Last week I brainstormed and outlined the basics of my One Page Dungeon Contest 2018 submission. This week I decided to focus on creating the map for my submission. I have the general story and mechanics worked out on paper. However, it’s hard for me to design exactly what is going to be in each room until I have a visual aid. With that being said, I spent about an hour yesterday after work making my first draft!
I mentioned in my brainstorming post that I wanted this dungeon to take about one session to run. Most of my sessions take about 2 1/2 – 3 hours to go through 6-8 rooms depending on the size and complexity of the encounters. Plus, I also will be leaving room for the players to role-play with each other before and after they begin the dungeon.
Therefore, I opted to make this a quick and dirty 5 room dungeon. Room 3 is entirely skippable by either going through the secret passage or by sneaking past the fish-people that will be rummaging through their supplies. Do remember that the entire dungeon is going to be slippery from the water and gunk that the fish-people bring in from the swamp outside!
The map definitely has a couple of spots that I would like to clean-up a bit such as the gaps in-between the hallways and rooms 1, 4, and 5. I also want to indicate the existence of a trap in the hallway between room 1 and 2. I’m not sure if I like the placement of the “S” that indicates the entrances for the secret passageway.
Regardless, I’m pleased with how this map turned out. It has environmental elements players can utilize, room for interesting combat encounters, and optional events. It’s also basic enough that a DM can riff off of this and add their own spin to the adventure, but a new DM will have a straight-forward map to use for their game.
I used Dungeon Painter Studio which is a paid program ($15) but it does a pretty solid job of designing maps quickly that look pretty good. My favorite part about the program is that you can export your maps specifically for Roll20 and it will tell you the proper dimensions to size your Roll20 battlemap. It’s a very neat feature and has saved me tons of time trying to scale the maps I add.
Dungeon Painter Studio also allows you to download assets from the steam workshop as well as upload your own assets to it directly. This means if you find or purchase a cool set of dungeon tiles and textures you can use it in the program. There are a fair amount of great texture and asset packs in available to download in the workshop.
There are a fair amount of bugs in the program. All-in-all I’d say it’s still worth the $15 once you get used to it. The very large file sizes are also a bit of an issue for uploading to Roll20. It’s also an issue for this contest as the PDF you submit has to be 6 MB or smaller.
Thankfully Compression PNG exists. This compresses .png files into a fraction of their original size. In this case it shrank my 15.6 MB file down to 1.09 MB. Both my free Dropbox account and one page dungeon PDF appreciate the compression.
This exercise has taught me that for next year’s submission I should either find someone who can draw to work with or learn to draw.
I realized while I was making this map that I don’t have a name for my dungeon. I want it to be a humorous food pun as that is the initial hook for the adventure. The most important part of the title is to set the mood of the whole dungeon which I want to initially be a light-hearted chase through a dungeon. The darker story elements will then be introduced the further in the players venture.
I’ll be fixing the map up in time for next week’s post. After that I’ll submit it to the contest and hope for the best!
The Rest of the Series
If you enjoyed what you read be sure to check out my ongoing review for all of the official D&D 5e books!
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