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One Page Dungeon 2016: In Review 1/2

I just downloaded the full compendium of all the 2016 entries to the One Page Dungeon Contest, and you should too! All money raised from the Pay What You Want entry is pooled for next years prizes.

Here are my rapid-fire opinions after looking at the first half of them. Take these with a grain of salt, and I invite criticisms at least as harsh and petty against my entry. I have already looked at the winners in more depth here.

Adam A. Thompson – Lost Dwarven City of Dhald’holth …………1

-I like the handdrawn map and it would work well as a locale, but there is little for the players to interact with or do here as written. The DM would have to do a fair bit of the leg work to fill out the places and things before play.

Alex Welk – Thaw……………………………………………………………….. 2

-This one is mine, and I might have a high opinion of myself, but I’ll leave this one to other people to give their criticisms on (please do, I want to keep improving!).

Andrew Harshman – Tower of the Time Wizard ……………………. 3

-I always like the idea of time-loop dungeons and puzzles, but this one could really use a trimming of the flavor text. Trading that extra page space for a more detailed map, some diagrams, or pictorials would add to the flavor of the page.

Andrew J. Young – The Dimensional Dial of Dr. Diago………….. 4

-While the presented map and scenario has way to many plot holes and unknowns to run this as written, I think the world-building possibilities this offers could make a focal point to any campaign. The possibilities of jumping between and balancing enemies of multiple worlds is quite intriguing.

Ben Gibson – The Outsider’s Son…………………………………………. 5

-The hand drawn map lays out the 3d space of the map well, but I don’t feel particularly inspired by a somewhat typical bandit hideout, even with the submersible and strange god twist. I would have liked a few more bits of weirdness to really sell the outsider god.

bygrinnstow – The Umber Woods …………………………………………. 6

-Fun and well themed forest encounters that really build the umber woods up to be a mysterious and deadly place, but unfortunately there is no map to accompany it. A map would take up space but would make this easy to run on the fly and would allow the entire dungeon entry to be built to flow with the theme, rather than hoping the DM’s forest map will fit.

Caleb Engleke – The Professor’s Potion ……………………………….. 7

-A good old fashioned shrunken players adventure, which is well put together visually but lacks some more concrete rulings. This will be nice in that I can drop it in any wizards lair my players are messing around in, but I will have to prep ahead to use this.

Daniel Baldwin – The Devil’s Due………………………………………… 8

-Now, I’m one to talk but this entry could benefit from splitting up its text more graphically to be more readily used in play. The flip side of this though is that everything is included here and I would feel confident running this with only having given it a good read over, however it is mostly a run of the mill orc-bandit lair even with the evil demon boss.

David Jackson – The Palto Seabottom Caverns ……………………… 9

-I am unable to understand the layout of the map, and I have a strong dislike of adventures that railroad the players into a specific point, especially those used as a starting place for 1st levels. It also has an unkillable monster. I am not a fan of dungeons so reliant on railroading.

David Saldivar – Penelope’s Imagination Creation ………………..10

-The premise of entering a small child’s mind to save them from their nightmarish condition pulled me in but then the single solution puzzles. The puzzles’ unintuitive solutions only have a single, give-away clue. But the dungeon entry did bring me back in with the random creature smash-up creator, that one will get stolen for reuse in a mad wizard or a dream-land encounter.

Ed Nicholson – Twisted Tower of Wishes ……………………………… 11

-The central gimmick of warped dungeons makes a number of the floors nearly impossible to read and makes me puzzled as to how I would adjudicate actual combat and exploring inside. This is a shame because the encounters build the theming throughout, and would also be enjoyable, multi-solution puzzles for the players.

Edward Lockhart – Death & the Dandy…………………………………12

-Interesting and well-rounded NPC’s abound in this small building, but I fail to see what the hook is for the players to get involved unless they literally stumble into the town right at the time the mob starts out. Beyond that, there is little to no motivation for the players or anything more than a cardboard cutout of what drives the villains of this plot to oust the patrons of the tavern beyond 1-d bigotry. If I want cartoonish villains, I can just have them kick puppies and be done with it, I’d rather build up elaborate NPC’s my players will interact with.

Enoch Starnes – The Sundown Ablaze………………………………….13

-A novel concept somewhat along the lines of The Thing, in that the players must track down a spreading, mind-controlling disease. However, despite a good layout of the ship and its major players, there is no agency in the players to figure out the diseased beyond randomly guessing and burning the sailors. Also, the rooms have little purpose and are entirely just decoration with no relevance to the players goals of discovering the infected or any statements on what the infected are trying to do while being investigated. A promising premise that falls flat.

Eric Diaz – The Magnificent Shadow ……………………………………14

-Beautiful art quickly lays out and frames the dark themes of this town given to the side of darkness. The moral ambiguity is interesting and can lead to many different ends in what the players prioritize and accomplish in their defence of the town, or if they even discover the dark secret hinted at in so many places. Their are so many hooks and branches to weave this town right into any campaign, both to get the players to the town and to affect the wider world once they leave.

Frank Schmidt – Peat’s Bog ………………………………………………..15

-A different focus from other maps that I would probably run as an exploration dungeon if and when my players need to tranverse a particularly dangerous bog. I would need to do some prep work for this one to figure out how to maintain agency in giving the player informed choices of where to move next rather than just being random. Otherwise a bog-standard (hehe) adventure in a lizard-folk infested swamp.

Gary Simpson – The Cult of Sleep ………………………………………..16

-The layout of the page is so enticing but the content is incredibly vague and open-ended in the worst way. Each of the different steps, the hook, the discovery of the dungeon, and even the rooms are all up to the DM, meaning prep time to create a cohesive dungeon.

Herr Zinnling – 74,54 m2…………………………………………………….17

-A sarcastic and 4th wall breaking dungeon of what I assume is the designer’s own apartment. Not useful and only mildly funny.

Ivan Kutyurgin – Crypt of Northern Prince …………………………..18

-Well detailed and colored map is not well supported by the big block text descriptions of the rooms. They could lose half of their text and do a better job for being concise, also knocking down some grammar problems that make it difficult to figure out the design of the room. If nothing else, that map is going to see use.

James Hirst – The Weathered Pirate……………………………………..19

-Awkward layout of the text and a seemingly unnecessary archipelago make it difficult to follow this map. This map has a bunch of hyperlinks that didn’t make it through the compilation process, and I don’t agree with a one page dungeon pointing to outside resources, that defeats the purpose of it. There really isn’t enough information to run this dungeon as is, but plenty of good meat scraps to salvage for other dungeons.

Jeff Call – Prisoners of the Gelatinous Dome! ………………………. 20

-Who wouldn’t love a giant gelatinous hemisphere with a floating, illustrated tower captured inside. I have no idea how I can shoehorn this in somewhere, but it is magnificent, it slowly moves across the landscape, and there is absolutely no way your players are not going in there. Rooms are silly and interesting, just like this hole dungeon.

Jeff McKelley – A Wild Chase……………………………………………….21

-Again, I have to dislike dungeons that shove your right into things, regardless of how your players might have actually acted previously, but at least this intro can be ignored, sort of. I will just have to come up with some other reason for the players to be chased and have a strict time limit.  A lackluster map is really superseded by some devious and engaging encounters.

John Mcnabb – The Secret of Nightglass Mountain ………………. 22

-Big on a very fleshed out narrative but there is little to do here besides fight your way through the one dimensional evil cannibal cult.

Joseph Reilly – The Baron Rises…………………………………………. 23

-I can’t find any way to describe the central puzzle of this dungeon as anything but annoying and unfun. The players, as far as I can tell, have to basically guess the correct order of colored buttons to press, and the puzzle only has a single solution. Players trying to be clever just get teleported away and attacked by a spawned skeleton. Inside is another single solution puzzle with no hints that will basically reduce to the cleric making a high enough knowledge check to know that charon’s tribute means putting a coin there. I’ll pass on puzzle that are just going to frustrate my players with their opacity or be solved right away and be boring.

Ken Moore – The Midden of the Mewler……………………………….. 24

-Fungus cave encounter with wierd mushroom people that its possible to not fight? This one really hits home. I would think based on the fungus sprouting on gold would make me think the mewler has treasure somewhere, but I see no mention of a hoard of gold.

Kevin Reynolds – Death of the Sinner …………………………………. 25

-Fun mechanisms and neat traps in a nicely drawn and well-laid out little dungeon package. Lots of places to make the whole place feel creepy and off-putting, but what would you expect in a place called the death of the sinner?

Khelren – Orient Express …………………………………………………… 26

-Already reviewed.

Kosher Kommando – Karma Zootra……………………………………. 27

-A simple encounter to tweak and toss into any town, especially one they’ve visited before to show time passing. I don’t like the railroad feeling of forcing a fight with skeletons and then attacking with menacing golems, forcing a single solution into the mix when the owner runs in. What is the point of the setup if there really isn’t any agency in the decision

Larry Z. Pennyworth – The Stones, the Ship, and the Fortress 28

-There is too much happening on this broad map with too little detail for the important parts. Frog rock gets its own minimap, but the flying fortress and the airship don’t? Plus the main villain is completely flat and the only solution is to kill him. The moving enemy fortress is a fun mechanic, but that isn’t enough to sell me on a wide adventure with so few details to run it with.

Luis Franco – The Black Tower………………………………………….. 29

-Mazes are interesting in theory, but I have yet to run one in game that isn’t dull or trivially easy. The different colored areas to retrieve the macguffins are extremely vague and will need to be planned out ahead of time, but the spooky background and overall design of the dungeon pulled me right into this one page dungeon.

Maezar – Dungeon of Abkadev……………………………………………. 30

-Already reviewed

7 thoughts on “One Page Dungeon 2016: In Review 1/2

  1. I will try to be funnier and more useful next year. Regards, Karl

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    1. And I will bring more snark than necessary. =D Thanks for being a great sport Karl.

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  2. Re: Twisted Tower of Wishes. Thank you for the feedback! I was struggling with the maps, humph, i was trying to make the maps somehow interesting because i cannot draw well. I was hoping DMs would be challenged or inspired by them for affects on combat and movement. Oh well , worst case just ignore the twists. Congrats on your win , nice adventure! -Ed

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    1. No problem, and I think you could have left them untwisted. The twisty-ness of the dungeon could have come out in the abilities you give the monsters or the encounters themselves where the players are stuck to the floor but the monsters and traps aren’t so restricted. Would you happen to have the untwisted versions of the maps?

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  3. Yes, I just put them into the original file. I can send it to you.

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  4. Thanks for the kind words on The Umber Woods. If it’s fun, then I hit my goal!

    But yeah, I can’t imagine how to map it usefully without pages and pages. I probably should have found a simple way to ‘map’ the travel time between elements and fit that into the layout… In a pinch, use 2d20 minutes of on-foot travel to get from one bit to the next.

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