As promised, here is the second level of the old one-page dungeon complex I began running three or four years back when I first re-entered the gaming world.
It was written up for AD&D 2e, but the minimalist descriptions make conversion a fairly simple matter.
This level is a good example of what I was talking about when I said that I certainly never stuck to what has become convention when laying out my one-page template. In this case the level long and narrow and mapped along one long side of the sheet rather than relatively square and in the upper half of the left side of a landscape-oriented sheet.
Looking the levels over, I can see that I was already yearning for a bit of the old school vibe when I created these. I had decided to write things up in advance rather than winging it as I was often wont to do in the olden days, but I stuck to a relatively open bare-bones approach.
The first level has multiple exits from each chamber, something I’ve always tended toward when designing dungeons without a specific purpose. The second level, however, consists of what are essentially two parallel linear paths of advance with only a few options once a fork in the road is chosen. I don’t know that I ever drew up anything else like this, to be honest, and I’m not sure if I had a reason or not.
One thing I did here that I like is the well in #27 on the first level. It grants access to levels 2, 4, and 5. This would be considered “old school” in the sense that adventurers could use it to easily access lower levels early in the exploration of the place when they were of insufficient capability to survive. In play, the players discovered the well and the entrance to level 2 but never went further down. At a later point in lower levels they may have found the well via the entrances to those levels and had a quick way in and out of the lower levels bypassing the upper layers.
A theme in this place was that the surrounding terrain was a bit unstable, leading to a number of partially-collapsed chambers, some areas flooded with water (possibly concealing monsters, traps, or treasure) and “tremors” on the random encounter tables which could drop stones on characters or even collapse rooms or passageways. This was to be an ongoing thing.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised when I review these two levels. I had fully expected to view the designs as pretty basic and lame, but I think they hold up okay. Sure, I’d do some things differently if I redid them today, but even using 2e rules I think I was trying to “get back” to the way I had enjoyed playing so much in my early days of gaming.
To be honest, I’ve sort of got a little revved up about continuing this effort. My son bugs me from time to time about returning to those bronze doors on level 2, and maybe we’ll have to explore these ruins further.