... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Out of the Box

There's a post on Critical Hits about the horrors of boxed text. I will state quite bluntly, here and now, that I hate boxed text. Some of my reasons are the same as in that article. In general, it's just too stilted, and honestly, I don't believe that that a GM should deliver descriptions as if reading from a fantasy novel.

So what do I prefer to boxed text? Keywords or phrases. The GM should craft a description that fits the players, and fits what has recently happened or what has been established about the characters. If there's the absolute need for a sentence or two, for example to describe a sequence of events triggered by a trap, then that's fine, but then it should be written in what the article calls "third person", although really it's an objective impersonal voice.


  1. This is actually a concern I had about writing Servants of Plague, a module I wrote from notes I collected about a (relatively) successful session pulled "from my ass" so to speak.

    I wasn't sure whether or not to add boxed text- on one hand, people apparently read the shitty things, but on the other hand, it breaks the player-DM dialogue to unmentionable levels; it's no longer about a guy telling you about his take on the Demon Altar or letting you know what's important or unimportant, it's about you merely "playing through" a module, with the DM as information-holder and players as the problem solvers.

    I ignored boxed text entirely and instead made it as wide-open as possible, for any imaginitive DM to stick in their ideas. Keywords would be a good idea too, though ;)

  2. Another post on Critical Hits made me realize: boxed text is the cut scene of tabletop role-playing.