First off, I hate the term "fluff" to refer to any aspect of a game which is not mechanically significant. I find that one of the most enjoyable parts of the game is the exploration of the setting. If I have to wade through three dozen new prestige classes or five new weapon tables, please give me something my imagination can chew on and not just mechanical minutiae.
Right...so one of the things I find particularly maddening about the game I'm playing now is the total disconnect between descriptive and mechanical text. It is what it is, unless it isn't. Yeah, makes sense to me.
For an example of what I'm talking about: Fighters in the New Edition have a power that does damage and knocks an opponent prone. The power is described as a mighty sweeping blow. Ok, great. Now, one of my players wanted to use it on a gelatinous cube.
Ok, so how do you trip a gelatinous cube? It's a 10'10'10' cube of protoplasm with no appendages; it slides across the ground. Even if you were somehow able to knock it over, you'd just be changing which identical, symmetrical face of the thing is on the floor. However, because Simon Didn't Say (by which I mean, nowhere does it say specifically that gelatinous cubes are immune to being tripped or being prone), you can trip a gelatinous cube, and it suffers all the normal effects of being prone. Yes, the gelatinous cube must "get up", the same way as if you had tripped an orc or a dwarf- oh, wait, dwarves have a 55% chance to just not be tripped, because Simon Said. Ok, orcs or shadar-kai or ochre jellies. Yes, you can also trip the amorphous ochre jelly. You can also trip a wraith, which is both incorporeal and is usually depicted as hovering off the ground. (Depiction also means jack shit, apparently)
Enthusiasts of this version of the game tell me that the fighter has "disrupted" the cube or the ooze, which has to spend an action getting its shit together before it resumes combat. The justification for the wraith is that the fighter's impressive weapon display actually causes the wraith to hesitate instead of being tripped; to hesitate in a way that is also mechanically identical to being knocked on the ground. So...this ability is described as an attack that basically sweeps the opponent’s feet out from under them, but this technique also includes disrupting gooey monsters and scaring ghosts by waving around a weapon that passes right through them. That must be some bad ass waving. (Like from the Weapon Mastery rules)
I have several other examples of powers used in our game that have caused even the most rules lawyerish of us to stop and say "Now, wait just a damn minute..." However, I think the above example illustrates what I am getting at. We have a strict dichotomy between what is described and what is happening. The game mechanic, what is happening, is now the most important thing, and the description must follow suit.
The reason I don't jive with this school of philosophy or this style of play is because I always grew up thinking that the game was one of imagination supported by the mechanics. Now it seems that the mechanics dictate what must be imagined. This attack knocks shit over, unless said shit is specifically stated as being immune to being knocked over. It's up to you to explain how this happens, but that's that.
Incidentally, even the player who wanted to trip the cube ended up not doing so because he felt that it was just plain wrong.
...and dang, don't even get me started on the discussion about ongoing fire damage not being avoided by diving into the water because the stat block says that a saving throw ends the damage but water is not mentioned.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drill a hole in my head to let the evil spirits out.