I’ve written about “flavor text” or “boxed text” before. These are short narratives that occur in adventures and accompany descriptions of places or expected character actions. I’ve encountered mixed reactions regarding flavor text. Some people would rather come up with the descriptions on their own, and may even consider flavor text to be a waste of space or an imposition. I look forward to reading the flavor text in the adventures I purchase and always include it in the adventures I write.
I’ve lately thought a lot about flavor text. Revising the Kith’takharos setting and adventures has caused me to read all the flavor text I have written over the last five years. I have gained a perspective that I had not previously considered.
Most adventures have some sort of introduction where the author explains the goals of the adventures and perhaps what he or she hoped to achieve. I view good flavor text as an extension of the introduction, where the author can show, rather than tell, some of those goals.
Sure, I could devise my own descriptions while running the adventure, and certainly will as the adventure plays out. Yet I am intensely interested in the flavor text as a window into how the author sees the adventure, and as an expression of how the goals stated in the introduction are executed in practice. In other words, the flavor text can be viewed as design notes scattered throughout the adventure. This is valuable even if I use none of the flavor text.
Bring on the flavor text!