Last night I had an interesting conversation with some of folks I game with regularly on Wednesday evenings (through Google Hangouts). During our conversation the topic came up about RPG products (some, not all) being inundated with fluff content to the point where the essence of the material gets lost in the all descriptive and fluffy text. One of the players mentioned Pathfinder was notorious for its use of excessive fluff and I couldn’t disagree with their assessment since I owned many of the early books as one time and had seen ti first hand. There are several reasons why an author or publisher might fall into the trap of having too much fluff. There is nothing wrong with good constructive flavor text, but like everything, it can become excessive.
- They are not confident in their ability to provide a succinct description of whatever they are trying to describe and therefore go over the top with descriptors.
- They love to see themselves in print; the bigger the book the better.
- Publishers are requiring them to fill a set amount of pages and to do so some are resorting to increasing the fluff over real substantial content.
Two of us were familiar with some of the recent products published by Monte Cook, Ptolus and Numenera, specifically. Cook’s use of side and bottom bars takes flavor text, plot hooks and cross-referencing top a whole new level. His ability to succinctly focus in on what’s important in the body of the work allows for snippets of flavor text, related adventures and short NPC descriptions in the margins. This is a practice that more authors should consider.