Whenever I visit my old home town of Edinburgh I drop by Black Lion Games on Buccleuch Street, up by the University. It's a great FLGS (Friendly Local Games Store) with knowledgeable staff who always take the time to chat and it makes me feel proud to see how it's grown from a cellar stall in the '90s to a thriving hobby shop with a consistently diverse and on-trend stock.
It's also got four cardboard boxes of discount stock: a mixture of the second hand, the discontinued and the unsellable. Back in the day you'd find old Vampire and Shadowrun stuff here, endless Torg supplements and of course many many dungeon modules. It was dungeon modules I was searching for, to satisfying my OSR urges, but too many people must feel the same way and they're all long gone. Most of the boxes were full of Rifts expansions (there are a lot of these, since it's a game that lets players travel across fractured realities) but in amongst the chaff I found two shiny copies of Forge Out Of Chaos. Near-mint, in fact.
I was inspired by Tristan Tanner's 30-Minute Dungeon Challenge. Tristan challenges himself to write a 10-room dungeon in 30 minutes that contains a Hook & Background, 3 combat encounters, 3 empty (but interesting) rooms, 2 traps, 1 NPC, some treasure and something fun for the players to mess about with. Tristan offers sub-tables if the combat, empty rooms, NPCs, traps and intriguing things need further clarifying.
My competition doesn't require anyone to be as strict with themselves as Tristan is: so long as you keep it to 10 rooms, I don't mind how it balances out between combat, traps and NPCs. But Tristan's requirements impose a fascinating discipline that's really tempting to impose on yourself. It's the RPG equivalent of writing a sonnet. The dungeon have to have 10 keyed areas and these have to contain a certain number of fights, rewards, traps and puzzles. The whole thing has to tie together in an interesting way. And you've got half an hour to come up with it. I tried this last week but immediately got carried away: the 30--minute dungeon turned into a 2-hour dungeon and became the Midwinter Nightmare scenario on the previous blog. I'm proud of it as a one-shot scenario but it's not a 30-minute-dungeon.
I'm going to have another go.
Using Tristan's sub-tables, I roll up empty rooms that point to a combat, reveal history and offer something useful to PCs; the special room provides a boon for a sacrifice; the NPC is a rival; the combat encounters are a horde of weaklings, a pair of toughs and a tough boss; the trap is incapacitating.
Here are six scenario seeds inspired by these parameters:
That commits me to 6 stories and I undertake to write up one a week in no more than 30 minutes. I'll post them on the blog and hopefully encourage other people to submit their ideas as competition entries - or just as a bit of fun.
30 Minute Dungeons
Essays on Forge
I'm a teacher and a writer and I love board games and RPGs. I got into D&D back in the '70s with Eric Holmes' 'Blue Book' set and I've started writing my own OSR-inspired games - as well as fantasy and supernatural fiction..
The shoddy PDF rulebook available at drivethrurpg is missing pp 66-67, 82-83, 86-87, 126-127, 140-141 and 162-5. You can read or download these below: