Monday, November 8, 2010

Minutiae vs Moving On

I played in my bi-weekly Pathfinder game last night, and had a thoroughly good time with Dalan (my fire elementalist elf). However, as the night wore on it became obvious there was an unwelcome tension among some of the players, and one player in particular. There are 6 people in the group, with 2 of us being hard-core Paizo fans, 2 others (a husband and wife team, with the husband as GM) who are hard-core roleplayers who love Conan, 1 military tech, and a newbie to Paizo. It’s a group that came together randomly through a networking RPG website, so there’s a few bugs to work out.

One of the bugs that reared its ugly head was Minutiae. The GM enjoys his details, and often went on in length about a piece of attire, or the history and use of dye pigments discovered, etc. All very interesting on its own, but over a session it got a bit tiresome. Especially since we were on the move to a city we *really* wanted to reach, but had distractions/encounters along the way. Now, you can’t just gloss over the journey, because so many fun things can happen. But you also have to be aware of your players, and how interested they are in a GM’s descriptions. As I mentioned, one player was practically fidgeting in his seat from impatience.

Well, the end result for my group was that at the end of the session, as we packed up our things and congratulated each other on a fun session (which it was), I suggested that next time we try to fast-forward certain parts, or at least speed up some areas. I acknowledged that the GM did a great job, but rambled on sometimes. I also acknowledged that we (the players) shouldn’t rush to a destination just because we want to. By opening up the conversation, we could then discuss and negotiate where we were all comfortable.

No doubt this minor conflict happens in many groups. How much detail is too much? Does a group prefer set pieces, and screw the story in between? Maybe. The point is to compromise as a group and find your comfort levels. GMs put a lot of effort into getting ready for a game, and should be allowed to flesh out their world, and provide more depth to a story. Players should enjoy that ride. Just beware the danger of describing every single detail of a mundane item, for example.

As the famous quote goes: “Moderation in all things.”


  1. I agree there needs to be a balance.

    I'm a big fan of minutae, but if your players aren't diggin it, some adjustments need to be made. Is it the particular minutae, or minutae in general? What if it was the minutae you dig?

  2. That's just a fun word to say isn't it. Minutiae.

    I see-saw back and forth. I like details, and I can get lost in them, both as a player and as a GM. But sometimes I just want to *get* somewhere, and screw the devil [who is, naturally, in the details].