The One Page Dungeon Contest 2013 winners have been announced and I'm one of them! I'm flattered and surprised.
Here's three of my favorites that I printed out to use:
The Sea Tower This one is all text and has some great stuff in it. My favorite line is "...the maintenance drones have degenerated into savage tribes.."
Clown Robot Doctor Apocalypse I think this is my favorite entry from this year. It looks like a blast to play through.
Faery Ring to Alpha Ari This is a ruined space station that you get to by entering a ring of magic mushrooms. That is awesome and it makes me think, are there other abandoned space stations that you can get to by entering magic mushroom circles? (the answer is YES)
Laying Tracks vs. Casting Hooks
I've been thinking about how I start adventures sometimes. I have this annoying habit of writing up a dungeon and then starting the PCs out in a sandbox type situation that has the dungeon in it, thinking that I'll make stuff up on the spot if they don't go right for the dungeon. They almost never go right for the dungeon. Dang it. Sometimes I make up great stuff and we all have fun anyway, but sometimes I don't and the session falls flat.
So, my advice to myself and you I guess if you're reading this (and I know this is not new advice) is to run a sandbox if I have a sandbox prepped and run a dungeon if I have a dungeon prepped and not try to do both at the same time.
For example, to run IRON CLOUD I would not have then PCs just wandering around in the wasteland I would have them seeking out the Iron Cloud on purpose and start the game when they find it. I've shied away from this approach in the past because it feels like railroading. It of course is not. Railroading is when no matter what the players do the same thing happens. This is giving the game parameters, but inside those parameters anything can happen. The idea is the same if the parameters are a sandbox or a dungeon.
To make this work the players need a hook to get them there. With Iron Cloud I gave the different names of the airship to give the DM and the players some ideas for hooks without spelling it out.But the DM will probobly need to spell it out so here's a little random table:
The PCs are seeking:
1. the lost knowledge of the wizard Zadrilon
2. revenge against Kragofax, maybe he ate the character's village
3. to ally or dominate Kragofax
4. to conquer and control the Iron Cloud itself