Monsters in the wilderness are largely a libertarian lot. They’re have a strong laissez-faire streak, and embrace an “only the strong survive” ethos. Might makes right. They are quite happy to live and let live… until someone has something they want. And they have nothing but contempt for weakness. One thing’s sure, they are quite happy that guys like Sauron and Saruman aren’t around to tell them what to do all the time and use them for cannon fodder!
This chaos is a big part of what makes adventuring possible. If the monsters really had their act together, then the players would be unable to set foot in the vicinity of the caves complex of module B2. Scouting parties would keep close tabs on The Keep, waiting for a chance to sack it. Travelers on the road would suffer hit and run raids from agile wolf riders. If the players camp anywhere, the monsters would arrange to have some sort of wild creature stampede through their tents. It would be a mess.
We wouldn’t tend to start a game that way. But I think especially something like B2 should get that way. If the players sack a cave complex and eradicate an entire tribe, then word would get out. It’d be less likely to happen if the players had left the women and children monsters alive… but alliances among the monsters are going to increase in direct proportion to their terror. All of this falls under “monsters learning from experience.” They’ve just had an easy time of it until the players showed up.
But this is all a big powder keg. The players can’t necessarily afford to adopt the usual dungeon crawling tactics of “always go left,” “we’ll clean this out room by room”, and the asinine “15 minute workday.” All of those tactics emerge from a player culture that is used to a static environment. It’s a product of players assuming that monsters will simply wait in their rooms until they arrive. If necessity is the mother of invention, then the average dungeon crawler has not faced a whole lot of necessity.
This horrible style of play is easy to code up… even on an 8-bit computer platform. A referee could take things so much farther beyond all of this… but I’m afraid a large chunk of the gaming scene would consider it “unfair” if they did. The players are “supposed” to win with their last hit point, after all.
I think the biggest problem is a lack of imagination. I know that I’ve been scratching my head about how the players might take advantage of the “tribal warfare” of module B2. There is that tantalizing bit of advice to the Dungeon Master there… and it sets up the political situation in the caves… but just how the players might take advantage of this wasn’t at all clear.
Of course, if Clint Eastwood had sauntered in to the Caves of Chaos, it would be an entirely different matter. If Fistful of Dollars is any indication, he’d see the place as an absolutely fantastic business opportunity. He’d overlook a certain amount of razzing and violence… but he’d figure out how to land a job with one of the stronger tribes. He’d work out a way to get paid for attriting their rivals. At some point he’d be in position to sell information to those same rivals. And when the dust settles, somehow he’ll have double crossed them all.
Players just don’t think this way. And a really elaborate plan is unlikely to pan out unless you have complete control of the script. But the monsters will definitely have a reason to try to deal… especially after the body count has gotten their attention. If the players are unlikely to spontaneously channel an old spaghetti western, then maybe the monsters can demonstrate the technique. Maybe the players won’t develop interesting tactics until they start to learn from the monsters….