One Page Dungeon 2021 Reviews (63-93)

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.

Reviews 32-62.

Jeremiah Rose – The Crying Cricket Tavern …………………………………………………. 63

This seedy goblin tavern can be placed anywhere that has a rickety stair leading underground. There are a few items missing from the entry such as the sarcophagus contents or the marking indicating which hearthstone holds the cache of coins. Altogether, this entry depicts a goblin dive bar with just enough intrigue to make for a flavorful point of interest without being so deep that it might draw players off their previous quest or plotline, always useful to have on hand to help establish the character of a new area or land.

Jeremy DS Marshall – Operation All-Seeing Eye …………………………………………… 64

Cybertech advances so great just tend to attract competitors who want them for themselves, which is just what the players have been hired to do to this facility testing their enhancements on living animals. This has a solid heist setup, listing the various capabilities and general patterns of the occupants along with the strengths and weaknesses of the various static defenses so that the players can come up with their own plans to execute. An essential part of any heist though is the twist, which is lampshaded in the opening paragraph but not given any details. This entry would be helped by either generating a twist, like their benefactor turning on them or animal rights people attacking the facility part way through, or even giving the heist target goals that run partly counter to the players so they have to negotiate or change plans on the spot. 

Jess and Matt C. – Freedom Beyond the Bayou …………………………………………….. 65

A mini-adventure for the recently deceased sees them spending willpower to try and return to the land of the living. The adventure uses a set resource as its currency, noting that backtracking or taking severe harm are ways to lose it, in addition to the encounters where it can be spent for gains, but there isn’t any reason to backtrack or any indication of how quickly their willpower is damaged. I do really like the idea of greedy adventurers taking risks even on their miraculous shot at regaining life.  A clarifying note or some monster stat blocks would help clear this up and give the DM running it an indication of how risky it is to be spending that willpower. The biggest miss on this entry though is not giving the final boss any stats or even a description for his true form. Perhaps having high willpower makes the boss fight easier, like his strength is inversely proportional to their collective remaining willpower of the group?

Jim Gies – The Dam(ned) Lodge of the Beaver Draculas …………………………………… 66
But what if vampirism could cross species lines? This entry answers that question and presents up a nest of the vampiric little dam builders in a way that oddly seems to fit beavers better than most other possible animals, thanks to their structure building capabilities. I would have liked more clarification on the differences between the various beaver draculas. It seemed like they had vampire thralls, regular vampires, and a head vampire, but what would have cemented them is to give them some quick stat blocks or descriptions along with maybe a special move or two to distinguish them. 

John Earegood – The King’s Crypt ……………………………………………………………. 67

Mapped and described in an old-school style, this small tomb very much feels like those explorers plumbing ancient pyramids. There are traps and undead aplenty but with special care given to describe how they are triggered and areas that reveal their presence upon investigation. I am not a fan of the all-capital lettering of the entry as it messes with my ability to read the words quickly and I keep losing what line I am on with the entry being one long paragraph. My favorite encounter in the dungeon though is the dying bugbear and his readied action, thinking zombies are going to come back to finish him off. 

Johnathan Castle and Matt Henderson – The Terrible Island of Dr. Weir ……………….. 68

This entry stands as a multi-stage adventure outline with randomly determined encounters across five successive stages. Each encounter result is only described with a single sentence but it would have been much more coherent and interesting if the writer had picked a single avenue to elaborate more on. As it is, the random nature of the place means either that the DM cannot foreshadow or tie things together or must roll them all ahead of time, either way the players don’t get to see 5/6ths of the content. The monsters and encounters sound unique and interesting to run, but with the lack of detail, I’ll have to just use them as inspiration.

Johnathan L Bingham – Necropolis of Storr ………………………………………………… 69

Players must rush through this randomized dungeon to stop an evil magic user from completing his ritual. Randomized dungeons have their place in gaming where replayability is a feature or rogue-likes where a set-layout would be exploitable, but in a tabletop game they just create more work for the DM for a substandard end result. I would much prefer if the creator rolls up their own random results and fixes them each to a room, then writes their entry based on how those rooms shake out. This way, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts because you can hint, foreshadow, and cross-reference events or challenges between rooms. Also, I was really intrigued by the concept of a reverse lich, but there isn’t any explanation given, even a hand-wavy one, but it seems like a normal lich to me just trying to accumulate necrotic energy. 

Jordan Breneisen, Christian Goble, and Scott DeLong – Family Feud …………………… 70

A baron is stirring up trouble between the two big families of this town, hoping to take their lands for himself. Players must get to the bottom of the escalating troubles brewing, analyze the evidence, and figure out that the baron is behind things. The amount of evidence available seems high, but then I remember how easily players get led astray by random thoughts and having more hints to drag them back on track is always welcome. What this entry could use is a future timeline of how things continue to escalate to give the adventurers a sense of urgency and a consequence for failure, perhaps moving that timeline up when they flub their investigations or offend the families.

Joshua Hudson – The Dancer’s Cold Revenge ………………………………………………..71

Revenge is a dish best served cold in this entry about the cold blooded revenge an orphaned mage takes on the town that sentenced her parents to die. There are a handful of scenes described about how the players learn about and travel to the hunt for this bounty. They are relatively linear without much chance of effecting the plot of the scenario, but there wouldn’t be much to change anyway as it is a straightforward bounty claim against a person who has murdered a great number of people. The backstory and stat block are excellent for setting up a harder fight against this spellcaster, and could even be used to tie her into the existing campaign more.

JR Franck – Procedural PolyHedron Prison …………………………………………………. 72

A computer simulation themed procedural dungeon generator table has a polyhedral die theme. There isn’t any story or background given to what type of place this is supposed to be or why the players find themselves here, and the room contents are generic enough to not offer much insight into this either. The idea of using polyhedral dice to represent the spaces is novel but doesn’t get used at all in the environments or encounters of the rooms. Also, the players technically have a 12.5% chance to hit the exit on the first roll, but also a possible chance of never hitting an exit. Perhaps successive rooms or items found in the rooms could contribute to a minus to the room type roll, eventually making the exit an inevitability?

Julio F. Tassinari – The Rescue of Dr. Mori ……………………………………………………73

This entry reminds me heavily of that one Golden-eye N64 level on the boat. Players must use stealth and speed to blitz through these guards before they can raise the alarm and make their job of retrieving a VIP harder. While the entry tries to spice things up with a hidden traitor, there aren’t really any areas where the traitor is given opportunities to nudge things in their favor nor ways for the other players to search for a traitor or any consequences for guessing incorrectly. The guards are also given no details and the only way past is either stealth or fighting, no mechanisms that create distractions, flaws in their patrols to be observed and exploited, or any of the other small details that make games like Hitman or the Splinter-Cell stealth games so much fun. 

Karis M. Jones and Nate Scott Jones – Stranger Games and the Twilight of the Slayers . 74

A parody of the date-sim genre, this dungeon is a town where “nothing ever happens” that generates its randomness in part from various tables, but also, with a fun mad-libs, something I haven’t seen used before. I quite like the mad-libs idea for setting up wacky, randomness by using player input rather than just a random table the players never see or can’t influence. The rest of it is more jokey than usable though, with each player generating their own eligible bachelore(tte) and a list of tropey episode archetypes per day until they randomly hit the “final battle” which could technically happen on the first roll. No reason this couldn’t have been a pared down list with a set order and an encounter outline for what types of challenges each event will bring the players.  

Keith ‘indi’ Salamunia – The Curse of the Goblin Tomb …………………………………….75

I quite like the style of the dungeon drawing where the adventurers must stop the goblin raiders. The cursive explanation text is harder to read then a typed font, especially if I’m scanning the text to try and reference a detail when DM’ing. Not much detail is given to the elven witch or her pet dragon, despite them likely being interesting and engaging fights that could really burst with flavor. Also, the lack of description given to the church or its vault treasures was a missed opportunity that could hint at an amusing, interesting, or unusual god that has fallen out of favor with people. Having multiple, intersecting means of approaching and exploring the dungeon is a big win in my book, as it allows players to assess their options to avoid unfavorable fights like seasoned adventurers should.

Ken Moore – The Garden of Blood and Ivory ……………………………………………….. 76

Otherworldly parasites and plants have become a trap for the local wildlife but hopefully the adventurers can deal with the problem instead of adding their bodies to its ‘organic’ fertilizer. The theming of this isolated desert oasis as the patient zero of an extraplanar invasive biology is quite fun, with modified animals and clues scattered all about for players to find. This could serve nicely as a place where players could find some extraplanar knowledge books about portals, perhaps if their normal means of knowledge forbid such things or aren’t available, so they have to search out this rumored lost outpost of study.

Khelren – A City of Philosophers With Clubs ………………………………………………..77

More of a mechanical outline of a plot than a dungeon, this entry supposes a city in philosophical conflict with each of its representative alignments taking swings at each other for dominance. While the background mechanics of how the factions might attack and through what intermediaries they do it, it doesn’t really describe how the players can get involved to help or defeat other factions. Also, it doesn’t really give them a reason to get invested in any of the factions, are they offering wealth or power? Do they make charismatic speeches or try to pull on the players existing ties to their alignments? Lastly, there are simply too many permutations of options that they all blend together. Each category should have one or two concisely but evocatively described details, any more and everything will fall down on the Dm like trying to spin so many plates. 

Kyle Currie – Isle of the Entilles ……………………………………………………………… 78

An experiment gone wrong long ago has twisted this island into a sustainable ecosystem of tree-folk. The world-building of this little island is excellent, but I would have liked more clues about the facility inside so that players will make an informed choice if they decide to disconnect the aerosolizers. Also, the main way in to find this facility is to carefully search the exact place that the islanders do not want the players going, so it seems unlikely that they’ll ever find it or think to explore further. 

Larry Z. Pennyworth – Infnite Tower of Irenic …………………………………………….. 79

This entry has a non-euclidean tower endlessly looping on itself to give a player or players time to solve the riddles within. Intended as a punishment for overly violent characters, it has no meaningful combat or way to use combat prowess to any effect inside. While I likely won’t use it as a punishment, I could see myself reusing the pillars and order of item exchanges in a wider dungeon, perhaps with time limits or pursuers to up the ante.

Liam ‘Bordercholly’ Murphy – The -Bun- Geon …………………………………………….. 80

Should have known better than to use a rabbit foot as your source of resurrection, because now this villain is in the thrall of a demon lord with a thing for bunnies. A vertical exploration of caverns will uncover some of the tools and evidence of the coming bunny apocalypse the players must stop, but the flavor is where most of this dungeon excels. I would have liked to see some bunny minions or monsters to fight, with some listed abilities to give concrete evidence of Charly summoning monsters into bunny bodies. Also, you can’t have a big boss fight with a magical person and not give any idea of what sort of spells they have. It leaves a gap of work for the DM to do and also misses a huge opportunity for baking a dungeon’s flavor into the gameplay.

Lina (12), Hendrick (10) and Joaquín (8) – Mountain Dungeon …………………………….81

The Zinnling’s ‘lings are back with another kid made and drawn dungeon. The map making skills continue to improve, with heavy use of symbology to represent rooms, which makes it easy to reference while running a game just by looking at the rooms. I’d love to hear more about some of these monsters, maybe they could say what there special attack is or a weakness they have that players could find out? 

Linden Ross – Horse Fort ……………………………………………………………………… 82

This entry features an old, ruined fort now inhabited by free horses and the weak-willed humans it has made to believe they are horses. The adventurers must navigate through, possibly trying not to harm too many on their way through, and find what is causing the disturbance. The demi-god causing this issue isn’t given any abilities or hints of abilities beyond his attempts to control the weak-willed, and if one of the ways of succeeding is giving him a sufficient gift, the entry should give suggestions on what he finds suitable. Perhaps this entry could have used some unique treasures that this demi-god had collected over time as a way to feed more information to the players about who he is and what powers he has.

Lone Archivist Press – The Orrery Beyond the Edge of Space …………………………….. 83

An evil scientists has turned a terraforming operating into some incoherent, possibly religious theft of planets by shrinking and storing them in the space station. The entry is a bit too information dense, with lots of information to uncover and rooms to explore that aren’t all relevant or interesting to the players, but they still sport paragraphs of description to bog down the DM. I did find the map of lines and circles to be confusing to read, and my suggestion there would be to change up the symbols for doors, hallways and elevators somehow, to help distinguish them from walls. The amount of detail, once you sift through it, is plenty to bring everything in this place to life and for players to find the small, sad, horrid details of what happened on this station.

L. R. Ambrose and Heather Charters – Fen …………………………………………………. 84

The vibe I get from this entry is more of a page out of a documentary of travels to different planes than a dungeon. It goes into just the right amount of details about the ecology, denizens, and dangers of a minor plane of existence, one that players could find themselves in on purpose or by accident. The vagueness and lack of map actually suit this style well, as it leaves things less concrete or knowable, and thereby mysterious and dangerous. This could be part of a really cool booklet or collection of unusual planes and places, perhaps with some flavor thrown in with excerpts by the explorer or explorers cataloguing them, using similar border art styling throughout said book.

Luke E. Dodd – Tabernacle of the Toad Men ……………………………………………….. 85

Dark toad cultists are keeping up a magical rain ritual and trying to breed there way to conquest. The players can investigate this dank, smelly island to discover its secrets. More details about the exact powers of their ritual or perhaps a timetable of what they will inflict on the surrounding areas if unchecked would go a long way to building higher stakes for the players to get to the bottom of this. As it stands, they don’t appear to be causing much of an issue, with the only hint of their behavior being unusual amounts of rain and smoke coming from their area. 

Luke Le Moignan – Adrist in Time …………………………………………………………… 86

Not entirely sure what the intent of this entry is, as it is set of random tables for generic events that can take place in its Dr. Who parody setup of a time-machine device. It could be run as the very, bare-bones skeleton of a silly Dr. Who ripoff campaign, but there really aren’t any details that can be used. Also, I’m not sure if it is my pdf reader, intentional, or a mistake that some of the letters are replaced by black dots or overlapping each other in the long introductory text about the ADRIST (i.e. TARDIS) device. 

Lungfungus – Feast Hall of the Ireifyug …………………………………………………….. 87

A black and white dungeon of the old-school variety, complete with the Gygaxian mix of empty/treasure/monster/trap/puzzle rooms and cursed items to test the survival instincts of the players. Horrible, cursed creatures, deadly afflictions avoided only by saving throws, and lots of haunting or disturbing rooms of previous victims of the previous two. I do think this entry could have pared down some of its rooms to remove some of the clutter and minor treasures just to reduce the “wall of text” feel and instead kept to simple descriptions of rooms as things like larder or tomb, letting the DM fill in the bits and pieces of the players really want to spend time looting the offal. I would also want to see something more that hints at and uses these monsters in a larger narrative, hooks that can tie them into a campaign world, rather than being stapled onto it.

Marcus Mortati – Den of the Riddle …………………………………………………………. 88

The sphinx guardian, some undead, and a handful of fire beetles protect the treasures of this tomb. The sphinx riddle doesn’t make any sense to me, but I could just be missing something obvious. Otherwise, the tomb is nearly empty, with no traps or any set dressing to reinforce any of the townsfolk superstitions about the tomb. Why hasn’t this place been looted to nothingness by now?

Marianne van der Werf – Croaking & Soaking …………………………………………….. 89

Having recently watched Sprited Away, that is the vibe I get from this quirky, frog-infested bath house. Weird, inconsistent magic changes people based on what is in the bath water along with many unusual monsters that resulted from the frogs that regularly use the baths. I would have liked a more explicit reasoning on what does and does not cause changes when using the baths, as that is likely one of the first things any player will try to exploit. 

Matt Farleo – Mystery of the Moon Monolith ………………………………………………. 90

A moon-themed pyramid-type dungeon. Players must fight through lunar mummies, scarabs, and solve a space-puzzle to get through. It isn’t really explained or much hinted at why the other dead astronauts are here nor why these lunar mummies are. They seem to have nanotechnology and undead guardians but there isn’t anything that they would be protecting except the specimen vault or the mummies themselves, but there isn’t anything listed for being inside the vault or treasures held by the mummies. The point of robbing a tomb is to get to the sweet treasure inside, but this one just ends with a fight against the lead mummy, and his staff could be cool but it gives no indication what sorts of powers it has over the nano-swarm or what the nano-swarm is.

Matt Murray – The Tomb of Ser Brucius ………………………………………………………91

This entry has the adventurers raiding a tomb and old base of a renowned hero to stop cultists from using one of its owner’s magic items in a summoning ritual. While the cult feels quite small given the number of members listed within, they feel like a mostly living dungeon, as they are doing their own things only to be interrupted by the adventurers incursion. I dislike the railroading nature of having the boss just finish his summon as the players walk in, better in my mind would be to have the players able to hear the summoning progress as they explore. With the summon on a fixed timeline, they would have to rush dangerously through to reach the shaman before he finishes or risk giving him more time to strengthen his summoned elemental. 

Max White – The Trials of the Thief King ……………………………………………………. 92

Cumulative dangers slowly build in this dungeon, forcing players to rethink their strategies and adapt to the simple but devilish design of the thief king’s resting place. This seems like a fun, thinking-outside-the-box treasure hunt for the players trying to earn the treasures placed here by the long dead king. Things I might add to spice up the rooms a bit are maybe some self-aggrandizing murals in each room showcasing a heist of the Thief King related to how he bypassed a deadly trap both to rub in how great he was, but also to encourage those who follow to remember and cherish his brilliance along with his gifted treasures. 

Maykel dos Santos Braz – Mansion of the Endless Pleasures …………………………….. 93

A secluded succubus has turned her gift turned prison into a trap. Encounters focus on ambushes and traps, although the details of things struggle between some translation or grammar issues as well as ideas left vague. The maps is also confusing and could use some lettering on the map to tie the descriptions to which room they are referring too. I did like the extensive secret hallways used by the ghouls for ambush.

4 thoughts on “One Page Dungeon 2021 Reviews (63-93)

  1. Thanks for doing little reviews of all the One Page Dungeon entries and for your suggestions about what could be improved. I will pass on your comment to my kids. All the best, Karl

    Like

    1. You can tell them I look forward to their dungeon every year, the perspective of young folk, untainted by decades of built up stories, movies, and books is always fun.

      Like

  2. Enjoying your reviews so far. They are fair and insightful, and focus what GM’s really care most about: Playability (and related to that is time investment needed before play), which I do not think the judges gave sufficient weight to in their results.

    Like

    1. I would be curious to see even a vague outline of what the judges consider and what point values they assign to various areas. Although I could easily see people trying to ruleslawyer the contest after the fact if they did, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Like

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