Recently I had my players visit a wizard’s tower. The damn thing was supposed to be heavily enchanted, like a hundred feet tall and glamered to be invisible to anyone further away from it than 50 feet. It was a real monolith. They were greeted at the door by a ghost butler and the entire thing was animated by permanent unseen servants (per the spell). It was all calculated to give the impression of power.
They were escorted up an interminable flight of stares, with each floor emitting strange and random sounds behind the closed doors. When they got to the top they were greeted by the wizard in her sanctum.
The wizard herself was an undeterminably ancient elf, and I described her as floating gently withing a runic circle, clothed in nothing but arcane energy. That is to say, she was nude, but the description was calculated to lack even a hint of eroticism.
The description fell flat. I read the players, and the wizard summoned a simple robe as the approached them.
What I was going for, was a sense of detachedness, a divorce from mortal concerns and cultural mores. She was an ancient ungodly powerful wizard that was so far removed from normal that she didn’t concern herself with modesty, any more than a dragon would. It’s comfortable and efficient.
I was going for Dr Manhattan.
Of course, when I saw they didn’t get what I was going for, I reversed it, but it made me wonder if I was describing things the wrong way. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for TV Tropes, where I expected to find reference to this sort of thing.
I’m not opposed to throwing a small amount of nudity into my games, especially non-sexual nudity. I play with adults, and write for adults. It’s not like we’re playing F.A.T.A.L. here.
Has anyone else had a description like this fall absolutely flat, or worse, get totally taken the wrong way? In the end, it’s about knowing your players, but I can’t help but thing I somehow “did it wrong”