A brief synopsis of the judging process for the One Page Dungeon Contest goes like this: The judges read and evaluated all 112 entries. From the 112, we each chose the ones that stood out amongst the masses and made a list of those. From there, we re-evaluated those entries to cull them down to a list of our personal Top 20 entries. These twenty were them submitted to the all the judges to compare and contrast, and the ultimate winners came from the final paring down of all our combined lists. (Alex Schroeder goes into more detail about the process on his blog here.)
For whatever reasons, some entries made it to final round but fell short of taking home a prize. Because I think that several of these authors display great talent and I’d like to see more from them in the future and would encourage them to participate in the One Page Dungeon Contest II (if such a thing ever comes to be), I’m going to say a few brief words about some of the entries that made it to my Top 20 list but didn’t survive until the end. When possible (OK, in the two cases possible), I’ve linked the entry to the dungeon they submitted (thanks to ChattyDM’s compiled list of entries). In cases where a dungeon isn’t available, you’ll have to wait until the Chatty and Chgowiz make the contest .pdfs available. So, in no particular order, here’s some of my Top 20 that didn’t survive to the end but were still a heck of a lot of fun.
“There Are No Tails in Zomboanga” by Buzz Burgess - I’m a sucker for jungle adventures and this one could be dropped into any “green hell” campaign with ease. It is a rich setting without being verbose, has ear seekers, and would be fun to run. It also poses a question right from the start, “Why are there no tails in Zomboanga?” You’ll have to read the entry to find out.
“Beneath the Towers of the Templars” by Carl Doubek – This one is a rock-solid dungeon crawl. It’s nice and clean, features bare bones game information, and would be perfect for a night when I’ve got nothing planned. One of the purposes of the One Page Dungeon, something that several contestants failed to grasp, is that it’s supposed to give the referee just the information they need to run the dungeon. If you can fit in more, fine, but brevity is the One Page Dungeon’s strong suit. This dungeon was a great example of dungeon brevity in action.
“Desert Dungeon” by David Kot – There were a few entries that were designed as completely random dungeons, intended to be generated as you went. While those seemed to defeat the whole purpose of the One Page Dungeon, to me anyway, David used the One Page Template to create an almost dungeon mini-game. Intended as in introductory scenario for Swords & Wizardry, “Desert Dungeon” is that type of thing that’d I break out and play solo on nights when the laundry’s finished and there are no good movies on TV.
“Nevermind the Wilderness” by James Hutchings – I can’t prove that James was attempting to sway Sham AKA Dave and myself with his entry (both of us known punk rock aficionados), but designing a dungeon based on the cover of “Never Mind the Bollocks…Here’s the Sex Pistols” would be a smart way to go if he meant to influence our voting. As a dungeon, it’s pretty miserable for mass consumption. If you’re a Sex Pistols fan, the amount of in-jokes and Easter Eggs in the dungeon is dazzling. Unfortunately, much like in real life, the Sex Pistols were defeated by Pac-Man for the strangest dungeon entry.
The Summoner’s Cave” by Doc Holaday – This one was another example of simplicity’s allure. There’s a lot more implied by this dungeon than stated outright, and that’s always the better route to go as far as I’m concerned. It also had elements of both the Old and New Schools, and a richness combined with a fetching layout and a cool colored pencils map. Plus it’s got a “Thing That Really Shouldn’t Be” lurking around in it, which is always peachy keen. I’ll never look at beavers the same way again.