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Lore/Fluff--How much is too much or not enough?

PeteNutButter

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How much lore do you like to see in games?

I feel like this is a very subjective thing. Some players don't care much at all for it, others love it up. Do you like it as long as its good/original? Do you want it to be integrated into the text as flavor or does that detract from the rules? What about sidebar lore bits? What lore questions do you like to have answered? (This all assuming a system with a NEW setting.)

In my current project I ended up with about 1 full page of lore per "class." It feels like a lot, but seems necessary when dealing with "original" ideas. I say original in quotes, because if your concepts are known archetypes you probably don't need to spend much time on the lore. If its a made-up word or something players need to know what they are getting into conceptually. My class lore breakdowns are about half a page in a mini narrative that demonstrates what you could do as x, followed by three paragraphs that cover: how you become x, how x is treated/viewed in the world, and one other thing that makes x cool.

Then in a separate area, I have a setting section that explains some big setting points. That's only about 2 pages, so I feel like I could really add to that maybe put in the peoples and factions (things players might want in their backstory). Are there other specific things you might want to know to play in a new setting? Religions? History? World Timeline? Maps? It's worth noting that I have a separate book/file for the game masters where I expect to cover this all and in more detail.

As for flavor in the rule text, I try to use it sparingly. I feel it detracts from the rules, but then again lots of rule crunch without flavor can be a bit dull. There is definitely a balance.
 
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MetaDude

Married to a Scientist!
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If it's for an established setting, then lore is mostly wasted effort. Foe example, I don't need a game set in the Star Trek universe to tell me about the setting. There are far better venues available.
 

Daz Florp Lebam

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I think the only time I'm going to read that sort of content is if it's for a setting or subgenre or whatever that I'm not familiar with. It's very rare that I sit down with an rpg book for reading pleasure. I kind of envy people who make time for that or who really dig that.

I don't know faerie lore particularly well, so if I want to play Changeling, I'm going to read the fiction, lore, fluff, etc.

I know Star Trek inside and out, so unless the fluff seems necessary for a very specific adventure, situation, or location, I'm not going to read it.
 

PeteNutButter

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If it's for an established setting, then lore is mostly wasted effort. Foe example, I don't need a game set in the Star Trek universe to tell me about the setting. There are far better venues available.
I think the only time I'm going to read that sort of content is if it's for a setting or subgenre or whatever that I'm not familiar with. It's very rare that I sit down with an rpg book for reading pleasure. I kind of envy people who make time for that or who really dig that.

I don't know faerie lore particularly well, so if I want to play Changeling, I'm going to read the fiction, lore, fluff, etc.

I know Star Trek inside and out, so unless the fluff seems necessary for a very specific adventure, situation, or location, I'm not going to read it.
I misspoke. I mean to say the system is a new setting. I've edited the OP.
 

Daz Florp Lebam

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I misspoke. I mean to say the system is a new setting. I've edited the OP.
Got it. So, thinking further, it will depend on a few things, proceeding from the assumption that I'm interested enough to pick the book up.

1. is the genre/subgenre already familiar to me?
2. is the art evocative of the setting and/or subgenre?
3. are the rules evocative of the setting and/or subgenre?

Because here's the thing: the presentation of the product is going to make a big difference as to whether I get far enough in to want to read the fluff/lore. If the answer to any of those three things is "yes", I'm more likely to skip the fluff/lore because I think I already "get it". That might be foolish of me, but that's how my head works.

Now, if the lore is presented in an eye-catching way, I'm a very visual guy, so that might seem more worth it to me. Big blocks and pages of fluff are generally going to put me off...

...BUT!

With all that said, if those various factors have drawn me in, I'm definitely more likely to read the fluff.

Does that help?
 

CWalck93

Doom Priest of Peace and Happiness
Validated User
If it is an original setting, then I need to know enough to game in it. I personally think fluff is great up to a point but when you start talking about how trade works in these four villages on the northern coast of your continent, my brain goes, "Okay. Let me move on to something else" because I feel like most settings are a designer's homebrew setting with a ruleset attached to it.

Now, what I would really like to see more of in books (especially fantasy games) is more of a bestiary. There was a recent book (Unity RPG I think it is) which is a rather cool setting but my god, give me a bestiary beyond what you gave me so I can have more stuff to throw at players.

It's a tough sell for me. Fluff is good. Too much fluff just because its your homebrew and doesn't add to the overall thing you are trying to sell me on? No thank you.
 

Nooch

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I think what needs to be remembered is the book NEEDS to function as a reference manual. Rules need to be clear and easy to find in the middle of a game without needing to re-read the whole thing. It's nice to have a readable RPG manual, but that's the second requirement. The first is usefulness as reference manual. Rules buried in lore without them repeated somewhere else clearly and concisely is unforgivable. Even if it's just a one page summary at the end of a chapter or a separate appendix of bullet points or flowcharts.
 

PeteNutButter

Registered User
Validated User
Got it. So, thinking further, it will depend on a few things, proceeding from the assumption that I'm interested enough to pick the book up.

1. is the genre/subgenre already familiar to me?
2. is the art evocative of the setting and/or subgenre?
3. are the rules evocative of the setting and/or subgenre?

Because here's the thing: the presentation of the product is going to make a big difference as to whether I get far enough in to want to read the fluff/lore. If the answer to any of those three things is "yes", I'm more likely to skip the fluff/lore because I think I already "get it". That might be foolish of me, but that's how my head works.

Now, if the lore is presented in an eye-catching way, I'm a very visual guy, so that might seem more worth it to me. Big blocks and pages of fluff are generally going to put me off...

...BUT!

With all that said, if those various factors have drawn me in, I'm definitely more likely to read the fluff.

Does that help?
That does help. I'm probably the same way. I for one, despise the half of the lore bits in 5e D&D just because its either the same as previous editions (which means its a pointless waste of ink/pages for anyone but new players) or its differing from old editions (which means its invaliding my existing world knowledge).:mad:
If it is an original setting, then I need to know enough to game in it. I personally think fluff is great up to a point but when you start talking about how trade works in these four villages on the northern coast of your continent, my brain goes, "Okay. Let me move on to something else" because I feel like most settings are a designer's homebrew setting with a ruleset attached to it.

Now, what I would really like to see more of in books (especially fantasy games) is more of a bestiary. There was a recent book (Unity RPG I think it is) which is a rather cool setting but my god, give me a bestiary beyond what you gave me so I can have more stuff to throw at players.

It's a tough sell for me. Fluff is good. Too much fluff just because its your homebrew and doesn't add to the overall thing you are trying to sell me on? No thank you.
I hear you on the monsters. A well fleshed out bestiary is required to give a game any amount of staying power. I'm working hard on mine...

I think what needs to be remembered is the book NEEDS to function as a reference manual. Rules need to be clear and easy to find in the middle of a game without needing to re-read the whole thing. It's nice to have a readable RPG manual, but that's the second requirement. The first is usefulness as reference manual. Rules buried in lore without them repeated somewhere else clearly and concisely is unforgivable. Even if it's just a one page summary at the end of a chapter or a separate appendix of bullet points or flowcharts.
Agreed. Having your pirate game explain the rules in pirate-speak is just clunky.
 

Daz Florp Lebam

Registered User
Validated User
Fluff that comes in tiny bits and is sprinkled amongst the rules works really nicely for me, like the little commentaries and quotes in Xanathar's. You can skip it if you want, but stopping to read it won't mess with the flow and the bits were actually entertaining.

Fluff sidebars that are restricted to one page or two facing pages also work well for me.
 

CWalck93

Doom Priest of Peace and Happiness
Validated User
Fluff that comes in tiny bits and is sprinkled amongst the rules works really nicely for me, like the little commentaries and quotes in Xanathar's. You can skip it if you want, but stopping to read it won't mess with the flow and the bits were actually entertaining.

Fluff sidebars that are restricted to one page or two facing pages also work well for me.
That would work for me too. Honestly, if the fluff actually gets tied into the mechanical side showing how the mechanics work in the setting/fluff, it makes it better simply because the writer has thought about how the game rules actually can be done along side the fluff. Something that bugs me with some games is that the fluff is nothing that the players can actually do with the rules that are put in front of them.
 
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