One-Page Dungeon Contest Week 3: Encounters
Last week I showcased the map I made for my 2018 submission for the One Page Dungeon Contest. I’m proud to say that I’ve finished it in time and will be submitting it Saturday after a look through it a few more times. This week I formatted it and created all of the encounters for the dungeon.
Before I delve into my encounters feel free to download my one-page dungeon, Just Desserts!
I set out intending to have a well-balanced low-level game that could be finished in a single play session. I believe I’ve checked all of those boxes with Just Desserts! It’s only 5 total encounters. Outside of room 2, each encounter has either a unique element or can be played differently depending on the players’ choices.
Outside of a very basic description of some of the rooms and the scene the DM or GM is able to fill in the adventure with their own lore and role-play. This is really a product of the dungeon’s environment. It didn’t make sense for me to fluff out a big story when I only have a single page. Instead, I used that space to design the real meat of the dungeon.
The only thing it’s missing is some sort of trap. I opted out of including a trap due to space constrictions as well as not having a logical reason for there to be one present. It’s difficult for me to justify the Fish-People they are chasing not revealing the location of a hidden trap.
I created this dungeon with a low-level party of 4 players in mind. The contest being system neutral did make it a bit more challenging to create because I am so ingrained in D&D 5e. However, I was still able to keep the encounters simple and unique. This is to help challenge the players to use different play-styles and also allow the DM or GM to tweak the encounter easily.
The floor of the entire dungeon has a layer of slippery mud impairing the party’s movement. It also helps to push the narrative of chasing the Fish-People whose webbed feet can run on the muddy floor without any issues.
Room 1 – Riddle Puzzle
I wanted to include a puzzle in this dungeon, but I also want the dungeon to be quick and simple. Riddles are great puzzles and a simple one such as this does the trick. I went with a riddle about food because it fit the theme, but any riddle or simple puzzle can fit in here.
Having a puzzle this early into the adventure helps to set the tone too. Not everything has to be solved by hacking and slashing your way through!
Room 2 – 6 Fish-People
This is just a simple combat encounter. The party is slightly outnumbered so they will have to try and use their best tactics to get through this encounter! There are a few small rocks that players may be able to utilize during the fight as well.
There is also a secret entrance here that the players may be able to discover. This was originally supposed to be a hallway, but one of my friends thought it would make more sense to be a slide that goes straight to room 4. If the players take this slide they’ll get ahead of the 2 Fish-People that have their dinner!
Room 3 – 3 Sleeping Fish-People
There are 3 sleeping Fish-People that were supposed to be guarding this room full of stolen goods. Why sleeping? Well, the party can find a creative way to sneak past, incapacitate, or kill the Fish-People. This dungeon is all about showing the players they have different options.
This room is completely optional, but if the players explore it they’ll earn a few lesser magical items and coins!
Room 4 – 4-6 Fish-People
This room is particularly fun. Depending on how the party arrives, they may have to fight either 4 or 6 Fish-People. Should they enter the normal way they’ll be on the opposite side of the room of the 4 Fish-People. This grants a benefit to ranged characters. They’ll also have plenty of room to spread out and use the large rocks as cover. I recently wrote a post about the D&D 5e cover rules and I incorporated that into this dungeon to make the combat a bit more interesting.
However, there are advantages to taking the slide. First of all, the players will start the combat behind a large rock that they can use for cover. Even though they’ll now be forced to fight 6 Fish-People instead of 4, they will now not have to fight the 2 additional Fish-People during the boss encounter.
Room 5 – 1 Lesser Devil and 0-2 Fish-People
Depending on the outcome of Room 4, the party will have to fight either a single Lesser Devil or the Lesser Devil and 2 Fish-People. I had an Imp in my head when I originally wrote this, but I left it open-ended enough that really any devil or even demon could work. There are cages and other scenery that the Lesser Devil and/or Fish-People can use to their advantage during the fight.
There is also a cauldron filled with boiling liquid that is below the human merchants that are being hung by a rope. The merchants are still alive and will reward the party for saving them.
The story around this is that some weak devil was able to overpower these Fish-People and has driven them to commit evil acts. The story is open-ended and can be inserted and tweaked to fit whatever campaign the DM or GM is running.
And there it is! Regardless of the outcome, I’m really proud of what I made. Earlier this month I had never made a one-page dungeon and had never heard of this contest. While my dungeon is pretty simplistic, I’ve learned so much because I jumped right into it. I’d be shocked if I even came up as an honorable mention. However, my intention was never to win, it was to learn and have fun. With that in mind, this was a total success, and I can’t wait to show how much I’ve improved in next year’s contest!
Shout-out to my friends Damon and Derek for looking over the submission and giving me critiques and corrections!
I did say in the first post that there would only be three entries for this series. However, I may write one more for this year’s contest after the contest is over. I’d like to go over how I felt I did and what improvements I’d like to make for next year. Regardless of the outcome, I’m really proud of what I made.