Building A Game Writing Portfolio: PWW Assignment 2.5 – Item Descriptions

The “extra credit” portion in the second Pixelles Writing Portfolio Program assignment was to write item descriptions. I was excited for this one as since I spent the better part of a decade writing fun!copy for things that were often incredibly similar but needed unique copy. I love writing product descriptions, enough to have written about how to do it.

The assignment was to write descriptions for 10-20 items and vary the type of item. What it recommended was to consider:

  • purpose (is this flavour text or useful info?)
  • tone (does it fit game voice?)
  • length (keep it short)
  • graphics (is it describing what we see or to complement item?)

I decided to go for a sassy sci-fi action RPG since I’ve been staring at The Outer Worlds a lot lately. I used a generator from Ennead Games to supply me with item names and wrote out the copy in 15 minutes while chatting with Chase. It feels slow, honestly? But also it’s weird to write copy without having a larger mental image of what the world you’re writing for is.

  • Molecular Circuit (junk): A small but incredibly detailed chip of circuit board.
  • Bio Seat (quest item): A high-end toilet seat with different settings for each user. Not made of gold, though.
  • Pocket Scanner (tool): Increases interactable highlight range by +5m.
  • Calibrated Ansible (quest item): A normal, everyday space radio, calibrated to 68.7, the hits of today, tomorrow and eternity.
  • Incremental Mind (tool): Decreases sway of long-distance weapons by +15%
  • Carbon Input (junk): It’s just a lump of coal.
  • Replacement Differential (junk): A brand-new gearbox suitable for most land vehicles.
  • Fusion Platform (junk): A portable nuclear-heated grill.
  • Multisynaptic Credit (currency): Used to buy items from the Brain Bazaar.
  • Mega Seat (tool): Adds knock back ability to any melee weapon.

I feel like, to put these in my game writing portfolio I’d need to go all-out and add additional long copy (I’m enamoured of the way The Outer Worlds includes ad copy for branded items, completing the capitalist dystopia vibe) and probably images.

I also did ten fantasy RPG items pulled from a Site of Many Things generator, which took 30 minutes while half-watching a movie because it’s hard to cram the special behaviours into tight text. 

  • Belt of the Brute: A handsome, wide leather belt decorated with copper studs that increases your strength by +1.
  • Whip of the Diviner: The intricate, silver-braided handle allows the user to store one spell of level 2, which is consumed on use and must be used by the next dawn.
  • Thorny Shield of Aiming: The long spines that cover the face of this shield are a strong defence, giving you a +2 bonus to all combat checks. If you are hit by a melee attack the attacker suffers 2d4 piercing damage.
  • Amulet of the Copper Dragon: Two dragons intertwine on this heavy copper pendant, their eyes shining green emeralds. Their protection gives you resistance to acid damage.
  • Amulet of the Short Con: This small iron coin is inscribed with an open eye on one side and a winking eye on the other. Once per day, this amulet gives you advantage on Wisdom saving throws.
  • Wasp Naturalist Belt: This thin, shiny black belt is tipped with silver and reduces the duration of negative conditions by 1 round and, once per day, allows you advantage on any Nature skill check.
  • Ring: This is a plain ring of indeterminate metal and confers no benefits.
  • Gloves of the Fortuneteller: The pattern of these lace gloves is difficult for your eyes to settle on as if the pattern is always changing. Once per day, they allow you to pass an Intelligence saving throw you would have otherwise failed.
  • Cloak of the Gold Dragon: This heavy capelet of gold scales is delicately detailed with red enamel and provides you resistance to fire damage.
  • Overpowering Net of the Diviner: Slung from your belt, this unassuming scrap of net allows you advantage on attacks to trip or disarm.

I still entertain dreams of making a bunch of RPG items in J. Peterman catalogue-style, with the watercolour illustrations and paragraphs of copy. Pure indulgence. I also have played with the idea of like? Streaming somehow something to do with copywriting. Like I would 100% honestly love to write copy for silly and fantastical prompts on the fly. Can’t be different from what I used to do at my last job.

A version of this post was initially published in a locked Patreon post on May 19, 2021.