Tuesday, August 14, 2012

DNDNext English Translation Service

Yes, WOTC, I know it's just a playtest document. But does the writing have to be this awkward? I had to read it about three times before I could begin to follow it.

In the original:

"When you are in an area of civilization, you can find and take on bounties, allowing you to legally hunt down and capture or kill the subjects of those bounties. Additionally, as a legally recognized bounty hunter, sometimes the authorities will come to you with bounty hunting needs.
When you attempt to locate the subject of your bounty, if you fail to locate that quarry yourself, you always know where to go and from whom to obtain information on that quarry’s whereabouts. Usually this comes in the form of contacts you have cultivated on past hunts.

And now in English:

"You have the right to hunt down and catch or kill people with a bounty on their heads. You can find a list of bounties in any area that offers them. The authorities may offer you more work as a bounty hunter. If your quarry gets away, you can use your network of contacts to find out where the person is hiding."

A good editor could make the rules so much easier to understand. Please hire one. She doesn't have to know anything about gaming, just about writing with clarity and concision.


  1. I dunno. If one applied that same stricture to the High Gygaxian of the 1E books, they would neither be as fun to read as they are, nor would my vocabulary be as broad as it is.

    1. I don't associate the clumsy writing in the DNDNext playtest material with Gygax's writing at all. Gary used archaic idioms and obscure words, but he still knew how to string a sentence together. Since seeing your comment, I've been reading bits of the AD&D hardcovers to see how Gygaxian it really is. Jury's still out, but it's been a fun exercise.

  2. Eh, I do think the text could use some editing, but since it's a playtest doc, I'll cut them some slack.

    IMO, there is a difference between using words beyond my pay grade (Vancian/Gygaxian words I need to look up) and just word bloat. I prefer the bloggers edit to the playtest doc.

  3. Joseph, you make a good point, however, please note that the High Gygaxian IS at least fun to read and uses a wide vocabulary. This stuff WotC puts out (and has been putting out since 3E) is simply dry, awkwardly-written, and sucks the life right out of the game book. It's intentionally written like an instruction manual with simple language, short sentences, and no personality (which Gygax's writing always had!) In the case of these rules, an editor is sorely needed, or we will be in for another boring-to-read set of rules like the last two editions.

  4. Heck, I'm just glad D&D Next is including narrative elements!