I believe that different game-masters and storytellers seek varied levels of detail from the supplements, adventures and modules that they buy. I think some will appreciate layers of atmosphere and flavour, while others prefer sparse, concise descriptions that get the point across without labouring it. I know that I prefer something with a solid sentence or three of flavour, followed with reasonable detail on features and pertinent encounters.
So – if you read a supplement with a location, dungeon, or other environment used for player interaction / action, how detailed should it be?
Are you after:
Hall, large, 60′ by 20′ with 30′ ceiling. 2D6 large spiders. 3D6 goblins.
The passage widens into a vaulted hall filled with a musty stink of age and disuse. A faint odour suggests long forgotten feasting, char cooked meat and slopping flagons of ale now soaked into the fabric of the floor. Torch light hardly penetrates the gloom, which seems to cling and press around you, filled with intermittent drips, the tip-tap-click of water striking stone.
Or somewhere in between…
Better still – do you want something that perhaps combines the two? A title, with a concise view, flavour text for reading out or improvising on, then a few sentences of additional detail, hidden features, creature / trap details, and so forth. From my perspective, that means that you end up with a much longer adventure or module, as the fluff around each and every room expands exponentially. On top of that, you have creatures and treasures to consider.
With that in mind, how do you like those creatures and treasures? Do you prefer brief statistics in the text, with a page reference for standards or a note to refer to Appendix A for the new stuff at the end of the book? Would you like the creatures presented in a standard format – a brief line, a fuller description or maybe something in a format suitable for printing and cutting out as reference cards to assist you in the smooth running of the adventure? Would you like to see treasures stored up until the end of the book, briefed in the text where found, or confined to a text box at the side of the page?
I’m really quite into the idea of cards at the moment, but I make them myself when I run a game. Like the flash cards you might use to assist with revision for an exam, I feel the extra preparation pas dividends in the smooth running of the game – but, again, adding these little details will potential expand the supplement even further. Do you want to pay a little more for something that covers all the bases, or would you prefer something with a little (or much) less to get you half way there and leave you to run the rest of the way?