D&D monster writeups started minimal in Original, and ramped up fast to the bloated style seen in 2nd edition, with every fact of ecology, tactics and social structure spelled out across two back-to-back pages of small print looseleaf. The AD&D Monster Manual got it just about right, with enough tidbits and hooks to make monsters interesting, but not enough to leave no room for invention or mystery. Strangely, the Field Folio had the right average of detail but the wrong spread, with some monsters underdone, and others developed to the point where playing against them would be a little railroaded module all to itself.
|Still no "weird hooting" though.|
The digital stuff - boss feats, six stats for everyone - is easily enough ignored, simplified or fudged in play, as the notes recommend. It did inspire me to come up with a very simple way to determine monster ability scores and saves, which I'll share next time.
There's less of a wealth of analog detail in the Caves of Chaos adventure, though the format is nice: a short establishing paragraph, and specific notes on lights, smells and sounds that might reach the players before they enter the area. That's OK, though; while the writing style in this example sets the tone for adventures under these rules, it's something that can be easily changed by individual writers.
As I figure out which of the distasteful parts can be dropped or modified, I'm coming to like the Next approach more and more.