Dragon 392 - Editorial: What Do You Want from Me?

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Dragon 392
Editorial: What Do You Want from Me?

by Steve Winters

"Many editors I've known dislike reading the slush, but I enjoy it."

Talk about this Editorial here.

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Well, I guess I can wait and see what he has to say on the blog, but I know I personally signed up for the crunch. I count on myself and my fellow players to make our own fluff. A little fluff accompanying the crunch is not a bad thing, but the almost complete lack of any remotely interesting and useful crunch, may just be the straw that breaks the camel's (or what was that Dark Sun equivalent? My brain's not on yet, it's too early on a Monday) back. At this point, I don't expect to see the insider badge next to my account in a month or so when my subscription runs out.
Yeah I agree, the fluff is the least interesting part of the articles.  9 times out of 10 I ignore fluff articles completely and go straight to the crunch.  I don't need Wizards to come up with story ideas for me, I can do that on my own.  However I am NOT a game designer so I would like to see new rules and options in the articles.  Overall I am very disappointed with the quality of the articles lately, it seems like everything now is useless fluff with maybe one or two new feats, or it's a advertisement for upcoming products.  I remember when 4E first came out the previews for upcoming books actually had playable builds you could use right away, now the previews are basically ads masquerading as magazine content.
I'm glad that they recognize the feat bloat, and are looking for articles that have broader application rather than narrow. But this is still not sufficiently helpful. I would love to see some plan, some indication of direction with where they want to go with the dragon crunch. I like it when good fluff meets good crunch, but that seems to be a rare occurrence lately.

Steve, do you mind giving some more examples of "twisty" proposals? As you mention, they seem very related to over-specialized support, but maybe going the other way (stomps over design space that something else already takes up).  "I'm an arcane controller... WITH FIRE!" [Cough]

If so, I suggest that folks with such entries think of their submissions as the Weekly World News. Remember that rag? The later articles went beyond ridiculous into the sublime by tacking on a twist to everything. "World's largest cat weighs 234 pounds... and you should see her boyfriend!" "Balloons float child to the moon... Selenites still follow 70s fads learned from astronauts!" "Bigfoot gives birth... and demands food stamps!"

For what it's worth, and maybe it's the size of the art, I could not figure out what was going on in that picture until I looked at it for about 5 minutes. Is something charging away from us toward some little figure? A few figures?

[I'll reserve judgement on the flavor/crunch stuff until the blog article is posted.]

D&DNext: HTFU Edition
This was the reply I sent to dndinsiders@wizards.com
I thought I'd take the opportunity to answer the question in your headline banner for the October editorial, rather than treat it as though I were asking it.

I want stuff that supports the characters I play, or might play.

Let me repeat that again for emphasis:
I want stuff that supports the characters I play, or might play.

That pretty much means: "I mostly want crunch".  Fluff that creates create character concepts is useful, but for the most part I'm pretty good at creating character concepts.  What I need is crunch that helps me build them out mechanically.

And yes, there are a ton of feats and other options... yet there are still things that can't be done, or things that can't be affordably done.  For example, the striker-gish archtype: the first translation guide said "oh, that's hard" (converting the Duskblade) ... and it's STILL not really possible.  (Theme support will go a long way, if you want to fix that).  So there is plenty of ground for archetype support.

For example: Str/Wis rangers have AC problems, Shamans have AC problems.  Avengers have a host of powers they shouldn't bother using currently (implement powers basically require them to give up their striker-class feature).  So there is, IMHO, plenty of ground still for "patch articles"

Those will support the characters I play, or might play.

Fluff articles about someone's personal PC won't, unless they come with crunch that will.

Doug

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

When he talks about "the blog", does he mean community.wizards.com/wotc_huscarl/blog/ or something else?



Thanks,
Roger

When he talks about "the blog", does he mean community.wizards.com/wotc_huscarl/blog/ or something else?



Thanks,
Roger


I actually wonder how many D&Di readers know how / where to find the blog. I'd put my money on less than 50% know how right away, although something like 70-80% could find it if they had to. How many actually read the blog regularly? Less than 20%? 
His previous blog entries have around 200 views.  There are 40k members of the Insiders group.  So 0.5%?

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

I actually wonder how many D&Di readers know how / where to find the blog. I'd put my money on less than 50% know how right away, although something like 70-80% could find it if they had to. How many actually read the blog regularly? Less than 20%? 

I had no idea how to even get there, and I usually know my way around.

@kilpatds: I want useful crunch too, and don't really care about fluff. But their submission guidelines specifically say no crunch in proposals. How are they supposed to figure out if a submitter is competent at writing useful crunch? For many subscribers, it's the most important part of the article that we skip to, often without ever reading the fluff.

I don't think they can deliver what we want without changing those proposal submission guidelines.


@kilpatds: I want useful crunch too, and don't really care about fluff. But their submission guidelines specifically say no crunch in proposals. How are they supposed to figure out if a submitter is competent at writing useful crunch? For many subscribers, it's the most important part of the article that we skip to, often without ever reading the fluff.

I don't think they can deliver what we want without changing those proposal submission guidelines.



IME, there's an intermediate step (or steps) between the proposal and the final draft of the article, where you provide the mechanical and story details that would never fit into the word length of a pitch.
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This is not the way to write an editorial to retain subscribers.  Looking at the title of the article, I thought it might be a genuine call for input on improving DDI beyond its abysmal state.  Instead I got an article which is not only difficult to take seriously but seems to undermine its own goals.

First, saying that only "wow" articles get published confuses me.  I haven't seen anything in the past two months of articles that came close to "wow"ing me.  He says that niche articles focusing on narrow themes are not what they are looking for, yet those type of articles represent 80% of recent DDI content.  He claims that D&D is suffering from feat bloat, yet instead of carefully auditing new feats to make sure they add something to the game, almost all new feats that have been published in Dragon recently have been extremely corner case and useless to 99% of characters.

He finishes his article with a coy statement that he's not going to tell us what the new focus is, and that more information can be found in "the blog."  I've never seen an official DDI blog beyond the one posting changes made in the compilations.  The lack of a link to said blog is also strange.

As a subscriber who's looking for motivation to NOT just let his subscription expire later this month, not telling me the new direction directly is not only frustrating for me, but poor marketing on their part.  I'm not going to continue subscribing for a service that's hiding what it's primary goals are, plain and simple.

In summary, this article confused and frustrated me and did nothing to restore any faith in DDI.
IME, there's an intermediate step (or steps) between the proposal and the final draft of the article, where you provide the mechanical and story details that would never fit into the word length of a pitch.

Yeah, I expect the article needs to be written at some point between the initial and final stage. But this has absolutely no bearing on the decision process for what proposal will be picked up based on the initial submission.

When an author had an idea about the suppressed little halflings, apparently mr editor found it mind blowing and added it to the schedule. But did they know how mind blowingly subpar the crunch in this article was going to be?

I don't get how you can make decisions that will affect game mechanics, based on fluff. It's like saying I want you to solve this math problem, but I'm not going to give you any numbers, variables, or equations. The awesome train is bringing medicine to the disease ridden fail town, but it has a number of railroad blocks it must avoid (we won't tell you how many). Question, how many people in fail town will die before the awesome train arrives?
Question, how many people in fail town will die before the awesome train arrives?



42. :D

Or, since this is D&D... um,

1d20 + half the disease's level 

Well on the bright side, if your submission doesn't make them go "wow" there's always their Unearthed Arcana Column ...which will give you a "kinda neat".

Seriously though Mr. Winter, this was not a helpful article and was actually kind of insulting to those players/writers that hope to one day have one of their pieces published in Dungeon or Dragon.

To be perfectly and brutally honest, as a reader I have not been "wow'd" since the earlier issue numbers in the 370's. Sure I'm amused by the fair since the 370's, but nothing has made me go "wow"
I guess our wow factors differ greatly.

To each his own.
1. A link to the actual blog would be helpful. Brutal that isn't there. Just a fundamental misunderstanding 1of how to use the e-version of the magazine.

2. I totally disagree with most of the posters here, I don't need more crunch. Dragon used to be filled with articles about actually playing the game, fluff, and crunch. There is more than enough crunch.

3. We need content. Your magazines are shrinking in quality and quantity.
1. A link to the actual blog would be helpful. Brutal that isn't there. Just a fundamental misunderstanding 1of how to use the e-version of the magazine.

2. I totally disagree with most of the posters here, I don't need more crunch. Dragon used to be filled with articles about actually playing the game, fluff, and crunch. There is more than enough crunch.

3. We need content. Your magazines are shrinking in quality and quantity.

Why would you read Dragon articles about playing the game? If you want rules, get a PH book or a rules compendium. If you're a DM looking for advice about how to handle situations in your game, read Save My Game in Dungeon. 

Fluff articles have a place; I could see writing short sketches of "if you want to play a character with a dark past who is trying to set things right, here's some options that might work for you..." and then it would proceed to give a race-class (multi, hybrid) combinations with a paragraph or two accompanying each to get you started. That way if someone is looking for a particular character concept to get started, they could do that. Then again, the forums here are pretty good about helping with that. What we don't need are 30-level builds detailing feat selections, which are almost universally bad choices, sometimes not even legal with the stats chosen at level 1. But a description of a race/class combo that has good synergy and can be adapted to a particular story has some merit.

Beyond that, a 5-page article about a deity none of my characters worship is useless. At least a power has a chance of being picked up via multiclass and power swap, and you can fit a LOT of powers into 5 pages. A feat takes up even less space (usually). 

Honestly, I'd be content with 50% fluff, 50% crunch although I'd much rather have 80%+ crunch, but that means by page count of crunch... a 5-page article about dwarves with 2 pages of power and feats counts as 60% fluff.

I have a character. He's got a really great backstory and continues to evolve, and I work with the DM in my group to adapt that backstory into mattering periodically in the campaign. It's pretty cool. He's also level 12 and we're playing Scales of War to the end, so we'll be here for a while. A long while. So I can't imagine getting anything out of a fluff article at this point.  
Just another subscriber, unhappy with this article.
I must also add my voice to the call. More detail is to be preferred.

We discuss the nature of not wanting niche articles, then we see an article about angry halflings with 5 useless feats. Either someone did not consider these two things next to each other (what I think) or someone is being purposefully duplicitous (which I do not think).

The best articles were the articles where the line between fluff and crunch, (silly names, but we all understand them), is transparent. Off the top of my head, that would mean articles like the Swashbuckling Rogue, The Gambler Halflings, and similar articles like this. The article presented an interesting concept, then fleshed it out so you could actually play it. Fluff quickly led to crunch, led to fluff, led to more crunch, which created a virtuous circle.

The bad articles are vicious circles, where 3 pages of fluff that is average at best, leads to a small amount of content that doesn't really allow us to play the character.

In other words, what I want from my articles is "completeness." Arguing over percentages of Fluff and Crunch is folly. Would 20% of great fluff support 80% of bad content, or vice versa? The secret is to make the article a compelling mix that allows truly new options than what existed before the article was printed. This is what has been lacking recently, I have seen very few 'total concept' articles, and those are the ones that will really end this debate.
I actually wonder how many D&Di readers know how / where to find the blog. I'd put my money on less than 50% know how right away, although something like 70-80% could find it if they had to. How many actually read the blog regularly? Less than 20%? 

I had no idea how to even get there, and I usually know my way around.

@kilpatds: I want useful crunch too, and don't really care about fluff. But their submission guidelines specifically say no crunch in proposals. How are they supposed to figure out if a submitter is competent at writing useful crunch? For many subscribers, it's the most important part of the article that we skip to, often without ever reading the fluff.

I don't think they can deliver what we want without changing those proposal submission guidelines.


You can count me in that less than 50%. I have no idea what blog he's talking about. Clicking on the "Blogs" tab above isn't a big help either. And personally, I don't want to have to hunt all over for information. I subscribe to DDI in order to get the information I need. Requiring that I chase down the information in numerous other blogs and forum discussions, is rather annoying.
- Rico
1. A link to the actual blog would be helpful. Brutal that isn't there. Just a fundamental misunderstanding 1of how to use the e-version of the magazine.

I completely agree with this.  A link to the blog seems like a necessity considering how much emphasis it has been given in this article.

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Boo crunch, yay fluff.  I really don't need more than like 2 or 3 powers per class per level, frankly.  At some point the powers form such a continuum that I'm just picking between minor mechanical differences, completely deadening any sense of coolness I have.  (Ooh I can summon a fire walrus!  Oh wait, that's just 1 more damage but  the daze is is only until end of their next turn instead of end of my next turn compared to the ice hamster...)

Any doofus can slap together balanced powers at this point based on the vast set of sample powers and rules already outlined.  Real creative concepts, fleshed out NPCs, vibrant locations are what we need.
When I think about the past articles that stand out to me:
Gladitors (October '08): Several pages of fluff about arena combat, some suggestions for the DM on how to use arenas, stylistic feats for martial characters, and some general arena flavored feats. The crunch was good and introduced a few stellar feats like Called Shot. While the articles would probably be broken up differently today between Dragon and Dungeon, it managed to encompass a wide variety of characters (martial classes) and provide a nice background.

White Lotus Academy (April '09): A very nice setting (and a matching adventure released in Dungeon). It introduced a set of excellent feats which appealed to a wide-cross section of classes (arcane). I don't know if anyone used the fluff, but the White Lotus fluff itself was very nice.

Duelist Rogue (November '09): Two paragraphs of fluff, and two and a half pages of crunch to introduce a new spin on a classic character. Of the articles, this one had the smallest appeal (melee rogues), but was very well executed.

None of these articles is defined by a narrow focus. Many of them have a broader focus than what Steve discusses in his editorial. All of them were supported by solid crunch. In fact, more than supported by solid crunch, they were in part defined by solid crunch: The crunch gave the 'feel' to the fluff. Anybody can come up with the idea of a duelist rogue, but Mearls put together a set of feats and powers that felt like a dueling style.

But for none of these articles is the crunch irrelevant -- or even secondary.

I don't know what other articles standout to people as stellar, but I can't think of hearing about many recent articles that really made me think "Wow, I should get Dragon."
Boo crunch, yay fluff.  I really don't need more than like 2 or 3 powers per class per level, frankly.  At some point the powers form such a continuum that I'm just picking between minor mechanical differences, completely deadening any sense of coolness I have.  (Ooh I can summon a fire walrus!  Oh wait, that's just 1 more damage but  the daze is is only until end of their next turn instead of end of my next turn compared to the ice hamster...)

Any doofus can slap together balanced powers at this point based on the vast set of sample powers and rules already outlined.  Real creative concepts, fleshed out NPCs, vibrant locations are what we need.

Fleshed out NPCs and Vibrant locations belong in Dungeon, and yes, they should be there. That leaves plenty of room in Dragon for crunch. Creative concepts belong in both and apply to both fluff and crunch.
After being so pleased with the article on words of creation, this was a punch to the gut to read.  That article does nothing to reassure me. 

To just pass along my sentiments, it has been some time since an article had "Wow factor."  Feat and Power bloat is limited to a few classes and races.  Surely nobody thinks there is feat bloat if you are a Wilden or a psionic class!  Some builds still don't have more than a few choices for Paragon Paths. 

Fluffless articles tend to be poor.  I think back to the articles where we literally got a list of items or a list of fighter powers.  On the other hand, there was an article on changelings that was universally and correctly panned.  Even this halfling article really needed a paragon path or some feat that didn't have to do with their racial power. 

Overall, I'm feeling a little better that my subscription runs out in a couple weeks.   I don't say that to be dramatic.  It is just the honest truth.   I'll gladly jump on again when I suspect there is value. 
After being so pleased with the article on words of creation, this was a punch to the gut to read.  That article does nothing to reassure me. 

To just pass along my sentiments, it has been some time since an article had "Wow factor."  Feat and Power bloat is limited to a few classes and races.  Surely nobody thinks there is feat bloat if you are a Wilden or a psionic class!  Some builds still don't have more than a few choices for Paragon Paths. 

Fluffless articles tend to be poor.  I think back to the articles where we literally got a list of items or a list of fighter powers.  On the other hand, there was an article on changelings that was universally and correctly panned.  Even this halfling article really needed a paragon path or some feat that didn't have to do with their racial power. 

Overall, I'm feeling a little better that my subscription runs out in a couple weeks.   I don't say that to be dramatic.  It is just the honest truth.   I'll gladly jump on again when I suspect there is value. 

That's exactly how I feel, cerestus. I'm letting my subscription lapse and I'll keep an eye on the forums. When the quality level seems to go back up and the monthly updates happen on schedule for several months in a row, I'll probably jump in again. I wonder if I could pinpoint when things started going downhill in general. The assassin article was a bright spot in an otherwise dark cloud, but I'm pretty sure things have been going downhill for a while.
The last thing that made me go wow wasn't actually that far back: "Thief of Legends".  I don't think I read the fluff, but the crunch had so much flavor baked it, it wasn't needed.  So, for what it's worth, I want more of that. kthx.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

I'm in favor of a more *balanced* mix of fluff and crunch.

I really enjoy the 'lore' of D&D, much more than I ever have the actual game system itself.  So that's where I stand ;).  I'd love to see as many Deities & Demigods articles as you care to publish ;). It's articles like these that expand the lore of D&D and which I love the most.  'Court of Stars', 'Codex of Betrayal', 'Lords of Chaos' 'Demonomicon', 'Domains of Dread; they all do about the same thing for me. They tell a bit more about a D&D personality or place.  The article might be about a god, a primordial, an archfey, demon or devil.  Tell me more about D&D (not the game); tell me about the worlds, the peoples, the creatures of D&D.  Let's have some fun with it. 

Dragon/Dungeon already has an excellent assortment of articles and series.  I simply believe a better balance is needed.  D&D is as much about story as it is about mechanics as far as I'm concerned. Crunch is good, lore is good, but neither is very good if that's the sole focus.  A fun magazine is balanced while a one-sided magazine is lackluster, even boring.

=== ==== ===

I have a suggestion:  How about a return of Campaign Components for 4e?  These were 'themes' for campaigns, much like the themes for PCs seen in Dark Sun.  For instance, during v3.5, there were articles on knights, swashbucklers, spies, gladiators, pirates.  Actually I made that last item up (it was never printed) but it sure sounds fun ;).

Okay, 'nuff rambling.

/\ Art
 
/\ Art
I was definitely disappointed by this editorial.  I have to agree with the previous posters in that there hasn't been anything that has made me stand up and say "Wow" in quite a while.  

The most recent article was the article detailing the epic destinies, including the Thief of Legend.  That article had both fluff, crunch . . . and wow factor, without the gm in me going "That's going to get errata'd." 

We've all been in 4e for a few years, and I would have thought that there would be more paragon/epic discussions, feats, powers, and options, whether it be in the form of fleshed out character builds and backstories (perhaps in Dungeon) or something else.

About the only thing I did agree with in the editorial was the following:  "Gaps still exist. Some character archetypes can still benefit from fleshing out."  Biggest disappointment followed in the very next sentence "But expanding the feats and powers library is not going to be our #1 focus going forward."
 
okay, i submitted my proposed dragon article last night.  now, i wait and see.
Why would you read Dragon articles about playing the game?



Hmmm...  because we like it?  Why do you like reading aritcals about crunch.  Think about what you're saying.



Beyond that, a 5-page article about a deity none of my characters worship is useless.



To you.  Useless to you but not to the person who has characters who worship that diety.

Perhaps the editor of dragon should consult you before every issue to see if the content matches up with the characters you play.

This is a great example of a growing trend I've been noticing on these forums: a huge sense of entitlement whereby one person's  wishes/playstyle/opinion is considered more important than someone elses.  If dragon/dungeon/D&D doesn't cater to your specific demands, then cue the nerd rage and demand that your wishes take precedence over everyone elses.



So I can't imagine getting anything out of a fluff article at this point.  



But I can.  So should Dragon give you what you want at the expense of my interests? I'm a paying subscriber too. Is your subscription more important than mine?

Under the new 'system', focusing on fluff more than buckets of crunch, there has been one specific article that has had the perfect balance of fluff and crunch.


Humans of the Wild.


1. The fluff was good. It was usable, it was adaptable, it was supported by the crunch.

2. The crunch was good. The feats were useful, the powers were interesting, and they did new and cool things.

3. There was variety. The article was fairly large, but it didn't spend five pages telling us that elves had pointy ears, or that drow are backstabbing murderers- it took a page or two to really describe some cultures we'd never heard of. It fleshed out the world in ways he hadn't explored before.

4. The fluff was smart. Some articles, like the aformentioned Drow one, go on for pages and pages about how drow are evil, conniving, backstabbers. The Humans of the Wild article didn't talk about how humans are versatile, and how once an encounter they can turn into GOD ON EARTH if they spend an action point. Rather, it taked about culture. It thought about culture.  It showed faces of gods we don't normally see, Pelor in particular. It gave thought to how a group of knights living in a perpetual winter would act, how they would live, and how that would shape them.

5. It assumed we already knew something about Dungeons and Dragons, and not that we were too stupid to live. It respected its readers.
Oh Content, where art thou?
Under the new 'system', focusing on fluff more than buckets of crunch, there has been one specific article that has had the perfect balance of fluff and crunch.


Humans of the Wild.


1. The fluff was good. It was usable, it was adaptable, it was supported by the crunch.

2. The crunch was good. The feats were useful, the powers were interesting, and they did new and cool things.

3. There was variety. The article was fairly large, but it didn't spend five pages telling us that elves had pointy ears, or that drow are backstabbing murderers- it took a page or two to really describe some cultures we'd never heard of. It fleshed out the world in ways he hadn't explored before.

4. The fluff was smart. Some articles, like the aformentioned Drow one, go on for pages and pages about how drow are evil, conniving, backstabbers. The Humans of the Wild article didn't talk about how humans are versatile, and how once an encounter they can turn into GOD ON EARTH if they spend an action point. Rather, it taked about culture. It thought about culture.  It showed faces of gods we don't normally see, Pelor in particular. It gave thought to how a group of knights living in a perpetual winter would act, how they would live, and how that would shape them.

5. It assumed we already knew something about Dungeons and Dragons, and not that we were too stupid to live. It respected its readers.

This!
One hundred-thousand times this!
I almost never read fluff and I read this article three times!
I also immediately started building a human character worshipping Pelor
Eventhough I used to intensely dislike both humans and Pelor!
That is what I call a "wow!" article...

On a different note:
  • Where are the dual scores for Revenants, Gnolls or Shadar-Kai?

  • Where are the promised class-specific alternatives for Melee Training?

  • Where are my insider-only playtests/previews for Heroes of Shadow?


All of these things would make me be happy about being a subscriber again...

For that matter, where's the further elaboration promised in the blog?

I'm actually wondering if what they're really trying to say is that they don't want readers to submit crunch; that from now on rules-heavy articles will be the province of the in-house designers.
Under the new 'system', focusing on fluff more than buckets of crunch, there has been one specific article that has had the perfect balance of fluff and crunch.


Humans of the Wild.


1. The fluff was good. It was usable, it was adaptable, it was supported by the crunch.

2. The crunch was good. The feats were useful, the powers were interesting, and they did new and cool things.

3. There was variety. The article was fairly large, but it didn't spend five pages telling us that elves had pointy ears, or that drow are backstabbing murderers- it took a page or two to really describe some cultures we'd never heard of. It fleshed out the world in ways he hadn't explored before.

4. The fluff was smart. Some articles, like the aformentioned Drow one, go on for pages and pages about how drow are evil, conniving, backstabbers. The Humans of the Wild article didn't talk about how humans are versatile, and how once an encounter they can turn into GOD ON EARTH if they spend an action point. Rather, it taked about culture. It thought about culture.  It showed faces of gods we don't normally see, Pelor in particular. It gave thought to how a group of knights living in a perpetual winter would act, how they would live, and how that would shape them.

5. It assumed we already knew something about Dungeons and Dragons, and not that we were too stupid to live. It respected its readers.



These are my thoughts exactly.  That article was one of the only ones that I have been eager to use from both a crunch and RP standpoint.  Generally crunch writes its own RP and fluff.  Simply read it and it paints a picture of how things happen.  Unfortunately fluff and crunch rarely line up together when they are in the same article.

Fluff is generally useless.  It rarely suits the campaigns that I play in, where DMs have homebrewed settings.  Something light and general, as was seen in the Human article, is easy to adapt and get approval for.  Five pages of fluff might as well be five blank pages.