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StormWolfe

To Lore or Not to Lore?

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I am working on the reboot for my swords and sorcery site which means I am wading through our old lore documents. My initial goal was to pare the lore down to one document per species / race. However, now that I am into it, I am starting to feel that is not feasible. The site draws its inspiration from many genres. However, original ideas are blended in.

 

In the past, we were told that the amount of lore that we had at the site scared people off joining. Therefore, I undertook doing lore revisions to make the site more appealing. Now, however, I am finding that cutting out information makes the species or race feel very two dimensional with no depth.

 

Here are my questions...and my answers. I still want to hear from everyone else since obviously I would join, it's my site and I am biased! ;)

 

If you went to a site and saw that there were 3 to 5 short documents to read about a race or species plus a Beginner's Guide for each one, would you still consider joining?

 

How much reading is too much? How much is too little?

 

 

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Define "short document", and how is it different from a Beginner's Guide? Personally, what I do is make a TL;DR description for each race or faction in my RPs, and then go nuts with the longer document.

 

Long info dumps aren't really that bad as a reader, so long is the text is large enough that I'm not straining my eyes, and that there are enough paragraph breaks that I'm not seeing the overwhelming wall of text effect that makes it hard to keep my place while reading.

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I absolutely would!!

 

I have this issue on a constant basis with my site 😄 We are a historical drama but based on an original concept so we have a *lot* of lore up on our encyclopedia.

 

My advice on this topic would be two fold:

 

1. Make sure you have the right lore for your site. Not the members. You are never going to be able to please everyone or attract every roleplayer. So, make sure the lore works for the site you want to build and the community you want to become a part of it. If you want your site to be more open to rpg beginners and be an expansive thing that all rpers can be a part of then two-dimensional is good - it means people can add their own interpretations and build off of the info you have. If you want an immersive and detailed world for more advanced rpers, or you think that immersion and detail are going to be more important to your rp in particular then go with more lore. What it really boils down to is - if writers are diverting away from your source material, are you going to want to rein them in and bring them back to your original concept? Because, if so, you need the lore in place to give you that leg to stand on. If you are less fussy about authenticity and accuracy to the original idea, then lesser detail is all you need. It's really up to you based on what sort of rp and what sort of community you want to create. The rpers who like that community *will* come. You don't have to worry about trying to cater to everyone.

 

2. I think it's more about how your lore is presented rather than how much of it there is. I'm constantly fiddling with the best way to present information in our lore encyclopedia so if you manage to hit on the magic formula let me know, but at the moment I work on the idea that you have your general setting/concept (which is the necessary reading) and then you have everything else broken down into sections that people only need to read when they actually want to include something like that in their story. Eg. if your world has certain concepts or ideals on marriage. A member who never wants their character to marry might never need this information so there's no need to make their life harder by putting it into the necessary reading. But putting it there to be read if necessary helps to keep the world immersive and it gives you and other members the guides you need to keep everyone in line with the general setting/world you've created. So, yeah, my point is to worry less about the volume of information and more about how it's laid out and how easy it is to digest for newcomers 😄

 

Hope this helps! 😄

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The Beginner's Guide for each would be about a page +/- of 14px font size. It would describe the race or species and layout basic information on what they know about the other races or species.

 

Based on GDocs - where I initially write the Lore and keep the documents as a backup... the documents range from 2 to 10+ pages of 14px type, some images, and much larger section headings (like 18px).  I use WordPress as my front-end for the Lore so each document comes with a neat table of contents in the sidebar. Some species would only need the Beginner's Guide and one document of facts about them. Others would require 3 or more "chapters".

 

Thanks for asking for clarification @Deep Sea.

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Personally, I would probably be put off if all the lore had to be downloaded in documents. I don't know if you're planning to move it onto the site and you're just working on it on the docs atm, and this could just be me and my personal preferences, but I like all the info to be on the site. I think there's something psychological about the "hassle" of downloading stuff that makes me unsure.

 

Plus, when you have all the info on the site, you can link between pages and it's easier to see connections between topics and concepts 😄

 

That would just be my two cents on that particular element 😄

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Lore does not turn me off, then again I run a Tolkien site so the lore is massive. I did not re-write it all, I just shuffle people off to the GIANT WIKI site to look things up if need be. I do not however expect everyone who joins to know it all. I do expect they will learn the basics about their species / the town they've put their characters in. 

 

It might make sense to have  a short breakdown of each available character/race and each setting available. Think like super short... a paragraph. So when someone is deciding what they might want to join as the basic is written there. They can read all the different options and make a light decision on what they want to research more on. That paragraph could link to the longer document which goes into the greater detail. So they don't have pages and pages of info thrust on them at once and can get an overview and not be overwhelmed at the joining... I hope that makes sense. 

Edited by Denethorii
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@Denethorii Thank you! And Thanks to everyone - I am reading your responses as they come in. It is helping me decide on how much deconstruction I want to do on our original documents.

 

I am looking at having short "Beginner Guides" for each species or race that give just the basics and links for Read More if the new person is interested in exploring further. These guides would also be a quick reference once they have a character - or - I might set up brief FAQs for each species that has the basic facts vs. fiction, how they view others and how they are viewed.

 

Thanks again everyone! Keep the replies coming. I am far from deciding on my final course of action.

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I've had this issue working on an original concept as well. My strategy is to single out the absolute need-to-know information for each topic and pare it down to be as short and essential as possible. Put that stuff up front. Hook people with as few words as possible.

 

For everything else, more detailed information or supplementary documents, have it easily accessible through links within the core documents. Like "For more detailed information on Elf society, click here" kinda thing.

 

With this kind of setup, people can pace themselves and not feel like they have to read a novel to join the site. If I have to read 3 different documents just to begin to understand the species or something, I'm going to be put off. But, if I read a couple paragraphs of race summaries and then decide I think werewolves are cool, that's the point where I'm doing to dive into the rest of the material and start thinking up a character.

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I am not turned off by having to read lore. I've seen some sites with less lore and I've found that this approach can sometimes cause some serious problems. It can leave people confused, and leave you with more questions than answers. It can be very frustrating when you don't have enough lore to know some of the important things and you're forced to bug the staff to ask questions that you may have otherwise not have had to ask if the guides would have just been more clear to start with.

 

With that said though, I can also feel very overwhelmed when I see walls of text with no clear system of organization. Organization can really make or break a site's guides sometimes. If a potential member can't read things, can't find the information they need, or are just overwhelmed with a massive wall of text with no end in sight, they might be scared away. 

 

These things are all issues that I myself really want to try and navigate through because I'm building my own site and I find myself seriously stressing over the amounts of lore that my site contains.

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I agree with CovertSphinx, it is good to have a need to know section and an optional section so folks can get started quickly and look through any supplemental lore at their own pace.
 

If you went to a site and saw that there were 3 to 5 short documents to read about a race or species plus a Beginner's Guide for each one, would you still consider joining?

I personally would not be scared away by multiple documents, I would however, prefer if a beginner's guide was all in a single thread with links to the other documents if relevant, and beginner information condensed to a paragraph or two per topic. I would start with looking at the beginner's guide, decide if anything in it perked my curiosity, and go from there. The content and tone of the documents would actually be the deciding factor, cause if something turned me off in the beginner's thread I wouldn't bother to look further.

 

How much reading is too much? How much is too little?

It's really all in the tone and organization of the writing. I will read novels of lore if I find the writing interesting. I will also ignore novels of lore if I feel like it's a slog to get through.

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I'm really not your target audience, just the thought of reading through pages of species lore makes me yawn! But I'm posting here because even though tons of lore is really not my thing, sometimes I'm not turned away from it. Why? 

1. As everyone above me is saying, a short blurb for each specie so I only have to read the 3 pages lore of the species I pick. 

2. Links everywhere! I find it much easier to navigate through massive lore if I have a index handy to go back and forth between documents. 

3. Engaging read. Well written, fun documentation won't feel like a chore to read. I've hang out on sites I had no intention to join just going through their lore, because it was not a bureaucratic info dump, but had effort put into it to be exciting and fun to read. 

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I am the type of person that wants to read as much as possible before I start writing somewhere, so pages of lore would not turn me off. I would want them to be written to be digestible, though, because I can struggle reading long paragraphs and remembering the information. My biggest suggestion would be to keep the paragraphs short and make lists or definitions where possible. Using headings and subheadings also helps.

 

I appreciate a site with a lot of lore as long as there is a learning curve for new members! I think a Beginner's Guide helps a lot with that, and it allows beginners to read the rest at their own pace. I am most turned off by sites where I feel like I cannot join in until I know everything there is to know, when the best way to learn for me has always been to make friends with existing members.

 

Hope this is helpful!

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Echoing the "less is more, but also have more" from the others above me. Consider creating something akin to the blurb on the back of the book for each thing that could be considered "optional" - if the players want to read more, link them to it. Make it clear what the bare minimum knowledge is to get by on the board, and make sure that it's digestible!

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