Well vetted dudes are blogging, currently, about dichotomy and stuff. I guess. They keep talking about crunch and fluff. Are they related. Do they matter to one another. Can you make both matter to different types of player.
So, here’s my thing. I hate the term ‘fluff.’ Just by the term ALONE you’ve dismissed it to a secondary role. There’s totally a time when that was true, sure, but in that time GenCon was in someone’s basement and had six people at it. Times are different now.
Flavor is a much better word. It better fits what you’re talking about, (mood, theme, setting details, suggestions of play style, all that yummie stuff. Lick that Ravenloft book, you know you wanna.) Flavor is also less of a weighted word, with less baggage attached to it in a negative or positive way. Crunch and flavor, man. Mouth feel as well as taste. It works, it does.
Plus here’s the other fun thing about it. Flavor and Crunch, it’s pretty reasonable if your play group likes one over the other. Some people don’t care so much for the flavor of a certain sort of BBQ, for example, but love when meat’s burned over a fire. That doesn’t make them right or wrong, any more than someone who just doesn’t like the mouth feel of tapioca, but loves themselves some chocolate. (I may be abusing the metaphor a bit at this point.)
You can like the crunch of something, but not care for the flavor, or want to change the flavor, or not need the flavor much at all to get what you need out of a game. That doesn’t make you wrong.
Conversely, you can LOVE the flavor of something, but the crunch doesn’t work for you, so you hack it, or attach the flavor to another sort of crunch. That doesn’t make you wrong.
It’s easier to see the differences and the connections between the two when you don’t use a dismissive term like fluff and replace it with flavor.