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There are several categories of information that may be presented to a character when they enter a room:
  • The Name of the room
  • The Brief Description of the room
  • The Full Description of the room
  • The Success message.
  • All Obvious Details in the room
  • All Obvious Exits in the room
  • All visible Characters / Puppets in the room.
  • All visible Things in the room

The Name

The Name of the room is always read to a PC when they enter a room. It should be specific, descriptive, and (if possible) reasonably unique. It should answer the question: "Where am I?"
Bad Name:
The Lobby, A Rock, Porch, Grassy Plain

Good Name:
The Lobby of The Stygian Building, The big, flat rock on the road to Esaurius, The Porch of the Hatfield Steading, The Donompoc Plain.

The Brief Description

A Brief description should set the scene and provide directions without being verbose. It should answer the question: "What do I see?" in a broad fashion.

  • Run-on sentences.
  • Misspellings and typos.
  • No logical clumping of similar items or features.
  • No sense-related clues.
  • Excessive use of parenthetical commentary or 'punctuation as rhythm.'
  • Huge, dense, undifferentiated blocks of text.

Good DESCRIPTIONS contain:
  • Indications of the size of the room.
  • Mentions of obvious exits.
  • Indications of major areas or items of interest.
  • Sense cues, where appropriate.

Good Brief descriptions should be approximately one to six lines long (no more than 500 characters). For example:

The large office is sparsely furnished. The entire east wall is a window framed by curtains. Near the window, a massive desk of crystal and bronze faces the door. An area rug near the door sets off that half of the office as a reception area. The door in the west wall leads to the hallway.

The Full Description

A Full description should contain a complete, detailed description of everything that a PC can see without closely examining each feature or object. It should answer the questions: "What do I see?" in detail.

A good Full description should contain all of the specifics about the room; details about the floor or ground covering, what the walls look like, what is on the walls and ceiling, any windows, doors, furnishings, small objects, sense cues, impressions that the room might convey, etc. For example:

The room has a clean, polished hardwood floor in a dense, dark brown wood. There is a large area rug near the door on the west wall that covers nearly half of the room. The subtle cream and pale green pattern of the rug compliments the ash-blonde hardwood paneling that rises to shoulder height. The walls above the paneling are a pale aqua. Spaced around the room on the walls are small bronze and milk-glass lamps, reminiscent of orchids, that accent the desk.

The ceiling is high, rising away from the walls in three shallow steps. The recessed central area is filled with light and suffuses the room with a bright, even glow that casts no shadows.

The window in the east wall goes from floor to ceiling, wall to wall and is so clean you can almost feel the breeze outside. Tall, straight curtains frame the window like deep green columns. The window gives a lovely view of Pantheon Station and the train yard beyond.

On the north side of the area rug is a small couch and cocktail table. On the table is a statuette of a streamlined black panther with flickering emerald green eyes. To the south is a small, waist-high table under a very abstract print signed by Arthur Decco. On the table in a small pool of light is a small replica of Lantz's /Man Controlling Trade/ in unblemished marble.

and so on

The Success message

Should give characters in the room some indication of how the character enters the room.

The Obvious Details

Details are descriptions of items in the room that are not things in the database. These Details are interesting features, but not separate from the room. Each Detail description should answer the question: "What do I see when I examine this item more closely?"

Since there is only one (defined) description for a Detail, it can be as complete as necessary. But remember that the description of a Detail may lead players to examine other details:

look box

The cubical puzzle box is about the size of a grapefruit and is make of a dark -- almost black -- wood covered in arcane runes painted on the surface with a dark ruddy pigment. Under the pigment, the Darkness rune seems to be made of some sort of metal.

look Darkness rune

The Darkness rune seems to be peeling away from the puzzle box, and under the pigment is a tiny gleaming stripe of silver.

look stripe

The tiny stripe of silver almost seems to glitter in the light. You can't really get a good look until you pick it up.

In the above example, the box would be listed as a visible detail, and the Darkness rune and the tiny stripe of silver would not. The details command would allow a PC to list the box along with any other visible details, but not the Darkness rune and the tiny stripe of silver. Each of those would have to be explicitly read with the look command.

Copyright © 1999 Bob Simpson. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated: 1999-Feb-02

Last modified: 2002-Jun-13 22:52:23

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