The One Page Dungeon Contest (1PDC) was first announced on Musings of the Chatty DM, Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG Blog, Sham's Grog'n Blog, The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope, and Critical Hits in April 2009. If you’re looking for some background, check out Dave’s One Page Dungeons retrospective. If you’re looking for a project that really dug into the concept early on, check out Mike’s Stonehell.

2017-05-01 Darkloch

I decided to create a submission for the One Page Dungeon Contest after all. I wanted to see how useful Gridmapper would be in such a situation.

And once again I tried to find a good solution for publishing. I tried to write a Markdown document and convert it to PDF using Pandoc. It worked, but it also generated four pages. Instead of trying to fiddle with all the options, I instead opted to use Libre Office and it was relatively quick and easy.

Also, as getting everything on one page, I just don’t have the time and energy to make it nice.

It’s not very original. But I guess that’s just what it is. I read all the cool and fantastic mind blowing stuff other people are doing online, but my own campaigns are far more pedestrian.


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2014-05-31 One Page Dungeon Contest 2014

The One Page Dungeon Contest 2014 page has a link to all the PDF files.

The instructions I have seen to download all the files where these:

  1. Visit the folder view.
  2. Click the blue Add to Drive button.
  3. The button changes to an Open in Drive button. Click it again.
  4. Then click on the “1pdc-2014-entries-pdf” folder itself and see the little triangle.
  5. Click it and click on the Download… menu item.
  • -If that doesn’t work for you (if you don’t have Google Drive, for example), you can also get the 1PDC 2014 zip file and all the individual entries from my Wuala account.


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2014-04-28 The Village

OK, time to give my entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2014 a spin!

The entry grew out of my Recovering from a lame session blog post. You can get the SVG sources from my GitHub account. I’ve used the Noticia Text font by JM Solé (downloaded it from Google Fonts – click Add “Noticia Text” to your collection, then click the ⬇ down arrow, and choose to download the zip file). I’ve used Jez Gordon’s DungeonFu to create the three little maps.

Right, got my 3d6 and I’m ready to roll.

Inn: Delikatessen. Remember the movie? Clearly something fishy is going on in this red-orange inn. Rumors of cannibalism, I say!

Name: Gorknok. Sounds like an orc to me. Too obvious? A redcap disguised as a gnome. He calls himself “Gorki”, of course.

The faction leaders, traits, goals:

  1. Spider Ali, a magic user, careful, has escape planned, defend HQ
  2. Silent Sereina, a cleric, funny, friendly (join her faction?), return my book
  3. Patra the Good, a fighter, well educated (might help us later?), defend HQ

Looks like an all female cast to me, and all the positive traits. Androgynous Ali in her spider webs, white Sereine, lost in thought, and Patra the Good, the good ... fighter? I’m thinking a strong, bulky woman. No nonsense. Thinking of the magic item with the Set connection, I’m going to say Sereina is a protegé of Set, maybe the campaign can find inspiration from the Legend of the White Snake? I guess Sereina is in love with a man that is currently imprisoned somewhere. A potential lead for where the campaign might go: “My husband has left to study a the Seven Harmonies monastery and not returned...”

The goals are weird. I guess Silent Sereina is the active one. She really wants back her book. I guess the two others are on the defensive. The first scene should be agents of Set attacking minions of Spider Ali, at Delikatessen, where the party is meeting up.

Who else is there? Rolling for a conspicuous person... Ælvig, a singing huldra looking for a man (HD 3). Another woman! She has a fox tail, but hides it. Of course the party members will spot it. Mentioning it, however, is a grave insult. Remember that a huldra is somehow hollow inside and lined with bark, open at the back. It’s weird, and terrible. If any of the players is interested in the weirdness of faerie love and faerie courtship, this would be an opportunity.

Let’s look at the magic items. I get:

  1. elven sword
  2. bane cards
  3. ring of djinn mastery

Clearly, the book is not amongst the magic items! How about the The Investigation into the True Names and Habits of the Lords of Air. The person with the ring of djinn mastery – Ali — borrowed the book because it was necessary to learn more about the ring. A close encounter with a djinn resulted in great damage to the book. Spider Ali thinks its disgraceful to return this book and sent ample gold instead. Sereina feels there is more to this and decides to up the ante. So, Spider Ali has the ring.

Patra the fighter owns the elven sword and realizes that it might grant access to elven lands. But this would require some elves. Make a not for later. If one of the players is interested in elves, the campaign could go there. We need some elves nearby! The elves of Red Acorn forest are at war with pig men. Will you join them, hoping to win their favor?

That leaves the bane cards. They are in the hands of the redcap Gorki. Should the players spend too much time at the inn, the redcap will use the cards on one of the characters when they’re alone and kill them, and prepare a cannibal feast for any who would join him. Uncovering these shape shifting recap is going to be a side quest.

I guess we’re done? Get a monster book and write down some stats? As for maps, I’m not going to use the tower twice.

Spider Ali keeps tamed war spiders instead of animated objects in her tower. Let’s say he has has the spell charm spider instead of charm object. The spiders’ poison is not lethal. It paralyzes victims for an hour. Oh, and give Ali a web spell instead of read thoughts.

Silent Sereina is running a little temple and has ten followers and two acolytes (C1) with light spells they’ll use to blind foes. Patra the Good has taken up residence in an old bakery and running a little protection racket in order to finance her visit to the Red Acorn forest. You’ll have to bring gifts for the elven lords, right?

The thing took me a bit less than an hour. What do you think? A useful tool? Not efficient enough? It’s probably faster if you don’t spend time googling for images and writing it up as a blog post. 😏


Comments on 2014-04-28 The Village

I’m getting a 404 on the Download PDF link.

Paul Gorman 2014-12-14 16:47 UTC

Whoops! Fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

AlexSchroeder 2014-12-14 19:40 UTC

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2014-04-27 Recovering from a lame session

I recently read a Google+ post by Dallas M where he says that his game didn’t go well. He suspects too many beers and considers nuking the game. Here’s what I said:

It happens. I’m not sure what the exact fail moment was, so I’m just going to assume “players didn’t know where to go and had no ideas so they got drunk and picked on each other and nothing interesting happened”. I’m also assuming low level characters in a typical starting village in a frontier region. My basic advice is “send ninjas” except I’m going to be more specific than that. 😃

In order to get the campaign back on track, I’d prepare three mini-adventures consisting each of an interesting NPC boss, something they want (an item, a service, protection), and their minions. Basically one of these groups is going to attack the players, another group will seek the help of players, the other is there as you backup if one or the other needs help, or an additional complication. Trying to put the pressure on players, force them to pick allies and enemies, run it, and after the session you can build on that: add allies in need of help, enemy organizations grow, NPCs hide in strongholds (small dungeons).

Three sections for your notebook or for an index card each:


Make sure you use a reaction roll to determine how these NPCs react to players and surprise yourself as well as your players with unexpected results.

Random list of wants:

  1. his or her son’s engagement ring, which he lost in a rigged bet
  2. a overdue book borrowed from her personal library
  3. an apology by another NPC for what they said yesterday at the Roaring Boar
  4. proof of cooperation of another NPC with a newly arrived monster tribe in the region
  5. protection from the minions of another NPC looking to steal a supposed treasure map
  6. the return of a son or daughter that has run off with the thieving gang run by another NPC

Minions need to be prepared. Start with one or two dozen minions. Thieves, kobolds, lobster men, hooligans (fighters without armor), mercenaries (fighters with armor). Split these up into groups of random size. Some will be easy to overpower, some the party will have to avoid, outsmart, split up, and so on. Being able to recognize bad odds and being able to do something about it allows players to use strategy, to decide when to pick fights. When in a fight, make sure you use morale checks in order to provide your players with surrenders, traitors, opportunities to show mercy or cruelty.

Locations need to be prepared. Start with very small maps. This is where you should have treasure, tricks, traps, and the NPC. Make sure you use reaction rolls if the party decides to parley in order to surprise yourself and your players!

At first, the sandbox elements happens between sessions. Players only get to choose between three groups that are actively engaging with the players. Player reactions determine where the sandbox will grow between sessions. We just need to make sure is that players always have a handful of things to do, always a choice to make.

Time passes and I decided to try and make it into an entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2014! You can get the SVG sources from my GitHub account or download the PDF. I’ve used the Noticia Text font by JM Solé (downloaded it from Google Fonts – click Add “Noticia Text” to your collection, then click the ⬇ down arrow, and choose to download the zip file). I’ve used Jez Gordon’s DungeonFu to create the three little maps.


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2014-04-07 One Page Dungeon Contest

I’ve been trying to think of an entry for One Page Dungeon Contest and I keep coming up empty. I think I need to simply prep an upcoming adventure for my ongoing campaign and put it all on one page. How do you come up with your submission?



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2014-01-02 Bryce Likes My Adventure

About two months ago, I submitted an adventure to Bryce Lynch’s Adventure Design Contest. And the results are in!

Bryce has nothing but kind words for my submission as far as I can tell:

This one page adventure packs the full punch that one would expect from Alex. Great NPC’s, great little encounters, all delivered in the “expanded crib notes” format that a one-page dungeon provides for. Good outline of a good adventure. – Bryce Lynch, Contest Winners! Bryce’s 2013 Adventure Design Contest is OVER!


I’m particularly proud of the way I tried to make every word count. I wanted to keep things short and I think I succeeded when Bryce writes “Alex has a knack for coming up with exactly the right words to use to bring a maximum amount of flavor in a minimal number of words”. Yay!

Bryce also points out the major weakness of my submission: it’s very linear. I stripped some items from my original notes: two more NPCs from Uncaged: Faces of Sigil, a false lead to Hopeless, the Gatetown to the Grey Waste, ... but even if I had made it a two page adventure, it wouldn’t have changed a thing because this adventure is “essentially, just the notes that many DM’s will write up before an adventure. A rough outline.”

If you ever use it, let me know. I’d love to hear about it!

Unfortunately the contest dropped off the radar pretty quickly. There weren’t too many entries, as far as I can tell. I had the same problem with the One Page Dungeon Contest in recent years. I don’t know what to do about it. When I keep blowing that trumpet, it feels like spam.

See how I subtly provided myself with the opportunity to repeat something that has been on my mind, lately? I’m not planning on running the One Page Dungeon Contest 2014. I’m looking for somebody to take over. Interested? Let me know!

I should ask Bryce to just run the 1PDC and skip the sponsors and prizes.

Update: Random Wizard has offered to run the One Page Dungeon Contest 2014!


Comments on 2014-01-02 Bryce Likes My Adventure

Woot, congrats!

Tim Shorts 2014-01-03 04:29 UTC

Thanks, Tim!

AlexSchroeder 2014-01-03 10:09 UTC

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2013-11-26 Licenses and Followup Projects

Today I was asked via email whether the author of a One Page Dungeon released under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license could revisit the adventure and release a different (longer?) version using a different license. Here’s what I replied, slightly edited.

You can release everything you ever wrote under as many licenses as you want. Thus, you can work on your previous One Page Dungeon Contest entry, with the same map or a different map, the same or a different text and release it under a proprietary license, a Creative Commons license, or whatever other license you like. The situation is different if you’re building on somebody else’s work: somebody else’s map, somebody else’s monsters, etc. This is true for any other of your One Page Dungeons. You wrote it, you get to change it and release it anyway you want. The only thing you cannot do is prevent other people from building on those old One Page Dungeons that you released under a CC license. But that covers only that particular map, that particular text and doesn’t affect anything else you care to publish.

You’re good to go! :)


Feel free to send me any other licensing questions. I’m not a lawyer but I’ve been thinking about licensing issues for a long time. 8-)


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2013-11-16 How To Run A Contest

I’ve recently received an email by somebody who wondered whether I’d be willing to spread the word of his contest and whether I knew anybody willing to sponsor prizes. When I started running the One Page Dungeon Contest I decided that I’d document my “process” and make this information public so that anybody who is willing to put in the hours can kickstart their own process.

The page Comments on One Page Dungeon Contest 2012 is a good place to start. It has a checklist with all the things you need to think of. It has copies of all the announcements I wrote (click Edit this page at the bottom to get the bbCode format which you can then easily adapt and paste into you own announcements on most forums); it has copies of the postings themselves (effectively listing all the forums I posted to); it also has links to the Twitter account, Facebook page and Google+ page I used to spread the word; it also has copies of the emails I wrote to past and new sponsors. If you want to build a list of sponsors, I think your best bet is to just write to as many publishers as you can think of and post an open call for sponsors in your announcement. It takes time, but the lists of past sponsors gives you a head start.

All of the sponsors I contacted were super nice. The worst that ever happened was that a person I contacted did not reply. No harm done! One prospective sponsor also wanted me to sign a contract I found unacceptable, but the people I was in touch with were all extremely friendly. So, my conclusion is that it never hurts to ask nicely.

I even kept my todo list online. I guess there is not much interesting to learn from that. It was mostly stuff I wanted to write down in the months preceding the official announcement in order to not forget anything. Sponsors that contacted me ahead of time. Judges who volunteered ahead of time.

There are similar pages for 2010, 2011 and 2013. You also need to figure out how to distribute prizes. Back in 2011 I wrote bout the tricky balance of privacy and transparency. You will also need to think about licensing issues. People will discuss it online. No matter how obvious you think it is, there will always be people who don’t understand how it works and who feel entitled to be as rude as they want. You’ll need to be able to handle this, too.

Anyway. Take a look at the notes I wrote in 2012. Anybody can do it. The question is... Do you want to run the One Page Dungeon Contest 2014?

For now, take a look at these two upcoming contests:

ok: :)

Case in point, today Stuart’s announcement says “All entries will be collected into one PDF released under the creative commons license.” Given my past interactions with angry dudes on the Internet makes me wonder: Which CC license? And will participants understand that depending on the exact license anybody can take the PDF and release a print product, and ask money for it? I recommend being as precise as possible. ;)

Read Choose a License on the Creative Comons web site.

Allow modifications of your work?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes, as long as others share alike

Allow commercial uses of your work?

  • Yes
  • No

To answer the last question, you might want to read Defining Noncommercial on the Creative Commons website. Consider this sentence in the executive summary, for example: “Both creators and users generally consider uses that earn users money or involve online advertising to be commercial”. Remember how many websites that might offer the PDF for download also involve online advertising.

And then there’s Other criticism of the non-commercial license on Wikipedia to consider...

I also recommend reading Free Culture. :)

The importance of Unprofessionalism.


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2013-10-21 1PDC in print

1PDC 2013 After announcing it on Facebook and on Google+ and on Twitter I guess I should announce it here as well: The One Page Dungeon Contest 2013 is available in print!

Woohoo, Brett Bernstein has done it again. Thanks!

The CC Share Alike license makes it possible. This is great. Somewhere in the store you can also get the 2012 book, if you’d like that.

The yearly PDFs with all the entries remains freely available. I’m assuming you know what you’re buying if you’re ordering the book. :)

The main reason I feel the need to post it here, however, is this angry rant.

Here’s a FAQ compiled by -C of Hack & Slash, the result of a discussion on Google+:

Isn’t the content of this book available for free? Yes. The contest is available here.

Are the authors receiving any of the money from the PDF? No, but that is due to the terms under which they released their work, the Creative Commons Share-Alike License.

Is this legal? Yes. It is allowed under the terms of the license. You have the same option to do this as anyone else.

Do the contest managers know? Yes, this work was done with their knowledge and by request.

Can’t I do this at Lulu? Yes, the cost for a 116 page full color softcover book will run you 28.96$. Other complexities due to the nature of the contest make printing this book not easy, due to possible font embedding, transparency, and file size issues.

Is there any new art or content? No, it is the entries from 2013 along with the winners from 2010 and 2011.

Is this printed using lightning source or a local printer? The publisher has no comment on internal logistics.

Are the authors aware of this project? Some of them, those that have been contacted [by Brett] were supportive.

Will this be available in stores? Yes, retailers can order it through Ingram. Hobby stores that don’t use Ingram will also be able to order through Indie Press Revolution in the next few weeks.

Why doesn’t Amazon mention any of this? They take text from various lookups, which don’t always contain the latest information. Changes can be suggested, but that doesn’t mean they will be made.

Brett also said: “I make enough per book at amazon just to cover printing costs. I did this as a service for the RPG hobby, so people who do not have access to printing services could get this at a reasonable price.” (in the comments of the same Google+ thread)

As for me personally, the CC license is fundamental. I absolutely want people to copy and distribute the resulting dungeons. I want people to be able to host them on their websites even if they (or Google) are making money off of it. I want people to be able to print them even if they (or Lulu) are making money off of it. As far as I am concerned, creating One Page Dungeons for everybody to use and spread as they see fit and without having to ask for a permission is the entire point of the contest. Not everybody needs to share this point of view, of course, but that’s why I run this contest in particular.

If you’re an author, and you still feel disappointed or hoodwinked... I don’t know what to say. I honestly felt that it was obvious enough. Here’s how the instructions to the One Page Dungeon Contest 2013 start:

Submissions: Here’s how to submit your entry.

  1. Create a One Page Dungeon.
  2. Submitting a dungeon to the contest releases it under the Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license with credit to the contest participant.
  3. The submission must have a name, an author, and a link to the license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/).

On the One Page Dungeon there is another section that doesn’t mince words:

License: The PDF doesn’t need an actual clickable link to the Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The URL just has to be readable when printed so that people can look it up if they need to. The license basically says that anybody can copy, change, and distribute your submission, as long as other people can take the new copy and do the same, and as long as they list all the contributing authors. As the author you can distribute copies using a different license, but you cannot revoke the Creative Commons license. Thus you cannot sell “exclusive rights” to somebody else at a later date. See the license itself for more information. :)

“The license basically says that anybody can copy, change, and distribute your submission, as long as other people can take the new copy and do the same, and as long as they list all the contributing authors.” It seems pretty straight forward to me. If you have a suggestion regarding the wording, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.

I remember reading Justin Alexander’s One-Page Rip-Off post in 2010 where he said anybody could upload the free PDF to Lulu and buy their own copy. Please do it! You are free to do it. That’s what’s so great about it. There is no need to ask. Unfortunately, nobody stepped forward in 2010 and 2011 to actually do it. Or perhaps they did it and never offered it to anybody else. In 2012, Brett stepped forward and actually made it happen: The 1PDC in print, for those of us who’d like to have it without feeling like doing it ourselves. And he did it again in 2013. Thanks! :)


Comments on 2013-10-21 1PDC in print

Thank you, Alex, for addressing the issues I asked about in my “angry rant”.

I think contest entrants need to know that the license allows someone to SELL their work without notification or payment to the original creator. You don’t make that clear in any of the material for the contest, although the license link itself does indicate that others may make commercial use of the material. “anybody can copy, change, and distribute,” is not the same as “anybody can copy, change, distribute, or sell”.

Could you please make that clear for next year’s entrants?

mwschmeer 2013-10-21 13:13 UTC

As someone without a Google+ account, I can’t access the discussion thread you link to where these issues are discussed. Could someone please post the contents of that thread somewhere?

mwschmeer 2013-10-21 13:27 UTC

Contact -C.

AlexSchroeder 2013-10-21 13:41 UTC

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