2012 One Page Dungeon Contest

The 2012 One Page Dungeon contest does not seem to be getting as much buzz as last year’s, and it could be the fact that not quite as many companies have stepped forward to offer prizes as did in 2011, but if anything there are more entries now than there were at this time in 2011!  I doubt anyone does this for the prizes, although they are certainly a nice incentive.  The current entries look like an interesting mix of traditional dungeon crawls, campy weirdness, and unique adventure ideas — or at least that’s my impression based on the names of the entries, the blog posts about them, and the handful I’ve actually seen.  The whole point of the contest is to encourage the gaming community to share useful, brief adventure ideas and from that point of view it looks like another good year!  I still think someone should publish the compilations on heavy stock in three-ring binders!   I’d buy that.  Anyway, still time to enter, or donate a prize.  Get on it.

I had an idea for a sort of caper-style OPD, and it is a bit simpler than my 2011 entry, which I needed a lot of help with on the map.  This time around I found a public domain image and just added some letters as a key; it will probably be the worst map in the contest but I think the scenario itself is kind of interesting and the map provides enough detail for a DM to fill in as desired, so I’m actually OK with that and will go ahead and enter it.

The basic idea is that there is a ‘panopticon’ type prison which serves as the location of the adventure. Whether the players are there to rescue a prisoner, destroy the whole thing for the common good, or just steal whatever they can, doesn’t really matter.  It’s main purpose to provide a challenge; parties that scout carefully will probably do a lot better than hack & slay types, if it is run as written.

The ‘boss’ (or warden) of the prison was a beholder as I originally wrote it, but then I began to wonder if that is a trademarked term, and anyway a more unique boss occurred to me while I was explaining to someone else — the “real” panopticon was invented as a concept by Jeremy Bentham, an 18th century philosopher and eccentric who had his body preserved and put on display after his death.  Among the interesting details was that his head was badly preserved and the executors decided to replace his head, on the mummy, with a wax copy; the real head was kept under his seated mummy’s chair.  So, it is not much of a stretch to imagine the warden as a mummy who sits silently watching everything…but with a spare head, perhaps the mummy is basically a decoy, and the boss is just the disembodied head, which might lay there inconspicuously like a demi-lich, or fly about gonzo-style, shooting laser beams from its eyes!

The head of Jeremy Bentham, once kept under the chair of his mummy, but now locked away somewhere in a vault.  Those are his feet on either side.

Bentham called his mummy cabinet an ‘Auto-icon’, which has a nice ring to it.


No. Appearing: 1; HD 10; AC: 19 [1]; Move: 12″ (fly); Attacks: special; Save: Cleric10

An auto-icon is a mummified body, usually of a sage, wizard, or high priest, that is made up to look like it did in life.  In some cases the face and or even the whole head may be replaced with a wax replica; in these cases the real head may become animated by necromancy or some other unknown process.  Depending on the particulars of its creation, an autoicon may be undead, or merely a construct like a golem.  Autoicons, if disturbed, will attack.  The whole body may be animated, if it is intact, and in this case the autoicon does not fly, but may wield weapons or magic items.  If the head is detached, is can fly.  In any case the autoicon’s eyes may use any of the potent gaze and beam attacks of an ‘Eye tyrant’.  They sometimes guard vast treasures, but may also simply be exhibited at places important to them in life.

Published in: on April 15, 2012 at 9:08 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m very surprised by the upsurge in submissions this year – if we’re going to get a proportional amount of last minute submissions the judges will have to quite a bit of reading!

    As for publishing the adventures in print—or publishing an anthology of their preferred adventures—I think that would be awesome. If anybody out there is reading it and thinks that this should be trivial but they don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, I’d like to encourage them and go ahead with it.

  2. Taxes are later this year. That’s what’s been holding me back. Spring break with the kid and taxes. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s others in the same boat. Expect mine on April 30.

  3. Oh, and also: that’s a great workaround you did. Making your own monster is almost always better. Sadly, the one page dungeon contest can make that difficult if your monster needs a long description.

  4. Evil Bentham floating mummy head??!! I love it!!! Brilliant!!! 🙂

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