy descriptions. I have reduced Naur's description over time, but usually when I start a new character I make a fucking laundry lis, in the tradition. Sometimes I'll get flowery, but most of the time it is somewhat satirical, especially when we keep coming across some unintentionally hilarious purple prose that gives me inspiration. (Or that's the excuse I give myself.)

    I feel like the huge description is this inside joke or jocular pseudo-competition that we do that makes each other chuckle.

  3. I never wrote descriptions, per se, but had vital statistics and highly detailed equipment lists from which visual descriptions could be quickly extracted, as well as GM annoyance: One time I started talking about using several 2 foot poles, a length of rope, and some 3 inch iron rings to construct a harness, and the GM balked and told me I wouldn't have such things. I pointed them out on the character sheet he had been keeping a copy of the whole campaign... starting equipment, sho'nuff.