“the crunch of their statistics are not nearly as good as the fluff would suggest”
Role-playing games rely heavily on narrative. It seems natural that the background story, the lore behind the game be of importance primarily to role players. Hence the word fluff they came up with to refer to such contents, mainly texts.
The opposite of, or rather the complement to fluff is crunch. Here’s how they typically show up in a role-playing game.The fluff might tell you that a particular character comes from a long lineage of warriors, and might describe its ghastly appearance. The crunch will simply tell you that it has +2 strength bonus and that contact with it costs 2 sanity points.
Some role-playing games, series or systems are fluffier than others. But a vivid, coherent context or setting, even supported by crunchy rules, is what first engages the players’ imagination, and therefore can really make or break a game.
Things are a bit different with general board games since the relative importance of the narrative background versus the game system, or mechanics, does not vary as much as in role-playing games. Which might explain why board gamers use the noun fluff and the adjective fluffy not nearly as much as role players.
The fluff, in board games, designates any element, whether physical, graphical or textual, that evokes the setting, helps create an atmosphere, without making any difference in the way the game is played. American-style games that are adventure or simulation based, or that are under IP licences, are its natural habitat. But it can also be found in strongly themed Eurogames. Longer narratives, flavor text in the rulebook or on player cards, or detailed miniatures, are its most common incarnations.
Fluff is more common in adventure or simulation-based American-style board games.
References and Further Browsing
- A definition of Fluff by 1d4chan
- Fluff, Crunch, and You, by Terminally Nerdy
- Crunch & Fluff, by tetsubo57
- Crunch vs Fluff, on Reddit
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