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One Page Dungeon 2016 In Review 2/2

Here is the second half of the 2016 entries to the One Page Dungeon Contest, with my short and certainly inexpert opinions attached. If you’re just tuning in, part 1 is right here.

Martin Zabel – The Lair of the Voidbeast ………………………………31

3-D dungeons and spacial puzzles that rely on the player(s) mapping the dungeon to figure out rank highly in my mind. Although I am put off by the cartoonish style, I will probably hold on to this dungeon to drop this somewhere as a rumor or hexcrawl encounter. Unfortunately, I will have to prepare ahead, because there are no statistics given for any of the traps or monsters.

Michael Grant – Playtime Planet ………………………………………… 32

An adorable playtime mini-dimension that is the perfect gift for a wizard’s small child but that lacks anything useful or challenging for an adventurer. This one is better served as a plot easter egg or a magic item than as a dungeon.

Michael K. Tumey – Rude Awakening ………………………………… 33

The graphical design of the space and the no-nonsense descriptions would make this easy to run, but I dislike dropping players into the middle of dungeons that may differ from how they would have acted. Do not get me started on the “players start off with nothing and have to scavenge” going on here. Clever, system neutral traps and encounters otherwise. Would be cool to run things from the other side too and have the players act the role of the salvagers instead.

Michael Prescott – The Sky-Blind Spire ……………………………… 34

One of the winners, already covered previously.

Mike Monaco – The Bridge of Dread …………………………………… 35

More a list of encounters to accompany a picture than a dungeon. None of the locations have a map or area description, meaning extra work to set up ahead of time, and the encounters themselves are mostly random in theme and in how much agency they offer the players. This entry also commits the sin of twice linking to outside material.  

Mike Shea – Chambers of the Dread Titan ……………………………36

One of the winners, already covered previously.

Monkey Blood Design – Descendants! …………………………………. 37

Pretty although it is too bad the neat gimmick of a free-falling dungeon ends up with such boring encounters on the way down. They mostly work out to multiple chances for the players to lose hit points, unless they roll well. Also, there is no indication that the fall will not be lethal, meaning most players would just walk by unless they get sucked in by the collapsing dirt that has no warning. Another thought is that this trick will split the party quite far apart, unless they almost immediately jump in to follow their fellows. Neat trick, but I’ll pass.

Nick Daly – Island of the Lizard God Faction Chart………………. 38

A flowchart with absurdly tiny text. It isn’t even split up by actions, but is rather just a relationship web of the various groups and people in the Island of the Lizard God. To use this, I would basically have to spin all this up in my head, draw out all the maps, write up all the stats, and create the whole adventure. The only thing this gives me are half sentence blurbs about the connections between various things.

Aaron Potter – The Forlorn Archive ……………………………….. 39

A somewhat interesting abandoned library with unique keys, well-themed encounters, and a abrupt possession that can easily bring down the whole structure without warning. Cut out that last bit or add some interaction with the players rather than just having the ghost instantly possess the most scholarly player and try to blow up the whole dungeon.

PJ Cunningham – The Signal …………………………………………….. 40

One of the winners, already covered previously.

Ramsey Hong – The Sea Devil’s Stout ………………………………….41

It might start like a cliche tavern with a rat problem, but it quickly goes insane from there. Dangerous, crazy, oceanic theming is present throughout with plenty of branching paths and player interaction with the tricks, traps, puzzles, and treasures. There are a few puzzle solutions that come out of nowhere that no players will attempt without prompting or immersion breaking knowledge checks. Enjoyed and would drop into a coastline near my players.

Roger SG Sorolla – Gripped in the Hands of Time ……………….. 42

This dungeon add-on is sure to bother my players and keep them pressing to keep track of the days so they can return to plumb what lies behind the clearly locked and marked clock-door. Time shenanigans are thankfully missing, I’ve had a few too many issues with railroading players to force them into fitting with the timeline workings of many time based dungeons. However there is a way to sacrifice for mysterious boons and seeding the future with a tie-in appearance of the time traveler later.

Roland Volz – Magic Shop Mayhem…………………………………….. 43

A kindly old man and his crowded shop have an accident that will start your players out with some likely silly or diluted curses. Then, they must fight against a released evil from the back room. I think I would edit this to have the evil be more pervasive and calculating rather than immediately aggressive so that I can use this shop as a recurring encounter and a nice magic shop the players can return to. The d20 list of magic junk, tricks, and macguffins wraps the whole thing up in a bow.

Rusty Gerard – March of the Machines ……………………………….. 44

Ruined ancient factory beset by a three-way faction conflict that is sure to bring the players back many a time to solve yet again the latest crisis. I would have liked to see the rooms at least have a one word description each, as they are currently empty save for random encounter and trap chances.

Sadhbh Brennan – The Dungeon of the Lizard God ……………… 45

A hand drawn map with a beautiful and glorious lizard head to sit atop it. As someone’s (likely) first dungeon, the place is mostly built as a hack-and-slash, which may suit you and your game but would only see use in mine as a quick lair encounter while traveling.

Sam Mameli and Gabe Soria – Druid’s Rest at the Giant’s Rift  46

Gorgeous art can’t save you when you railroad my players into waking up in the middle of your forest. Especially when you follow it up with a bunch of out-of-the-box single solution puzzles that require the players to generally act out of character with few or no hints. Oh, and there is an undeafeatable enemy. I’ll pass.

Santiago Bourquin – Catfished……………………………………………. 47

Zooming in on the map and adding some dungeon dressing would help fill out the place, but the room descriptions and the twist of Catfished are solid gold. I mean, not literally, the mine is a salt mine, but they are good and not only have multiple solutions but usually do not have a dead-obviously “good” solution or “bad” solution.

Scott Marcley – Aethelberd’s Tomb……………………………………… 48

Handy as a nice future place to explore once my players clear out that bandit camp. Plenty of well designed traps that focus more on the aftermath than the hit point damage they cause. Despite using fairly standard monsters, the interactions of the rooms, traps, and monsters creates a living dungeon environment instead of a patchwork of rooms.

Sharang Biswas – A Story of Stories…………………………………… 49

More a collection of encounter outlines than any sort of laid out encounters or even a dungeon, I will pass on a one page dungeon that requires me to do all the heavy lifting.

Simon Forster – The Blight ………………………………………………… 50

Just the thing for a follow up for my players with a newly acquired slime orb. The place is creepy, has encounters that take advantage of the many different dangers of slime, and is well suited to low level players that still challenges them with puzzles, battles, and prudent exploration.

Simone Biagini – From Death………………………………………………51

Too bad this dungeon’s gimmick relies on the players being dead and having no equipment, otherwise it could make for an interesting adventure. Maybe this could see some use after a total party kill, but I wouldn’t plan on it just to use this. The ideas are all there but the details are sparse, relying on the DM to work out all the fine details ahead of time, such as the map of the town, cemetary, and important buildings. Even a basic description of how large and far apart these things are would have been very helpful considering a major component of the piece is a race against time before the evil being can reclaim the party’s souls.

Taylor Labresh & Taylor Livingston – Once a Great Battle Was

Fought in the Stars…………………………………………………………….. 52

I appreciate the ability to randomly distribute the encounters among the rooms to increase replayability, but in this case, it would better build the theming of the various ship bits if the encounters were tied to individual ships. The model of encounters is a nice touch, but the climax requires that the players have a loved one to lose and that they are somehow shoe-horned into being here to threaten. Not cool enough to be worth my time to reskin this for a fantasy game.

Theo Olson – The Starving Fishmen …………………………………… 53

Not much adventure here among the obviously evil mustache twirling rich town and the poor starving non-human fishermen. There is basically one obvious right way to do things and a blood-thirsty option of killing them all. If you like social encounters your players might enjoy negotiating something with the town, but it is hard to say how that would go without any specific NPC’s given or their motivations to work from.

Thomas Drevon – Crimson Tide Tower……………………………….. 54

Kinda wierd that the main trap of this lighthouse treasure hunt is having to resist a demon orgy. Maybe that is the sort of game that is comfortable for you and your players, but it would be a weird thing to spring on anyone who wasn’t expecting it. It is also a fairly difficult thing to resist, having to pass two difficult saves against magic, and instantly dictates what the player does after even one failure. The rest of the place is just exposition about what happened to an admiral the players don’t know and the treasure they came here for is the ticket to setting his soul at rest.

Tim McDonald – Griswald’s Shifting Dungeon……………………. 55

One of the winners, already covered previously.

Tobbias Boettger & Jan Rippstein – A Small Flight of Stairs….56

Not much choice for the players except to keep descending or leave, but the encounters are creepy as all get out. What lies at the end of the stairs is a fitting parable in the sunk costs fallacy. If every dungeon your players enter ends with them getting gold and goods to compensate their fights, do they really need to be prudent in their explorations?

Tom Walker – Trotipose the Tormented’s

Tremendous Travelling Tortoise ………………………………………… 57

Wandering tortoise as travelling war machine, now defunct and rampaging is a great adventure opener but this one fails to deliver. The place is mostly empty and most of the challenge is just getting inside, which is a challenge more akin to climbing a difficult cliff than anything particularly interesting. Inside, there is not much to do except punch some orcs, kobolds, and a crazy boss in the final skull.

Ulo Leppik – Secondhand Map……………………………………………. 58

Minimalism is the name of the game here. A simple map you can hand right over to your players as you build up the actual statistics of the dungeon, it is set up as a found map that someone else has already drawn. Cute, but ultimately is more work for me to set up.

Vance Atkins – Bowls of Stars ……………………………………………. 59

Bowls of Stars is a single hex having some alien brood troubles. I enjoy that they take the kobolds here and turn them into the hook that starts the whole chain of events for the players. A map would help set up the dragon lair with more depth than a simple treasure room.  

Werke – Yellow Light …………………………………………………………60

Stunning artwork of a derlict research facility that falls flat on usability by itself except maybe as a player map. There are markings here and there hinting at healing or danger as well as symbols on outline maps with no explanation. It would awesome to have a full write-up to go with this map, but that requires me to do work to build up some else’s dungeon.

Will Doyle – The Quintessential Dungeon……………………………..61

One of the winners, already covered previously.

Will Grossberndt – Lava-Head Ant Mound …………………………..62

Another shot at a minimalist dungeon featuring larger than life ants. There isn’t much explanation how climbing around vertical chambers is going to work, or really how any of the rooms will work or what the players can do in those rooms. The idea of a giant ant mound budding out near a local town brought me in, but the lack of anything usable here left me in the cold.

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