One-Page Dungeon Contest entry: “Splashdown in Fiend’s Fen”
Yesterday I submitted an entry to this year’s One-Page Dungeon Contest.
For anyone who’s interested in the genesis of gaming ideas, there’s a wee story behind this one. At the start of March it was the birthday of one of my players. I wanted to give him a present of some kind, but was having trouble deciding what to get. Then he told me he was going away to visit his brother in Oxford and wanted to run some D&D while he was there, and he asked me if I could recommend any good modules or adventures online. I said I’d think about it, but I didn’t. Instead, with under 24 hours to go, I decided to write an adventure for him as a birthday present.
I began at 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. Deciding to do a mini-sandbox hexcrawly kind of thing, I quickly cobbled together a map using Hexographer: a swamp a few miles across, with a range of hills to the north, thick forest to the east, and a little village on its southern side. At some stage the swamp gained a name and became Fiend’s Fen. I stuck in all the elements conducive to happy low-level D&D adventuring: a ruined tower, a desolate barrow, a cave in the hills, a couple of monster lairs, etc. I fleshed out the village with an inn, a few NPCs, a dozen rumours/adventure hooks … and a disturbingly big cemetery. I designed a few small dungeon maps using Dungeon Crafter, generated some instant cave plans at Gozzy’s place (a godsend for the adventure writer in a hurry!) and stocked the lot.
At about 9pm another of my players happened to phone me to tell me he’d just seen this big meteor that travelled the length of Britain that evening. First I thought, Bugger, I wish I’d seen that! Then I thought, Hmm, what if something big fell from the sky into Fiend’s Fen? And I thought about it some more, added a pinch of Doctor Who flavouring, and in it went.
I worked throught the night and finished the bloody thing at about 7am. Then I squeezed in four hours of, frankly, well-earned slumber, before dashing off to meet the birthday boy for lunch and hand over his present: a 16-page adventure “module” with a cover cobbled together in approximately 83 seconds from images found on (and stolen from) the Web.
By all accounts, the game was a hit. It was the first time one of my adventures had sailed without me at the helm (or even aboard). A strange, good feeling. I can only imagine how thrilling it must be to pen something like The Keep on the Borderlands or Stonehell Dungeon and know that hundreds or thousands of people are out there enjoying playing the game you made.
Anyway, “Fiend’s Fen” contained a few little dungeons two or three A5 pages long. I decided I could easily adapt one of them to the requirements of the One-Page Dungeon Contest, and I chose the part inspired by the meteor since it could be (literally) dropped into almost any campaign. A few tweaks and it was done.
RIGHT. IF YOU ARE ONE OF MY PLAYERS WHO HASN’T YET VENTURED INTO FIEND’S FEN, LEAVE NOW!
Otherwise, here for your perusal is “Splashdown in Fiend’s Fen”. Comments are welcome, naturally, and please let me know if you ever use the thing.