Page 857 - Style Glide

17th Jan 2017, 5:00 AM in Sonic Rainboom
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Style Glide
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 17th Jan 2017, 5:00 AM edit delete
Specifically, dry descriptions of roads and cities and landscapes that have no mechanical or roleplaying value are the toughest of them all. For me, personally.

Though that may be more a sign that, in general, it's important to prioritize useful landmarks and characterizing details in your intros and descriptions, so that you're actually doing something in your monologues. If it's boring the players to death, it's probably boring the DM to death, too.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: February 20th.



Digo Dragon 17th Jan 2017, 5:11 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
TPK by flavor text is a thing. Only you can prevent adventure death by dry descriptions. ;)

As Spud said, prioritize useful landmarks when describing a city; places the players will certainly use--taverns/inns, blacksmith shops, the eclectic trader's store, and the all-encompassing marketplace are usually central spots for PC activity.
Joe the Rat 17th Jan 2017, 5:29 AM edit delete reply
A line or two to give the general flavor, point out the big details, note the population or notable wildlife. Do not neglect sounds and smells.

Or you can shorthand it.
"Think of New York, only made out of paper and honeycombs. Everyone's still too busy to talk to you."
"It's basically New Orleans in Medieval Drag."
"It's totally not Daggerford. But think Daggerford."
"It's Branson, Missouri, only built underground, and with twice as much Yakoff Smirnoff. You smell fried poultry."

Your players are going to do it anyways.
Digo Dragon 17th Jan 2017, 5:49 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Haha, beautiful shorthand descriptions. But yes, those actually work well. Throwing a little absurdity in the midst of a legit-sounding comparison will stick in a players mind.

Sounds and smells are really underrated in city descriptions. Describe that waft of morning breakfast downstairs as the PCs awaken, or the late night techno music playing at the seedy bar you're arriving at.
Anvildude 17th Jan 2017, 9:29 AM edit delete reply
Aw man, yeah, smells and sounds. Super important, and probably more likely to stick. Smell, especially, is heavily tied to sense memories.

Describe a city based on the smells of unwashed bodies, horse manure, human waste and the stink of vinegar and week-old piss wafting from the tanneries and dyers, with an occasional salt-breeze blowing it away from the East, carrying with it the creak of rope and tang of fresh tar.

Much better than "You walk into town. There's dye vats by the side of the road. Horses and people bustle about, and you can see the tops of ship masts over some of the buildings."
Winged Cat 17th Jan 2017, 1:30 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
So what would Cloudsdale smell like? Water vapor and rainbows are not noted for intense scents. (Unless some of those clouds are incense, but that seems unlikely.)

Sounds is pretty easy: the occasional bang of thunder in the distance, the ever-present rustles and whistles of winds going this way and that, and the distributed flapping of what could be a city-sized herd of pegasi. It's also probably a bit cold, not quite wintry but seeing white fluffiness all over the ground can trick the eye into thinking it's snowy and should be colder.

Now I'm wondering if cloudball fights are a thing.
Wyvern 17th Jan 2017, 5:45 PM edit delete reply
I am certain cloudball fights are a thing! Can you imagine Rainbow Dash passing up that opportunity?

They'd be missing the sound of hooves on dirt, so it might seem quiet to earth ponies.
Evilbob 17th Jan 2017, 5:56 PM edit delete reply
Ozone. Obviously.
Digo Dragon 18th Jan 2017, 6:04 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
If rainbows are spicy, I imagine Cloudsdale has a bit of a curry scent to it. Mmm... :q
jdb1984 18th Jan 2017, 11:44 AM edit delete reply
I don't know if that would help me. I've been to a few different cities. They look largely the same.
Elbbsas 19th Jan 2017, 10:32 AM edit delete reply
I know that London is ridiculously brown, Paris has really, really long/straight roads, and literally every single place in Europe is old, flat, and worn down. But other than that, cities are fairly similar.
ANW 17th Jan 2017, 5:26 AM edit delete reply
I have nothing to work with.
Wait got something, though it's a bit of a stretch.
Funny contest.
Best gets a prize.
101 fails, trying to get a non-flying being into the air
Winged Cat 17th Jan 2017, 1:33 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Cattlepult plus wings.
Malroth 17th Jan 2017, 3:09 PM edit delete reply
Permanent Reverse Gravity trap in the middle of the Halfling Village. That'll teach them not to sing the oompa loompa song.
Space Jawa 17th Jan 2017, 4:08 PM edit delete reply
Portal Gun trick. Create an infinite loop, wait until non-flying thing hits maximum velocity, then aim the exit portal in an upwards direction.
Gdesign95 17th Jan 2017, 8:25 PM edit delete reply
Hang glider plus fireworks rockets. works fine... until they explode
SKW 17th Jan 2017, 10:33 PM edit delete reply
Inventing the Airfoil, Jet Engine, and Ailerons in a medieval setting because reasons.
Digo Dragon 18th Jan 2017, 6:06 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Mythbusters did an episode on the Chinese Rocket Chair. That ended poorly for non-flying Buster.
NexAngelus405 17th Jan 2017, 8:20 AM edit delete reply
More Tails of Equestria news!
Mykin 17th Jan 2017, 8:25 AM edit delete reply
I have to agree with the DM here, descriptions are hard. I can't tell how many times I've written and rewriten the same description before I finally felt like I had something. Then, when I show it to others, they tilt their head and ask me what the heck I'm trying to describe here.

Personally, I think the DM's description of Cloudsdale is pretty decent. Though now I'm thinking about how I would have sold the place to the players.
Evilbob 17th Jan 2017, 6:01 PM edit delete reply
Finding that balance between interestingly descriptive and mind-numbingly tedious is definitely really difficult.

My favorite example of the latter is many of Victor Hugo's works.
Anvildude 17th Jan 2017, 9:37 AM edit delete reply

Don't just describe 'a' building or 'a' common feature- go with a description of the overall architectural feel.

Orcish city that isn't just tents?

"Heavy looking stone facades loom over you as you walk through the streets, darkened with fire-grime as they rise 3 stories into the sky- or at least, that's what you think. The lack of windows and huge, bare stone sides give little indication of what is within."

Dwarven halls?

"Stone columns soar into the air, their tops lost to the darkness of the ceiling hundreds of feet above. Between those columns are carved reliefs and mosaics of semi-precious stone depicting glorious battles and feats of legendary crafting. Doors dot the walls, themselves cast of bronze, letting through glimpses of darker, narrower tunnels beyond."

Small elven village

"As you walk through the bushes, you start to see signs of civilization- a tiny bootprint here, a cleverly hidden leaf-lantern there. Suddenly, you're in a clearing, and surrounded by buildings. Graceful, swooping lines dominate, with doors and windows cradled by living trees. What looks like a natural rock formation in the middle of the clearing is, upon closer inspection, revealed to be a cleverly carved fountain. Everywhere there are green things, with sprays of color scattered about in clusters of flowers or brightly dyed rugs outside doors."

Just gotta set the mood.
Winged Cat 17th Jan 2017, 2:11 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Something like this?

"From a distance it looks like a giant but otherwise ordinary storm system, though you know that's just the outlying clouds ringing the city proper - think barrier islands, only three dimensional. After soaring between them, which requires a couple hard turns, you come across what looks like a city sized version of Rainbow Dash's home.

"Multiple layers of clouds, in all shades and styles from fluffy white to roiling blue-black, form the ground, with rain from the topmost clouds forming rivers where it pours too much to be absorbed, cascading from cloud to cloud until waterfalls - dispersing to mere rain far below - are the most noticeable feature of the bottom clouds' edges. Most of these are just water, but some are straight-up flowing rainbows - runoff, technically, but harmless aside from a temporary dye job.

"Pillars that look like carved marble rise from the clouds, supporting slates of more clouds - looking like our world's ancient Greece on a snowy day. Here and there are temporary structures made from a minimum of material, such as a 'race track' consisting of small clouds to mark the start, finish, and obstacles, with a few more off to the side for viewers to rest and watch.

"Only when you look down and see the grassy fields far below do you realize, there are no plants up here aside from the potted variety, and even those are rare enough to stand out like neon flags: green, against the white, gray, and blue everywhere. The rainbows here and there, and the citizens themselves, provide far more color."
Decorations 17th Jan 2017, 9:58 AM edit delete reply
Maybe the others could want a chance to describe a cloud city of Pegasi?
Winged Cat 17th Jan 2017, 1:38 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
If the DM allows them to. Some tables frown on players inventing the background (since, unchecked, it could lead to free resources or assistance); others encourage the players to fill in any details they find lacking (within limits so they don't just narrate, "and over here there's a stall giving away wands that happen to solve the exact problem we've run into").
terrycloth 17th Jan 2017, 11:30 AM edit delete reply
So... this means Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy don't know Rarity's trying to sabotage the contest?
Digo Dragon 17th Jan 2017, 1:01 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Maybe they're not in a position to do anything about it right now.
Magnaliscous 17th Jan 2017, 2:06 PM edit delete reply
Hey Spud, this probably isnt the best place to ask this, but I can't think of anywhere else to. But did you ever have plans to continue that "thousand year sunrise" comic? I was rather enjoying it. But I came back and realized the account hasnt been touched in over two years.
Newbiespud 17th Jan 2017, 2:31 PM edit delete reply
That... wasn't... mine?
Magnaliscous 17th Jan 2017, 2:34 PM edit delete reply
oh wait, I didnt see "Guest Author's Note:"

Well this sucks. I enjoyed that comic. Oh well, thx for replying Spud.
Evilbob 17th Jan 2017, 6:02 PM edit delete reply
You're so modest and humble! It's what we like about you! :P
Greenhornet 17th Jan 2017, 5:11 PM edit delete reply
Anyone ever read the "Knights of the Dinner Table" story where Sara did a psychology exercise, making the players describe a journey?
As a one-time writer, I think it worked better as a WRITING exercise as the subject wouldn't be thinking "symbolically", but would simply describe things they were familiar with.
But then, the tester wouldn't be able to say something about SEX.
Doc_Sparks 18th Jan 2017, 10:27 AM Why I did it. edit delete reply
I saved this page to my hard drive because of all the useful suggestions. :D