One Page Dungeon 2021 Reviews (125-153)

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.

Reviews 94-124.

Sean Eyre – In the Home of Arad Tur-gon, Animator …………………………………….. 125

A necromancer dies and everything almost goes to plan, but is locked in his own crypt when his ring is stolen before coming back to life. The players have to sneak around this manor with a not-described number of housekeepers and avoid making noise that draws either their attention or that of the lone house guard. I would have hoped for more events or temptations for the players that revolve around making noise, perhaps a piggy bank they could shatter for money or a loud safe they could try to raid. As it stands, there shouldn’t be much challenge at all staying quiet enough to avoid notice with how empty the manor is. The plot of the entry speaks about recovering an amulet, but there is no mention of it in the manor, is he wearing it and is it part of his necromancy?

Sellsword Games – Vault of the Gargoyle Mage …………………………………………… 126

Someone has been reading up on their Grimtooth. This dungeon is replete with traps and statue-based enemies guarding the library and now tomb of the Gar Mage. The treasures in here are fairly hefty in price, but the danger is also steep, if straightforward. A careful crew could clean this place out. No detail is given for how the Gar Mage cursed himself, which means the DM would have to come up with a follow-up quest and magical nonsense to explain things. Doors with keys not in the dungeon should at least give hints as to where the keys are or that they are lost. As with other entries, please give more detail on the spells used by spellcasting enemies.

Shane R Collins – Ancient Evil in Oakvale ………………………………………………….. 127

The Thing but if it woke up in a medieval fantasy village and had a bit more intelligence but an ego to go with it. I like the concept, but I feel it would have more impact if the players came in the middle of the crisis rather than after it was almost finished. Finding body after body isn’t as tense as trying to save an ever-dwindling group of villagers from a threat they are trying to piece together. Also, its drones shouldn’t be so obvious, but should take on those more obvious behaviors in the presence of its weakness, fire. 

Shawn P. Conlin – The Barrow ………………………………………………………………. 128

This entry is a quick tomb raid in the guise of locating a missing scholar. Turns out, the scholar was actually trying to resurrect the dead guy in the tomb. There isn’t much detail here about who this Coross guy is or what things he did in life, just that he is a seemingly generic evil cult leader. More detail about him would breathe some life into the identities of his undead guards and the living statue that functions as the boss fight for this tomb. 

Simon Forster – The Wailing Manticore ……………………………………………………. 129

A cave-in causes the manticore mother a great deal of heart-ache. Players must carefully traverse the other hazards in this cave and then decide what to do about the manticore. It feels like the grey ooze should be in the bone pit room, rather than one of the ponds. Altogether though, there doesn’t seem to be much challenge or conflict for how much treasure is available in this cave. 

Simon Menanteau-Ledouble – Out of Time! ………………………………………………. 130

When a young mage obsessed with the past tries to go there, they end up causing the very disappearance they wanted to investigate. Players must use rifts in time to jump back and forth between the past and present to navigate dangers and difficulties. This entry could really have used two separate maps for the present and past, the rooms didn’t have much detail so zooming them out wouldn’t lose too much but being able to see both “versions” at the same time would be very helpful to the DM. Many of the rooms feel unfinished or empty. Even a rudimentary description of the rooms would go a long way towards making this feel like a lair under construction rather than a bunch of empty hallways.

Simone Tammetta – The Chronomancer …………………………………………………….131

Random encounters, rooms, and times swirl together in this one page dungeon where the players must search to destroy some magical macguffins. The encounters can be devastatingly damaging, instantly killing a player, aging them severly, or ruining equipment with no warning, hint, or player agency besides exploring a new room. Considering many of the encounters involve time-twisted versions of the players themselves or other adventurers, the fights in this place are incredibly deadly too. It is also weird that the “final boss” of the place the Chronomancer starts off wanting to be defeated but unlucky players will have to fight him if they run into him too many times, which isn’t even something they can predict or control in the slightest. Important plot points and details shouldn’t be left up to random chance. 

Skerples and Isaac Williams – Sutter Cane’s Perilous Peninsula ………………………… 132

A mish-mash of cheesy horror movie tropes, the players are random townsfolk who have realized things are off with their town. There is a list of cliched horror sources, portals to hell, vampires, creepy runes, but no given plot or connecting ideas to link them into anything. The players can explore this town, but it is up to them and DM to create a story or game out of what are just single sentence prompts about a dozen creepy locations around town. 

Spencer Dawdy – Tower of the Crystal Appendages ………………………………………. 133

Productivity experiment gone wrong, this tower is home to the limbs of the risky crystal mage. Each limb has its own wants and desires, but the players can choose to try and help the original regain control of them all or simply loot the place at will. The plot by the eyes in the top of the tower seems a bit tacked out, but overall the different personalities of the appendages makes for a fun tower climb.

Spidfre – Nightingale ……………………………………………………………………….. 134

The entry presents a trio of themed puzzles and a maze for the end goal of retrieving a healing artifact or scroll. The puzzles are a bit simple but straightforward, while allowing for multiple solutions. It even goes far enough to suggest solutions that are intended to work, making it clear that DM is intended to allow clever ideas in a similar vein. There is space in the maze for their to be some guardians or traps to spice up the exploration process, but overall this is a solid trio of riddles for a quick adventure.

Stefan ‘The Moth’ – The Planeshifted Insectarium of St. Tindalonius …………………… 135

Madness and insects reign supreme in this pocket dimension that the adventurers have sought out. They must figure out a way to the spire floating above this dangerous platform in the endless void, likely meaning they will have to solve the problem of one of the inhabitants of this dimension. The monsters here are logically illogical, with their own twisted ways of thinking and upside-down goals. It is confusing where everything is located on the map, some of the monsters and encounters are clear, but others don’t have an obvious drawing in the map telling where is it located. Even some symbology or numbers would be a great help. 

Stephen Tompson – Canal City Heist ……………………………………………………… 136

An excellent example of a heist entry. It gives a rundown of the security measures and layout of the heist target, but devotes the majority of its space to the surrounding area and the factions vying to steal the goods from the players. I do think it would help to cut out one or two of the factions at least to lower the complexity to a more reasonable level, but I applaud the idea of all these factions working at cross purposes, that is the lifeblood of a heist movie! The twist is especially nice that the target is actually a trap for the original heist planner, which there are a few clues set up for the players to pick up on this. 

Steve Kilian – Old School Revival ……………………………………………………………. 137

At least someone had the presence of mind to blow the bridge, or else the slimes infesting this school would have spread far beyond. The players have to figure out what caused the school and messengers to stop responding, while dealing with infectious slimes and students. I would have preferred to see the disease both progress more slowly but also not be so easily cured. It doesn’t make sense that a magic school would fail to have cure disease or cure wounds on hand. Also a slower disease would allow for a steadier race against time that the players can ultimately resolve by perhaps cutting off the connection to the starslimes or discovering a cure.

Steve Leske – The Temple of Stone and Slime ……………………………………………… 138

Stone elementals long abandoned here make for a poor security system for the slime cult that has moved in. They want to be free, I’m assuming by having the adventurers perform the tasks they state, but they aren’t given any abilities or personalities that might persuade the players to free them except altruism. That can be the reason, but adventurers are always looking to get paid, so perhaps some or all of the elementals should have rewards they’ll give? The slime cult is mostly just a couple fights without any real offerings as to why someone might join, which would have been interesting. If you offer a big enough bonus, some players might be tempted to try it out. 

Steve Walsh – The Dirigible of Birtome Corveedus ……………………………………….. 139

This entry focuses on a traveling party derigible/cruise-ship with some swirling rumors and constant partying. A table of locations and NPC’s describe the various spaces and people aboard but don’t give any indication of their spatial relation to one-another nor any difficulties in traveling to any of these spaces. The DM will have to either create a more detailed map themselves or some kind of branching outline for how the players can explore the ship, perhaps making up challenges to do things like gain entry to the captains office or secret snooping station. 

Telmo Leal – Temple of the Rose …………………………………………………………….. 140

When a mysterious giant rose died long ago, it was due to this complex below, stealing its magic. The facility has a handful of rooms with rose-themed encounters and a puzzle, but overall, this doesn’t seem like much of a research facility. It doesn’t contain any answers to what actually happened to the giant rose or this facility, nor does it offer much information about what they discovered about the rose’s magic. Some of the room encounters are left open ended for the DM to fill in, but I would have rather they take a specific direction. A DM can always modify things to suit their campaigns, but it is harder work to take a dungeon written by someone else and put more detail into it. 

Teo Olsen – A Ruined Crypt ………………………………………………………………….141

This quick dungeon holds a handful of monster fights, some simple tricks, and a couple traps. There isn’t much of a theme to the dungeon, but some of the encounters shake things up like the demon statue is actually a bound demon that helps. Perhaps that could be included in the runework as something a more careful adventurer could discover on searching the statue?

Tomas Manuel – The True Dungeon Is The Friends You Made Along The Way ……….. 142

A dungeon outline or idea is presented here as a challenge set up to separate the players and see if they can still work together with intentionally misleading descriptions putting them at odds. I would have liked a more in-game reason that the players have to leave one person behind in each room, because as it stands, I would have to create that magical nonsense reason. Perhaps a touch plate they have to hold with a living person in order to keep the door open? Regardless, I am not a fan of giving misleading instructions to the players so they can figure out a way past the “gotcha”. Telling a player they are now a monster while leaving out the fact that there isn’t anything stopping them from just leaving is either going to get characters killed or be non-trivial when the trick is figured out and the whole group just walks out. 

Tom Walker – The Hexwastes ……………………………………………………………….. 143

An environmental hazard, the obsidian hexwastes, is presented as an exploration obstacle for the adventurers. It lays out the random encounters of this massive, mysterious threat, as well as the inhabitants. They come together quite nicely for a cohesive little space of the world, albeit a weird and dangerous one. The only major things missing are maybe some treasure or knowledge that might draw adventurers here rather than just going around something so obviously hazardous and arduous. 

Tony Garcia – Dimensional Den …………………………………………………………….. 144

Random environments are linked by randomized portals in a one-way chain of rooms, which have randomized monstrous contents. The rooms are flavorfully described but are all just different set dressings for the possibility fo a fight. Also, the dungeon may literally be impossible to complete with the single portals to the next spaces having a random chance to kill a player outright with no warning or save. There should not be any possibility of death in an action that the adventurers are forced to make.

Vance Atkins – Eggs for Breznak ……………………………………………………………. 145

Three factions call these caves home, but the important one is the dragon. Setting the players up as goblins sets the tone of the exploration as one of cunning rather than force, but this could easily be adapted to using established player characters by stepping up the strength of the dragon and enemies within. The long paragraphs grouping multiple rooms makes it hard to reference rooms on the fly as you have to reread the paragraph to find the information you want. Breaking up the rooms more by number or maybe increasing the font size of the room numbers would make it easier to read? I enjoyed that the three factions here had there own little setups, goals, and strategies, it makes for an easier to run dungeon when the players inevitably come up with crazy plans.

Vincent Bettenfeld – Lord Caldrich’s Manor ……………………………………………….. 146

This entry reads like a darker scooby-doo mystery with a small cast of NPC’s that each have some information to give about a disappearance. The players explore the manor to find clues as the truth slowly reveals itself, and then they find the true villain who caused the disappearance as well as the horrible truth of the manor. Even a simple map would go a long way towards giving the players and DM some idea of how close various rooms are to one-another. Also, things are fairly linear in that players need only find clues to cause the next plot point to kick-off like a cutscene in a video game. It isn’t answered whether Father Gordon was going mad or implicated in something. This doesn’t need to be player knowledge, but the DM should be told so they can run things to match. 

Vincent Raitt – Are You Smarter Than a Kobold? ………………………………………….. 147

Kobolds doing what they do best, turning dungeons into trap-filled death runs. I find it curious that the kobolds don’t lay any traps in the tunnels they’ve dug nor do they seem to go to any effort to hide the tunnels, unless I missed something. Having a written down battle-strategy for the kobolds, perhaps with more or less deviousness to scale the difficulty, would have gone a long way to improving the defensive feeling of this place rather than just a few kobolds seeming to hang out unrelatedly in different rooms. Noting on the map the locations of traps with a quick reference table makes this easy to use on the fly, very helpful when utilizing this many traps in a single dungeon.

Warklegnaw – Sunnalee Cavern …………………………………………………………….. 148

For spelunkers that like the additional danger of risking petrification, this cave has what you want. The water which causes petrification to set in is a constant threat and features prominently in the other hazards as well. Rushing bats or dripping waters can put out your lights, making it hard to find your way back out before you turn to stone. I would like to see more clues about sunlight being the cure as well as warnings of the danger be more obvious. Maybe rats petrified inside the cave and in the caves shadow but wildlife freely drinking from the stream outside? 

William James Cuffe – Endless Blue: The Price of Progress ………………………………. 149

When a local tribe decides to abandon their old ways to survive, a local hag issues an ultimatum. The players are threatened to intervene and solve the conflict, or be lumped in with the tribe and face consequences too. The map is a bit confusing, as it mentions islands and the map being blue so I was wondering how the tribe was strip-mining underwater, only to realise that the color coding is for elevation not water. Overall, this is an extended philosophical puzzle or metaphor left open-ended for group to solve. 

xattttta – Asylum after massacre ……………………………………………………………. 150

A torture chamber, prison, and psychiatric hospital with sprinklings of ethnic cleansing camps. While there are some interesting ideas for challenge, such as how to fight through a room tightly packed with undead, the execution of this entry hits a little to close to the actual horrors of extermination that it makes me uncomfortable to run something like this. The ghost kitten aspect feels tacked on and disconnected from the horrors of this place, and harsh in that it feels like none of the other dead here get a similar amount of closure.

Yeomsley – A Cluck in Time …………………………………………………………………..151

This entry is the setup for a ground-hogs day style time loop where the players have to figure out how to exit the loop. There is plenty to discover and lots of angles of attack for the group to try out in ending the time-loop, but I would have liked for the other various factions to both have a red-herring reason they could be causing a time-loop like the gremlins maybe messing with some artifact or the naiad casting a curse on the town for polluting or something. 

Yevor – Shrine of the Slithering Mage ……………………………………………………… 152

Turf war between satyrs and bird-men who are in the last steps of removing the old, and insane, keepers of this mountain temple. What questions does the scroll storage spirit ask and what scrolls are stored there? The knowledge it could contain seems like the most valuable treasure in this place.

Yusef Shari’ati – Beseeching the Sage of Amethyst Peak …………………………………. 153

Mountain-top exploration and a trip to the sage at the top holds many mind-bending encounters for the adventurers. The encounters all have the same, meditative but out there vibe that brings a strong flavor to the whole entry that gels quite well with the time limit imposed on the players. I would have liked to see an encounter or two that offers immediate reward for spending time, implicitly making the success of the overall quest more uncertain. Some of the encounters are weird in ways that the players won’t know or understand the mechanisms, and are thus likely to ignore rather than test to explore them. They could use more hints or descriptors of the possibilities so the players make informed choices.

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