The One Page Dungeon contest is, unbelievably, entering its sixth year. It began with a discussion about how minimal an adventure module could be, and the blogger ChgoWiz created a one-page template. The idea is construct an adventure that could be used on the spur of the moment by a competent DM and which fits — map, key, and anything else — on one side of a sheet of paper.
Honestly I sometimes wonder if the arbitrary limit of one page is really better than, say, a one sheet dungeon, or five pages, etc. I do appreciate the fact that imposing a form or limit actually fuels creativity, though, and most importantly as a DM I find OPDs to be an incredibly important resource! Whether I just steal a map, an idea, or use the whole thing, I have often found that a one-page summary of an adventure is a great tool to have on hand for those all-too-common days when you have 30 minutes or less to prepare for the gaming session because of work, family, and other obligations. They are also great to have on hand for when the players change course unexpectedly, or want to see what’s just off the edge of what you’ve mapped out, and so on.
In 2011 I began “giving back” and I have entered an OPD each year since. My first entry (“The Belly of the Beast”) actually won a prize, which was nice, as I’d specially created the adventure for the contest, but I was able to use it in play before the contest, and since then I have resisted the temptation to create dungeons especially for the contest. (Honestly, the bar has been set so high for artwork that I am not in the running anyway.) Instead I have been adapting adventure I’ve actually used to the OPD format. The “Misty Pond” and the “Panopticon of Peril” were both pivotal adventures in my “Telengard” Campaign, and this year’s entry — “The Pit” — is a site that has seen some use in two campaigns. So unlike many entries, mine have always been play-tested in some format before the contest.
Though I greatly prefer the traditional “dungeon crawl” OPDs to the more, ahem, clever entries that push the boundaries of what a dungeon is, this year I am trying something a little more ambitious. The Pit has a very simple map, and almost no pre-established encounters. Instead, it is more of procedure or framework upon which you could build an extended campaign. And like my campaign, The Pit is designed to easily accommodate OPDs, improvised dungeons, or entire modules. Each circle of the open pit mine is themed, like a dungeon level, and the DM can stock it with encounters from the included chart, but it will really come to life if you add on other OPDs. I’ve selected one OPD from prior years for each circuit of the Pit’s winding path down. In effect, the “big idea” of my OPD this year is to create an explicit format for what a lot of DMs might already be doing — constructing a megadungeon out of OPDs and other small adventures designed by other people.
Anyway, if I can put together something scanning a markers drawing and using Google Drive to create a PDF document, ANYONE can. And if you use MS Office or OpenOffice you can use Chgowiz’s templates! Get on it, there is still time to enter the contest.
<Update — just looked at some of the entries and I am pretty impressed to see a lot of new names as well as some really talented people who have entered before. FWIW my OPD can be downloaded over on the sidebar under downloads.
I decided to stick with my original, crude drawing which I’d made one night with markers on some funky grid + diagonals graph paper. After messing with Google Drive’s drawing tool for way too long, all managed was this:Which was basically a trace of the original spiral and a bunch of Telecanter’s awesome, public domain silhouettes replacing my icons. Pasting them in and shrinking them down in Drive was laborious and slow, so I gave up.>