One Page Dungeon Contest 2016: Results
This year, my entry was Thaw.
THAW is a dungeon able to be inserted anywhere a lost research facility could be found. The players will race against time to get treasure before the cold gets to them, but they have to wait for ice blockages to melt to get around. Treasures aren’t the only things defrosting in here…
With the results posted, I am happy to announce that I am one of the grand prize winners!
Now, I’d like to go through the other winners and list out my favorites from among them, including a short blurb on my opinions of the One Page Dungeon.
Khelren’s Orient Express: While the level of detail in this 1920’s era horror-train in astounding, I struggle to see what agency is involved on the part of the players. The various NPC’s are well fleshed out, the motivation of various actors are neatly detailed, and the train comes to live from its description, but there isn’t really any goals for players to work on. Unless the document means for players to take on the roles of various NPC’s, but then it would probably fit better as a one page dinner mystery rather than a one page dungeon.
Maezar’s Dungeon of Abkadev: This is a proper dungeon chalk full of puzzle rooms, monsters, and tricks. Every room can be used as part of this dungeon scenario or taken and used elsewhere. Where this map suffers is that it can be difficult to track what room entry connects to which description, so make sure you read this well ahead of when you plan to use it. I’ll be printing this one off to keep in my folder of ‘my players went outside of what I had prepared’.
Michael Prescott’s The Sky-Blind Spire: The spire is a beautifully drawn dungeon that evocatively lays out each room. Their is an interesting gimmick for players to solve the dungeon involving entering rooms in the correct order. I might house-rule it so they only lose some progress rather than having to start completely over, just to keep things moving in play. This one is going in my ‘plan to put this in a mountain hex’ folder.
Mike Shea’s Chambers of the Dread Titan: A simple map belies that dark deeds going on in this dungeon. I enjoy the dark themes and alien entities that this place hints at, while being inhabited by a more recent influx of your bog-standard cultists and demons. There is some random rolling for traps and a cleverly condensed, multipurpose naming table that will need some prep time. I always enjoy tombs that *wink and *nudge at past times of higher technology or aliens as they fit into fantastic themes, so this one is going to be in a dark corner of my next campaign world.
PJ Cunningham’s The Signal: This dungeon is set up more as a gazeteer listing the points of interest in bermuda in the late 1930’s. It features ghosts and alien horrors, while keeping the document focused on the outline and skeleton of a whole mini-adventure rather than getting down into the weeds of fine details. If that’s your thing, it is a good read, but I will be picking apart the choice bits to frankenstien into my own adventures rather than using this one wholesale.
Tim McDonald’s Griswald’s Shifting Dungeon: A new twist on an old concept of a dungeon moving and shifting around the explorers. Tim fills the nine generic-feeling rooms by using random encounters and traps. These all could have plenty more flavor injected into them and been more interesting rather than simply feeling like a grab-bag of different monsters and traps in differently shaped rooms. The treasure also feels a bit large given the challenge the place offers, but that is an easy fix. What I do appreciate greatly is his simple rules for shifting and generating Griswald’s Dungeon, but it stand to be bolded to find more easily on the page. I will be stealing the shifting dungeon design and idea, but I doubt this one will see play.
Will Doyle’s The Quintessential Dungeon: This dungeon holds up its end of the bargain, given its name. In its lovingly drawn halls are every manner of trap, trick, encounter, and monster you would expect if you took a list of the top gaming tropes. I am glad that Will went whole hog into the trope idea, because it actually fits well with the (itself-a-trope) of the wizard using a dungeon as a recruiting and winnowing tool. The beauty of using tropes is that he can evoke so much with a few sentences on each room. This dungeon hits all the right buttons for me and will be a planned dungeon in a future hex crawl.
Stay tuned, as I’ll be going through all of the entries once they are posted. I’ll be picking out my favorites and giving my response for every one of them. If you are one of the creators, feel free to chime in to tell me how I’m stupid for missing something obvious. If you are not, feel free to share your opinions of the One Page Dungeons of 2016.