|One of 102 (!) geomorphs|
That's why I'm so impressed by creative exercises like the One-Page Dungeon Contest and Pocket Full of Peril. They cram a heap o' adventure into a brief format. I enjoy them so much that I'm jumping into the pool too, beginning today, with Adventure Notebook. My aim is to post a new pocket adventure each Monday.
What I like most about this minimal format is not only that the dungeons themselves are small but that the format forces descriptions to be terse. They cover the basics, provide some atmosphere, and leave the rest to the GM.
An adventure shouldn't try to do all the GM's work for him. Doing so removes the GM from the creative process and reduces him to a script reader. Yes, GMs can ignore all that excess detail and substitute their own. I suspect most do. That's what happens on those rare occasions when I use a highly detailed adventure. Who can, or even wants to, remember all those baroque widgets in the heat of the action? Pressing the pause button to reread a long room description when the door is hanging in splinters means there is no "heat of the action." No one wants to be the DM who constantly says, "wait, I forgot something that screws up what you did five minutes ago" any more than anyone wants to be the GM who just pushes pieces according to a program.
I'd rather glance at three or four lines of text (having highlighted a few key words in advance) and make up the rest on the spot. Extemporizing amplifies the feedback loop between players and GM. That feedback is what drives the best tabletop roleplaying.
Three participants sit around the game table: the players, the GM, and the rules. Minimizing any of those three roles is a bad thing. That's why single-track, railroady adventures are rightly criticized; they decrease the players' role. The same flaw afflicts overly detailed adventures. They boost the role of the rules (and the adventure writer) at the expense of the GM.
The best adventures and the best rules encourage full participation and input from everyone.