6E59: Description rules

One of the aspects of the Standard Rules that changed is the construction of descriptions. To quote the change log:

(d) We have withdrawn the:

examine undescribed containers rule

and replaced it with two new rules:

examine containers rule
examine supporters rule

The original rule converted the action of examining a container which had
no description text into a searching action instead. Sometimes this was a
sensible idea, but not always. Examining and searching are different actions,
and why should it make a difference whether there’s any description or not?
(The original idea was to avoid a misleading “You see nothing special about…”
reply about a container which, in fact, contained interesting items. But
however pragmatic that is, it’s not very convincing as a reason.) Moreover,
examining something requires only a line of sight to it, whereas searching
requires that the actor can touch the item in question; so converting one
into the other violates the spatial world model in some cases.

The new rules are (equivalent to) this:

Carry out examining (this is the examine containers rule):
if the noun is a container:
if the noun is open or the noun is transparent:
if something is in the noun:
if the description of the noun is not “”:
say “[the description of the noun][paragraph break]“;
say “In [the noun] [is-are a list of things in the noun].”;
stop the action.

and similarly for supporters, but without transparency being an issue.

(e) We have withdrawn the:

examine described devices rule
examine undescribed devices rule

and replaced them with the:

examine devices rule

which works much as the rules for containers and supporters do: the
description paragraph first, if there is one, then the status of the device
(“The hot tap is switched on.”).

What this means in practice is that some adjustments to the behavior of Examine made for earlier builds may not work. In particular, if we have removed the “examine described devices rule” to remove the “…is switched off” statement, we can achieve the same effect with

The examine devices rule is not listed in any rulebook.

Along similar lines, supporters and containers will now list what they support or contain, when they’re examined. If we don’t want them to do that, we can write

The examine supporters rule is not listed in any rulebook.
The examine containers rule is not listed in any rulebook.

…and supporters or containers will just print their descriptions. (NB: There is currently also an irritating bug that arises if the player examines a container or supporter that contains himself but nothing else, as the rule will print “On the shelf is .” or “In the bed is .”. This is being repaired for the next build, but if this situation is likely to arise in your game, unlisting the rules will work, as will replacing them with a substitution as discussed here.)