I wanna talk a little about descriptions. I talked about it quite a lot, up until now, but mainly because I do believe that it is one of the most important tools in the GM's arsenal. Together with portraying the NPCs, it is the most important tool in the arsenal.
On Wednesday I GMed a game, a D&D game. It was something that I haven't done in a long time, perhaps a year and a half, maybe even more. I used there quite a number of descriptions' techniques, from using references to my "3things in 20 seconds" rule. I even let my players describe things.
But there was one technique that for some reason I didn't use. And it got me thinking. Why haven't I used it? I'm still thinking on that, and I think that I know why I didn't use it, but firstly I want to present it.
The technique is quite simple: mixing the senses a little. I got the inspiration for this technique from the Bible. When Moses goes up the mountain, it is written that all of the people "saw the sounds". Seeing sounds wasn't something that I was used to. It is not a common way to describe things. But it does make it seem larger than life. It makes the event seem grandiose, important, and alien to what we can comprehend.
So I started to describe some of the things in my campaign this way also. I started to use it in horror games, then continued to the climaxes of fantasy ones. The players were shocked at first, asking questions about how it is possible and what do I mean by that. Today they feel the power of it also, and try their hands on it from time to time.
After all, when you can listen to the dark, smell the yellow scent and see the spicy taste, everything is quite different. Everything is quite alien, unnatural, and even uncanny. And this, of course, is only the beginning of the possibilities.
Then I came back to the game, to my analysis of it I mean, and started to ask why I haven't used this technique also. I think that it was because of the comedic tone of that game. After all, when even dragons are nothing but a joke, there's no need for the red scent, or for the green sounds.
Bu I think that it is also because it is a far more complicated way of describing things, one that needs it's proper time and place, and it just didn't feel right for me at the time. I don't know for sure, and I will probably never know the truth, but it doesn't matter. I do know that I felt this technique missing, and I want to use it again, because its rewards are far too great and many.
How about you? Have you used this technique or something similar in your games? If so, how did it go?