Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No More Fluff! Seeking a Fluff Alternative...

Apparently "fluff" (generally used to describe setting and background type material) leaves a bad taste in the mouths of certain gamers (see comments in my previous post). I understand why. It can be seen as a negative description, almost dismissive in nature. Besides, doesn't the porn industry employ "fluffers" to keep the male performers "ready"? Don't we already have enough porn in our RPGs already? ;)

So, what alternative forms do we have for "fluff" in gaming usage? While we are at it, we may as well find an alternative for "crunch."

No more Fluff & Crunch! Maybe Meat (rules) & Potatoes (descriptive text).


  1. Mechanics and Setting are my favored descriptors.

  2. Joseph, that's almost too easy. You want to call things what they actualy are? For shame ;)

    Good choice of words tho'.

  3. Not being familiar with that other industry, i'm not sure what a 'fluffer' does...

    I, too, prefer the terms "rules" and "setting" rather than crunch vs. fluff

  4. I tend to fall into the same camp of pragmatist. How you play the game, and envisioned starting world or opening scenario.

  5. I see how it is. I hand out a perfectly good metaphor, and this is the thanks I get. I would take my stuff and go home, but I'm already here. Come to think of it, I'm posting from bed. Flava 4evah!

  6. I'm glad that there is someone else out there who finds these terms as irritating as I do.

    I'm also not a fan of the term "broken" to describe mechanics that are allegedly unbalanced.

    You kids get the eff off my lawn.

  7. I know everyone is probably sick to death already of hearing people complain about the terminology like 'fluff' versus 'crunch.' But it you think about it, the terms are probably useless. If I create an NPC and write down his AC, his strength score and the fact that he is greedy and collects meerschaum pipes, most people who use the terms would call AC and STR the 'crunch' and greed and the pipe collection the 'fluff.' But if the players look at the NPC and ask for a description, I might describe him as 'very muscular' if his STR is 18 --- so has the 'crunch' just become 'fluff' because I used it to describe what the guy looks like? Similarly, if I use the note of his 'greed' to modify his reaction roll to a bribe... or the NPC's interest in collecting meerschaum pipes causes him to hire the players to acquire a rare pipe for his collection, haven't those bits of 'fluff' just had an impact on what happens and therefore become 'crunch'?
    My problem with words like 'fluff' and 'crunch' is that they underestimate the role that a good DM plays in creating an adventure out of whatever notes happen to be written down. It also reduces adventure creation to a very formulaic thing --- blah humbug.

  8. p.s.: 'stats' and 'description' are just fine, I think.

  9. @Limpey - The basic problem you are running into is not in defining fluff and crunch, but in assuming that they exist on incompatible levels and never interact. Things that happen on the system level affect things on the character level and vice versa.

    In your example, the high strength score informs us that the character has a "fluff" description of "well muscled." Conversely, the "greedy" description gets turned into a crunchy modifier to the roll. It doesn't make the fluff into crunch, anymore than translating a text from French to English makes it no longer exist in French.


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