Using Descriptions in Games



Hello guys and gals! Legacy has been busy, even though we have been silent. We have done a couple of update videos, and lament that we were unable to keep up with #RPGaDay2017. That being said, we were reading a question today on a Facebook group and had to address it in our own way. The question was “Do we have to say ‘You see’ when you describe?”


The answer is: NO! Below is a three-fold method for giving great (and strong descriptions) without saying “You see” or “You hear”:

1. Describe the room as if you are entering it. Don’t look at the room as if you are telling someone else what they are seeing. Imagine you are walking in for the first time. You can say “You see a desk with papers on it.” or you could say “There is a cherry desk with papers scattered over it. Many of the sheets are haphazard on the top, some of them even falling to the floor around it. The chair behind the desk is old and falling apart. The smell of must is strong in the room. Upon closer examination it is clear that there is a stain on the desk, and it appears a lot like blood…”

Now, which one would you rather hear?

2. Don’t be afraid to use big words. Many GMs try to use small descriptors. Don’t be afraid of big words. You should say “euclidean” instead of “strange dimensions.” Sometimes big words give a much brighter image. The person you are talking to isn’t just “sad” they are “melancholy.” Robin Williams stated this best in Dead Poet’s Society:

So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.

3. Use the environment and mood to your advantage. People don’t need to know what they hear or see. They need to know how it feels and smells. Hearing a scratching noise on a closed door is ten times as creepy when you describe it as also coming from the room that smells like rotting fish. You don’t just notice the painting, you notice it in the half-light that is coming from the burned down candles in the corridor. You can hear the scream, but it should be echoing because of the high ceilings.

By simply using the words that you know, and adding in a little environment, you can create descriptions that pop! As always, we welcome your opinions but follow the golden rule: DON’T BE A DICK.





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