I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Sunday, May 01, 2016

One Page Dungeon 2016 - The Magnificent Shadow

So here is my entry for this years' One Page Dungeon entry (you can find my 2015 entry here). As usual, I had to trim some stuff to fit everything in one (readable) page, so I'll put the text in this page with a few additional notes and the original map.


My original idea was to create a "defensive" dungeon; eventually, I chose to make it a village with few features; it is up to the PCs to create the traps, encounters, etc, against the coming "adventures" (OPD has been quite liberal with the term "dungeon"; also, there are two small dungeons and one megadungeon in there if you look for it). The two main inspirations should be obvious from the title and contents.

The monster art and layout were created by the awesome Rick Troula author of The Displaced, my favorite D&Dish comic out there (well, I'm a constant collaborator, so I'm obviously biased). You should definitely check it out if if you haven't yet - the first issue is free.

Link for the PDF above.

The Magnificent Shadow

The village of Calve Fort is in danger. A band of armed thugs and bandits is coming to steal all that is inside and kill anyone who resists. Even if the villagers surrender, there will be bloodshed - followed by starvation.

The citizens will beg strangers for salvation – they have enough gold and goods to offer, and they cannot find anyone else to help. The PCs might be passing by, or maybe some of they have been born in this village themselves (but shouldn’t be currently living in it). In any case, the PCs are the villagers' only hope. When the PCs arrive in the city, the attack is only a few days away (roll 1d4+2)

They would better take a side soon or get the hell out of there.

Calve Fort
The village has a wooden wall that will resist most attacks for at least a couple of days. Attackers will try to enter through the main gate (1), but the wall can be climbed with some effort (attackers are unlikely to climb while shot with arrows, rocks, etc).

The river (2) is currently 20 feet wide and 4 feet deep (speed is divided by four while crossing it; attacking from it is near impossible). The bridge is 40 feet long and 15 feet wide. It can be destroyed or made unstable in a days’ work.

The church (3) is locked and abandoned (villagers will tell the clergymen ran away when they heard about the attack, and no one dares to enter now), but the attackers will hesitate to harm anyone that hides inside it unless they have suffered great losses (they will pillage the town instead). The holy symbols of the church were vandalized and thrown into the ground. There is a holy sword hidden in the ruined catacombs, although it looks rusty and is only useful against demons and alien things.

The manor (4) is the richest house in town, and where city leaders make their meetings. Not too defensible, but better than most buildings. There is a small dungeon underneath it, with an altar of sacrifice in front of a black pool of goo (see The Demon, below), a cage with a couple of young prisoners, and a room with robes, daggers and forbidden books.

The thugs are people from nearby villages who have heard rumors about Calve Fort being full of gold and demon worshipers, and mobbed up for some justice and robbery. There are about fifty of them, most carrying a single weapon (usually spears and swords; one third carries bows) and little or no armor. They have a few leaders and very simple tactics (they might wait a day or two in the gates before attacking), but they can overwhelm smaller forces if they are able to surround them. They can be reasoned with, but it will take significant amounts of blood and gold to turn them back.

These thugs will back down the first time one of them dies and will seldom change tactics within the same day; but they will grow fiercer with time and won't give up until at least half of them (or all the leaders) are killed, unconscious or captured.

The villagers are nice and welcoming to anyone who can help, but they are also weak, miserable and coward, with little chance to defend themselves. A good leader can convince about twenty of them to fight (with clubs and spears), but they need training for a couple of days to avoiding giving up at the first charge. All villagers are secretive about what is really going on and will paint themselves as the victims of bloodthirsty robbers. There are about 100 people still in the village, including children and the elderly.

The mayor just wants the village to survive and will do anything to preserve save himself and his goods. He doesn’t want to hear about cults, demons or gods.

The crazy prophet will spent its days preaching against “wicked ways” and “unnatural fornication” over this world. Although his visions are true, he is obviously mad and has little clue of what is really happening. Others begrudgingly tolerate him for some reason.

Brad Homes, the aristocrat, is the head of the Order of Ydahgranod. He is charismatic, if somewhat slimy, but will welcome others into the cult if they are sincere and eager to learn the dark arts. He isn't a good fighter, but will lead three of his bravest (and more insane) cultists into battle if convinced. 

If all is lost, he will run to the manor to seek help from the Ydahgranod, or urge others to do it.

Auras Wok, the smith, is the bravest and most competent person on the village. She can organize villagers for one single task per day (repairing the wall, setting up traps, etc.) and is a decent fighter. She has done terrible things under the cultists order, but is ready to repent.

The lawful gods have turned away from Calve Fort in disgust. An act of piety (putting holy symbols back in their places, praying inside the church, showing genuine interest in the prophet or refusing to condone the evil cult in the most desperate circumstances) might attract their attention, although their boons will be limited (visions, weather, etc.; true believers might get holy powers for a while).

Ydahgranod, the Magnificent Shadow, is an alien thing of ancient times. It has brought gold and safety to the city in exchange of human sacrifice and worse – it mixed its blood with those of the villagers to create warped offspring (some seemingly human). Only a handful of the villagers are actual cultists, but almost everyone condones the arrangement.

Although the demon is nothing but black goo in its current form, significant bloodshed in the village (more than two dozen deaths in a day) will make it sprout into a solid mass of tentacles and mouths – a fearsome foe. Even in this form, it cannot leave its pool until directly fed with the blood of the innocent. It might accept a deal in exchange for its freedom.

The end? Even if the village is saved, it’s hard to tell which of the children are tainted by the Shadow. The adults are probably all damned. If Ydahgranod leaves its pool, an entrance to the massive cave complex  that spawned the demon is revealed.

By Eric Diaz (http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com.br/). Released under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/). Special thanks to Rick Troula.


  1. Ooo. Nice. That artwork is excellent :)

    1. Thanks! Indeed it is! ;)
      Kudos to Rick Troula - check his stuff online, he creates awesome art.