Saturday, May 8, 2010

DBMM is hard..... Part 1 - The language

The DBx series has a reputation for complex language and a plethora of dice modifiers - especially for combat. In this post, I would like to take a look at the first of these issues.

On the Yahoo HotT group,

petercard2001 describes the DBx language in these words:

"...Barkerese as a data compression algorithm
implemented on top of English as the transfer protocol."

Though not intended as a positive comment, this is a good description. So the question is why? I would suggest two reasons. Barkerese compresses a lot of information into as few words as possible to:
  1. maximize the content in a given page count, and
  2. eliminate any redundancy in the language.
The first point may be moot in the current environment of PDF rules downloads and a printer in every house. It is the second point that, for me at least, is the critical one. Perfect communication with no redundancy creates no new meaning. Only exactly what is meant is communicated - there is no room for ambiguity or misinterpretation. It can be tough to parse out because each word is important and you must pay attention to every word and the order it falls in. There is no filler.

The effect is a difficult read but it has a very important dividend - precision. And why is precision important in a game? Two words - and please excuse the profanity - "Rules Lawyers". Sadly there are and always will be people who would rather hunt for loopholes and play the rules rather than play their opponent.

Though not always perfect, once a DBx rule is clearly understood it remains so with no wiggle room and no opportunity for a-historical or cheesy behaviour on the games table.

Next up: All those modifiers...

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