Well, I've Always believed that one critic is worth any number of yes men or sycophants, so thanx for the input.
I've been trying to come up with a good way of explaining my position... here is the best that I've come up with:
I consider myself to be a storyteller, which in my mind is different than a DM. I have chosen to render the critters in as much detail as possible because it will (I hope) satisfy other storytellers like me, and because it is the more demanding design requirement. This is not to say that one style is superior to the other, simply that storytelling (or 'matrix style play' as defined by chapter 8 of the "Campaign Sourcebook & Catacomb Guide"; TSR, 2nd ed) is a style with unique requirements to pull off successfully. Details are the key ingredient for this kind of storytelling: and there is no such thing as having too many of them. IMO, and if you'll excuse the pun, the stat blocks here represent the bare minimum necessary to flesh out a critter. If you look at the blocks you'll see that they break down into 3 basic data sets, what it 'is' (ability scores/ action die), how it manipulates the environment ('lifting and moving'), and combat statistics; and I've listed them top to bottom in order of their importance to a storyteller. Besides, the neat thing about details is that the end user can ignore anything that they think is extraneous, and jot down their own 'module ready' stat blocks based on their needs and not my assumptions about what constitutes said 'module block'. While at the same time, if the end user has gone through the full exercise in critter creation/ conversion then even if all stats aren't in play the game will still benefit from the cohesion my approach brings to the table. One of the things I know to be true is that what one person thinks is 'mission critical' might be useless trivia to someone else... and there is no way to know in advance how this will be defined by the end user.
So I may as well write to the most demanding of the assumptions and standards in order to facilitate the maximum number of users. I do not expect the end user to use any more of whats written than they want/ need.
@ sheriffharry & bholmes4> Thanx for the support and recognizing the value of details!
Addressing some of the specific concerns:
@ Collin> As to the 'look' of the blocks, yes, they do resemble 3.5e and thanks for confirming that I got it right.
There is a rather large (and growing) contingent of players and GM's out their of all types who don't know any other format and this is my way of trying to make them feel welcome now that they are in strange territory. As to your other point about not combining two related data points onto one line, well, this simple question has an oddly technical answer. The short version is that horizontal layout space is at higher premium than vertical space. Each stat block has to have one column to define the title and entries, and at least one column for the actual data. Believe it or not, adding even the few extra characters per cell can have radical implications on the number of columns available across the page; if I'm going to add more width to the table then I want that space to be describing more critters. Using this format was part of the significant savings in word and page count during the editing process.
@ RC> Thanx for your support!
I have two key reasons for giving ability scores to critters:
1. any RPG environment can be described most simply as an attempt at modeling a real world environment (to the degree and tastes of those involved) and the most fundamentally important aspect of this model is the 'player character'; who is in turn fundamentally defined by its ability scores. IMO the only difference between PC's and everything else that populates a game environment is that I don't have much control over the PC's motivations/ goals/decisions. I also believe that within the gaming environment, a critter without ability scores is a 'non-corporeal' figment of PC's imagination. Seeing ability scores in the critter info was one of the things I liked about 3.x.
2. the mutations had to be written from the point of view that they would be applied to player characters... who are defined fundamentally by their ability scores. If I were to maintain a policy of 'stats are for players not monsters' then I would in fact need two systems to handle the mutation process.
As to needing to know how much a critter can drag... to me this is critical information that replaces the need for 'threat ratings' or 'CR' value for the critters. In the wild, most critters won't attack anything they can't carry or drag off into the shadows; pack hunters, spiders, wolverines, and the humble shrew being notable exceptions. If an animal is violating this rule it is a signal to characters that the animal is sick, starving, or (in FRPG setting) compelled by spell or technology into non-standard acts. Secondly, if an ogre has captured an adventuring party, tossed them into a hole, and placed a heavy stone over the entrance (a surprisingly common scenario) knowing the maximum size rock that could be used (ogre's lifting and carrying) becomes vital knowledge. Then it is a simple matter of adding up the collective strength of PC's to find out if it is even possible for them to escape on their own or if they must wait upon the next time the ogre removes the lid. From this decision the story will progress in radically different directions. If they possess sufficient strength then I have two basic choices as a storyteller: let them escape and revel in the glory of defeating the ogre, which could be exactly the boost to player morale that they need to get motivated. Or have them make a collective stealth check to see if their actions alert the ogre.
In the FWIW category, the entry for sprinting is how I determine who surprises whom. If PC has greater sprinting value than the critter: the critter is surprised. If the critter is faster then PC gets a luck roll against DC set by situation to determine if PC is surprised. Just something to think about.