The Alexandrian

Posts tagged ‘halls of the mad mage’

One-Page Rip-Off

July 5th, 2010

I received an interesting e-mail this morning from Tabletop Adventures:

[W]e also have other news about the Dungeon Codex: you now have an opportunity to get this great product in print! Tabletop Adventures and Philippe-Antoine Ménard, the Chatty DM, have jointly set up a project on the website KickStarter. This is a site that assists people with creative projects to raise funds to make their plans a reality. We are using KickStarter to gather support for a small print run of the Dungeon Codex.

The One-Page Dungeon Codex 2009 contains the winning entries from the One-Page Duneon Contest, including my own Halls of the Mad Mage (Best Geometry). I wasn’t getting this e-mail because of my contributions to the book, however. I was getting it because I’d downloaded a copy of the PDF.

Following the link to KickStarter, I found a pledge system: For $3 you’d get an acknowledgment in the book. For $30 you get a printed copy. For $300 you get 10 copies.

What’s a little hazy, however, is exactly where this money is going. The project promises that the PDF will “become available as a special printed product”, but what does that mean, exactly?

Are they just talking about the copies being provided to pledgers? While they’re charging about $30, a quick investigation at Lulu reveals that you could print up a color copy of the book for about half that. That’s a pretty awesome profit margin for Tabletop Adventures.

(And if they’re not using Lulu, then they’re using a service like it. The minimum pledge threshold for this KickStarter project isn’t sufficient for anything larger than that.)

Are the pledges being used to fund a larger print run? Which they will then sell? If so, that’s an awfully one-sided business model they’re pitching to you. They’re basically asking you to provide the investment capital and then they’ll pocket all the profit.

Despite what you may be thinking, this post isn’t about freelancer rage. By submitting the Halls of the Mad Mage to the contest I released it under the Creative Commons license. They’re free to do whatever they want to with the module (along with everyone else in the world) and I’m not entitled to see a single penny of they money they make along the way. (Although the fact that they’ve turned a fun little community contest into a profit-generating enterprise will certainly influence my decision on participating in future versions of this contest.)

What I’m warning you about is a company trying to rip you off as a consumer.

So if you want a printed copy of the One-Page Dungeon Codex, here’s what you want to do:

(1) Download the free PDF.

(2) Go to Lulu.

(3) Set-up the PDF as a personal print job.

(4) Buy a copy for yourself.

This, it should be noted is perfectly legal: You have a copy of the work you are legally entitled to own (the PDF). Making additional copies of that work for your own personal use (even using third-party services like Kinko’s or Lulu) is legal. What you can’t do is distribute additional copies of that work to other people. (So don’t do that.)

And you’ll pay about half the price that Tabletop Adventures is looking for. Heck, you could even print up a hardcover edition of the book and still end up paying less.

One Page Dungeon Codex

Last year my one-page dungeon The Halls of the Mad Mage, inspired by the twisted landscapes of M.C. Escher, won Best Geometry in the One Page Dungeon Contest. The deluxe version of the One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, which collects all of the winners, has now been released as a FREE e-book from Tabletop Adventures.

I believe the 2010 contest has also concluded (I didn’t enter this year).


Halls of the Mad Mage

If you like The Halls of the Mad Mage, while you’re at RPGNow for the Codex, you might also want to check out some of my other adventure supplements:

Mini-Adventure 1: Complex of Zombies Mini-Adventure 2: The Black Mist

Halls of the Mad Mage

July 24th, 2009

Halls of the Mad Mage - Map

Awhile back, ChattyDM (Philippe-Antonie Menard) announced the One Page Dungeon Contest. For those not familiar with the One Page Dungeon Concept, the idea was originally conceived by David Bowman (Sham’s Grog & Blog) and then developed by Chgowiz (Old Guy RPG Blog) and Amityville Mike (Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope). Basically, the One Page Dungeon is a template for designing a complete dungeon in one page.

To a certain extent, the point of the template is to emphasize that you don’t need a lot of laborious prep to run a successful adventure: With nothing more than a dungeon map and a couple of pertinent notes, a GM can use his creativity at the game table to take care of everything else. I think a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking that our adventure notes need to be rigorous documents, but the reality is that, when we embrace our own ability to improvise creatively, that level of detail is more than over-kill.

If you’re willing to embrace that lighter design ethos, the One Page Dungeon is not only great for its ease of prep. It’s also great for ease of running. With a One Page Dungeon you don’t have any notes to flip through: You have your rulebook, a single sheet of paper, and your dice. The entire dungeon is literally laid out in front of you. This isn’t just simple, it’s usable.

Of course, there are a lot of things the One Page Dungeon can’t do. And thus, for me, its value is primarily in its use as an exercise: The artificial strictures of the form force you to become more creative while reminding you that simplicity has its value.

So, long story short, there was a contest. And for this contest I was inspired to whip out a One Page Dungeon of my own: The Halls of the Mad Mage.

The design of the Halls was inspired by M.C. Escher:

Escher Escher Escher Escher


The Halls of the Mad Mage twist back on themselves in impossible spatial contortions. Here you’ll find everfalling rivers, endless stairs, and mobius chambers.

So I was quite happy when I received an Honorable Mention in the One Page Dungeon Contest:


Those of you interested in taking a tour of the Halls of the Mad Mage should feel free to download the PDF:


Map made with Dundjinni software,



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