This is me reading through the whole thing and then jotting down a few words for each entry. It’s not about good or bad, it’s about whether I can use them in the next campaign I have in mind.
Players and local friends, skip this blog post! I’m writing it for my friends overseas that are never going to make it here to join the campaign anyway.
As a map, maybe. It’ll still need to be detailed before I could start it, would need a lot of work. I have a lot of empty maps already (that’s pretty close to what this is given that the entries are so vague), but I’ll keep this one in mind.
Great theme but one thing is a little unclear. What’s the start and what’s the entrance? The little “start” ‘picture frame’, I don’t understand what it is. Do you have to smash the core to even get in? The ice setting is an obstacle too, for vanilla fantasy.
Oh, wall of text. At first I was like “Nooo” and then I looked at it and it’s actually pretty nice. Linear, yes (four rooms in order) but interesting challenges and (I love this part) slots well into the sorta vanilla fantasy I like.
This is the sort of weird stuff that I (negatively) associate with OPD. Looking closely at it, it’s a little interesting as a small and weird thing to drop somewhere on the hex map. The big problem is that the shadow ticks forward every five minutes, meaning: 12 linear encounters.
And this is more in line with what I want out of OPD. A vanilla fantasy dungeon with interesting topology and all the prepping work already done. Works well with 5e.
The problem is that it requires coastal, which I usually have but I’m working on a land locked map right now.
This isn’t an OPD. But, it’s a list of encounters to cherry pick from when I’m making my own encounter tables.
As a one-shot “this is going to be the adventure”, it requires a lot of buy in or railroading. But as something to just drop in to a village or town and then the players can run into it or not, and take Zalin up on his offer or not, I like it. It’s one of those things that maybe the players never ever run into, they skip past the whole thing, and that’s OK.
Wall of text and dungeons that are hard to see and harder to print. And looong lines of small text, do not like. And the text is an image, I can’t copy from the PDF to reformat. :/
Also it’s gruesome and gory which I also find as a big negative.
The big plus is that it works well with the vanilla fantasy I’m after. I can just plop down the carriage on the hex map and the players can track the orcs or just ignore the whole thing as they please. If they come back later I’ll treat it as “didn’t make haste”.
Ouch, heartbreaking because yes, this is good and it’s exactly the sort of thing I want OPD to be in terms of layout and presentation and playability. Big and easy to read descriptions, love that. But, not only is it gonzo, it’s gonzo enough to not just be a gonzo zone, it needs a gonzo world around it.
To port this over to fantasy would make it more interesting I think. Some magical device and a set up similar to the Professor’s Potion above. But, I don’t think I’ll use it. It’s a little too pixel-nagging with intented “clues” etc. And uncomfortable theme with birthday parties etc. As a suggestion to the author, this could work great as an IF game implemented in Inform (in which case keep the modern-day setting).
Just by turning to the page, I realize that the goggles do nothing as usual, and can’t imagine to print this? Almost instant “No”. But, taking a closer look anyway. OK, I like that it’s a big enough place, and can slot into the vanilla fantasy flavor well enough. The warp geomorphs seem pointless though. And again we have long lines with tiny letters. The monsters seem well suited for 5e as is, that’s a plus.
Has problems with setup, map legibility and theme. Easy skip.
Requires coastal (but can be ported to like a monestary or something), requires understanding the petal diagram but I figured it out. If you use in the original ship setting, go get a ship map. I don’t understand ships well enough to just improvise them, I’ve learned. But, bubbles-and-line maps work well enough on the other hand. No need to overdo it.
So, two problems remain. How to give the players information about the lotus, stuff like the burning etc? And, when inserted into a larger hex crawl, when does the timeline start? It’ll be another “Oh, how convenient, it starts just when we arrive, gee, thanks DM”. It’s weird, some of these OPD work better inside a larger sandbox and some worse.
I like the plague theme.
OK, great use of the page; several columns, a very clear map over a big area. I’ve already made and ran similar adventures and I’m not sure I want to go there again.
This is something that might work well as standalone, low-prep, and you should take a look at it. But I already want to make my hexcrawl. Similarly to Umber Wood, I can take entries from this one and put in there.
Interesting idea to have the allies and villains in the town before the dungeon. The journey and dungeon and monsters though: is this even compatible with D&D?
Oh, come on!
Hard to print and hard to read, both because of the background and because of the prose style. Looks like a good enough vanilla dungeon. This is heartbreaking… a simple black text on white background with a simple line art dungeon would’ve been much more usable, I could even live with the prose style (and having to figure out the rigth monster groups etc).
Requires work and requires everything to go the adventure writer’s way (they decide to go to exactly that island, exactly that treasure etc). And the map, if there is one, is… ?
Oh, wow, yes! I just turned the page to this and this looks great! Now to read more carefully. OK, yes, I want to put this into the game. Will it come across as well in verbal only, that’s a big question? It’s a bit tricky to figure out everything – seems like you can go from room to room, the image makes them seem more broken apart than they really are.
Not to sold on the setup, which requires English, or the snow locale. But other than that, it’s a straight forward OPD. Wow, there’s a lot more of these solid, normal OPD than a couple of previous years, great! Not sure I want the ice theme. But, I need lots and lots of dungeon and this is a pretty normal and good one. Not sure what level it’s for though?
Again, this is a good example of an OPD layout. A very clear map in the middle and straight forward descriptions around it. The font is awful though, and the dungeon is too linear and a little too gory for me.
A little two-room gothic ghost story. But requires buy-in, and is thematically not a good fit for this next campaign (since we just came from Curse of Strahd). And HP 20?!? This is a level 1 adventure. Maybe I’ll toss it into one of my smaller convention pointcrawls.
Oh, gross. Hope you won’t mind if I skip over even reading this one. The layout / functionality seems above average but it’s just thematically so “no!”
A clear enough dungeon, but linear.
Completely different genre. Can I make it boat? Can I use it for some other game? Maybe. This was one of the contests winners but it’s not what I can use right now.
More of an interesting idea than a great OPD. The encounters that are there are OK, and open-ended. Also clashes a bit with ACKS’s idea of “magic users create dungeons for parts” thing, but that can be leveraged rather than left as a hindrance, maybe.
I don’t know about this one. Seems more like its own thing. High fantasy, requires a smaller map than I have, the dungeons aren’t really fleshed out.
And we’re back to typical way-too-special OPD fare of the last couple of years. This one seems to be hard to run with my verbal-only style and there’s not that much agency.
I’m starved for these sort of normal vanilla dungeons but there’s a lot of work here. I want to change the fireball room to something else, could also be fireball related but something that works better with my style. The madness hall I don’t like either. The monsters need to be defined (just “vermin are here” isn’t that helpful) and I don’t really understand the topology. The “trick” hook seems a bit…
Similar to one of Dyson’s old maps. Map puzzles aren’t the most interesting for our non-mapping style, and the mechanics of the various traps and monsters aren’t there, and the theme isn’t a great fit either (though it could work).
What? There’s something very icky about this style I think. I don’t know but it creeps me right out!
Hard to print space opera. For another game maybe. For now I’m just skipping it.
This is one of the ones I looked at before I got the whole compendium. I didn’t really understand the rooms in order thing or how the rooms fit together. Another heartbreaking one. It sucks that beautiful, hard worked dungeons, with great flavor, like this one and a couple of others are less likely to be used by me than some of the more phoned-in ones. I wish it weren’t so.
This one is interesting and seem usable if a world is built around it. Which I haven’t.
Here’s a straight forward one. This is what OPD needs to be.
Another very hard to print one. But it’s soo good! And perfect to just slot into a hex crawl.
Hello, someone just used graphviz and hit “submit”. Not usable on its own. I’ll try to remember that this one exists if I ever run the associated adventure. If it really makes things easier?
Usable, vanilla, low-level. Not much else to say.
Not an OPD and not fantasy genre.
I think I’ll ditch the epiloge but this seems usable enough if I can desaturate it / threshold it. What font is this? I want it.
I love some of the ideas in this and will probably snarf those to any bigger dungeon I make or run. The whole room 4, I don’t really understand it.
This looks very hard to run but the items are great, this sort of stuff I can use in many different places!
OK, here’s a simple enough vanilla dungeon that I’ll just use. Good.
The format is actually pretty good with its corridors represented as dotted lines, easy to figure out the distances between rooms. It’s a little linear but it’s so small. It may sound unfair to compare this dungeon, drawn in the style of a young child, to the virtuoso ink work of something like the Sky-Blind Spire. But I’m looking at usability first and foremost.
A different extra-planar little thing. A bit railroady but that can be fixed (for example, giving stats to the wood lich).
Getting pretty tired of missing children but this one is has a readable map and has an interesting twist. Need to really figure out a mechanical or reliable way to convey the true nature of the goblins before it’s too late (arrows or eldritch blast ftl). I can use death saves of course.
Much clearer usage of isometric than the Dungeon of Abkadev. And again something that slots very well into a wilderness trek. A little too much damsel factor, but sure, I’ll use this one.
At first glance, I though “No way!”. I don’t like the “clear goal” thing. But… the premise is interesting and could be an interesting twist to hide in a magical library somewhere in the realm. The setups are great, evocative and succinct summaries of fairy tails. I’d throw out the “must achieve the goals” though and just have the PCs do whatever. And I don’t like just blasting ten setups at them in a row that they can’t change.
Straight forward, great vanilla flavor, very compatible with 5e as is, nice fungal theme, can just be dropped into the hex map. Great. This is the sort of stuff that has been so rare (maybe one or two a year) previous years and now there are lots of them. Really loved this one.
Requires a specific setup and buy-in.
Star Trek TOS font and the 5 Room Dungeon model. Honestly can this 5RD model just go away? Is it really that great? I want something sprawling, chaotic…
I always keep changing my mind how I feel about these guilt trip tribe bashing affairs. The setup is open-ended enough, the map is simple. Coastal, but movable.
If you fail the saves you’ve got to have sex? No way I’m even touching this!
Another hard-to-print one. Stop it with the dark brown floors, folks! For my no-screen, no-map style, this one would need significant topological rework (some other mechanic to determine which corridors connect where, but that retains agency).
Straight forward, but maybe a little trollish / shaggy-dog and linear. The ultimate anti-Jacquay? It’s not that many steps though.
It’s unfair towards these authors that some of the gimmicks immediately grab me (like the Prisoners of the Gelatinous Dome) and some don’t, like the Stairs and this Tortoise.
This is something for Dungeon World or a similar more impro-allowing game, or, if D&D, for the DM who is prepared to put in a lot of work.
Interesting enough and just good enough for a single hex on a huge map. Porting everything over to 5e might be heavy, though, and fitting it into the world requires some thought.
I want this as poster kind of. But, I don’t know how to read it. Are they floor plans or cross cuts? OK, they’re floor plans, the white lines aren’t open space, just very thick walls. The biggest issues is how the various sections fit together.
I was really looking forward to seeing this acclaimed nostalgia dungeon with my own eyes. The layout is very clear. This is probably the number one most easily readable/usable dungeon in the book. Everything needs stats though, and there’s a lot of save or die (or just die), and there’s some sewer stuff that I’m not into, and I’d like to figure out what happens if anyone tries to follow the rushing river upstream or downstream.
What’s the hook? To just kill the ants? In which case, see The Starving Fishmen above. To steal something? Then maybe. Usable enough with 5e (there’s probably several MM entries that can stand in for the ants) but…
Another one I’m on two minds of, I don’t really like it that much. I’m leaning yes just because it’s so different. It’s something the players can interact with or just ignore. Tonally, it’s wrong for the sorta Ronja/Mio fantasy I’m going for, but that can be said for a lot of these, they’re all more pulpy.
Way more usable entries than previous years. 15 out of 62, that’s about one fourth. Nice! Then again, previous years I’ve been more “Let’s look through this and see if it’s anything I want to use… naw, not really” This time I was more “OK, if I have to use this one, can I?” because I’m desperate to find a lot of good dungeons to fill a very big map. If I were to go through previous years with the same method, maybe I’ll find roughly the same proportion, or better.
Too little treasure overall, especially from an ACKS econ perspective. That’s something that I’ll need to added to most of these, ordinary gold and silver.
The myth that you can just grab any One Page Dungeon and go is absolutely a myth, I think. Unless you’re even sloppier about prep than I am. Most of the time it’s easier to make one (esp if you have some geomorphs) and stock it than to get one of these up to speed.
I just realized that maybe a better way I could’ve spent this day, rather than to try to review all of them (without playtesting them), could’ve been to go through all of them and extract rooms, wilderness encounters etc to long lists to then use when stocking dungeons and wilderness. And make exceptions for when the whole is especially good like The Descendants, The Blight or the Prisoners of the Gelatinous Dome, and to grab any maps where the map is the good part, like Yellow Light.