Re: differentiation; feats example

From: David Cake <dave_at_...>
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 14:26:13 -0400

>I'm still working on an essay about feats (intending to explain why
>feat descriptions aren't a good idea because of the amazing
>flexibility of Hero Wars). It might be useful to present an example
>of a magical contest (or rather a contest resolved largely with

        Saying there shouldn't be feat descriptions is to me a fairly pointless exercise. There already are feat descriptions - its just that they are only a handful of words long, and thus appallingly ambiguous in many cases (but not all).

        Take your example. You use the 'Rally Clan' feat - for a somewhat silly example of what is wrong with the current system, what if someone was to claim that the word Rally meant that the feat was to be used to enable clan members to participate in high speed racing on public roads, so it should be able to be used to make the clans chariots go faster along the roads of Sartar?

        Now, in the current example, its obvious that that is not what is meant by the word because we happen to have context (such as what affinity its in, that that use of the word rally is anachronistic, etc). But when similar levels of ambiguity exist in feats like 'Sunset Leap', that is somehow supposed be a good thing?

        I see two basic responses this question, depending on whether you think the name of the feat (a short english phrase) is intended to be a short description of a broad category of effects (one that could be described more more precisely if you had more words), or the name of the feat is intended to be defining ie all valid english interpretations are more or less OK (barring perhaps some interpretations such as anachronisms). I find the first position to be far more reasonable. I find the second to be somewhat silly. Is this actually the position you are holding, David?

        Personally, I am not wanting much in the way of description to be added. In many cases, even a couple of words added to feat names would be sufficient. eg is it Big Leap Into the Sunset, Big Leap at Sunset, Leap Like Mastakos at Sunset (in which case it should be called Teleport at sunset). Is Lightning Sword sword fast as lightning, Give Sword Lightning Power, Shoot Lightning from Sword, or what? Is Snarl Darkness Snarl At Darkness, Snarl Like Darkness (whatever that is), Snarl to Make Darkness?

        Feats should be a more or less clear description of the sort of thing a feat is intended to do (eg Heal Disease). Poetic shortenings of description are bad, because it turns the intended meaning of a feat into a guessing game, unless you believe the second interpretation (that the name of a feat is intended to be defining), which is even worse, turning HW into a word game not a roleplaying game. Whenever there is a poetic shortening of description, or for some other reason serious ambiguity creeps in, there should be a slightly longer explanation.

	Now, I am not advocating a return to RQ3 spell descriptions.
	I can however, see the value of adding to a relatively 
straightforward description of what a feat is all about, a few comments about it. Adding some mythic derivation for unusual feats, for example, or adding some comments about how to handle common uses in play, is a good idea IMO. Is the game better off because of the added description for flight, for example? I think so - and I would be happy to see a similar level of description added to other areas.

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