One Page Dungeon 2021 Reviews (32-62)

This year, I will be again reviewing every single entry in the 2021 One Page Dungeon Contest. I’m thinking I will be splitting the 154 entries into four parts this year. Rather than continue the same methodology from last year, I will instead be giving each entry a short paragraph review, trying to paraphrase the entry, talk about what I liked, what I didn’t like, and where I could see myself using the entry. The more open style makes it much easier and thereby quicker to do.

Any entry that has a url to a website on their entry has that link embedded in their title. Message me or comment below to get one added.

If I get something wrong, miss a key detail, or you want to shoot me a link to an improved or modified version of your entry, comment below and I’d be happy to include it (or own up to a mistake).

Reviews 1-31.

David Arehart – The Well Wisher …………………………………………………………….. 32

Dark rumors surround a darker well with a nasty monster hiding inside. The entry is quick and to the point, with a unique but simple monster that can infect any roadside town with a well and a string of bad luck. Perfect for including on a random encounter table while exploring.

Dicebro – The Dungeon of Neraz Level One ………………………………………………….33

Lots of loot to be found in this monster filled dungeon. I don’t know what game this writer plays, but it would be near impossible for me to get my players to cast teleportation scrolls they find let alone jump into mysterious fountains, but I could easily rework those things to have clues indicating where they lead. The treasure seems incredibly generous, albeit a little boring, but the riddle table is appreciated so that players can theoretically reuse the healing of the ghost. Technically, a clever party could word one of their wishes to gain a benefit at the same time as escaping from the sealed final room.

Dunder Moose – Night at the Mausoleum ………………………………………………….. 34

In a bid to rid themselves of a curse, the players bargain with a Hag to help a Lich restock and reset his dungeon. This one is wide open to clever roleplaying where the players get to use the resources at hand to build their own puzzle, organize their own minions, and recapture a dangerous mini-boss. This is made even better by the alternative victory paths available if the players think of them, like killing the lich or using the defeated adventurers to refill the Lich’s treasury per the Hag’s agreement. I would probably rewrite this to have the rival adventurers returning soon and have the party watch them fight past the new obstacles they set up, with each success killing off one rival party member, making the final showdown easier. 

Dylan Barker – Etina’s Labyrinth ………………………………………………………………35

A single path through the dungeon reflects an adventurer’s journey, fighting bandits, pushing on through adversity, killing tricky monsters, earning the favor of the dungeon designer, and being rewarded for their determination. The bandit tactics at the beginning are excellent, so it seems like a let down that the other monsters aren’t given any tactics that might reflect the supposedly intelligence enhancing effect of the labyrinth. 

Ed Nicholson – Steal the Walking Tower ……………………………………………………. 36

Lots of moving pieces and clues are crammed into this small tower as the players will frantically try to uncover clues to move this wizard’s tower after his untimely demise, and subsequent arrival of allied guards trying to arrest them. This is a dungeon that requires reading and understanding the thing as a whole before diving back into it in order, not something that can be picked up and run as the players explore it. The control panel riddle at the end left me scratching my head because I can only see one clue that hints at the order the buttons should be pressed in and they also don’t match up with the order of the floors either which is confusing. 

Eshan Mitra – Terror on the Arkham Express………………………………………………..37

Secret cultists are conspiring to force this train and its occupants to detour to a dark realm unless discovered and stopped in time. The beginnings of a setup are presented here, but a little more meat could have been added on what various passengers are doing at the times suspicious things are happening to flesh out the mystery more.

Etani A. M. di Properzio – The Lair of the Fire Witch ……………………………………… 38

A very dense, fire themed dungeon in the old school style, filled with monsters, rooms, traps, and treasures. I would have preferred less with some space given to describing the place or giving it interconnecting themes rather than just room after room of disjointed fire-monsters, traps, or puzzles. What does the fire witch want and why was anything set up this way? Can the players interrupt their evil desires or meet them in a way other than hacking and slashing? 

Francesco Pauzzi – Heist at the Dragonslayers’ Museum …………………………………. 39

This entry sets up a cheap little dragonslayer curio shop in town with the intent that the players would likely intend to rob it or mess with its owners. It is quite vague on what types of guards are here, their strategy, details on the owners of the museum, or the treasures within. I want to hear about the snake monastery mentioned here, and what they get out of sponsoring the museum.  

Giuliano Pereira – The Bunker ……………………………………………………………….. 40

White and purple text on black is hard on the eyes, especially with the small font size, but this bunker is a concrete vault protecting a valuable painting. Dangerous and unstable elements of the place contribute to an almost post-apocalyptic theme of broken magical technology. Timing is mentioned in many rooms, but without a scale to the map it is impossible to know what the creator intends for traveling through rooms or trying to get the security code down to the vault. 

Glynn Seal – The Trojan Pig …………………………………………………………………….41

Intended as a great siege weapon to utilize a king’s hubris to assassinate him, instead the occupants long ago fell to their own hubris, trapped inside a baking metal pig, buried in desert sand. The way the players can gain entrance to this pig is a little obscure, requiring them to dig and force their way in through tiny holes or wait for night to force a hidden door. The windfall that this solar powered machine represents should be worth it to entice players to figure it out, but more clues on the outside of how to get in would go a long way to forestalling player frustration. 

Goblin’s Henchman – Rubik’s Cube Random Dungeon …………………………………… 42

Not a dungeon itself, excepting the example provided to showcase the method, but an algorithm to turn a randomized rubik’s cube into a dungeon room. An interesting way to randomize things, but I would find it much faster to just use dice. That said, I don’t even own a rubik’s cube so I can’t use this one. 

Grant Lambe and Adam Chafe – Orokoa, the Isle of Blood ……………………………….. 43

Players shipwreck, taking on the roles of lost crew as they explore an island in the lead-up to conflict. I like the many factions of the island and evocative faction descriptors. There are plenty of random encounters and outlines of what may happen, but I would have liked to see more detail on the main plot of the snakemen egging on conflict, even just a timeline of events would be useful. Also, the lack of treasure or reward means that players might just take the first boat they can get on when they find Cruzada. 

Grant Williams – Bingo’s Fun House ………………………………………………………… 44

A short series of carnival games that would be useful for spicing up a local fair or festival, possibly reskinned to whatever the celebration is about. The challenges are a bit lackluster in that they are simple dice rolls without much opportunity for players to roleplay their way to easier DC’s or cheat the system entirely. The entry doesn’t have to give every possibility, but listing one or two ways with each challenge can help with how the DM describes a challenge to players.

Gregor Belogour – Storm Season in Wyrm’s End ………………………………………….. 45

Lighting storms are ever present over this town of misfits that hit a number of horror story villain archetypes, and the players must figure out which one is the cause of the dead rising from their graves. The characterizations are succinct but detailed enough that I could already imagine how to portray each in turn, but the thing missing from the whole setup is some kind of timeline for events progressing, something to keep a sense of concrete urgency in the investigation instead of a vague notion of the dragon skeleton in the future or increasing undead activity. Plus, having a concrete timeline as the DM makes it easier to give reminders to the players if they get stuck on a wild goose-chase to perhaps check out some other leads first. 

Gus L. – Maw of Snails ………………………………………………………………………… 46

Endless snails cannibalize one another in their endless push from this vertical dungeon, dying at its mouth under the harsh sun. Traps and larger snails are the least of adventurers’ problems here, and I enjoy the mental image of players having to figure out how to subdue the swarms of snails infesting every room. The place has the great feel of someone having attempted previously to use or mine the place, and failed under the endless, slow onslaught of snails. I would have liked at least a token explanation of where the snails come from or why they pour forth, just so I could DM this when players inevitably try to either stop it or take advantage of it to do something crazy like an endless escargot source or something.

Iacopo Maff and Simone Tammetta – The Rockwell Inn ………………………………….. 47

I don’t understand what is going on with this entry. There are a half dozen different, disjointed prompts that don’t connect with each other logically, a blind girl with missing parents, a giant warlock with no legs, three goblins in a trench coat, an inn, a chasm, a tomb, what? With some work, I could turn some of the more promising prompts into an adventure, but if I’m going to do all the work, I’m going to just make it from scratch and relevant to my own campaign.

Ian Kinkley – The Hallowed Halls of the Barbarian King ………………………………….. 48

A series of puzzles has been set up in this old tomb for the creator to test the worthy for treasures and likely keep up the story of the tomb’s occupant. The railroading of the tomb is fairly annoying, with each room forcing all players into it and sealing, as well as numerous tests having a single, predetermined solution that is explicitly listed as the only one that can work, despite providing no clues or avenues for players to discover the correct answers. At the end of it, the players either bow and get seemingly killed but actually rewarded (with boring, vague treasures), in spite of everything the stories of this tomb are themed around not giving in, or just “killed” with no fuss and no reward. Of course the tomb really just kicks them out, but it is a major letdown that the end is so sudden and counter to the themes of the entire place.

Idiomdrottning – Instant Blorb ……………………………………………………………… 49

Town, village, and random encounters table, but most of the encounters are just different arrangements of enemies to fight, the town is just a list of people and their relationships with one-another, and the dungeon a small list of rooms with traps or monsters inside. There is not much of a theme connecting anything with anything else, no narrative to attach to anything to give them meaning or why these three elements are more than just stapled together into one entry. What is the lure to get adventurers to interact with this landscape, town, or dungeon?

Isteria – The Maw Tat Swallows …………………………………………………………….. 50

This entry features a cute little angler monster with legs as the enemy who has been thieving supplies. The cave is a quick few encounters that offer the players chances to fight the creatures or sneak past. Overall, there isn’t much meat on the bones of this entry, without even any rough stat blocks of what sort of abilities the gulpers or lead gulper might have or how tough they are intended to be in a fight. I thought there was going to be some interesting mechanics or abilities based on them bubbling the random woman, who is given no other description, but nothing came of it. This just seems like a quick vermin removal quest rather than something deeper.

Jacob Cordeiro – Bug Rapport …………………………………………………………………51

Bugs and radio towers combine to make for a mini-game setup or one-shot game. The entry functions as more of a game outline than a specific scenario, requiring that the DM running it interpret the generic room descriptors and challenges into encounters of suitable difficulty. While outlines can be nice to allow for flexibility, I tend to prefer ones that are made more specific so I can see the flow of the game intended by the designer. Reskinning or reworking something is easier than trying to build it from scratch using someone else’s ruleset. 

Jaime Nieves – The Demon Heart of the Deathtree ………………………………………… 52

When a demonic relic draws the attention of an evil order of druids and begins to spread its evil again, the adventurers are called to put a stop to it. I would have liked to see maybe a few special abilities or unique spells for the druids of this order to really sell the flavor through doing rather than just telling the PC’s who they are. The optional twist provided that perhaps the druids are the only ones working to restore things, and are just misunderstood, could be a useful selling point, but it would require rewriting things a bit like showcasing that the monsters outside are mutual enemies or unable to be controlled.

J. A. Kordosh – My Friend’s A Monster ………………………………………………………..53

Magical research gone wrong has left an undead, magical absorbing creature to lord over the only surviving apprentice. This entry is short, sweet, and packs a punch with details strewn about that hint at the larger story being told by the dungeon. I would have liked to see more evidence placed about both for Toshar’s incompetence but also how his spells affect the Nargolak, perhaps something in the research notes about badly cast magic acting like toxins to the Nargolak? A quick quest that can serve as a throw-away request by a future patron that they might not care too much about letting rando’s take a shot at it.

James Hirst – The Temple of Queen Nebthet ……………………………………………….. 54

While this entry does offer the central villain as a possible source of oracular power, with a quest using other OPD entries, where it does shine is describing in detail her use as a boss fight. She has many tricks, traps, and abilities ready to fight with. The lose condition as an alternative to a total party kill is nice but I feel the space would have been better spent on fleshing out her treasure hoard with a few choice, unique items. Also, perhaps scenario 1 could have been a staging for scenario 2, maybe with the desert fox spirit of the scepter warning them of her treachery or bargaining for release. Lastly, while it is strictly the thing a smart lich type creature would do, the players would have no way of finding her randomly buried heart or even knowing that they should look for one. 

James Reavis and Todd Richardson – Planar Paintball Fight ……………………………….55

Magical experiment gone wrong releases a multitude of planar creatures to fight. The wand rules for defeating the creatures is an interesting choice that could be used to let players use their smarts to take out creatures they would normally die quickly fighting head on. To fit with that theme, it would have been cool to see multiple types of monsters from each place listed, perhaps minions that are easier to kill the normal way and brutes that are best defeated with the wands, making the trick for the players to find out which is which for each of the three pools, and keep the minions from interfering. The lack of a conclusion leaves this entry hanging, what does the wizard offer for their aid and does it only end when all the planar creatures are banished?

Jason Cook – Digging for the Dead ………………………………………………………….. 56

This entry describes the ruins of a small mining town and the necromantic assault that has destroyed it. The number of houses don’t seem to match with the lack of undead still around here, which could have been a hook or cliffhanger for this entry to hint about finding where the necromancer sent those undead. 

Jason Ermer – Lost Loot of Börgunn the Bonebreaker ………………………………………57

A famous treasure hoard goes missing just before the players show up, so they must delve down into the sinkhole to find who took it. I quite enjoy the simple puzzle that will let players feel things are too easy before the real dungeon starts and they have to negotiate, sneak, and fight their way to the treasure while they can hear the crunching and chewing of gems the whole time. 

Jeff Dare –  Prof. Filbert’s Flying Laboratory………………………………………………… 58

This entry is a flying lab that isn’t afraid to knock players off, but does give fair warning with a little helper bot using its limited rockets to save them. Otherwise, the labs are simple exploration to retrieve the orbs needed to repair the escape ship.

Jeff McKelley – The Taxman Cometh …………………………………………………………. 59

What do you get when you cross a sovereign citizen with a mage? This entry makes me chuckle a bit, with this mage having some weird interpretation of tax law that she thinks if she doesn’t get the tax bill on tax day, she gets off scot-free. Unfortunately, this dungeon hits some of my pet peeves with magic users being listed without any indication of what types of spells they like to use, a riddle without a correct answer, and a puzzle with minimal hints (and that can only be gotten by giving up a magic item).  

Jeffry Smith – Springtime in Shadows ………………………………………………………. 60

Jailbreak is the name of the game where the players must either spring their revolutionary friend or ambush the guards on their escort to the transport boat then escape the city. To make this more of a heist, I would have liked to see some explicit challenges for the players in gathering information so that they can actually plan this caper, things like finding out guard routes, which guards are sympathetic to their cause, or perhaps unsavory elements willing to stage distractions in parts of the city. I would also include an intended path of the guards plus a statement of how they modify things when their plans do awry (or not, if this usurper and his cronies are incompetent).

Jenna Shively and Nick Franco – Go Big or Go Home ……………………………………….61

When dad is unconscious and fallen out of his sky castle, that is the best time to throw a house party, especially if you can capture the adventurers that keep climbing up and force them to entertain you. Lots of loveable characters and fun encounters that make for a very cohesive theme with tons of alternative outcomes depending on how the players respond. I would have liked some stats on the relative strengths of the giants and their pets, but otherwise all the characters in this place have their own motivations that make it easy to react to whatever crazy plan the players come up with. 

Jennevieve Schlemmer – Star Grotto Caverns ……………………………………………… 62

This entry has a mix of science fiction and fantasy elements for an undead duchess trapped in this tomb. Straddling the line like that makes it easy to reskin things to go in either direction, but I do dislike that there are numerous magical/technological items listed without anything more to go on than their names as to what they do.

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