Created By: Unknown Troper on March 17, 2010 Last Edited By: VioletOrange on April 20, 2011
Troped

Flavor Text

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Players that don't read flavor text aren't too bright, sorta smell, and dress funny. But let's just keep this between us, okay? They can get kind of violent.
-- Flavor text to Magic: The Gathering card "Double Header"

Flavor text is text in a game that has no effect on gameplay and nothing to do with the rules. Usually they provide background information. Common in almost all Collectible Card Game, as well as Roleplaying Game rulebooks. Not limited to Tabletop Games either; for instance, item descriptions in video games can also be a form of flavor text.

Often, flavor text includes quotes, either from real-world sources (such as in Magic: The Gathering core sets), attributed to characters in the game, or from Fictional Document. It may also include narratives, poems, sayings, or jokes. Regularly found in Monster Compendium, Pamphlet Shelves and inventory items, they sometimes take the form of an Encyclopedia Exposita.

Examples:

Collectible Card Game

  • Magic: The Gathering has a lot of Flavor Text, some player types even build decks based on the "story" of the cards, leading to such weird but fascinating combos as sacrificing the embodiment of your death into pure damage with which to kill an opponent.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, flavor text appears only on Normal Monster cards, which are virtually non-existent in competitive play, so the lore is very spotty and mostly forgotten.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

Other
  • An Order Of The Stick strip in Dragon featured a character who claimed that ignoring flavor text was the key to true peace. He didn't do anything that wasn't required by the rules; so since dirt didn't have any mechanical effect he didn't bathe, since there were no rules specifying characters got sleepy, he only slept when hit by a magical effect (if he'd been a magic user, he'd also have done so when he wanted to recharge his spells), and he ate a revolting gruel once every two weeks, because the rules said that if he didn't he'd starve but didn't specify any other effects of not eating.

Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • March 17, 2010
    AlexChurchill
    A number of the more flavoursome Board Games will have this on their cards, or at least in the rulebook. It's a term I'm primarily familiar with from Trading Card Games, but have seen in other games.
  • March 17, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    Related to other written flavor material such as RPG/Tabletop Game "fluff."
  • March 17, 2010
    Golden Darkness
    The Pokedex entries in Pokemon
  • March 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I've heard it called Fluff Text too; that might work as an alternate name.
  • March 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Dungeons And Dragons has the occasional fluff requirement for items and classes (must be a member of ___, must worship ___, specific Character Alignment) that can safely be ignored.
  • March 21, 2010
    Earnest
    Magic The Gathering has a lot of flavor text, some player types (Timmys?) even build decks based on the "story" of the cards, leading to such weird but fascinating combos as sacrificing the embodiment of your death into pure damage with which to kill an opponent.
  • March 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Present in most game manuals to explain why you're blowing stuff up.
  • March 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    They're called Vorthoses, not Timmies.

    Anyway, we should also have sub-tropes for different types of flavor text (character quotes, literary quotes, unattributed quotes, sayings/idioms, narratives, etc.).
  • March 21, 2010
    Doug S. Machina
    Also for fictional documents from the story's world.
  • March 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Oh, and encyclopedic flavor text is common too, which includes Pokedex entries.
  • March 22, 2010
    Bisected8
    Often the function of a Monster Compendium.
  • March 22, 2010
    Medinoc
    It's currently referenced in Encyclopedia Exposita.
  • March 30, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    This is not the same as Encyclopedia Exposita. Flavor text does not always consist of quotes from fictional works. Encyclopedia Exposita is probably a subtrope.
  • March 31, 2010
    Irrisia
    The video game series of Shadow Hearts tend to have flavour text on its items and on the monster database.
  • March 31, 2010
    Dealan
    In ADOM the player can look at monsters and aside from their stats read a paragraph or two of fluff.
  • April 2, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Was about to launch it in YKTTW, but then saw that it already exist. Abandoned ? Here is my corrected version. alt terms : Fluff Text Flavor Text is text in a game that has no effect on gameplay and nothing to do with the rules. It's a common way to show your work in realistic settings and to add depth to fantasy/SF universe. Often found in Monster Compendium, Pamphlet Shelves and inventory items, they sometimes take the form of an Encyclopedia Exposita.

    Like their names implies, Flavor Text are not necessary to understand the plot, but provide personality to a work.

    Examples:

    Collectible Card Game
    • Magic The Gathering has a lot of Flavor Text, some player types even build decks based on the "story" of the cards, leading to such weird but fascinating combos as sacrificing the embodiment of your death into pure damage with which to kill an opponent.

    Tabletop Games Most Tabletop Games require by their very nature Flavor Text to help telling the story. Put there only particular example

    Video Games
  • April 2, 2011
    dalek955
    Pamphlet Shelves and inventory items also commonly have Flavor Text.

    Also:
    • Vindictus has flavor text for all items. Oddly, it often describes effects that ought to have an effect on the gameplay but don't, notably curses.
  • April 3, 2011
    VioletOrange
    I add your modification
  • April 3, 2011
    Stratadrake
    @dalek: Flavor text has to be unrelated to the gameplay. It's normal for the game to tell you what an inventory item does, but if it goes into a spiel about where it came from, what it's made of, that's Flavor Text.
  • April 3, 2011
    ccoa
    • In Star Ocean 2, there are a huge number of items that are raw materials for crafting and items that can be crafted. Many of them contain flavor text not related to what the object does, such as describing the texture or taste of food items.
  • April 6, 2011
    VioletOrange

  • April 6, 2011
    RickGriffin
    I've generally heard the opposite of this (text that does have to do with the game rules) referred to as 'crunch' (in case there's not a parallel YTTKW I am not seeing). I think there's another name for it too.

    The research document RPG Design Patterns identifies 'Anonymous Rules', which are actual game effects that are hidden in otherwise innocuous text. Nobilis is a particularly bad offender:
    In the initial write-up for this book, the fact that Nobilis rewards players for faithfully adhering to their Code (via Miracle Point awards) was omitted. This is a crucial roleplaying reward that was overlooked until the oversight was corrected in a thread discussing morality and behavior mechanics on The Forge (www.indie-rpgs.com). Even after learning of the mistake, searching for the detail via the book's index, and rereading several chapters, the author still could not find the rule and had to ask for help in discovering it. To quote Tony Lower-Basch (author of Capes), Page 133, right-most column, middle of the page. It's... oh... one sentence in the middle of a huge page of poetic description of Heaven and Hell. I'm not surprised you missed it.
  • April 6, 2011
    Cidolfas
    The vast majority of JRPG's have this - every item and piece of equipment generally has a short description, ranging from a sentence fragment to a full paragraph. It's rarer to find one that doesn't. Some (such as the Disgaea series) poke fun at the whole thing.
  • April 6, 2011
    RainyDayNinja
    • In the Yu Gi Oh TCG, flavor text appears only on Normal Monster cards, which are virtually non-existent in competitive play, so the lore is very spotty and mostly forgotten.
  • April 6, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Speaking of Pokemon, the Pokedex has always included 2 or 3 lines describing the in-universe nature of the creature, but later games include such flavor as the creature's footprint (if applicable), a Sound Test ability to play the creature's vocal cry, a size/weight comparison to the player character, and a comparison of form/gender differences between different members (where applicable). The species's weight actually does have some gameplay consequences, but those are very few and far between.
  • April 6, 2011
    whereismytea
    I think this may be Narrative Filigree or a specific variant of it.
  • April 7, 2011
    RickGriffin
    I don't think it's Narrative Filigree because games use flavor text in different contexts than other works. For one, it's often much easier to ignore or pass over in games if you prefer.
  • April 7, 2011
    VioletOrange
    I think it's a subtrope a Narrative Filigree, but the last paragraph if the description of this trope lost me. I edit the trope.
  • April 8, 2011
    Cidolfas
    It isn't Narrative Filigree, because that involves story that isn't important to plot. This is closer to The Dev Team Thinks Of Everything but still separate.
  • April 8, 2011
    DaibhidC
    An Order Of The Stick strip in Dragon featured a character who claimed that ignoring flavor text was the key to true peace. He didn't do anything that wasn't required by the rules; so since dirt didn't have any mechanical effect he didn't bathe, since there were no rules specifying characters got sleepy, he only slept when hit by a magical effect (if he'd been a magic user, he'd also have done so when he wanted to recharge his spells), and he ate a revolting gruel once every two weeks, because the rules said that if he didn't he'd starve but didn't specify any other effects of not eating.
  • April 9, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Add Disgaea and the Order Of The Stick example to the ykttw.

    @ Cidolfas

    "It isn't Narrative Filigree, because that involves story that isn't important to plot."

    If "that" means Narrative Filigree, then I don't understand your posture : Flavor Text is by definition non essential for the plot and the gameplay. It's just a flavor, nothing more nothing less.

  • April 9, 2011
    Earnest
    Players that don't read flavor text aren't too bright, sorta smell, and dress funny. But let's just keep this between us, okay? They can get kind of violent.
    -- Flavor text to Magic The Gathering card "Double Header"

    "Ow" also has a good one.
  • April 9, 2011
    Bisected8
    All of the items in Recettear have humorous descriptions, inkeeping with the Woolseyised script.
  • April 12, 2011
    VioletOrange
    Broken link for the Ow, quote and Recettear add
  • April 13, 2011
    VioletOrange
    I think I will launch this trope in one week if no one disagree. The examples comes from very popular games and I think that this tropes will be quite popular. However, I wonder in which Index I should put it.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=v81u43o3rkmzavx3fz1ajf2b