I’ve always been a fan of the theory that less is more. When it comes to running my own games, I tend to need very little information to run them. Just the bare bones of the plot and a couple of stats or maps from the books. When I use a published adventure, I prefer to have less to read in order to get the feel of the scenario – I’m only going to mine it for information and ditch most of what the author wrote, using the bits I like and changing things to fit the group at the table. When I write adventures for publication, I try to follow this theory as well. I want the people who will be running the games to have what they need and know the NPCs motivations, but I don’t want them to have to slog through a novel to get their game going.
That is my style, and I know that it isn’t the method that works for everyone. Some people really appreciate more info in their scenarios. The extra paragraphs explaining adventure paths and the intricate details of the room provide the information that others might find useful. In some instances, I never would have thought of raw nitroglycerin tubes being present in the mine unless the adventure scenario suggested it. It just isn’t my view of an old mine, but it is something that could be there. Sometimes, that attention to detail can be very helpful.
So, when I write adventures I try to walk that fine line between too much and too little information and provide adventures that fit multiple styles of running games. It brings up a question that is highly subject to the individual Game Master, but one that I’d love to know your answer to – how much information do you need in a published scenario?
Do you gush in glee when you see pages upon pages of text that describe everything from the Big Bad’s motivation to the exact placement and type of candelabras in the room? Do you prefer lists of keywords that are easy to scan instead of big blocks of text? Are read out loud blocks of text important, or do you prefer to make it up on your own? What is most important to you in your published adventures and how lean or weighty do you like them? I know there is no single answer to this question, but what is your answer to it?