Thursday, April 30, 2015

x minus one

The eleventh hour is upon us! Just a few short hours before the contest comes to a close. We have seen a lot of new submissions over the past few days, and I am excited to see how many more will be added to the roster by the end of the day.

I cannot remember if the entries are made available after the close of the contest, or after the judges have had a month or so to look them over, but I am excited to check them out, like geeking out over a Frenden brush pack excited.
I am hoping to see some espionage and/or science fiction themed dungeons. While I don't think they are generally the best submissions, they always draw my interest. In a way I miss the old format of the contest where the winners were given "categories". Maybe some people don't like their work to be labeled or maybe it's too much work but I thought it was a nice way for the judges to join in the fun of the contest.

One Thing: How To Start A Campaign

Get It Here
"How to Start a Campaign" by Alex Schroeder

One thing I love about this One Page Dungeon is that it is quite literally true to its name. Alex has thrown, and by thrown I mean carefully placed, everything I can think of off the top of my head to create a setting to base adventures in and out of. Factions, maps, leaders, motivations, notable NPC's, magic items, personality types, its all in there! Overall, a very well crafted "dungeon".


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One Thing: The Ballad of The Bonny Bard's Booty

 "The Ballad of The Bonny Bard's Booty" by Alex Hitchen

One thing I love about this One Page Dungeon is the player handout that can be cut out of the middle of the page, and still leave the adventure intact for a game master. The handout looks great, and is full of clues to help the players navigate the island. I particularly like that the party will encounter locations and hazards mentioned in the poem, and even discover artifacts (like the melted candle) that connect the past to their peril-filled present.

Get it here



This was a sketch I made for a
hangout game. The husk of a giant
spider was suspended above, waiting
to destroy the players, even in death.
We are down to the last two days. That is still plenty of time. It's Wednesday.  Nobody will remember you missed work or class on a Wednesday. Call in sick and get it done!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

We don't need no stinking IRB's

A complete lack of oversight will lead to many exciting scientific advancements in the wake of the looming destruction.

Scientists scour the ruins looking for participants in their studies, but don't expect a consent form or a ten dollar gift card to Super-Mart if you find yourself in their company.

By design, these guys aren't very tough, but they can permanently impair your character, which makes them sort of like a "level-draining kobold".

While never encountered in groups, it is rumored that they are working together towards some dark purpose.

One Thing: The Thirteenth Dancer

This is a very interesting One Page Dungeon. I can't decide if I have more sympathy for the devil the bird men have imprisoned, or the bird men themselves who will likely be slaughtered by the party for the shiny things they have collected...

Get It Here
One Thing: "The Thirteenth Dancer" by Adam Watts

One thing I love about this dungeon is the setup around area "3". There is a curved shaft that allows the Blackbirds to meditate and scribe the whispered ramblings of the demon they have imprisoned, but protects them from his direct gaze, and the curse it bestows.  This is very atmospheric and well crafted. The amount of description is just about perfect for the one page dungeon format. It really gives a game master a lot to work with, and is evocative and intriguing.  This whole scenario is morally ambiguous. Are the blackbirds "good", or the lesser of two "evils"? Is there any hope of redemption for the Whisper Man? What are the Blackbirds doing with the prophecies they are recording? Man, I would love to find out as a player!


Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dork Slide

I remember freaking out in high school when my role playing buddies would want to talk about the game around people outside the "group", convinced that this dark secret would kill our chances with the ladies. Of course my mullet and "Vietnam War era" olive drab fatigue shirt had nothing to do with that...


One Thing: "Medusa's Safe House"

It is pretty easy to find things to poke fun at and write about.  If you have put yourself under pressure to publish a lot of blogs, this tactic probably looks pretty inviting. I don't care for this myself, and I have been pretty vocal about it at times. That tactic proved about as useful as knocking down a hornet nest with my head, and about as painful I would imagine. Instead, I am going to look at One Page Dungeons that have been submitted over the past few years, and talk about "One Thing" I love about each one.  I am going to start with last year's competition, and work my way through them in the order they are presented on the download page over at

Get It Here
"Medusa's Safe House" by Andrew Aultman, Alaric and Robin McKenzie-Boone

One thing I love about this dungeon is location #7. There is a steep stairwell surrounded by channels of flowing water, and it reads like the water is spilling over the stairs themselves. This makes negotiating the stairs a tricky affair, and sets the scene for an attack by humanoid snake creatures. I love that the creators included the text "making the steps treacherous for people with feet". This gives the snake creatures a huge advantage, being able to freely maneuver around the party, attacking from all sides with water being slung and splashed into their faces. This battle could end up being hilarious, or tense and cinematic. Either way you win.


OPDC: X Minus 3

2011 Entry with Mundi King

Looking back at  the contests/ timeline
2012 Entry with Mundi King

 2011: Meckwick' Revenge

"Like trying to teach myself how to perform open heart surgery  with YouTube"

I probably had thirty versions of this thing before labeling one of them "final" and submitting it to the contest.

-First time working with Mundi on a project.

-Wife gets in Doctoral Program at BU, I get hired to teach first grade in Hartford. We move to CT all around this same time.
2013 Entry with Mundi King
2014: "Riding the Pine"

2012: Meckwick's Pair O'Dice

Once Random Wizard is a household name, this will definitely be representative of his "geomorph period".

-papercraft geomorph die that rolls for sh*t, but a clever idea.
-a couple of my favorite NPC's (by my, thought up by me) of all time. Mundi and I really fleshed these guys out in the module. My wife asked me why I don't link to this product in the blog. After all, we worked on it forever and I still think it is pretty good (although like most things in hindsight, I could do it so much better now). I guess my only response is "It's personal".

2013: Old Guard Tower

"You have a handful of mundane items and a horde of orcs heading your way. MacGuyver your way out of this one."

-Last time working with Mundi on a project.
-Daughter is in kindergarten, I teach kindergarten, my whole world is kindergarten.

-a four year old tells me she is going to bring her daddy's gun to school and shoot me in the heart, and then mimics a kill shot with her hand (BAP BAP BAP). I secretly begin to hate Kindergarten.

2014: No Entry

-Asked to be a judge in the contest, I blog about it and then get politely asked not to be a judge and end up feeling like a dick.

-Decide not to enter contest, but make some posters and whatnot for it.

-Son is now in Kindergarten. I still teach kindergarten. I get bit, and hit in the nuts about a hundred times, but at least no child threatens to murder me this year.

2015 Entry: I'm flying solo.

2015: Milk Run

"Man I use to love playing this stupid game"
-My first "solo" entry
-oddly enough this comes indirectly from a retro-clone fantasy adventure I am slowly working on and talk about on my other blog and the card game I am working on.
-"barebones" by design, and likely to a fault, but easily my favorite entry of the four.
-I turn 44 today. I asked my wife for some Blambot fonts and some Crtl+Paint videos. I guess I will alway be that  gap toothed fat boy who wished he was robin hood...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Iron Cloud

Part of a poster I started making for this year's contest, before
I decided to submit an entry.
There are 36 entries listed on as I am typing this. Many of them are shrouded in mystery, as there is no link associated with the creators, but some of those are easy to get a sneak peak at with a little searching.  And they look good.

I imagine we will get a lot more entries, and our hands on a lot more great free content, in this final week. I plan to feature my entry on the blog later today. I have been working on some bonus content for my entry, but I won't have that done by the time I make "Milk Run" available for download.

OPDC: X Minus 5

Losyn, spawned from mad
respect for the inspiration.
So when the 2014 OPDC rolled around, Mundi took over as the organizer. Of course this meant that we would not be submitting an entry together. I kicked around a few ideas, and was working on an "dungeon" that tipped its hat to some of the cats I consider to be key content creators in the community. For instance, the drawing of a small dragon to the left is one that no one has ever seen before. This is Losyn, the "cross hatchling", a reference to an extremely prolific and talented cartographer in our midst. The drawing was created for the entry that never was.

I didn't get very far before I thought better of entering the contest, considering Mundi and I had always submitted entries together, and he was running it. Even though it would have been totally above board it just felt like maybe I should just sit one out.

Download "One Page Dungeon Crawl" and
"One Page Dungeon Shamble" for free.
Instead, I put together a few posters for last year's contest, and a couple "promotional" adventures using entries from the previous years contests.

These are no longer on RPG.Now, but I found the originals and threw the PDF's in a Google folder.

You can get them here

Check tomorrow's post for my One Page Dungeon Contest 2015 entry.


Friday, April 24, 2015

OPDC: X Minus 6

The 2013 entry was a departure from the "Meckwick"theme, and was built around the idea of a "constructible" dungeon. This one was the most work, having to create that tower. I put it together and it was pretty cool. My son, who was four at the time, thought it was pretty cool too and played with for about five minutes before he destroyed it. Come to think of it, he still does the same thing in minecraft with every structure I build, always blaming it on explosive creepers...

You can get it here.

This entry didn't get much traction, and one blogger rated it as "boring as fuck". If only I had space to include the bonus level, hidden beneath the dead body, filled with something Lovecraftian...sigh.  To his credit, this one was pretty simple and leaned a bit too heavily on the "cut out tower" element. I wonder if anyone else ever put this thing together.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

OPDC: X Minus 7

The 2012 Entry was sort of a continuation of the "story" in the first entry, in as much as "Meckwick" made a return. This one was something of a random dungeon generator complete with cut out dice and encounter tables.  The theme was that Meckwick would send the party into a pocket dimension (the Blissful hexahedron) to defeat some enemies he had trapped inside, fearing they would eventually escape and take their revenge upon him.

You can get it here

Table of Contents Illo from
the adventure module.
Looking back on them, I think I prefer the look and feel of the first entry more, but I had a lot less space to work with with those damnable dice I had to make.

Mundi and I turned this thing into an adventure module that never really saw the light of day and even now lies cold and alone over at Drivethru.

Mundi wanted to go with a geomorph theme, as we had been making some geomorphs together for a bit by this point, so that was sort of the hook behind this entry. I was pretty impressed with the art and layout at the time, but looking back at it I'm a bit "meh". I guess that is a good thing.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One Page Dungeon Contest Countdown: X Minus 8

2011 Entry with Mundi King
This was the first entry I ever worked on/ co-created.  Mundi mentioned this contest and we worked on it separately. I think I might have printed off a rough draft that we looked over once, but that was probably after it was compiled and submitted. Mundi had the idea that entry needed a good hook, or gimmick to catch the attention of the judges, and wanted to make something along the lines of a "Dungeon Overlord".

I worked up the map and the art, and we co-wrote it.  It introduced a wizard named Meckwick, a name that would ultimately be described as "too cartoonish" when we tried to do more with the character.

Looking back at it, I am pretty proud of my freshman effort in the contest, as I was still fumbling around with the Adobe Creative Suite and Intuos I had recently purchased.
The Intuos eventually developed a dead spot and I replace it with a cheap monoprice tablet that I actually prefered in a lot of ways (I have since replaced that with a 19" Monoprice interact pen display and I am pretty happy about that).

Of all the entries I have submitted over the past few years, this one is probably still my favorite.
You can grab a copy of it here

The biggest challenge we faced was trying to get everything on one page without using a font size so small as to be unreadable.  It seems like the font sizes used in entries have gotten smaller over the years in general, but my eyes just don't dig it.

I also ended up making lots of little drawings and monsters that never had a chance of fitting on the page. I think I may have tried to repurpose them in a project that never saw the light of day.

Gun for Hire

The Grizzled Hunter has come in from the wastes, and seeks to make a living in the ruins of the once great city. His services can be purchased, but at the end of the day, he isn't very honorable.

Better count the other players cards before you pay the hunter to take them out, as they may make him an offer he can't refuse.

Also, if they manage to defeat him, they get all the salvage you paid him (of course this is true if they bounce him back to you as well).

This is a good card to whittle an opponent down, as they are attacked out of their turn sequence.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Seeking revenge at the end of the world

Ike is understandably angry. He lost everything in the months after the great destruction. Now he scours the ruins of the great city looking for a little old fashioned revenge.No faction is safe, as all have wronged him in some manner.

At first glance Ike is a nightmare to fight, but let him beat the hell out of you, and you can let slip the "name" of another player. Ike can be bounced around from player to player until he is finally dealt with, but no "tag backs" which makes him something of a death sentence in a two player game.

I originally thought of making the "Ike" role one taken up by a player, working as a saboteur against all the other players, but gameplay changed and all the players are out to get one another anyway, so this "role" was no longer necessary.

Another opponent sensitive to electricity, the Stalker has the chance to catch you on your next turn even after you escape. There are a few cards that a variants of the "unstoppable robot" theme.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Killer Locust-Motion

Exploring the possibilities of animating the cards. This took me longer to make than I wanted, but about half as long as I expected, so I guess that's a push.

I am excited about the possibility of creating multiple ways to play once the card game is completed.


Math Wizard

I did it. I was able to finish my One Page Dungeon Contest submission before the week officially ended. I have been hard at work at creating some "double secret" content to go along with my entry, but I took a break from all of that and worked up another card.

This card is the direct result of another unused idea I had rattling around in the back of my head, and scrawled in one of my notebooks.  This idea was to make a magic system based on math. No, nothing too heady. I have taught kindergarten math for the past four years so you can bet that it was a highly abstracted affair.

Really it was just a way to explain magic in a technologically advanced, or post apocalypse inspired setting. I suppose the idea had its roots in the cartoon clip that follows:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One Page Dungeon Contest Entry Progress

I did some more work converting my OPDC entry into a fake board game. Michael Knarr had some great suggestions in a comment that I have been working to implement, such as the encounter tables which are currently empty.

Once I finish the board, I will create some cards or monster counters to place on top, and try to tell the "story" through them.

Overall still a "rough". Hope to finish by the end of the week. -Aaron

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Buddy can you spare a dime, or a lung, or a liver...

I first read about neomorts in "Out Of This World: The Illustrated Library of the Bizarre and Extraordinary" Volume 14. I can't remember where I got this book, or even when I got it, but I have been lugging it around with my books for quite a while now.

Other topics in the book include:
- A watch that can monitor your perspiration, pulse and blood pressure by 2001!
-Deja Vu: Glimpses into a past life
-Anne Bonny and Mary Read: More bloodthirsty than male pirates!
-"What happened to the Headless Spy?"
-Madame Kitty's brothel in Berlin bugged by the Gestapo
-The car of the future won't accelerate unless it decides it is safe, and may ban you from driving and lock you out!" -and many, many more.

The neomort story stuck with me and I always hoped I would find a way to use it before my kids discovered and subsequently destroyed the book, erasing it from my memory.

Fungoid Princess

While not actually a princess in some sort of fungoid society, this lovely lady does her best to approximate poise and grace while shambling towards you. Do not pity these foul creatures, for they are little more than a mockery of human innocence. They will beset you with sharp implements and feed on your shredded corpse.

The Princesses are not particularly difficult to defeat, especially if you drop a fire based salvage card to enhance your attack.

In death however, they can pose a greater threat. If affected by their spore cloud, you will not be able to flee your next encounter, and will fight to the death.  While this effect is temporary, it can be devastating if you are heavily wounded, encounter a tough monster or a boss, or if another player gets an opportunity to attack you before the effect wears off.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Anatomy of a Ganger

Each of the four Faction Characters has a special ability, The Chosen, the mightiest of the Ravagers and Gangers have a critical hit (Insta-Kill) range of 11 or 12 on 2d6, as opposed to only double sixes (nat 12) for the other three factions.
Experience points can be tracked on the card with a coin or glass bead or a bullet or whatever the players have handy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Explosive Salvage

The grenade is one of the "salvage" cards that can be collected by defeating a "standard" opponent or through other methods.

The explosion Icon is featured on certain opponent cards, and indicates the number needed to "hit" using an explosive weapon.

Numbers on these icons are always lower than the standard target number indicated on the opponent's "shield" icon, and this indicates that the foe has a particular weakness to this form of attack (explosives are good against robots, for example).

Before combat, the player may place the card on the table from their hand, and it remains in effect until one side or the other is killed, or the player escapes.

One Page Dungeon Contest 2015

I started working on an One Page Dungeon Contest (2015) entry and wanted to create a fake board game.  I created a city map and then added some hexes, created a mission card, and a "monster" counter card to be placed "on the board". Once I had completed the flattened board, my plan was to use 3d post card effect in Photoshop to tilt the board and give it some depth.

Zip Line Cannibals

The zip line cannibal isn't likely to pose too great a threat, unless you are already carrying a few wound cards in your hand...

Undead Bikers

These bastards just don't know when to quit! The Undead Bikers glide through the ruins of the city in search of gasoline and brains.

This enemy is pretty tough (a target number of nine and two health points), but they are weak against fire.  Players may normally opt to run as opposed to fight when facing an opponent with a +2 (+3 for "The Remnant" player) bonus on their escape roll.

The Undead bikers ability to travel swiftly and maneuver through obstacles negates this bonus, making it almost worth fighting them.

Killer Locust

Mutated Insects have fled the dying countryside and begun to take up residence in the ruins of the great city.

While the locusts have no technology of their own, they have grown adept at making use of human tools and machines.

The Killer Locust is a middle difficulty opponent, and is made tougher by no specific weakness and the ability to double its health if not killed in the first round of combat.