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Subject: how much description for a game effect? rss

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dug fromthearth
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for my Viking Raider game I want to introduce special vikings. There is a theme behind each and an explanation for the game effects. I am wondering how much fluff I should put into the rulebook explaining. Just leave the name as the explanation, but in a couple of extra words, or put in a whole sentence explaining it?


Bersker
If a fight (town or defense) roll is a failure, a berserker may be used to re-roll the die. If the roll succeeds treat as a normal success in the fight. The berserker is lost after the fight in addition to any success or fail effects. Only one berserker can be used for a re-roll per fight.

Huscarl
If vikings are lost in a fight, the huscarl may be lost counting as two vikings. A blood price of $4 is paid for the huscarl instead of the normal $2 for a viking.

Navigator
After finding a town, if the player chooses not to attack the town they can sail to the town the navigator knows. Draw a new town immediately and decide whether or not to attack it. The navigator is replaced with a regular viking.

Skald
If the skald is assigned to search for a hoard you can choose this to be a legendary hoard. Before the hoard die is rolled draw a hoard value token, if it is a type of silver draw another, repeat until a non-silver hoard is drawn. The skald is replaced with a regular viking.

Infiltrator
If the infiltrator is assigned to attack a wall you can choose to have one infiltrator attempt to open the gate from the inside. You receive a +4 to your viking count to attack the wall. If you win it counts as a normal victory. If you lose the infiltrator is lost in addition to the normal penalty for losing.
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Ricky Dang
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It depends on how much space you have on the cards. If you can stuff them all there without making me squint, you're gold. Either way, you are going to have to describe it, so if you can shove it on the card and keep it readable, do it. It may also help if you can create some iconography to standardize some action types (like how Netrunner has their "use click to trigger this effect" and reoccurring credits).
 
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Lizzie
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“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” ― G.K. Chesterton
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I like the back stories, but I would recommend separating the fluff (perhaps have it in italic, from the actual effect so people can quickly skim the rules.
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Mark J
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I like to see explanations of things that I am unlikely to be familiar with. If you're talking about cards and there isn't sufficient room on the card, you can always stick it in an appendix in the rule book. I think normally a sentence or two would be sufficient. I wouldn't write a long article on the details and history of the unit type. Something like, "Berserker: Viking soldiers who were trained to work themselves into a frenzy before going into battle. +1 on attack die roll." That sort of thing.

At the very least, such explanations give players a better feel for the game. If I read in the rules that having a framblatz unit with a fleet lets it move one extra space per turn, and I have never heard of a framblatz before, I will likely wonder just what this is supposed to represent. If there are just one or two such mysterious terms in a game, I may look them up -- especially in these Internet days. But if there are a bunch, the game just becomes incomprehensible, a maze of words that may as well be as made-up as "framblatz" to me with effects on the game that just seem random.

Sometimes such explanations may make up for ambiguities in the rules. If the players understand what something represents in real life, they can make better sense of how it's supposed to work in the game.

For example, years ago I bought a car racing game, Speed Circuit, that had a rule for "slipstreaming" that we just didn't understand. They said it let you move an extra space or two but we didn't understand what you had to do to get this bonus. None of us trying to play the game knew what the word "slipstreaming" meant, so we didn't have a clue. There was no Internet back then (I said it was years ago), but we ended up calling the local library and asking them to look it up for us. When they called back and explained it -- if you don't know, slipstreaming is a practice in car racing where you drive close behind another vehicle so that he breaks the air resistance for you -- suddenly the rule made sense.
 
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