Mall Jongg is a new RPG I’ll be releasing this summer. It’s about teenagers who must survive a slasher attack. In a shopping mall. In 1984. And the game is played with Mah Jongg tiles. Here’s an excerpt.
Your verbal descriptions must be active, not passive.
The DM (to the players): “The dungeon corridor is ten feet wide, and lit by flickering torches.”
First of all, yes, it’s ten feet wide. But that’s a fairly trivial detail, and contains no interesting information. Second, nothing is happening. The corridor is wide, the corridor is lit. But the description is static: there’s nothing pushing forward, nothing transpiring, nothing threatening or inviting here.
Verbs. This description needs verbs that convey motion. “Slime crawls down the rough stone walls of the corridor. The flickering torches throw your elongated shadows along the floor.” These verbs are active, indicating some kind of motion.
This description also invites speculation: is the slime an organism of some kind, or is the phrase ‘slime crawls’ merely a poetic way to describe the dripping of a harmless fluid down the walls? There’s only one way to find out: the players must engage with the situation. Even if they choose not to, the scenario is more vivid for the use of active verbs.