Congratulations to the One Page Dungeon Winners!

I didn’t have time to participate in this year’s contest, so I decided to sponsor it instead.

I’m looking forward to the chance to actually try some of these out over the next several months as our gaming group shifts towards alternating between a main game and one-offs.

Winners are below, but the full list can be found here.  Great job on running this, RW, and thanks to all of the participants who make this happen.

Grand Prize Winners

Author Entry Quip
Alex Welk Thaw (Ice Themed Trap Dungeon)
Khelren Orient Express (1920s Train Themed Horror Adventure)
Maezar Dungeon of Abkadev (Wizard Trap Trick Dungeon)
Michael Prescott The Sky-Blind Spire (Abandoned Wizard Tower)
Mike Shea Chambers of the Dread Titan (Cultist Lair)
PJ Cunningham The Signal (Bermuda Triangle Horror Adventure)
Tim McDonald Griswald’s Shifting Dungeon (Shifting Map Puzzle Dungeon)
Will Doyle The Quintessential Dungeon (Nostalgia Dungeon)

Penultimate Winners Circle

Author Entry Quip
Andrew Harshman Tower of the Time Wizard (Time Paradox Encounters)
bygrinnstow The Umber Woods (Theatre of Mind Encounters)
Caleb Engelke The Professor’s Potion (Honey I Shrunk the Adventurers!)
Daniel Baldwin The Devil’s Due (Side Trek Adventure)
Eric Diaz The Magnificent Shadow (Defend the Town Scenario)
Gary Simpson Cult of Sleep (Customized Dungeon)
Monkey Blood Design Descendants (Falling Fight Drop)
Jeff Call Prisoners of the Gelatinous Dome (Monster as a Dungeon)
Jeff McKelly A Wild Chase (Dropped into Action)
Joseph Reilly The Baron Rises (Cemetery Theme)
Larry Z Pennyworth The Stones, The Ship, and the Fortress (Search and Fly Adventure)
Marten Zabel The Lair of the Voidbeast (Non Euclidean Dungeon)
Michael K Tumey Rude Awakening (Space Escape)
Mike Monaca Bridge of Dread (Bridge Themed Dungeon)
Ramsey Hong The Sea-Devil’s Stout (Water Themed Dungeon)
Roger SG Sorolla Gripped in the Hands of Time (Mini Four Room Dungeon)
Rusty Gerard March of the Machines (Faction Based Adventure)
Santiago Bourquin Catfished (Twist Ending)
Scott Marcley Athelberd’s Tomb (Bandit Lair on a Crypt)
Vance Atkins Bowl of Stars (Wilderness Hex)

One Page Dungeon Contest Reminder

As of right now, the annual One Page Dungeon contest has a lot of loot up for grabs and a relatively small field.  I know that by encouraging folks to participate, that pool aiming for the loot will increase, lowering the average participant’s chance proportionally, but you can always try to submit something awesome and hope you’re one of the only ones competing.  Or you can spread the word and make the OPD contest extra awesome with lots of cool entries to populate the hexcrawls of the rest of us.

Deadline is May 1st.

Cirsova Sponsoring Annual One Page Dungeon Contest

I’ve had a couple entries in the One Page Dungeon contest over the years, and it has always been a lot of fun to see what sort of wild and woolly stuff comes out of the OSR community.  For obvious reasons, I won’t have time to whip up an entry of my own, but I still wanted to take part this year, so…

Cirsova will be sponsoring the 2016 One Page Dungeon contest, offering PDF and Physical copies of the first issue to winners.

Visit for more details.

Random Wizard, one of my favorite OSR Bloggers Emeritus, took up the torch to keep this party going when Alex Schroeder stepped down.  This is one of the great traditions in the OSR community and the RPG Blog Alliance (RIP), so I’m proud to be a part of it and want to see it rolling along for years to come.

I think there may still be a minute to back the Kickstarter.  We’re funded at almost 200%

A Quick Look at the Top Tiers of 2015’s One Page Dungeon Contest

1st place

Furthest Farthing’s Frog Pond – it’s an interesting concept, but it’s more an interesting location with an encounter than a dungeon. Also, if you need trigger warnings, you probably shouldn’t be playing D&D. Still, the idea of a cursed town where everyone is on the verge of suicide and the players have to do something to stop it is neat enough to steal. I did something similar once with Towers of Dream, but that focused more on the Towers than the town. If I ever get around to playtesting Towers, I’ll almost certainly use the driven-to-suicide mechanic.

Lantern of Wyv – Really impressive amount of content and real-estate crammed into this one. Pick out some stat-blocks and some wandering monsters, and you’re good to go.

A Stolen Song – This a really workable B/X dungeon with a cool puzzle; all you have to do is look up the stats for the listed monster. Recommended for mid level parties with magic weapons.  Best of the 1st place OPDs, imo.

2nd place

The Panopticon – An interesting piece of art that is not easy on the eyes, but I can’t imagine actually trying to run this. It’s more of an abstract for a “clear out the 666 layers of the abyss” type campaign than a playable module.

The Heist – The isometric art for this is pretty cute, and it’s hard not to like a one page dungeon whose (obliquely) stated goal is to knock a 1st level party up to level 2 if they survive, all in one page.

Sepulchre of the Abyss – At first glance, there’s not a lot going on here except for being an incredibly easy to pick up and play micro-dungeon. Which is really what you should be looking for in a OPD. But the fact that it’s an underwater dungeon with random flood/terrain effects for each room make this hella evocative of Leiber’s The Sunken Land.

Into the Awaroth Woods – Beautiful art hampered by a rather cramped choice of font, but it’s cramped in the same way that the old scans of Keep on the Borderland are, so nostalgia? Anyway, a lot of great set pieces in this one, which could easily be fleshed out into a full campaign, reminiscent of the expanded “Terror in the Gloaming” scenario.

Escape the Oubliette – This is a cool “death trap” scenario that your players, unless they like that sort of thing, are guaranteed to hate. They start in naked and afraid in a cave deep underground and have to escape from a deep pit before the river floods the well.

Shambling Throne – This is one of those comic OPDs that’s more to be enjoyed as a work of art than seriously attempted to run. I mean, I suppose you could try to run Ravenloft off of those comics that WotC put up a few years back, but isn’t it better to just try to enjoy this sort of thing for what it is?

These and countless more OPDs can be found over at Random Wizard’s OPD site!

Gron & Krim’s Blood & Guts Tavern

Okay, I’ve got my One Page Dungeon done & ready for this year’s contest!

Gron & Krim are a pair of half-ogre brothers who run a tavern. It’s a respectable establishment where demi-humans who aren’t normally welcome in civil society can come, drink a beer, play cards, shoot some darts or even bet on or enter a prize fight.

Entertainment on the first floor, games on the second, and a boxing gym in the basement. Come for the drinking, stay for the fighting!

The Blood & Guts Tavern can be dropped into almost any setting, either as a road-house, an urban dive or even as an adjunct to a local thieves guild.

OPD 2015 – Cirsova – Gron & Krim’s Blood & Guts Tavern.

It’s not statted for any system, but if there’s any interest, I’ll write up a longer version that will be B/X compatible, maybe expanding the fight circuit aspect of it if there’s sufficient interest after the judging.

One Page Dungeon

I’m thinking about hopping back in the One Page Dungeon contest with a new submission.  I skipped the last one because I just couldn’t come up with anything good.  I really felt like I’d shot all of my creativity on Revelry at Pickett Castle and couldn’t match it last year.  And in some ways, I still feel like I can’t match that one.  But I’m working on a “hive of scum and villainy” tavern, a sort of Cheers for thieves and greenskins.  I guess it’s not really a “Dungeon”, but I’m hoping that it’ll be a worthwhile attraction that can be dropped in any town, offering some adventure seeds and some fun.

Random Wizard is organizing it again this year.  It’s taken up a lot of his time, but the work has really shown.  It looks to be another great round.

Update: I’m almost done.  I’ve got things written up and even have a crappy little map to go with it (though it’s actually a better map than Pickett’s Castle).  I just need to get it all formatted on a page.

Is Mapping Unfair?

I was thinking about the mapping for my game, because i’m considering giving my players a couple of “work-in-progress” maps of the Maze of Nuromen, representing where they’ve been so far; the first to the group of goblins, who, since they started in the middle of the dungeon, need something for a bit of orientation, and the second for the alpha party, whose mapper is a novice.

The eldest member of the group pointed out to the novice mapper that he should be grateful that I’ve helped him with mapping and pointed to a few significant mistakes (“dude, you mixed up East and West; here, let me just turn your map upside-down. Now it’s right. I’ll draw you a compass rose”)

I guess the reason why I feel like mapping is unfair is because it’s much easier to draw a map based on what you’re seeing around you than what you’re being told. I mean, the game already takes into account “mapping speed”, implying that the characters, if not the players, are carefully measuring and taking account of things. Room descriptions can be somewhat cumbersome, because you have to tell your players what’s in the room that immediately jumps out at them (either an encounter or a more figurative ‘jumps out’, like a big statue or altar or whatever), what’s in the room, what’s in the room after careful inspection of the room, dimensions of the room (god help you if you’re in anything that’s not a rectangle or something that resembles a tetris piece!), the locations of the exits from said room, and you need to figure out the best order in which to tell the players this! The problem is even worse if the players are in the subterrain and the walls and tunnels are irregular. For instance, while Dyson is a phenomenal artist when it comes to dungeon maps, a lot of his maps I would have a difficult time describing effectively enough to my players for them map.

I like some of the things I’ve seen for 4e, which wholly embraced the board game nature, of which there are many vestiges found in Basic, of Dungeons & Dragons, that took iconic dungeons like the Tomb of Horrors and made printable tile-sets for the rooms and tunnels. No worrying about where the players were actually stepping, whether they did or did not walk over a certain spot or getting lost even though the character in game are mapping and are capable mappers (the player doesn’t have to know magic or be good with a sword to play a wizard or a swordman, but he has to be able to map to play a character who can map; that hardly seems fair).

But you can’t always print off your dungeons in handy tile or geomorph format, and you can’t always work your dungeons onto a HeroQuest board (unless you’re running a HeroQuest to D&D conversion!), so what’s a DM to do? Right now, I don’t have the answer to that. My game is running myriad OSR dungeons, all of which are using the 10′ square grid maps.

One thing I’ve been considering as a future solution, however, is flowchart dungeons. I’m inspired partially by Random Wizard’s interactive node maps of some of the old modules and also Matthew Schmeer’s incredibly bizarre One Page Dungeon, The Wizard in the Woods is Up to Something (Maybe), which has almost twice the real-estate of Maze of Nuromen on a single page thanks to its keyed flow-chart. Even Zork, with its massive underworld, is just a big flowchart. Thinking about how we conceptualize space, locations and the distance between them, the flowchart makes more sense than a rigidly scaled map, and is much easier to convey to your players. It’s easier to say “You’re in a large underground room held up by 4 pillars, there are 6 exits; north, northeast, east, southeast, south, and west” than “…there are doors north and south, and a door on the opposite end of the room from which you came in. Also there are two doors on the east wall at the northeast and southeast corners of the room”, which would be the Room 2 in the Maze of Nuromen.

After this dungeon, I might experiment with treating the mapped dungeons as a flowchart rather than in concrete terms. If they ask for or need dimensions, I can give it to them. We’ll see!

A Few Shout Outs

I’ve been a little remiss in writing this, largely due to the stress of the holidays, but I need to point out a few things and give a few shout-outs to some fellow bloggers.

First off, Rumors of War has a kickstarter to relaunch the titular comic. I wish I had more to say about the comic itself, but not really having the time needed to go through an online comic, I’m woefully unfamiliar with the original. That’s part of why I’m heartily invested in the posibility of eventually having a dead tree-pulp edition of the relaunched comic.

As Kickstarters go, this one is really pretty unique. At fairly low contribution levels, investors have the opportunity to shape the story of the comic, which is pretty major in contrast to those comic kickstarters that require a downpayment on a house for that kind of reward tier.

This is really something I want to put some funds towards, and will probably end up contributing at LEAST at the T-Shirt level, which is only $24, which is great for a branded T-shirt.

Secondly, I actually won a book in a blog contest. No, it wasn’t Maze of Peril, but it WAS an autographed copy of Drasmyr by Matthew Ryan. I’ve been a fan of his blog for some time now, and I feel kind of guilty that it took winning a contest to get around to getting a copy of his book, so I’ll be bumping it to the head of my reading list and try to get a review up as soon as I’m able.

Lastly, a huge pat on the back for Random Wizard, who will be picking up the reins of the One Page Dungeon contest. I wish him lots of luck (he may need it!) and hope that he can keep the contest rolling and complaints to a minimum.

So, I have an Adventure Published and in Print

Just not how I thought it would be.

I know that Revelry at Pickett’s Castle is under Creative Commons license, so I have no problem with this in practice, though I’d really have liked to have been notified about it.  I’d have even probably promoted it enthusiastically.  Those who are mad aren’t mad because it’s out, but because it was kind of sprung on them.  While I do believe that it’s not being done for-profit, I’d rather it be Alex himself rather than a 3rd party or that there had been more discussion and openness about the intention for a 3rd party print edition beforehand.  Now, if people REALLY want to, I guess entrants could say that turn about’s fair play and publish their own competing editions, so that every entrant is basically a referrer-affiliate who gets paid for the copies purchased that they themselves put out, but that would be madness.

Like I said, it’s like those scam poetry contents where a company accepts every submission and then goes back and sells coffee table collections back to the people who wrote the poems so they could see them in print.  I know, from an intellectual perspective, that this is far less egregious and malign, but, from an emotional perspective, I can see why a lot of people are really miffed about this.

One Page Dungeon! The Revelry at Pickett Castle.

I decided to put together a One Page Dungeon for the One Page Dungeon contest at Campaign Wiki.

You can check out a system neutral version here: Pickett Castle Sys Neutral.

I’ve also got a B/X version of it that I’ll post soon.  The only difference is I’ve included monster stats, but i guess if you’re playing seriously enough to need monster stats, maybe you’re missing the point of this module. 🙂


Update: B/X version Pickett Castle W/Stats