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Postfix rules, when describing action

From an exchange on a forum.

I wrote:

The barbarian’s basic ability is difficult to roleplay when you wanna bring a little extra.

But for barb there’s no easy way to convey that you’re raging. Saying “I would like to rage now, please. I am now raging” is good narrative and flavor, but that’s not the same as RP. Erin McGathy’s rage song on HarmonQuest works well, but comes across as comedic (which works for that game but not every game).

A player that starts like flipping chairs and shit would cross the line into “problem player” in like three seconds and would be rightfully banned.

Action surge has a similar problem. Saying it kills all flavor and whips you all back into rules-land from make-belive-land, but there’s no way around actually saying it.

Someone replied, which was awesome

“You see Golomov’s eyes go wide as his breathing deepens. The haft of his great axe groans as he tightens of his grip. With a bone-shaking battle cry, he locks eyes with his target and charges into the fray, swinging wildly”

So I went on to say

Exactly what I mean. Third-person narration as opposed to acting. Whereas it’s difficult for many reasons to actually yell out that bone-shaking battle cry.

But it’s not a wholly hopeless endeavor. I like your idea of the breath work: deep, sighy, phonated exhales. The tightened grip is also gold. Same goes for widened (or narrowed!) eyes. Any other technique ideas people got?

I also like bringing in the rule thing as an “…, because I’m raging!” or “…, because I’m action surging!”, as in say the thing afterwards. “I hit hard, roll 1d12, plus four because I’m raging now!” with a scowl or an animalistic smile. Or elegance if you’re a fighter: “I swiftly swing at them again, using this [mimes the action] pendulum momentum from my last swing, by using my action surge!”

A subtle tweak, but effective in how it gets rid of the blank space where we are all think “she said a Rules Thing, not sure how that would look”, and instead ties it directly into diegetic action.

“I do _____, by using rule _____.” (If it’s something you even have to justify with a rule; it’s absolutely OK to just try to do cool stunts if its something your character could reasonably do.)

This isn’t always possible but it can be very effective and visceral.