The Ghoul’s Shrine

The Ghoul’s Shrine is my entry in the One-Page Dungeon contest.  It didn’t win anything, a fact which I can ascribe only to blatant favoritism on the part of the judges.

Not really, but anybody who expects me to pass on an opportunity to use a perfectly apropos quote from Tom Lehrer obviously doesn’t know me very well.

It has a couple of amusing features, and I’m glad I took the trouble to enter since it forced me to figure out how to use Chgowiz’s One Page Dungeon templates and the various tools I have to make a semi-decent looking free-hand dungeon map.  But compared to some of the other entries I’ve seen (such as Michael Wolf’s astonishing Horror of Leatherbury House) it’s pretty weaksauce.

The Ghoul’s Shrine

Well, I finished my One-Page Dungeon Contest entry and mailed it in.  It was interesting and fun, though I’m not sure that what I produced was any great shakes.  I spent a lot more time than I had planned just wrestling with the format and trying various tools.  I ended up drawing it free-hand with GIMP, using Chgowiz’s GIMP graph-paper template, mostly because that was the easiest way to guarantee that the result fit neatly into the dungeon template itself.  GIMP is far from my favorite tool for drawing, mostly because that’s not really what it’s for, it’s designed as an image manipulation tool; next time I’ll either figure out how to do what I want in Painter, or really spend some time learning either Inkscape or AutoRealm.  I fooled around with the latter two just enough today to realize that if I tried to use either I’d never have finished in time for the contest deadline.

One of the things I found interesting was just how easy and enjoyable it was to write a systemless dungeon; freedom from having to stat up anything at all let me write it for a party of completely indeterminate size, composition, and power level.  Of course, that means that whoever picks it up and tries to use it will be faced with plugging in numbers from their favorite system, but I deliberately stuck to just a few monster types to make that a little less painful.

On the other hand, it was a bit painful and frustrating to keep trimming the text to stick to a single page.  It pretty much precluded introducing any unique monster or puzzle, and drastically cut down on the flavor text.  I think that Chgowiz’s template really comes into its own when it’s used the way Amityville Mike does in Stonehell: a single page for the map, wandering monster table and notes, and a separate page or two for the key.  That’s definitely my plan for my next project, which will probably be a sample dungeon for my RPG write-up.