One-Pager Dungeons on Google Docs

This has *nothing* to do with one-page dungeons, I just recently watched The Dark Crystal.

On to more RPG-related things.

I’m a building sub now (heh, fooled you, didn’t I?). Things in the classroom can get a bit rote when one class period to the next is “work time” for every block. I’ve resolved to making one page dungeons again as we’ve talked before (back on track here). This time, they’re on Google Docs.

It always looks like you’re working or typing up an email or prepping a lesson if it’s on your computer as opposed drawing a dungeon on a scratch sheet of paper.

We have weird assumptions about what constitutes “working” I’ve noticed.

For example, reading blogs (ahem) looks more productive than mapping a dungeon on a sheet of paper. This is just the way the world works now, I guess.


Why dungeons? When reading this article explaining why dungeons aren’t all that great for your group, it emphasized to me why dungeons ARE great. In the article, it’s explained that the fictional setup, the premise to the scenario and adventure, should be emphasized more than the place in which it occurs. Spend more time designing the “how” than the “where.” It creates a highly individualized RPG experience, which is great. GMs should spend more time on motivation of the scenarios they run.

But when running games for Outschool, I prefer dungeons and scenarios simply for the fact that they are replayable. I don’t want to start from scratch every time. I want fine-tuned adventures that can adapt to the group that’s playing but are also very easy to reset. Dungeons start in stasis, so they can be used over and over again.

I’ve run Belly of the Fishy Beast several times now. Same goes for Tomb of the Serpent Kings.

Anne from DIY and Dragons linked some great advice from last year (the link above was also from this collection. Here’s one article I caught was this one about quick and easy dungeon design.
And this post was linked as well that had more on how to generate dungeons. The process I ended up making pretty much stole from both of these.

The process

I started with this dungeon generator from Wizards of the Coast for *reasons* (school wifi blocked others as “gaming related.” Pooh.) Use one of your choice.

So, I just screenshotted a small dungeon and threw it on the Doc.

Now to key rooms! Basically, I wanted the Maze Rats tables but more focused. Closer to Electric Bastionland’s Spark Tables, but only for one dungeon. And d6-only would be tight.

So, roll 3d6 per room. The first d6 is the room type. It’s like an Overloaded Encounter die:
1. Encounter
2. Encounter + Treasure
3. Obstacle/Puzzle
4. Trap/Hazard
5. Travel/Empty
6. Oddity/Treasure

This table is one I’ve modded a couple of times, but it works for all dungeons I’ve drawn up thus far.
-Encounter = a danger of some sort
-Treasure = goodies in the form of gold or items
-Obstacle = a simple problem (boulder to be pushed aside, river to be crossed)
-Puzzle = a multi-step problem (series of locked mechanisms)
-Trap = thing made with the intent to harm/entangle (swinging axes, poison darts)
-Hazard = thing that hinders/sets them back (rubble, webs)
-Travel = room that emphasizes movement (secret door, slippery)
-Empty = all elements are passive (set dressing)
-Oddity = something with a strange effect either part of the dungeon or an item, this is the dungeon’s gimmick (room that controls dungeon’s gravity, etc)

The second d6 is the active element of the room. The dungeon’s threats in various forms are put here. It also doubles as the dungeon’s encounter table. Sample dungeon, I listed the following:

  1. Goblin, but not
  2. Spider
  3. Spider rider
  4. Outcast
  5. Oompa-Loompa-like
  6. Billie Bernie (Willie Wonka knockoff)

The third d6 is the passive element of the room. The themes of the dungeon are listed here. They should be flexible enough to hint at something without being absolutely concrete (ex: “furniture” makes a better theme entry than “cupboard.”) Sample here:

  1. Sweets
  2. Stolen
  3. Costume
  4. Machine
  5. Webs, Eggs
  6. Carnival

Here’s the completed sample, aptly named Sweet Wonka Goblin with Spiders Dungeon (Google Doc link here). It’s fairly goofy, but that’s how things are around here.

That’s all.

Also, making my own dungeons has been a blast, but I’m pretty sure the next adventure I’m running in the The Waking of Willowby Hall, made by Ben Milton. Go check it out.

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