One Page Dungeon 2021 Reviews (94-124)

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.

Reviews 63-93.

Michael Harmon and Bill Innis – Tomb of Immolation …………………………………… 94

But what if the mummy was on fire? A proper tomb full of traps, treasures, undead guardians, and some minor puzzles. The reward is unspecified, which is a let down for the fire-themed place not to have something about summoning, controlling, or resisting fire as its prize. The yellow background does hurt my eyes a bit to try and read text on top of. I did like that the traps and dangers in the place were given difficulty keywords so that the DM can easily port the adventure into whatever system they prefer while still keeping in line with the designer’s intent. 

Michael Raston – The Insightful Rot of The Tumorous Manse ……………………………. 95

An eldritch invasive species has taken root in this mansion. It was once host to a religious order of assassins now taken by a twisted fleshy-plant-cancer that has infected most of its inhabitants. It runs as more of a fight for the players to slog through its dangers, killing the twisted aberrations, with very little in the way of information to gather, puzzles to solve, or traps to deal with. There could have been more done with the fleshweed in creating some natural hazards for the players to work a way past. The treasures are unique and fun hints at the type of temple this place used to be. 

Miguel Rivera – Ufelmia’s Membership Fee ………………………………………………… 96

When a wizard forges her way out of paying a fee, the debt collector is sent in. When she is clever enough with her traps, minions, and tower layout to capture that one, the adventurers are called in. I quite enjoy the seeming simple but actually multi-layered defenses this wizard has put into confounding attackers and debt collectors as well as with the random encounter table being used for things like resetting the simple-minded robot butler or having the wizard taunt the players. Including flavor and scene-setting information in the wandering encounters table makes me much more likely to remember checking them consistently. 

Mike Green, Anderson Todd, and Magic Man – Area Fifty-One-Geon …………………… 97

The entry focuses on the madness surrounding a lost crash-site of some ruined military installation. The effects and weirdness of the place would fit best in a more modern game, but could easily be reskinned to a more fantasy style thanks to its listing of comparable D&D monsters. I would have liked a bit more hints at why the rest of this group’s military hasn’t checked up on the place and why none of the monsters within have left for better hunting grounds, but the mix of puzzles, fights, tidbits of information, and tempting treasure make this a tempting dungeon to reskin for my own fantasy campaign. 

Nadat al-Sari and the Dusty Boys – The Crawling Ten City of the Camel Men ………….. 98

More of a monster manual entry for camel men and the Lobsphere, their lobster man boss, this entry focuses on the esoterics of this camel men tribe as well as the fighting statistics of the Lobsphere. There are gaps left open for interpretation like the dangers of their woven carpets or their butcher skills that with just a little more description could have made for useful information for a DM to run them. There is a little bit of layout of a few tents, but no explicit encounters or opportunities for player interaction. 

Nic Haddrick – Under Snowy Mountain ……………………………………………………. 99

Miller families always seem to suffer in these entries, getting kidnapped or suffering from strange monsters. This family is no different, but the cave system has numerous lines of exploration for players, from investigating the old dwarven ruins and their magical curse-mystery, to rescuing the kidnapped people, and fighting the bat-folk kidnappers. There is something for everyone here, but I do wish there was more warning and temptation to mess with the ruby that activates the angel statues. As it stands, there is no reason a player would even try to unpetrify the ruby. 

Nicholas Bond – Dragon Cleanout …………………………………………………………..100

This entry is exactly what it says in the title. It is a quick map of a few rooms with tasks for the players to do to fulfil their end of the cleaning bargain with the dragon to receive a bit of treasure of their choosing. While I agree that the benefit of doing work for a dragon is getting to select a treasure of your choosing, a few guiding descriptors of what types of treasures are collected in a dragon’s hoard goes a long way towards characterizing them. Also, the cleaning actions are fairly boring with two of them just being fights with a toad and a spider. These could have used some sort of complication or point of interest to make them different from the same things players do in every dungeon. Maybe failed checks result in making messes worse a la Viscera Cleanup Detail? Or maybe the mess throughout the place should be more connected and tell a story that the players can piece together from scant details. 

P. Aaron Potter – The Riven Tower ………………………………………………………….. 101

Precarious wizard tower is blasted apart by a rival and its owner loses control of something they summoned, which later causes enough problems to bring the adventurers around. I liked the teetering tower with different rooms of risk, and the entire time I was reading it I was trying to think of how the save mechanic could be replicated with maybe a tower of physical wooden blocks that players have to pull more or less blocks from. Highlighting the key feature in each room by drawing it in red really helps my eyes focus on the most notable features of the rooms and helps offset the fact that room descriptions are a little hard to connect to which room they are describing. It also needs to have more hunting and interactions by the mysterious monster, perhaps as part of or in addition to the risk rolls from moving about the rooms.

Paul Compton – The Mechanus Lock ……………………………………………………….. 102

This entry feels like a lock-picking mini-game blown up the size of a small dungeon. The players must work together to use themselves like living lock picks and move the pins into position to turn the entire room like a key and get to the treasure. The reward for this giant lock doesn’t seem worth the expense of this massive mechanism, just some coinage and some random magic items. This would serve as an interesting way to roleplay players that want to shrink down to try and pick a fancy lock.

pencilsanddungeons – Shipwrecked in the Weird Sea ……………………………………. 103

Only referred to obliquely, the weird sea is the force behind mutating all the crew aboard this ship and turning it nightmarish. They must fight their way out past the fleshy, mutating horrors. I enjoyed the touch of the captains log as well as only hinting indirectly at what might be causing these magical mutations, but I would have liked more concrete information about the captain’s plans (perhaps gone awry or sprung too early) or a timeline of what happened so that when players inevitably investigate, I can feed them clues rather than have to make something up on the spot that I will likely end up contradicting. 

Peter and Lawrence van der Merwe – Sanctum of the Dead ……………………………… 104

When cultists move into an abandoned temple and start kidnapping, the local town sends in the adventurers to clear out the squatting kidnappers. The place is a decently set up little hideout, too bad they didn’t block off that old well entrance. I would have liked a little better prepared group of cultists to encourage and reward players going a little stealthier of a route to take the group unawares while they have their good weaponry in the armory. More information on who this cult is, what they worship, and what dark ritual they are reading about would go a long way to giving these cultists some personality. 

Peter Endean – In Their Element ……………………………………………………………. 105

A pseudo-element inspired dungeon with some simple retrieval and placing tasks for putting elements and sigils in the right spots. What is left out is any detail or clues that would tell the adventurers what to put where unless the areas are actually metallic or the sigil shapes common knowledge in which case the dungeon less a puzzle and more a walk-around-carry-stuff. Traps are mentioned but none are detailed and the treasure of this dungeon suffers the same fate. The lack of any details for the unusually shaped rooms misses a huge opportunity to give some personality to the dungeon and its maker, which oftentimes generates lots of ideas for treasure, monsters, clues, and other sundry details as a DM runs it.

Peter Humburg – Temple of the Drowning God …………………………………………… 106

Pirate dispute resolution not being the greatest, this crew has a deadly split amongst them over a recent captive. The dungeon is open-ended in that it presents multiple ways for this all to play out, with the captive either being willing or not, the captain fighting off the evil things in the temple or siding with them. I appreciate the attempt, but I think that page space could have gone to fleshing out one option and letting DM’s that want it another way do the legwork of editing. As it stands, the DM has to read through and readjust everything on the fly depending on the choices they make about the overall structure. The treasure is excellently focused and thematic. The murals throughout the place give plenty of clues for players to piece together.

Philipp Hajek – The Vacant Chateaux ………………………………………………………. 107

A little living tower sank into a lake, multiple groups have their own agendas as players explore the partially sunken stone tower. I’m not sure how they are supposed to get past the teleportation rune trap as written, but dispel magic is usually a general purpose tool. Having a snippet of agendas for all the intelligent creatures in the entry is a huge boost, as it allows a DM to react on the fly to the shenanigans the players inevitably get up to. 

Pithikos – Heisting the Skyvault…………………………………………………………….. 108

The skyvault is presented as an outline of the basic structure of this flying bank of sorts. It gives some rudimentary details about the guards but doesn’t offer anything about their schedules, weaknesses, leaders, or strategies against intruders. These things are the meat and potatoes of a heist for players to spend time finding out those details, creating a plan to overcome them, reacting to how the enemy responds, and sorting out their escape. The last part of the entry even suggests hand waving away the escape portion of the heist. I would have liked to see maybe a short list of the most dangerous things imprisoned here, some famous clients, and/or the most powerful items they keep inside. That would give the Skyvault some flavor, hint at some of the precautions they might be taking, and serve as an angle for the players to exploit by making the guards falsely rush to protect something that isn’t their target.

Pyry Qvick – Dungeon of the Unlucky ……………………………………………………… 109

This entry has a fun idea, based on bad-luck myths and extrapolates them into a quick dungeon. The encounters could use a bit more details like the relative strength of the glass golem or how numerous the snakes are intended to be. Also, I think it is a missed opportunity that the players are rewarded at the end for getting ‘heads’ on a coin flip, but shouldn’t they be rewarded for bad luck and win on a ‘tails’ instead? 

QuickPhix – The Heist at Button’s Bank ……………………………………………………. 110

A well mapped bank and a grudge are the groundwork for the players to plan out a heist. I like the setup giving the players an in for them to explore and plot things out as well as numerous tools for them to use in their thievery. The guards and main villain all have given strategies, making it easier on the DM to improvise what they do in response to player plots. There is a missed opportunity not describing some of the personal art the villain collects or the most valuable treasures he holds. It says a lot about a villain what art they decorate with and what they consider the most valuable. Also, the mixed media is both simple and elegant to give the flavor of a heist planning while still utilizing an easy to read map. 

Ralph Glatt – And so it Begins ………………………………………………………………… 111

Simple adventures are sometimes the meat and potatoes of the early game and this entry fits right into that mold. The dungeon doesn’t have any great puzzles, tricks, or traps, and is mostly a bounty quest but this type of dungeon can be an introduction to role playing games for players unfamiliar with them. There is a good variety of monsters, room descriptions that won’t bewilder new players, and treasure that is both valuable and fun. The idea of flipping a coin into the air only for it to turn to bread, cheese, and wine on the way down gave me a chuckle.

Ramsey Hong – Dungeon of Bawk Bawk …………………………………………………….112

This entry is a silly chicken-themed entry thanks to the magical mishaps of one wizard turned chicken farmer that plays on the tropes and characters of the old D&D tv show. I never watched it, but I can pick out enough similarities that I’m sure someone who is a fan of the show would enjoy. Each floor is mostly the same, a fight against enemies with a terrain disadvantage of one sort or another in differently themed rooms. I would have liked to see maybe one fewer floor with that freed up space used to flesh out the other floors more with traps, tricks, or puzzles. 

Ray Pompon – Flight to the City of Refuge …………………………………………………..113

Sort of a reverse hex-crawl with the players entering a mapped territory trying to reach a certain destination as fast as possible to evade death by enforcers. What confuses me though is that the players can just take the road as the quickest route. Sure it has double the chance of encounters, but that averages out to 2 enforcer encounters whereas other routes take many additional days which each carry an increasing risk of enforcers anyway in addition to their own random encounters. Interesting idea, but I think options should be more balanced in order to focus in on the choice between safety and speed.

Red Svinya – Bigshroom Burrow ……………………………………………………………..114

Sometimes adventurers are the real monsters. Players get to see the in-progress looting of a dungeon by other, harsher adventurers that will defend their dibs by any means necessary. It all feels like a looting in progress and all the creatures living here feel like they mesh together well, I can see how the ‘ecosystem’ of this dungeon functions. I will ding this entry because it has a wizard as its final boss of sorts but doesn’t give a list of their preferred spells or tactics. Spellcasters are often harder to generate on the fly and need special considerations in their encounter design. 

Roane Beard – Lest Tese Dark Energies Devour Us All ……………………………………115

A hexcrawl turned into a mini-campaign about exploring the nearby area and defeating a spreading blight. Considering the multiple ways for the intelligent enemy called the Entity to come into conflict with the players, it would be helpful to give some indication of the tactics and abilities the entity fights with. There also isn’t any given way to expel the entity from the necromancer, nor what level of difficulty this is intended to be. The slow building timeline of spreading blight gives players plenty of time to witness the evil effects and explore ways to solve it. 

Robert Standridge Jr. – Devil’s Bay …………………………………………………………..116

This entry holds a dangerous prize and a map to get there but not much of the journey on the way. It presents the background that set the events in motion and describes some enemies and locations. What it doesn’t have is a cohesive encounter map of how the players might progress. There isn’t any given starting or ending point nor much reason to go any location over another. How do the players come into contact with the mapmaker and why wouldn’t they just immediately set on for the x marks the spot? This would have been better if it utilized the terrain where the mapmaker had perhaps hidden bits of the map or the sea-witch muddled his mind such that he can only recall the roundabout route he escaped along. That would give a reason for the players to explore and puzzle-solve, while fighting off sea-witch minions. The random encounters seem wildly unbalanced while at the same time entirely non-specific as to what any of them are doing wandering around this shadow-infested place (and somehow not being attacked). 

Robin Gibson – The Ancient Museum ………………………………………………………..117

Squatting in an old museum, bandits have made themselves quite a home. There is plenty of loot here and fights can even be avoided if one is careful of the bandits and their dogs too. I always like designs that present as less dangerous and only the greediest adventurers have to fight the worst enemies deeper within. I am curious what the plan of these bandits are or if they’re just small timers taking whatever isn’t nailed down nearby. Giving the bandits a bit more flavor, random tidbits of minion decor aside, would make them feel more cohesive and playable as the DM. 

Rodrigo Vega – The Wheel of Fortune ………………………………………………………. 118

This entry presents a space station with both a safe and hostile mode. Which of these two states the station is in can be determined randomly, changing the accessibility between rooms (reflecting how normal operation and emergency damages change things) and what encounters are in each room. The randomness of this means that each room effectively only gets have as much detail devoted too it as it must give a description for both normal and hostile modes. Since there are four different types of hazards and npc’s, this further fractures the focus of the entry where multiple different types of hazards can all be striking the station at the same time. The overlap of all this randomness is that there is no cohesive narrative about the station that the DM can prepare for unless they put in the effort of pre-rolling everything and write up their own narrative from the results. 

Roger SG Sorolla – Stela Obliterata …………………………………………………………..119

The idea of raiding various lost tombs to hunt for treasure is a solid one, but there are numerous gaps in the hints and information available to the players that I don’t see how they are intended to solve them. How are they to know that the third tomb only refers to answers gained in 1 and 2? There is plenty of treasure, but the King entry made me wonder if I missed something about who he is disguised as, but didn’t find anything. 

Sam C. – The Day of Fools ……………………………………………………………………. 120

When authority is turned on its head, fools and beasts take the place of normal men of station. This entry is a bit confusing because we don’t see much of where the former authorities went to and most of the encounters lack actionable choices for the players. The events happening mostly aren’t things that will modify their goal of getting to the belltower and are mostly just set-dressing for this magical curse hitting the city. 

Sam Parrish and Lilith Wozniak – Don’t Fear The Reaper ………………………………….121

A low-level thriller for adventurers sent to find a de-powered big-bad-guy. I like the idea of a separate campaign tracking down the fallen, fleeing villain of another but this thriller only gives the setup for an adventure on these secluded islands. It lists some possible factions and their goals but doesn’t present a concrete set timeline of events or a fixed encounter the players might stumble upon. It is up to the DM to do the majority of the work creating the actual encounters, plant the evidence leading to where the villain hides, and diagram a plausible set of events that progress as the three day timer ticks down. 

Samuele Feula – The Wizard’s Tower ……………………………………………………….. 122

I enjoy the black and white pixel art of this tower, but it leaves me wanting for more. The art is fun but doesn’t offer any more details to the minimal descriptions each floor has. It relies on telling the DM what is happening in the room rather than letting details in the description tell the story. How are the players to know to negotiate with the skeleton on the floor or speak with the morose beholder? If the DM describes things as the entry does, the players will know the correct answer immediately, but if not, how would they guess? 

Sarah Brunt, D.M. Wilson, and Chris Downey – Bound for Glory ………………………. 123

Train heist on the ride from hell to heaven where the players take on the role of wingless angels trying to prank the hell chess team by stealing their mascot. Each of the cars in the train is given some hell-to-heaven train flavor but it feels lacking as most of them either don’t seem to present much interaction or don’t seem to give clues as to how to move past them if they do become a problem when the players are carrying back the mascot. I would have liked to see more changes on the train based on the timer, especially if players are given forewarning about them like maybe the rotation of the limbo soldiers or when Ronny moves between cars (letting them bypass him by hiding while he moves past). As with other heists, the players should have plenty of foreknowledge about the threats they will face, even if enemy action changes those things in the heat of the moment. Unless the defenders are totally incompetent, it is almost impossible to do a heist on the fly because stopping to gather information takes too long but without information, they are likely to stumble into all of the defenses.

save.vs. stozilla (Chris Stoesz and Alex Stoesz) 

– Glyde’s Gregarious Garden Gnomes in the Gargantuan Gauntlet …………………….. 124

While the maze mechanic was borrowed from elsewhere, I quite enjoyed this implementation of it. The randomness and chaos of this maze with four distinct things to find has an excellent flavor pairing. What did disappoint was there not really being any indication of the threat of gnomes doubling or any kind of time tracking of that threat. Maybe the card mechanic could have tied into this and perhaps increased the number of gnomes encountered (or their frequency by having them show up on more and more card types) as more cards have been drawn. There also isn’t any explanation of why the gnomes haven’t found the marbles, and I was expecting some trivial puzzle or monster guardian around each one to explain why they haven’t done the simple task of grabbing them. Do they get to keep the marbles? If not, why are they listed as single use magic items that the players could accidentally or intentionally use, leaving them no way to complete the maze?

3 thoughts on “One Page Dungeon 2021 Reviews (94-124)

  1. My son and I wrote Glyde’s Gregarious Garden Gnomes in the Gargantuan Gauntlet and we had a lot of fun doing it. Thank you for the comments on how to improve it and we appreciate your input. Take care, Chris (and Alex)

    Like

    1. Thanks for creating it and glad you had fun making it! I often find that the only thing I enjoy more than writing the dungeons I use is watching how my players tear them apart or come up with off-the-wall solutions I hadn’t even thought of.

      Like

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