Author Topic: Revenge of the Dappled Dickens Whelp  (Read 23293 times)

Sanvean

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Revenge of the Dappled Dickens Whelp
« on: August 15, 2006, 06:57:54 PM »
We're seeing some pretty obscure words in sdescs on occasion, some of them used in ways that seem not in accordance with the word's meaning.

How do you, the playerbase, feel about these types of sdescs?  Should we start asking people who seem to be choosing words based on how many people will have to go running to dictionary.com to pick simpler words?  

Obviously, that's going to end up being somewhat subjective - staff have varying vocabulary and someone else may recognize a word that has me boggled.  Is that something that should be factored in?  I don't want to get into supplying lists of adjectives that are acceptable and saying stick to these, but I know some people find the really complicated sdescs frustrating.

Malken

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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2006, 07:03:51 PM »
I would be for it if we could have more characters in the short desc, but since we don't, obscure words are a good solution when you don't feel like being the hundredth raven-haired or blue-eyed person this week.
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Ghost

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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2006, 07:10:34 PM »
I personally do not like the idea of seeing fancy words in sdescs.  A sdesc should be simple, and should give the basic idea of what a character looks like.  If I can not get an idea of how someone looks like without checking a dictionary, I guess sdesc is failing its purpose.

But I am not sure if there should be a policy about it. Sometimes I run out of sdescs when making a PC, so that he won't look like a previous one.  Although the solution is not going around and finding a unique rare word so nobody would understand, I believe I can live with it, if they enjoy playing with those characters.
So all in all, I don't like it.  But I don't think we need a policy about restricting it.
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bardbard#4

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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2006, 07:10:41 PM »
There are some truly beautiful sdescs out there.  My favorites have been ones that did not rely on eclectic lexicons.  One near the top of my list was "the slight, desert-hued <race>".  Simple.  Descriptive.  All-encompassing, without referencing a specific body part.

Then there are the sdescs with the long, obscure words.  For the most part, but not always, these cases seem to be someone who was intentionally looking for a rarity to toss into their character's sdesc.  I find these words to be consistently incongruous, not only with the atmosphere of the game world, but also the corresponding mdesc.  Recently, I've seen a few people using the word "lambent" for their characters.  Do they not realize that lambent means "glowing"?  If you are walking around glowing, wouldn't someone assume you are a magicker or elemental?  Think about it.

There was another PC with the word "pulchritudinous" in his sdesc.  Who the HELL would use that word?  It means beautiful.  Not only is it needlessly long, but it's also subjective!  Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, my  friends.

My suggestion is to add a new category to the request tool where players can give the staff their commentary on a person's sdesc/mdesc.  That way, a larger base of people can help to work out the kinks, inconsistencies, and ridiculousnesses of the game's descriptions.
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Pantoufle

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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2006, 07:25:25 PM »
Quote from: "Sanvean"
We're seeing some pretty obscure words in sdescs on occasion, some of them used in ways that seem not in accordance with the word's meaning.


I don't mind obscure words when they're used appropriately.  If it's being used wrong, as you've mentioned, then I think the app should be rejected and a few suggestions given to the player.  Beyond that, if someone wants to be 'the behemothic borgorgymous dandy' why stop them?  It's their character.

Personally, what I find more unnerving is the structure of some sdescs rather than the obscurity of their keywords.  I find sdescs using the word 'with' (as in: the man with emerald-green eyes) aesthetically unappealing.  I think I also saw an 'and' once (something like: the man with black and grey-striped hair).  I'd rather see a movement to discourage awkward structuring such as this than tell people that YOU (you in general) think their choice of words is too obscure.  Because at the end of the day, it's all a matter of opinion and subjectivity.  

Let's not forget that there are many many different variants of the English language and this is an international game.  Beyond North American and British English you have Australian, New Zealand, South African and a few others, each with their own grammar and vocabulary variations.  Maybe you think the word macilent is obscure but in their part of the world it's an every day synonym for slender.  Telling me I can't use this word because of what YOU think based on your region of the globe would have me quickly disillusioned and offended.

Lizzie

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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2006, 07:26:24 PM »
My reasoning for obliterating obscure obfuscations:

If someone asks "So what does this mysterious woman you  saw look like?" and she's the "attenuate aureate", most people would have to look those words up in the dictionary, which might take more time than your average IC Templar wants you to take. Finally you figure it out and tell him, "Oh it's the slender, golden-skinned woman." You tell him that because your character would never use either words, attenuate or aureate.  Neither would most people, in real life or in a text game for that matter. And now you have the militia looking for a woman with golden skin and a slender build. Yet the PC's main desc says she's "slim", not slender, and her skin is yellowish-tan, not "golden".  And they all completely overlook the attenuate aureate woman who just rode by on her kank because when they look up "slender" and "yellowish-tan" in the dictionary they do -not- get "attenuate" or "golden."

Obscure words are great for the vocabulary, but not great for roleplaying.

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Angela Christine

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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2006, 07:33:42 PM »
Rejecting obscure words could be good.  People may not realize that what they are using is an obscure word.  Folks who've learned English as a second language in a non-English country often learn technically correct but slightly odd or archaic versions of the language.  Among native English speakers where you live and what you read can effect what words you think are common, uncommon or obscure.

I once used "whelp".  I thought it was uncommon, but not obscure.  I've seen it used in several novels and on Usenet, and I thought it was about as common as "urchin".  Then my sharp eared whelp overheard someone ask her table companion, "What is a whelp?"  "That is, I guess."  ???  



It should be a soft policy though, not a hard and fast one.  If an sdesc gets rejected for an obscure word, then the player should be able to appeal, and if they can explain why the obscure word is appropriate they should get the chance to use it.  That should help fill in the gap between what a particular app reviewer thinks is too obscure, and what the player wants.

  Also, if the main desc clarifies the obscure term, that should be taken into account.  If he wants to be "the lambent, pulchritudinous man" and his mdesc explains just what is so lambent and pulchritudinous about him, then it might be ok, but if his mdesc makes no mention of the lambency or pulchritudinousness, then it gets rejected.
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Pantoufle

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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2006, 07:35:34 PM »
Lambent means light, brilliant, bright and, on occasion, glowing.

It's like saying 'the tall, obsidian-eyed man' is a bad sdesc unless his eyes are actually made of obsidian.  We're trying to say his eyes are obsidian-colored.  It's suggestive wording, not hardcore bible-thumping literal.

Make sure when you're getting definitions to words, you're not relying on one source.  Often times, the definitions given are inappropriate.  Take Webster for example.  The guy thinks 'gotten' is the past participle of get.  There is no such word gotten!!

Dakkon Black

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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2006, 07:42:51 PM »
I hate obscure words. In fact, I mocked s-descs just like this in my comics.

The bottom line is, your sdesc should be the FIRST thing somebody thinks about you when they see you. The single few most outstanding traits that that char has which make them stand out from everybody else.

I do it all the time in RL. The chick with big #(*) and bright green eyes over there. The guy with a tiny head and huge shoulders right there.

Confusing sdescs are stupid. Those are obviously not very identifiable traits that people instantly attach to.
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Medena

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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2006, 07:57:34 PM »
Quote from: "Angela Christine"
It should be a soft policy though, not a hard and fast one.  If an sdesc gets rejected for an obscure word, then the player should be able to appeal, and if they can explain why the obscure word is appropriate they should get the chance to use it.  That should help fill in the gap between what a particular app reviewer thinks is too obscure, and what the player wants.


I agree with this.  While I've never needed to use an obscure word in an sdesc I can understand how in certain cases there may be a need or a justification for doing so. There may be cases where more common synonyms don't quite encapsulate the description as well as the less well-known word does.  I, personally, enjoy learning new words. I don't like having to consult my dictionary for every third sdesc but if it was just for one now and then, I'd like that.
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Pantoufle

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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2006, 07:59:04 PM »
Quote from: "Dakkon Black"
Confusing sdescs are stupid.


I would love to make comments like, people who are confused by my sdesc are stupid.  But I try to aim for constructive criticism personally.

Boys and girls.  Ladies and gentleman.  We play a game which demands a BARE MINIMUM of 4 lines to a description.  This is a game where you can find swords that have, literally, a page long description to it.  We live in a text based world.  It's only natural that words mean a great deal to us.  You who would have us simplify our words so that we can all run around being the umpteenth lean, brown-haired man must not think a great deal of creative writing.

Big and obscure words does not a good writer make, but these words exist for a reason and sometimes -- just sometimes -- they're a better alternative to any other word.  If someone fails in their attempt to choose the right word, well, at least they tried.  Likely what they need is encouragement and suggestions, rather than being called stupid.

Ktavialt

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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2006, 08:00:10 PM »
Having strange words that require looking it up in at dictionary.com
isn't too much of a problem for me, just as was said about not wanting
to be the five-thousandth raven-haired person.

However, if there is an obscure word in the sdesc, please have the
character use that word, that -exact- word, in their mdesc.  Too many
times I am sitting around looking at someone for ages but cannot find
their sdesc since they have a hood up and there is no word in the mdesc
that follows.

- Ktavialt

Sanvean

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Revenge of the Dappled Dickens Whelp
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2006, 08:09:59 PM »
FWIW, there's a difference between a big word used in order to convey a precise shade of meaning and a big word used because you want to stand out.  I wholeheartedly support the first, but fear that the second often leads to what I can only call "Thesaurus syndrome", where the word is allllmooooost correct but just enough off that it's trying to make the word do something it shouldn't.  It sets my teeth on edge when I see descriptions rife with this, because not only are they wrong, but they're perpetuating that incorrect meaning by teaching it to others.  

Pantoufle has a very good point about not wanting to exclude things like "the obsidian-eyed man" - I wouldn't want to see all of the poetry wrung out of descriptions.  As bardbard4 pointed out though, there are some wonderful sdescs out there that use simple words.  I guess the question is how to move people in the direction of precision rather than polysyllables.

I do have concerns about new players and playability.  While I think it's reasonable to assume the rest of the playerbase can read and write, that's a different matter than expecting them to recognize words that I saw on the English GRE.

Twilight

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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2006, 08:19:14 PM »
I don't like the idea of placing limitations on people.  Obscure is going to be hard to define, and vary greatly by people's vocabulary.  I only encounter something I would term obscure extremely rarely (like two or three times a RL year), so I don't really see it as a big problem.
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creeper386

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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2006, 08:21:58 PM »
I am against big words used improperly.

I am also against sdescs that go against the basic styling of the blah, blah man. Sdesc that are the man with ... especially I find really jarring and it's hard to read whats going on for me sometimes because of the format of their sdesc.

yes, it gives variety, but it looks, IMO, horrid.

Anyways, big words used properly, sure no problem with it. I like expanding my vocabulary. Big words used improperly I don't like.

And the strutcure issue is a personaly pet peeve.
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Anonymous

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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2006, 08:24:27 PM »
Anything that helps differentiate PCs is a good thing.  A player's sdesc often serves as their 'face' for me so the more variation the better.

Not to mention this sort of thing always ends up being enforced very subjectively because everyone has a different vocabulary and ideas one what represents a 'big' word.

Lazloth

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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2006, 08:29:45 PM »
Quote from: "Pantoufle"
The guy thinks 'gotten' is the past participle of get.  There is no such word gotten!!

I imagine you're playing the Brit?  In American speech, there are two past participles for 'get'.

John has got two pistols at home. (has)
John has gotten two pistols over the years. (acquired)

--

My take on the discussion = whatever.  I like the flavor colorful sdescs bring personally, but typically don't use them.
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bardbard#4

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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2006, 08:30:35 PM »
Another thing I thought of is this.

Some big words are used to describe things that can't be said in simpler terms.  They refer to more complex things that are often a combination of a few different concepts.  Obviously, these words are fine to use since there's really no other way, short of devoting both "halves" of your sdesc to the concept.

What bothers me is, like Sanvean said, thesaurusitis.  Why, if there is a simpler word to describe exactly the same thing, would you use a longer, more obscure word?  Is it actually to draw more attention to your character?  I think a mentality like that should be discouraged based on realism.  These words are a written representation of an albeit fictional person.  When you see someone on the street, you don't see words.  You see the way they look.  Therefore, it's borderline bad RP to dress up your PC's sdesc simply because a synonym exists for the descriptive word you wanted to use.  In many cases I've seen, the employed synonyms don't even imply a greater degree of whatever the original qualifier was.

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leaf

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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2006, 08:38:52 PM »
I think it's very irritating to see misused terms.

I also think it's very irritating to see people use words that are insanely obscure simply for the sake of being different.

However, I don't think it's very easy to determine which words should be allowed or should not be allowed. The term "harridan", for example, means an old and ugly woman. Personally, I happen to think that's a valid descriptor. I am certain that others would not.

I guess I'm not sure why people can't be more creative using "normal" words than going out to thesaurus.com and picking the most obscure term possible. I don't think this sort of policing should be necessary, especially if an accepted "set" can't be agreed upon.

spawnloser

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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2006, 08:49:11 PM »
I know I once picked a word out and applied it incorrectly to be unique.  I have grown out of this.

If a word is used correctly, I don't have a problem with it...as long as you don't need to have studied English as a native speaker for years to verify this.
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moab

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« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2006, 08:56:21 PM »
If the word is used appropriately, it should be allowed.

By appropriately I mean in accordance with accepted English and in keeping with the theme of the game.
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flurry

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« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2006, 09:01:46 PM »
I don't know what the general policy is now, but I am glad to see this topic come up.   I think it would be good to decide whether obscurity should be a consideration in rejecting a word.

I like words, and I don't mind having to look up new words in the dictionary.   (Words that are used improperly, though, just end up clouding things even more.)  

On the other hand, I understand obscure words can be off-putting to some people (especially if they seem to be just gratuitous).

So I'm kind of on the fence. I could be happy either way, as long as the policy is applied relatively consistently.  

An anecdote:

I think I've only applied with an obscure word once.  It was 'zaftig'.  I really like the word.  I thought it perfectly described exactly the body type I had in mind.  Moreover, I kind of liked that I had never seen it used before in an sdesc.  

It got rejected.  I was a little disappointed, at first, but I thought it was a reasonable call on the Immortal's part.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought that Immortal made a good call and was probably correct in saying that most players wouldn't know the word.  So I replaced it with a much more common word, and it was all good.

Then about a week later, I saw an sdesc with some strange five-syllable word I've never seen before. If I remember correctly, it meant 'dark in color'.

What that suggested to me, and I might be wrong about this, is that some immortals were rejecting words based on obscurity and some were not.  Neither approach, on its own, bothers me at all.  Both are totally reasonable, IMHO.  I think there is a problem, though, if some do it one way and some do it the other way.  So I welcome this discussion and the eventual decision, whichever way it goes.
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Dalmeth

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« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2006, 09:24:34 PM »
If it's vague, but you can still easily understand how it relates to the character's appearance, I'll take it.  I'm always a click away from dictionary.com anyway.
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Barzalene

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« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2006, 09:24:42 PM »
If it's used correctly I think more latitude should be given.

I think it's a very hard call. On one hand, I like to see some originality. I don't want everything locked into a small box. On the other hand, when I look at someone's sdesc I want it to give me some clue about who I'm looking at. I do get annoyed with sdescs that seem to be the product of a quick thesaurus search. But if you find the absolute perfect word, and I have to look it up... well, I've learned something.

If a policy goes in, I'd hope that it would be a loose policy with room for new and different ideas.
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Bebop

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« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2006, 09:27:14 PM »
Big words = no problem I'm all for creative sdescs.

Big words used incorrectly, neh.

The indusive skinned man won't work for me.