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The Ovens Of Ar-Gar

March 22nd, 2012

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about tabletop role-playing games. In addition to news and speculation about the upcoming 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve been following a number of gaming blogs for their tips on running a better campaign. That’s when I stumbled across the One Page Dungeon Contest, an annual challenge in which Dungeon Masters submit complete adventures formatted to fit a single sheet of paper–maps, descriptions and all. Many of the past winners were entertaining, clever and inspiring.

I decided to try my hand at it and enter this year’s competition. However, I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, so rather than starting from scratch, I revised an old scenario I wrote for the one and only time that I ran a 3rd Edition D&D session.

The original version was my unofficial sequel to a gaming community in-joke. Years ago, professional game designer Monte Cook (now leading the 5th Edition design team) wrote a humor piece entitled “The World’s Shortest (Yet Technically Complete) Adventure,” aka “The Orc and the Pie.” (Sample text: “Adventure Background: An orc has a pie.”) It ended with a suggestion for a follow-up: “Somewhere, there is a bakery making these good pies. Perhaps it’s guarded by more orcs.”

I took that as a challenge. And so it was that one day a band of stout-hearted heroes delved deep underground to find the source of those wondrous baked goods. Goblins were murdered, pies were thrown. Good times.

Anyhow, it struck me that this adventure would be relatively easy to recraft as a One Page Dungeon. I drew a new cavern map and condensed my overwritten descriptions to the bare essentials. The result just fits on one page, though I did have to resort to an 8 point font.

Click on the .jpg below for the actual .pdf of “The Ovens of Ar-Gar.”

Not everything from the original made the cut. I left out the unhelpful old woman obsessively prattling on about her potatoes. (Crazy old ladies are a role-playing fallback for me.) I also excised the bit in which the party stumbled across the site of Monte Cook’s own adventure, a literal 10′ stone cube containing a dead orc and an eaten pie.

However, most everything else is there, including some stuff I’d forgotten about. My favorite is the Angry Fish, inspired by what I imagined to be the resentment felt by a goldfish in a bowl. The Angry Fish swims back and forth in its underground grotto, fiercely guarding its single gold coin.

You’ll note that the descriptions are short and generic. That’s because the contest specifically requests that entries be game system-agnostic. I also left the number of monsters and the composition of treasure up to the Game Master so that the scenario can be scaled to fit his or her needs.

That’s about it. Enjoy!

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