One of the things I’ve been thinking about since the comments in yesterday’s post is how much the tone of writing in a product affects our feelings towards it. A game can have wonderful, intuitive mechanics, but if the writing comes across as holier-than-thou, haughty, dreary, or any one of countless other descriptors, it can leave a potential player/GM cold.
The Advanced D&D GM’s Guide had its critics who didn’t care for its over-the-top, periodically lecturing tone. There’s some folks who can’t imagine anything else.
Palladium’s books are written in the tone of people who are genuinely excited about what they’re presenting. “Look at this! I can’t hardly breathe this is so freakin’ cool!” I love crazy enthusiasm in RPGs—it gets me ready to go. If an author isn’t excited or enthused about their work, why should I be? To others, it comes off as way, way too much.
Some games assume a lofty, pretentious tone, such as The Window. This rarely seems to go over well.
Hackmaster had (and still has) fans divided over wanting a serio-comic tone vs. a more straightforward one.
Some games try too hard to be edgy or to shock. The more extreme and edgy the writing tries to be, the more it reminds me of this. Are you listening, authors of unbecoming White Wolf fiction?
There are those who can’t stand Savage World’s Smilin’ Jack logo, considering its tone a little too faux-badass, faux tough-guy.
Point being, it doesn’t take much in a hobby full of gaming options to turn someone off of a product. And tone seems to be a big way of doing that.