Not all of these entries are real favorites of mine. I figured that if I were only going to pick the entries that I would really want to play, then I’d end up with a very narrow selection, where as I took the One Page Dungeon Contest to also stand for the incredible breadth of ideas out there. That’s why I picked several entries that I did not like that much, just because they seemed to be the best within their particular category. I guess I’m trying to force myself to be a bit more open minded, hehe.
Anyway, enough talk. Let’s get to the actual material! All of these eventually ended up on my initial list of 20 nominations.
The Gray Goblin Warrens by Christopher Brackett: The map for this entry is very beautiful. There was another, similar entry, The Foetid Pit Beneath the Abdandoned Shrine by Sean Morris. The Foetid Pit was nice, the illustration beautiful, the in-map labels magnificient, but it lacked intelligent opposition. This is something I really like. And the Gray Goblin Warrens did not only have an intelligent opposition, it also had a red dragon!
I nominated both entries, thinking of them as belonging to the “beautiful hand-drawn caves” category. But when push came to shove, I liked the Gray Goblins better.
Too bad the entry did not feature any potential allies, as far as I could tell. Escaped nameless prisoners on random encounter charts don’t count. I also didn’t like the unusual map key using unsorted acronyms instead of numbers. That took some getting used to. Also, beautiful caves are somewhat hard to map. But it looks soooo evocative!
The Chapel of Fire by David Nett: Strangely enough my notes say “bored devils summoned in a ruined dwarven chapel and naked halflink + Duke Nuke’em kobold.” What was I thinking? Looking at the adventure again, I see that there is a kobold hiding in a latrine. Nice move. I liked that. There’s also a naked halfling trying to hide from the devils. The key says “Devils know he’s here and think it is funny.” I liked that. There is no explanation for why these two are in here amongst all the devils; I’m assuming they are unfortunate prisoners that have escaped and are now realizing how futile this is.
I liked the map, which brings home the point that these devils can teleport and ordinary people cannot. Plus there are many little crawlways connecting the various elements that have not yet caved-in. I liked this semi-realistic setting.
The map sort of suggests that there might be multiple goals in here: Defeating the devils, rescuing the halfling, finding and consecrating the dwarven altar.
Shrine of the Rodent God by Gabriel Perez: The first room starts with an “in your face” trap. I like that. The magic mouth gives you instructions and everybody immediately suspects that something is going to happen – but nobody knows what. I also like it that you can get to the other side of the trap and loot it.
The best part about this dungeon are the various lycanthropes that the players might ally themselves with. There’s a wererat, a werebat, and a werecat “of the Feline Order” – hell yeah! – trying to fight them. I like the setup!
White Room by Robin Spacey aka. Greywulf: I didn’t like this entry so much. I don’t think I’ll ever use it for actual play. But there were similar random dungeon creation entries, and so obviously people felt there was a need for an entry in this category.
Looking at all the various random dungeon entries, this one was the only entry with an obvious riddle aspect to it: How to escape? And it was sufficiently meta with the magic writing introducing new facts into the game world that I laughed when read it. I still chuckle when I think about it.
I might have enjoyed playing this entry in a one-shot, maybe at the end of a convention, or after a three day skiing holiday with friends in the Swiss mountains. It’d be funny.
Tomb of the Unhallowed Bride by J Zamzow: There were various undead entries. I didn’t like most of them because undead sometimes scream skeleton and zombie bashing to me. That’s not something I’d enjoy. But again, with a lot of entries in this category, I figured I should also nominate an undead adventure.
Looking at all the undead entries, I liked this one the best. It is very short and straight forward as well as somewhat incomplete. There’s room that the DM needs to fill, thereby making it his own. There’s a ghost to put to rest, lawful good guardians to prevent this, some tomb-robbing to do, and a disgusting trap. Looks like a nice and short ghost setup to me.
Ruined Dwarven Artificer Lab and Temple by Jay Vandendool: This entry was also a rather small entry. The map is simple and straight forward. What makes this entry interesting is the combination of terrain and guards: “Ruined stone bridge now crossed by an old slippery log. Several orc warriors are stationed here to guard the lair.” Very nice. A place to test your balance skill, or your archer.
The terrain is also integrated into a big trap. There were in fact several entries that involved getting into a particular place, do something which triggers a trap, forcing you to retreat as quickly as possible. Within the category of “last room triggers a trap”, this particular entry wins because the trap needs to be activated by two guards. The terrain provides multiple ways to discover the guards, to sneak up to them, and so on. It makes the approach interesting.
Lessons Learnt: So what would I change in my Water Temple entry if I were to resubmit it? I liked the big map with the in-map notes. I liked the multiple entrances, and the multiple goals. I also had some interesting terrain with the pools and swimming opponents. But clearly it lacked potential allies. It also lacked an in your face map that challenges the players! It could have used stronger, named NPCs with a personality trait. Maybe a third party in the dungeon.
Continued: 2009-07-19 One Page Dungeon Contest Favorites.