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Description & nakeds are for facts
Don't tell the player how to think or feel

Descriptions are not for poetic, book style, introductions to your character which read like something out of a novel. While that is nice to read, it is also not the purpose of description/nakeds. Avoid telling the reader how to feel and think, which removes agency. If you have nakeds or a description that tells others what to think/feel about your character please re-write to provide information (you can use flowery language here if you want) but leave the conclusions up to the reader.

The help files for @describe and @nakeds have been updated to reflect what has always been the case. Tell people what your character looks like in as much detail as you want and let them decide how to interpret it.

Wrong: He looks like shit.

Right; He has bags under his eyes and three days worth of stubble on his chin. His fingers are dirty and the nails are unkempt. He smells like garbage.

Questions?

I don't agree, at least not entirely.

I wanted to stay off the forums going forward, but as I am the one that prompted the post, it seems only right I respond to it.

I don't necessarily disagree about not writing dictational prose about how a player feels (although all descriptive prose is by definition so on some level so there is no meaningful hard line to point at), but I don't agree that description should be for facts alone or that facts even constitute description in any meaningful storytelling sense.

Narrative prose is a storytelling mechanism designed to create relational structures in the reader's mind. Between actions and emotions, between details and meaning, between design and purpose. Details without meaning have no meaning except as a way to reduce all characters to a checklist of traits -- something that is already done with shortdesc and glance.

I would argue that merely restating the content of a character's @stats in their description does not convey anything about that character beyond the most functional aspects of disguise and detection, and whenever gameplay and roleplay have come to conflict Sindome has always stressed it was a roleplaying game foremost (I know that's why I am here) and to me that means storytelling, and the primary tool of storytelling is narrative prose.

I seem to remember starting some thread a while ago suggesting all factual details be placed on glance to sidestep this entirely, but I think depreciating character description (arguably the only thing in the game a player is in control of) to mere facts with adverbs would be a huge step in the wrong direction as far as roleplaying is concerned, just as having pose being limited only to literal direct action would be.

It's your prerogative to enforce whatever storytelling styles you want amongst other players, but I would urge you to consider the validity of other approaches to this.

I also said I wouldn't post on the forums again, but I disagree as well. I'm not even sure if my own describe or nakeds violate what's being asked for here but I'm not up for being boxed into someone else's constraints when writing describes and nakeds and clothes are like, the part of the game that most does it for me and the thing I enjoy about Sindome.

Based on the fact that my character won Best Described at the town hall 2 out of the last four years and 0x1mm's character won Best Described one of those years as well, it seems like other people enjoy them too.

I'm going to say that I'm pretty sure that I'm following these rules at least 90% of the way. I have a very simple way I prefer to write and portray myself, with just the facts. And to embellish very little.

However I still don't support this change.

Description should be allowed to be prosaic within reason. Distinctiveness is important. And what you are asking us to do here is to violate a central tenant of cyberpunk writing, and to put SUBSTANCE before STYLE. And I'm not too sure I like that.

I could see restricting outright god modeing or making characters with descriptions out side their stats.

But I don't see restricting things like.

"JaneBaka is a slow shadowy, lissome figure, her relatively androgenous form moving with feline grace that reminds of large jungle cats stalking their prey."

Or

"Her arms are sinewy, long days of labour went into these arms, practically aged like trees with rings of freckling and moles, you can almost see the story they tell of arms being lifted with a heavy tool in hand and falling under the hot sun."

Because that's prosaic that tells a story about the character. That's their style. That's their motif.

I just wish people would shorten their nakeds. I know it's a mud and all, and we're expected to read, but when they're that long I just don't even bother.
yeah, guess other people have already mentioned it but people win those best described awards for a reason. enforcing this seems pretty counterintuitive. descriptions should be so much more than mundane way-too-long checklists, and personally im way more likely to remember a character with stylish nakeds even if i cant recall specific details. i feel like glance showing all the essentials would be a good middle ground for disguise purposes, identification, etc.
just to add - if anything i think we should be encouraging people to refine and shorten their nakeds, as opposed to cracking down on the minority of people who write nakeds differently
I could have sworn, we had clear @rules that explained what powergaming is and why you shouldn't do it, but it seems this has changed or I am misremembering things.

A little bit of prose can add a nice flair to a description, the problem is that this can be a slippery slope if you do it too much as a narrative resource or if you do it wrong.

For example, you could compare a physical trait to something else that resembles it physically. JoeBaka's hair looks like fresh blades of grass after the morning dew on a winter day. Instead of just saying: JoeBaka has light green spiky hair that has been combed and styled with hair gel. One is more of a pretty metaphor and the other is more bland and literal. Ideally you would want to stick to the second one (closer to facts), even if the first one reads more like a cyberpunk novel would.

The problem with using metaphors is that we can very easily step into 'powergaming' territory. By powergaming in his case, we are talking about telling other players what to feel and think about your character (taking agency away from them and forcing your own) and also describing them in ways that overly embellishes them misrepresenting their actual game stats and creating a false perception of them.

For example: JoeBaka has powerful arms that look big and strong like oaks trees and he moves around with the ferocious dexterity of a wild tiger. His eyes are beautiful and mesmerizing, sending anyone who gazes upon them into a enamored trance.

Now imagine that JoeBaka is an immigrant or a character with not so amazing stats or appearance descriptors. With that description I am powergaming, I am misrepresenting how strong and agile JoeBaka is and I am telling you that you have to think and feel they are imposing and at the same time I am embellishing his attractiveness ridiculously (Got to look good for that ERP right?) and forcing you to believe all of this is true, when in fact its not only an utter lie, its also pretty much cheating.

So you can do the prose thing right, but you are most likely going to do it wrong by accident or on purpose if you are doing it too much in your description.

It doesn't matter how many awards of pretty descriptions you won, if the staff tells you to tone down and change your description, you should do it or otherwise you might be breaking rule 4A.

Overly embellished powergaming descriptions are one of my biggest SD pet peeves and are the reason I quit one of my favorite archetypes forever, because I'd wager that regretfully at least half of the player-base has these types of descriptions to one degree or another, and sadly the staff doesn't have the time to go through each character one by one telling them how to correct them or tone them down appropriately.

This is just my personal preference, but if you have an embellished description that I feel is disingenuous I am going to avoid you like the plague and if your description is longer than three paragraphs I am going to skim it and never remember what you look like for the most part. Because if I get too distracted reading your wall of text, I might not notice JoeBaka who has been talking to me or attacking my character for the past 30 seconds. SD unlike other text games, is a lot more fast paced and nobody has the time to read how in love you are with your own character or at least I don't.

Just also adding my voice to Floored's. Holy hell, people. It's not a competition, the point is to give a clear vision of a character's appearance. I dunno if it's just a matter of perspective and I'm the one being weird here, but when a CLOTHED character is literally filling my screen with @nakeds, something is very wrong. I literally have only a very, very vague idea of what most characters look like because it's really hard to get a cohesive picture when there's three entire lines describing a nose. In that sense, I agree with Slither, because people take this way overboard. I think being a /little/ abstract/non-literal doesn't hurt anyone, but again, people abuse it.

It actually annoys me so bad I almost wish your APR decided the character limit for each @naked. It's really off-putting meeting someone and having no idea what they look like because between their overdescribed clothes and @nakeds, you can't even find their hair without squinting at the mass of text for a few minutes, completely interrupting the RP. When this happens, I literally just read their top line, and even that one, some players put some flowery, artistic stuff that tells me almost nothing.

You want to tell people how your character glides around with the stalking majesty of a panther under the moonlight? RP that. Don't tell me. Show, don't tell.

There should maybe be a set limit on how long each @naked can be, imo- nothing too limiting, because of course people should have every opportunity to express their creativity, but not long ago I looked at a clothed character and I think just their initial @nakeds like head, face etc took up over half my window.

Even if that were a 1v1 interaction it would have been too much to delve into just to get an idea of their appearance, never mind in an active setting where people are talking/posing. Similar to the rules regarding tailoring, we should be trying to be expressive without creating so much bloat in a text based game that can already be difficult to keep up with.

The issue with a limit is the amount of things that can extend a naked.

As an example:

Hypothetically and this is a very loose depiction.

If you have a naked limit that is say 1 tweet in length max. 280 characters.

How do you divide that? Do you allow tattoo's, wound markers etc, to extend that limit?

Or do you compress the limit to them? Would wounds truncate, or extend?

What about clothing, logically you would limit clothing descriptions to a similar 280 characters per naked covered, otherwise you'd end up with someone with a 3 page pair of gloves? How do you depict small but intricate things in them at that point.

More than that, and really importantly,

Removing prose eliminates the ability to convey your stats in any manner. Not just the positive, but also the negative.

Any amount of detail in this rule beyond

She has a nose.

Would be too much. If it's taken to its logical extension

Let's experiment.

She has a misshapen nose.

Well how do I know it's misshapen and not deformed?

She has a cleft on the left side of the chin.

Well which side is left in this instance, from her perspective, or from my perspective.

You're assuming detail there as wel, is that permissable?

She has an obvious varicose vein on her neck.

Would other character's know it's a varicose vein, do they have the medical experience?

Any addition of detail even purely factual can be subject to assumption and overdetailing.

And this rule would therefore kill any style, or detail,

Beyond.

She has a nose.

or

She has no nose.

Because if you are writing without prose, and in purely the facts that every other character would know then that's what it would resolve out too.

She has a nose. She has a mouth.

And is that interesting?

More importantly, does it fit the core rule of writing for cyberpunk medium which is that there should be style over substance?

I think there might be a disconnect between those of us who enjoy reading/writing descriptions and those who just want a clear sense of what they're looking at as fast as possible.

I think making moves to limit creativity and writing will just drive away players like me who enjoy that. There's also a massive different between powergaming ("his eyes entrance you") and poetic license. What Slither is saying is, this isn't a novel, we want clear description, not to see your poetic rhapsodizing. I disagree with that.

I agree that players with powergaming descriptions should be asked to change them. I used to point out characters whose descriptions make them sound breathtaking when they're average but in practice no one seems to care, I've even been told by GMs before that it was okay for a player to describe themselves as attractive even though their shortdesc didn't support it. A future GM's character who was described as a giant, heavily muscled brute couldn't pick up a feral cat's body when I needed him to (to be fair, this was early in his playing career). I'm just saying a lot of people do that and they should be corrected.

Limiting my ability to express myself based on my stats, I fully support. Limiting my ability to express myself because you don't like looking at my character, it's too much for you--sorry, but like, don't look at my character then.

@Crooknose

Totally get where you're coming from, and I love seeing the creativity and writing skill people employ in this game, but I think that can still be done without it being excessively long. In a game where we don't have any visuals, being able to get an idea of your character's appearance within a reasonable amount of time is pretty crucial, and realistic. I'd be looking at your hair colour which should be readily apparent, the shape of your face, its features etc. A bit of prose for flavor is always refreshing, but not if it's several paragraphs about how your eyes are pools of emerald crystals swirling in the moonlight etc especially when there are no dividing marks between when one @naked ends and another begins. (Though I've seen some people employ these, unsure if it's allowed)

All that to say I think there should be some kind of middle ground, because well written and beautiful @nakeds are great to read but shouldn't take up the entirety of one's screen and require them to pause their feed for 10 minutes to comb through.

Just to be clear, nobody's objecting to "Avoid telling the reader how to feel and think, which removes agency," right?
Your descriptions should not tell people what to think and how they feel.

I'm objecting to:

1. The suggestion that poetic descriptions should be pared down to nuts and bolts simplicity.

2. Putting a character limit on my ability to write.

A better suggestion would be to be able to write a "glance" message that is included when glancing at your character and could come with accompanying documentation on what to include; the point of it WOULD be to provide a stripped down bare bones recitation of the facts. eg, height/weight, hair/eye/skin color, posture.

I definitely believe there is a happy middle ground between novel-esque descriptions and 'nuts and bolts simplicity', I don't feel like my @nakeds are boring or uninspired despite keeping them limited to only a couple lines each! They might not win any awards, but they get the point across within my personal style of writing.

A glance message could be a good solution, but I assume that's something that would have to be newly coded in and I'm not sure how that would work with sunglasses/helmets/etc that cover up specific areas of the body. It's why we don't put those kinds of details in our @describe me.

I take the time to read everyone's full description whenever I see them for the first time.

I've only seen a few instances of someone sandbagging their charisma or strength,and one instance of a description stripping agency from my character.

The character agency is what this topic is about.

Consider the following uses of descriptions that contain "beauty." Beauty is subjective, so care needs to be taken in regards to agency.

10. "Evidence of an extensive skin-care routine is one highlight of the beauty they're attempting to convey."

This one shows how the person looks, along with the intent. All good. No agency issues.

9. "They exude normative traits of beauty."

While silly, it explains what type of look they're going for. Seems fine.

8. "Their beauty could be considered enigmatic."

Questionably leading, but "could be considered" doesn't force anything. It's okay.

7. "Their face is fine-featured with traits of youthful beauty."

While not the best choice, it's at least qualifying what kind of "beauty" they're going for. Agency is still intact.

6. "Their firm and athletic tone accentuates their beauty."

This one is implying that those things automatically increase someone's beauty. Could stand to be improved.

5. "They are beautiful and elegant."

Consider the adage, "show, don't tell." This doesn't actually show anything about the character. You can do better.

4. "You see an exquisite beauty."

We're firmly into unacceptable territory now. Don't tell other characters that they see subjective things.

3. "It would be hard-pressed for one to not consider her beautiful."

Now you're invading characters' thought processes. This is a clear violation of agency.

2. "You think they're beautiful."

No. You don't get to control the beliefs of other characters.

1. "Your thoughts drift to lewdness as you feel compelled to pay chyen for just looking at this beauty."

By now you should know exactly why this is entirely unacceptable.

I am sure that we all have strong feelings here but I want to express one opinion that many might not like.

Yes, in the real world beauty is subjective. It's in the eye of the beholder. In Sindome it is objective. Characters are objectively beautiful or ugly, appealing or off-putting. If a character has invested in charisma they have invested in looking good (appearance) and being charismatic (charm).

They ARE beautiful to some degree weather you like it or not. Just like choosing to tank your CHA are ugly and unpersonable weather you want them to be or not. I can see someone saying, "Yeah, they are good looking but not in a way that catches me." Or, "I know they are repulsive and have a personality like rough grit sand paper but I still like to hang with them. They are good people in other ways."

But suggesting that someone who has invested into their stats until they get tags like 'good looking' or 'attractive' or 'gorgeous' can't state that their character are such things feels wrong to me. They should be able to declare themselves attractive in some way because, in this game, they ARE. that is a fact.

You should for sure respect your stats when using words like 'pretty' or 'beautiful' or 'engaging' but I see no reason why a player can not express this objective fact about their character int heir description and nakeds within reason.

I would also suggest you scale your adjectives based on your stats. A repulsive character might be 'an unhealthy skinny sack of skin and bones.' An average character might be 'thin'. As you start looking more and more beautiful you might become 'trim' or 'slim' or 'slender' or 'slight'. They can all be ways to say your character is thin but some come with more positive connotations that others.

I don't feel that anyone was saying you can't try and make your description and nakeds read well. Just that you shouldn't go overboard and that you need to stick to expressing what people see and not what they think and feel. The facts as Feng very nicely put it. I just disagree with some here in that beauty in Sindome is not an opinion. It is one of the facts that a player can express. in their nakeds and description IF they have the stats to support it.

If don't tell the players how to think and feel is going to be a thing, please remove all the room descriptions that tell me what my character is doing and how they're doing it and what they're feeling while they do it when they walk through each room. Pet peeve of mine. There's so fucking many! (only half joking, while I would like to see it I love the changes you've been making and understand the chore that is building)

I'm not one to tell anyone how to describe their character, but I do hate being told how my character is feeling. Maybe their hundredth perfectly sculpted corporate bitch doesn't inspire 'awe' anymore.

Also please don't use ''I won a vote'' as an argument. Damn.

Thanks for all the responses folx!

I'm going to touch on a few things.

Bringing the topic back around to my original intent:

1. Don't steal agency from the reader.

2. Don't write a book style introduction to your character in your @describe and @nakeds.

I haven't heard anyone debating the player agency so, good, we are all agreed!

I am not asking folx not to write their character description in their own style. Style is super important. And we have some wonderful writers on here! I love reading masterfully written descriptions.

I do see a difference in showing & not just telling, and writing 3 paragraphs about how dreamy the characters eyes are. My rule of thumb is to consider how this description will read the 3rd or 4th or 15th time someone checks it out.

@Leech 100% I hate those descriptions too! If you see a description that is TELLING you what you feel or think, @typo (for lack of a better system) and we will add it to the queue. I've spent a lot of time over the years updating descriptions like that as I've come across them but I spend less time walking around the IC world these days so fresh eyes is always a plus. There are descriptions around that are like 25 years old and our content standards have definitely improved in that time.