The 2020 One Page Dungeon Contest wrapped up on the 15th of July, and I’ve entered this year (for the first time since 2015). I don’t think my dungeon has much of a chance - it’s a bit the esoteric work/aesthetic design testbed and lacks the artistic attention traditionally necessary to win the contest … but … the goal isn’t to win, it’s to produce a tiny, but usable TTRPG adventure and to learn about what that entails. I encourage everyone who has any inclination for adventure design to enter next year or at least try to construct a one page dungeon and hone it to a standard that someone else could run it from. The lessons in creating such a small, focused adventure teaches are useful more generally, and in the end you hopefully have something to share that shows how you like to play TTRPGs -- which at their best are a creative pastime.
|My 2020 OPD - Maw o Snails|
PDF at end of post
One Page Dungeons are a form of adventure publication that is literally what it says in the name. One, one-sided, 8.5” x 11”/A4 piece of paper with a complete adventure on it. How one wants to do that is the interesting part. Sure it’s a gimmick, but it’s a fascinating one because the highly restricted space encourages a lot of design compromise that ultimately makes the designer decide what has to cut and what the most space saving way to communicate is. There’s practical and aesthetic considerations as well - which likely appeal to the more artistically and design inclined, but for the adventure designer the One Page Dungeon (OPD) is an experiment in cutting away the unnecessary and emphasizing the most important elements of a chosen playstyle and preferred design goals.
ONE PAGE DUNGEON MAXIMS
Below I’ll explain in more detail, but here is a list of steps and considerations that go into a One Page Dungeon, or at least a specific type of One Page Dungeon -- the keyed location based kind with as much classic exploration feel as possible:
- Brevity, Not Ultraminimalism
- Reduce Density, Not Size
- One Solid Image
- Avoid Gimmicks and Accommodations Unless they Save Space
- Use Map and Other Aesthetics to Add Detail and Complexity