Category Archives: OPDC

2015 One Page Dungeon Contest – Winners Announced

The winners of the 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest were announced a few days ago. Check out the 1PDC Google Community.

My entry, The Dire Druids of Delver’s Deep, was not among them. I did not expect to win. I knew that there were many who had massively better entries in look, layout, and more from prior years. My entry was an exercise to see what I could do with an idea.

From what I have seen of the winners of the last couple of years, one needs an idea that is solid and well defined with a great hook. The Artwork needs to be top notch, and the layout has to make it all “flow” and draw the reader into it.

I am curious to watch the recording of the Google Hangout with the judges [Link Broken, no alternative, August, 2017], to see if there are any “simple” dungeons that had ideas they liked, but due to art or layout, did not make the cut. Set aside about 45 minutes if you want to watch it all in one go. I missed the live hangout.

Out of all the submissions, there were 3 first place winners, 6 second place winners, 13 third place winners, and 5 honorable mentions. Based purely on first names in each category, it looks like there is one women in each of the last three categories. This makes 97 new dungeons. Since 2009, seven years, that’s about 700 dungeons. Not all are fantasy, not all are dungeons. Still, that is a lot of ideas if your creative well has ran dry. I like to grab and re-purpose the maps for my own use.

One blogger, +Aaron Frost,  of Wasted The Game, is going through all the 1PDC entries and giving his thoughts on them. He has a lot of material.

Daddy Rolled A 1 was a judge last year and again this year. Here is his take on the process.

After watching the hangout video there are a few things one can take away about how to approach this contest.

  • The Past and Storytelling are not as important.
    • What is going on NOW?
    • What situation will the characters encounter when you run it?
  • Brief yet Complete.
  • Set up well in the beginning with an answer to how does it end/get resolved?
  • White space/Imagery/Readable
  • The art is not as important as an idea that is presented well.
  • Spelling and Grammar – i.e. after you spellcheck and grammar check it, get a proofreader.
  • Put enough time into it to do it well.

I know that I had a lot of text. Paring that down to something that “pops” would improve it. That is, express the intent without requiring too much detail.

The hangout mentioned one winning submission that had excellent 2 sentence NPC descriptions that made for NPCs that could be plugged into any campaign.

I would suggest reading through the submissions and learning from them. What did the winners do well? What did the others not do as well that might best be avoided?

One more shout out, +Random Wizard [UPDATE: Random Wizard is no longer on G+. Check out his blog:] has sold off unused items in his personal collection to ensure that there are prizes for all 13 of the third place winners, a $25 store credit at Wayne’s Books! Talk about a class act! Not only has he given his time to organize the contest, he made sure that third place had prizes out of his own pocket!

There will always be grumblers who complain about things, and complaining is their ONLY “contribution.” It is easy to say that this or that wasn’t right, fair, or the way you would do it. If you are not willing to step up and add something of value to the hobby, why are you tearing down others who are? I don’t know who these complainers are about the 1PDC, they must be ranting on some forum to which I don’t belong. Of that, I am glad. I only know about it, because I saw mention of it on another blog. If the complainers would put forth the energy they spend complaining into making something to share with the others in the OSR, we’d all be better for it. It reminds me of my sons when they complained about doing homework or cleaning their room. If they would have shut up and just done the task at hand, it would have required less energy. Oh well, it is the loss of the complainers. Once we learn what an internet troll is, we know to ignore it, and it becomes as static. It is annoying, but we can learn to tune it out.

I for one am interested to read through the entries. I also am interested in attempting a submission for next year. I may come up with an idea and start working it out to boil it down to the good stuff. Better yet, I’ll take more time on the layout and presentation.


2015 One Page Dungeon Contest – My Revised Submission

I re-did the map for my OPDC submission, The Dire Druids of Delver’s Deep. I did the new map by hand and scanned it. The only thing I put on the image with a program, are the numbers for the rooms/areas.

Doing my map old school, i.e. like I did when I was a teenager and before we had our first computer, microwave, or cable TV.

I’m not that good at getting the result I want out of a graphic’s program, so hand drawn it is. Being out of practice with the details on hand drawn maps doesn’t seem to be a problem for this small one. If I had time before the deadline to fiddle with it and get a cutaway effect of The Deep and the cavern, I would.


2015 One Page Dungeon Contest – My Submission

I said that I was going to submit something to the One Page Dungeon Contest (OPDC) this year, and I was beginning to wonder if I would make it happen.

Last weekend, the title I had for the dungeon finally gelled and the idea for it came together much more smoothly than I had hoped.

I wanted it to be about Druids, since I got on a kick and had a few articles about druids a few weeks ago.

Druids and Alignment

Druids and Their Environment

Druids and Undead

I also ordered Roberts Kunt’s module Dark Druids and when it came a week ago, I realized that I didn’t want to read it until I put together my idea for the OPDC.

I had determined that I would consolidate my notes and make this one page dungeon this weekend no matter what. I had to further get it nearly 100% today, since +Roy Snyder’s DCC game picks up after a hiatus of a few weeks, and I made a commitment to be there.

So without further ado, I present my submission to the OPDC – The Dark Druids of Delver’s Deep. I went “old school” on the OPDC and used the one page dungeon template by +Michael Shorten, AKS Chgowiz. He has links to his dungeon and wilderness templates on his old blog.

There are 36 listed submitted dungeons/adventures so far – at the time of this writing, minus my submission.

Types of Currency

The article on Rai Stones over on Sea of Stars for the 2015 A to Z Challenge, got me to thinking about various forms of currency. The aforementioned article, talks about them as involving magic, which is cool.

There are many different types of money:

Commodity money – Something that has a value and is used in trade for other things. It is a “step up” from the barter system.

Fiat money is money that has value because everyone agrees it has value, like most modern currencies, such as the American dollar.

If money is tied to the value of something else, it is representative money. Strangely, this can include both commodity and fiat money.

Types of Currency

  • Paper/cloth – Fiat money if it has a specified value, representative money if it is used in lieu of something else, or commodity money if bundles of paper or cloth are used in exchange.
  • Coins – Originally the coins were a commodity of precious metals, that in the modern world have become mostly base metals and fiat money.
  • Rai Stones – The linked article is on the actual rai stones used in Yap.
  • Beaver and other pelts
  • Salt
  • Tobbacco
  • Gold bars (or bars of other precious metals.)
  • Gold Dust
  • Iron Bars
  • Gems
  • Jewelry
  • Barter/Trade
  • Shells
  • Cows/other herd animals
  • Favors – Back in November, 2014, I wrote about how favors can be used as currency.

Nearly anything can be used as a currency, like this article about some ancient forms of currency.

In areas where coin is in short supply, barter or another commodities will become money. In areas where the wealth of the adventurers inflates prices, other things with a more stable value might rise to the level of money.

What kinds of unique or interesting things have you used or encountered as money/currency/barter in the RPG’s you have played?

Day 19 S is for Sages

S – Sages – information for hire. Libraries, archives, etc.

How was information for hire handled, what signs of it are left in the ruined city?

Some things we know about the ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, are from their monuments. Will books, scrolls, and so forth with knowledge and information survive? How specific will this information be?

Other types of knowledge might be ruins of an astronomical observatory. This might be an important plot hook for determining the next eclipse, comet, or other astronomical event that is either a portent of how long until the bad, ominous thing happens, or allows the right person to calculate how long until the bad, ominous thing happens. Ancient observatories could have the simplicity of a massive monument like Stonehenge, or a tower like the Mayans.

Did the ancients have fancy astrolabes, globes, telescopes, and perhaps something like the Antikythera mechanism? Would a sage pay for such devices or trade what he knows about something the players are interested in for a trade?

I tend to run sages as collectors of information and devices in their area of interest. I throw in a few personality quirks so that they are not just walking encyclopedias.

Did the ancient writing system utilize clay tablets like the cuneiform tablets of our long gone civilizations? Did they use wax writing tablets like the Romans? Was some form of information inscribed into metal plates? Is the metal resistant to corrosion and damage? What sort of information will survive in whole or in part?

Statuary, monuments, markers, obelisks, and temple decorations will all hold some form of information. The hitch is finding someone who knows what it all means.

What kind of scenes are seen in tapestries, arches, obelisks, and frescoes?

  • Mythological – Stories of the gods and religious heroes.
  • Historical – Events in the kingdom or city. Including victories, famous people, kings, rulers, etc.

I was researching books for something else and found that the library at Celsus could hold about 12,000 scrolls. The Royal Library of Alexandria is estimated to have held 400,000 texts. Here is a list of some ancient libraries. Hattusa had about 30,000 cuneiform tablets.



More on Follow Me, And Die!

If you think about it, wandering bands of homicidal vagrants seek hirelings to help guard the horses, carry lanterns and torches, fight monsters, haul loot, and most importantly, to die instead of a player character.

The enticements to follow a band of adventurers are all flowers, sunshine, and gold! Tales of success and riches, minimizing, glossing over, or ignoring foul, nasty beasts with mean, sharp teeth, undead, evil sorcerers, hungry trolls, etc.

The mumbled/whispered/assumed end result, “And Die! [So I don’t have to…]”, is never mentioned to potential hirelings, without a cost in treasure, or only the most untrustworthy and backstabby of sorts.

All adventurers do this, moreso with hirelings than with henchmen.

As for the realm of RPG bloggers, you might as well follow me, you’re going to die anyway, so do it, before it’s too late!

Wall of Text

I am guilty of writing massive posts that fall under the heading of Walls of Text.

I think I have some good ideas in there, and since I tend to write stream of consciousness usually with as few notes as possible, I end up with a massive wall of text.

I came up with an idea to have fun with this.

There is a massive wall of text and the adventurers need to find the key of TL;DR to surpass it.

I first had this idea in February of last year, but did not get the graphic put together until recently. My Gimp-fu and Inkscape-fu aren’t up to executing the image in my head, but it gives the idea. My freehand drawing skills aren’t there either. I imagine a giant wall with text filling each brick/stone/block in the wall, with a big and imposing presence.

I had thought of making this my entry in the 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest, but I need a better graphic, and a better idea for the adventure, so that this could be a real submission.

Ancient Anti-Biotics

I saw this on my FB feed, and had to read the article and watch the YouTube video.

Very interesting!

Not only did they know about honey, but they knew to mix other materials together and get good results. Granted, not all ancient medicine is something I would want to try, but this one gives me hope that we can deal with MRSA and other “superbugs”. I can’t imagine putting that solution in my eye, but I bet it did the trick.

Washing wounds, and treating them with wine, vinegar, honey, and “garlic & onions” would be a good way to prevent infection. In game terms, it would also make it hard to be sneaky around creatures with a good sense of smell. Perhaps good to repel vampires. What other creatures would garlic & onions repel or attract? Garlic would attract the attention of a vampire, and it would send its minions or use long range things, such as spells to deal with the unpleasantness.

Silver is also known to have antibiotic properties, one reason the wealthy used silver tableware. Copper also has antibiotic properties and is why ships were given copper sheeting, to help repel barnacles and other critters that bore into wooden ships and affect either the speed of the ship, its structural integrity, or both

The Roman doctors who treated gladiators and soldiers were very skilled at treating flesh wounds and setting broken bones.

The importance of keeping clean was also known in medieval Europe. The image of the unwashed masses that seems to prevail in textbooks and entertainment media is not accurate.

While the ideas about how the body worked were not accurate, and the reliance on magic and strange concoctions with no modern scientific basis, some of the medicinal knowledge was effective. Some ancient ideas, such as bleeding, do have a very narrow application for a very narrow set of conditions. Leeches are used not for bleeding, but to help improve blood flow in wounds, and the right kind of fly larvae eat necrotic tissue and not healthy tissue. The heads of some kinds of ants after they bite can be used as stitches. There are many strange things that really can and do work, even in the present day.

What kind of weird ideas from the past can be put into play in an RPG?


One Page Dungeon Contest – 2015

Last year about this time, I wrote about the 2014 One Page Dungeon Contest, and thought about an entry, but none of my ideas would gel.

I am thinking about the 2015 OPDC with just over two months until the deadline. It is a single page, what’s the big deal, right?

Well a single page requires the most bang for the buck so to speak. One needs a density of information without a density of facts. A hook that evokes ideas, and a map that gives what words cannot. I have a small degree of artistic talent, but it is not a honed or practiced talent, so my efforts are hit and miss.

A one page dungeon also screams for brevity with a conciseness that cuts to the point immediately. As is evident from many of my blog posts, I am skilled at the WALL OF TEXT. It takes effort for me to distill things to the bare essentials.

I could make a submission that is merely an entry, but I want to make a memorable entry that is a contender. Heck, who am I kidding? I want to win!

So I know I need an idea that is just novel enough and easy to convey/explain in a single page. I have some faint wisps of ideas that if I can bring them to fruition and execute them as well as I imagine them, then I have a shot.

Between now and then are my goals of the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge and a daily article on this blog between now and April 1st, and other game activities. Plus the Tenkar’s Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting is now ramping up to work on the actual town of Tenkar’s Landing. I need to do my part with an idea or two.

Handwritten vs. Typed Game Prep Notes

I prefer to write out my game prep notes by hand, so I can make them just the way I like and can add information to them on the fly.

However, some types of notes, like from generating a long list of treasure maps and the information about what they are made of, skill of the cartographer, condition of the map, information about where it leads, etc. makes for a long list. I ended up with two full pages of notes with one line on each page for each map. 32 maps total. Some are not for this area, and some their target remains undefined. For the ones that have a treasure, I will put the treasure information in the dungeon/location where the treasure is found.

What I found is that having two pages was causing too much confusion trying to make sure that I had everything easily accessible. Part of the problem was the the first few notes on the first page were cramped as it took a few lines to perfect how I wanted to record the information. It would have taken a long time to re-write and revise all the existing information by hand, so I cranked up Libre Office Calc, a fork of the free and open source Open Office, and I built a table.

I was able to fit all the information from both tables on one line. I was able to format and abbreviate until I got all of them to fit on one legal sized sheet of landscape paper in preview. I then highlighted every other three lines, like the tables in the AD&D manuals and used the save to PDF feature. I then emailed it to myself both to preserve a copy and have it available on my tablet and save paper.

I used the second sheet of the spreadsheet to organize the orientation of landmarks as generated by Grim’s All the Dice Random Treasure Map table. The generator uses a 7 hex cluster of six hexes around a central hex. The central hex is the destination of the map and the surrounding hexes indicate different landmarks around it. The result of the d6 is use both for a list of 6 terrain features and to determine which of 6 directions is north. Also hexes 6 and 7 are filled based on the results of the d10. I had 6 columns with the results of the contents of each hex.

Since I could not get the formulas in my first “cluster” to copy correctly to successive cells, I used NoteTab to build a looping script to increment the cell numbers for each column to generate all 32 clusters. I then just had to copy and past the 32 groups of formulas, correct the hex 6/7, placement,  and determine placement of North. I then fiddled with preview until I got a paper size big enough so that I was not fiddling with a lot of page breaks so that no cluster was split.

Here is the representation of what I did in the map cluster of landmarks where N represents possible placement of North. Hex 6 or 7 is empty as per the result of the d10.

N Hex 2       N            Hex 3 N
Hex 4    Hex 1       Hex5
N Hex 6       N            Hex 7 N

I was able to type a spreadsheet and position a group of formulas to get the layout of each location faster or at least as fast as I could have done it by hand. The benefit is that I have it nice and neat in a PDF and I have a NoteTab script that I can use if I ever need another large collection of random treasure maps. I also tend to write very poorly when I write fast, and it is my default after lots of note taking in college and grad school. My muscle memory is for fast writing to be sloppy. Now I know why doctors have such lousy handwriting. Taking the time to re-do my muscle memory is difficult.

If I have a lot to write, it is easier to type it. I prefer to have stuff on paper during game play so that I can write on it with notes, etc. I rarely use my tablet during play.

I find when generating a lot of random information that it is easier for me to write out the results by hand, and type it up only if it is so complex that it solves a problem. In the long run, if I type it up, I will have a more enduring set of notes, and can use it to more easily incorporate more players, such as online.

If I were to DM online, I would want to have two monitors so I could have one screen with the goings on of Roll20 and another for my notes, etc. I could also do it using paper on my end, no danger of the players seeing anything, lol. That solves the need for a new computer. I just need to figure out how to set up to use a computer and my game notes at the same time. As a player, it is not too hard, I only need my character sheet and paper to take notes. As a DM, I need my notes, manuals, dice for DM rolls, and something for taking notes as play progresses. My computer desk is not big enough for all that stuff. I have a folding table that I could use, so it’s doable. I just have a lot more prep needed to run something online. You don’t want things to lag when playing online, essential information must be ready and easily accessible.

Now I have to go through the collections of the One Page Dungeon Contest to figure out which ones to use for treasure map destinations, so I am ready for whatever the players decide to do tomorrow.