horus
 member, 181 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 07:34
Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
I see folks use the term "crunchy" here often enough that I wonder what it really means.

I see it used in the sense of "crunchy = complex/technical", "crunchy = rules-heavy", "crunchy = icky" (meaning something that doesn't fit the user's preferences is "crunchy") or in combinations of these and other meanings.

In all these uses is implied "the opposite of smooth/slick".

I do get the feeling that the term is used to mean, basically, either "good" or "bad" depending on context.  So far in my limited experience, it usually portends something less than perfect, though.

If you've a mind, let's conjure with this together to improve my understanding.

I'm curious because, well, reasons.

Thanks in advance to any who participate in the discussion.
Godzfirefly
 member, 481 posts
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 07:45
Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
Crunchy, as I understand the term, is closely related to the term "number crunching."  A game system with a lot of number crunching is crunchy.  This has (over time) been extended (to a point) to include 'crunching' more than just normal math.  It includes looking up tables, searching for rule details, and other system complexities that can make following those rules more time consuming.

Crunchy isn't necessarily bad, depending on the preferences of the player.  Many players enjoy math, rule complexity, and bonus-stacking.  Some do not, preferring a simpler, faster experience.
willvr
 member, 1061 posts
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 07:46
Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
'Crunch' is usually the rules mechanics side of things as opposed to 'fluff' ie, flavor.

It's not actually necessarily bad. I've always felt it's more important that everyone is on the same page. I feel there's a... disturbing thought trend, that making powerful characters is necessarily -bad-. It's not. Where it gets tricky is if you know the system a lot better than your GM; so he doesn't know all the tricks, so what he thinks will be a good challenge, turns into a breeze.

I like roleplay and flavor as much as anyone; but I don't feel the need to hamstring myself in character development in order to do so.
horus
 member, 182 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 08:46
Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
Huh.  To think that I, who thinks generally that when all I have is a hammer everything looks like a spreadsheet, would forget that angle.  Number-crunching, indeed.  Thanks!

I like characters that are more than numbers on paper, but I don't expect folks to play "The Game of 20 Questions" to figure it out.  Basic history, hopes, dreams, fears, etc. are enough.

So, basically "opposite of simple/smooth/slick" works.  Anything else is determined by context.  So far, that's what I take away here.

Yup, I tend to run some really crunchy settings...
lensman
 member, 179 posts
 Crestline, CA, -8 GMT
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 10:41
Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
The best, most direct answer has been given, crunchy = Number crunching.
That is the arithmetic.

Nothing as complex as what we want for RPG's has one simple definition.

The 'as True' definition of crunchy is that, all mechanics are a barrier to role playing. Even free form has mechanics, I argue, those mechanics are hidden and can only be known as a function of interaction with the GM multiplied by hours of play.

All players must breathe life, weave narrative, using mechanics and must conquer mechanics and reduce them to bite sized chunks, consume them, so they can fuel only role play.

When someone says that a system is too crunchy, they have not defeated mechanics and thus are unable to produce role playing, consigning themselves to roll play.
drewalt
 member, 78 posts
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 11:47
Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
I disagree that "crunchy" is the opposite of "smooth" or "slick" because a complex rule set can deliver more consistent and satisfying resolutions if it's designed well.  Crunch is nothing more than complexity, and complexity can deliver a better experience for some people.

For example, consider Chess versus checkers.   The latter is simpler and far more accessible and probably more fun to play for most people, so it's less crunchy and there hasn't been much scholarship on it because there is no need.

Chess is very crunchy (especially when you start getting into the realm of chess puzzles and faerie chess) with complex notations and formulas and a mountain of academic papers written on the many possible puzzles and permutations the game presents, and unlike checkers there's a persistent centuries-old enduring international community of enthusiasts around it.

That said, if you're going to set out a board game in a community center for the purpose of entertaining the general public, you're going to choose checkers every time.  It's not a question of which game is better, it's a question of which game is better for what purpose.

A rule set that's technically complex but doesn't deliver good performance is "crufty", which is complexity for the sake of complexity itself (which also has its fans, it's a perverse mindset imho but that mentality certainly exists).
horus
 member, 183 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 15:36
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
lensman:
The best, most direct answer has been given, crunchy = Number crunching.
That is the arithmetic.


As someone who has no fear of arithmetic, nor of mathematics (two different but related things), I understand that number crunching might be the most reasonable path of descent for the term, but find that definition is too narrow to be consistent with current usage.

quote:
Nothing as complex as what we want for RPG's has one simple definition.


You are quite right here.  It's one of the reasons I'm looking for clarity.

quote:
The 'as True' definition of crunchy is that, all mechanics are a barrier to role playing. Even free form has mechanics, I argue, those mechanics are hidden and can only be known as a function of interaction with the GM multiplied by hours of play.


I would have said there's a trade-off between mechanical complexity and playability, and that many games attempt to strike a happy medium somewhere between equally ridiculous extremes.

Too few rules mean too few opportunities for conflict, drama, tragedy, or comedy.

Too many rules result in what you so aptly called "roll play" -- we spend all our time consulting arcane tables and charts and trying vainly to gain advantage instead of realizing our dreams.

quote:
All players must breathe life, weave narrative, using mechanics and must conquer mechanics and reduce them to bite sized chunks, consume them, so they can fuel only role play.


And Referees/GMs/DMs/Storytellers/etc. must bring the game milieu to life using those self-same mechanics aided by no little imagination.  So, from that point of view, a system of rules that is too complex leaves little room for the fire and brilliance that is life at its finest in the play of the game.

quote:
When someone says that a system is too crunchy, they have not defeated mechanics and thus are unable to produce role playing, consigning themselves to roll play.


And when someone says a system is chock full of crunchy gaming goodness it means the level of mechanical complexity is "just right", hmm?

drewalt:
I disagree that "crunchy" is the opposite of "smooth" or "slick" because a complex rule set can deliver more consistent and satisfying resolutions if it's designed well.  Crunch is nothing more than complexity, and complexity can deliver a better experience for some people.


You make it sound like I limited the definition to exactly that, when I did not.  Context is key to how the word is used, and I've seen it used in both positive and negative ways to describe a game.

I used to be a wargamer specializing in WWII armored conflicts at the operational and tactical levels.  That's gaming I would describe as "crunchy" by the strictest of interpretations.

I nevertheless came away from the table when my Germans managed to cut off the Kursk Salient and subsequently unite their army groups for the push on to points east feeling like I had just conquered Russia - not like my numbers were better, but that my tactics and operations were such that I achieved Victory, dag-nab-it!

I gotta hit the hay, folks.  I work a long shift again tonight.  Thanks for participating in this and for helping me remember and understand a bit better.
OceanLake
 member, 1003 posts
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 21:02
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
Interesting site

https://rpggeek.com/wiki/page/RPG_Glossary#C
GreyGriffin
 member, 101 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Sat 15 Jul 2017
at 21:47
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
I think Crunch definitely has positive connotations as well.  A game with "good crunch" means a system with meaningful decisions that have impact.

For instance, a lot of games use stunt and hero point systems that reward players mechanically for good roleplaying during scenes that require dice rolls.  This is a good example of "good crunch," directly benefiting players who elevate the play experience.

Good crunchy systems also reward players who think tactically, who make smart decisions, and who come up with plans more interesting than "dive in and start swinging."  Although they can also reward players who want to dive in and start swinging by letting them make characters who are effective at both diving and swinging.
horus
 member, 184 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sun 16 Jul 2017
at 05:05
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
OceanLake:
Interesting site

https://rpggeek.com/wiki/page/RPG_Glossary#C


Thank you.  So very bookmarked.

So it would seem that "rules-heavy" and/or "rich in meaningful decisions" are aspects of crunchiness, and that the etymology hails back to "number crunching".

GreyGriffin, you are hitting on things I feel are worthy ideals for a GM to strive toward.  I like where you took this.  Thanks.
Eur512
 member, 767 posts
Tue 18 Jul 2017
at 16:45
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
In tank crew slang, a Crunchy is anyone not in an armored vehicle, especially if they are near your position, and it is dark.
GreyGriffin
 member, 105 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Tue 18 Jul 2017
at 17:09
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
System influences behavior.  Good systems encourage good behavior.  A system can definitely be "too crunchy," but the inverse is also true.  A system that is "too fluffy" or just too abstract can wash out any meaningful input from the player, reducing any conflicts to just an arbitrary roll of the dice.

A proper amount of crunch is "as much as your group can handle without impeding game flow."
Godzfirefly
 member, 485 posts
Tue 18 Jul 2017
at 17:17
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
GreyGriffin:
A system that is "too fluffy" or just too abstract can wash out any meaningful input from the player, reducing any conflicts to just an arbitrary roll of the dice.


Or worse...an arbitrary GM decision that negates the input altogether.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1153 posts
Tue 18 Jul 2017
at 19:55
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
I tend to find crunch as meaning mechanics or the system much like how fluff refers to the flavor and narrative.

I've even seen descriptions such as "less crunchy" or "mild/light crunch."

I've also seen used in talking about the mechanical aspects of a character such "I'll post my character's crunch tonight," or "I'll start working on the crunch right away."

So, I'd define crunch as a metaphore for mechanics in general that can be used in a number of ways.
icosahedron152
 member, 764 posts
Wed 19 Jul 2017
at 05:34
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
I agree with Drewalt: Crunch is complexity - particularly, but not exclusively, numerical complexity. As has been mentioned, all games have rules, but the more complex and numerically tortuous those rules are, the more we describe the game as Crunchy.

A game whose rulebook has a thousand pages, in which the author attempts to describe a rule for every eventuality is Crunchy. Equally a game that requires players to use a spreadsheet to keep track of a characterís statistical description is Crunchy.

In a nutshell, itís a matter of focus. We have a certain time-budget to spend on our game. Some of that time is spent on describing and developing the story, and some is spent on perusing and implementing the rules. As the focus swings more toward spending our game time dealing with the rules, we describe a game as more Crunchy.
horus
 member, 190 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Wed 19 Jul 2017
at 07:32
Re: Seeking Term Definition:  "Crunchy"
Eur512:
In tank crew slang, a Crunchy is anyone not in an armored vehicle, especially if they are near your position, and it is dark.


Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!  So it is!  Tanks for the memories... {ducks}