One-Page Dungeons Are Proof Good Things Come In Small Packages

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Dungeon Masters: Would you like to know something that may change the way you think about creating adventures, and will also help eliminate a great amount of doubt, fear, and worry about that process? I thought you might. Here it is: it’s not the size of your adventure that really counts. And there’s no better example of this than the one-page dungeon concept.

One-page dungeons are exactly that – short, precise encounters or adventures written and mapped out on a single page. Sound impossible? Far from it. The concept went public in 2009, and has become quite popular since then. One page dungeons offer many benefits for DMs and players, most notably in that they are ready to play almost immediately, and because they can be found all over the Internet.

The first and best one-page dungeon site to visit is Dungeon Contest, home of the One Page Dungeon Contest (OPDC). The OPDC has been running since 2009, and was created by several popular online D&D players: Michael Curtis, Philippe A. Ménard, Michael Shorten, and Dave Bowman, along with continued community support by Alex Schroeder and Random Wizard.

Every year, the OPDC opens up for RPG content creators to plan and design an encounter, adventure, or entire game on one side of one standard A4 page. The creation must be engaging enough to have people wanting to play it, of course, but it also must be soundly original and legal. Creators may then submit their creations to OPDC for a chance to win a host of prizes, including a monetary prize, and any available sponsor prizes.

Qualifying entries are collected into a single compendium, formatted into pdf and print versions, and published online by RPG publisher Shattered Pike Studio. The compendiums are put up on the OPDC website store, as well as the RPGNow and DriveThruRPG sites. In essence, if you create a compelling adventure, submit it to OPDC, and it gets selected for the compendium, the printing and publishing of your adventure is done for you, and made available for a world of RPG players to play.

As of this writing, there are eleven days left to submit your 2017 OPDC entry. According to the Dungeon Contest website, “Submission Deadline is May 1st, 2017 23:59 UTC(Monday evening before Midnight Greenwich England time”. But don’t hurry or worry! If you don’t feel you can submit an entry in time for this year, that only means you have a full year to work on an entry for next year.

The OPDC isn’t the only place to find one-page dungeons. Type ‘one-page dungeons’ into your favorite search engine and you’ll find many that were included in one of the OPDC compendiums and many more that weren’t. If you have one of those rare days when you find time for yourself, search through the multitude of one-page dungeons online to find ones you like. Better yet, click on this Sage Advice D&D link that hosts more links to over 550 one page dungeons ready for you to download and use.

As mentioned earlier, one-page dungeons have plenty of benefits, such as saving Dungeon Masters hours of prep time. By design, the OPDC submission are system neutral, but that doesn’t mean all one-page dungeons are, or have to be. You can find or create one-page dungeons designed specifically for your favorite RPG, and assemble them in a folder bank so you always have a store of ready-to-play adventures.

Another advantage of one-page dungeons, chiefly the ones that are system neutral, is that they occur at or in a single location. So, take multiple one-page dungeons that happen at various places, imaginatively link them together, and you suddenly have a whole story arc, and possibly an entire campaign.

If you’re interested in creating and submitting a one-page dungeon to the OPDC, the One Page Dungeon Contest Submission Guide explains the details of how to do it. For whatever reasons you have for wanting to create your own one-page dungeon, click over to ChicagoWiz’s RPG Blog and download the handy One Page Dungeon Level and One Page Wilderness Level templates to get you started on the right track.

So, Dungeon Masters, if your players aren’t overly concerned with the size of your adventures, or you don’t particularly want to spend hours upon hours creating them, then one-page dungeons may be what you’re looking for. You may even like them enough to create your own!

Have you ever DM’d or played a one-page dungeon? Have you created a one-page dungeon? Share with us in the Comments!

Header image credit: Wizards of the Coast; article screenshots by Jim Moreno

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