A commenter on last night’s post about an old 1-page dungeon wrote:
You were doing one-page dungeon levels years before all the rest of us.
And I responded that, well, thanks for the kudos but I don’t really think there’s anything particularly noteworthy about that format in and of itself. It so happens that the first level of the one I still have happens to look quite a bit like the recent computerized templates, with half-page map on left, random encounter table below, and simple room key on the right. But that’s coincidence and a rather logical approach. It’s not an accident that the current template is so popular…it’s so popular exactly because the layout is sensible and works with a lot of ideas.
In fact, my old off-the-cuff 1-pagers often began life as a quick map drawn up wherever the muse led me, sometimes across the top of the page or right down the middle. And then I’d just jot notes wherever there was room. Sometimes, even, I didn’t map things out ahead of time, just listing potential encounters along one side of the graph paper and mapping as the game progressed. I didn’t even always use graph paper.
As for doing it “years before” all the rest, I don’t think I was the only one. Duh. For example, just this morning an old mid-90s dungeon was posted over at A Rust Monster Ate My Sword: Underdeeps of the Witchlord. It’s definitely worth a look. The four pages cover five levels, and the layout and format is very 1-page-like.
My guess is that a lot of DMs did exactly this sort of thing, and the fact that they did so is a big reason why there’s so much excitement over the modern 1-page layout templates.
And, really. Go check out Underdeeps of the Witchlord.
UPDATE: I was just leaving a comment at Rust Monster and realized that the post actually was published yesterday morning.