Module P0: Pom Pom Dungeon

This is a D&D adventure about two friendly monsters. One of them, WOM, was walking along with his pom pom when he was been abducted by the Pom Pom Monster, who is not friendly and wants as many pom poms as he can get.

The other friendly monster is Zoom, the PC (player character). He must rescue WOM from the Pom Pom Monster's lair, the Pom Pom Dungeon!

Zoom at the Wall of Boxes.

Table of Contents

People needed

The Angle

This may be different from adventures you're accustomed to because it comes at the player from the angle that it is an alternate way to play with familiar toys.

To help the player get into what is likely a very new experience to them, every room, creature, and object in the game needs to be represented physically. This frees the player from having to keep track of too much stuff in their head.

However, there is no need for great sculptural fidelity! An eraser with a face on it will represent a goon just fine, for example.

Customize or die

Quite a few modules tell you to "make it your own", but this isn't a nice-to-have here; I think it's essential to connecting with a young player that has no concept of role-playing games.

If you know of a character or object that is familiar to the player, favor it over a character or object that's written here. Get it in the game and don't worry about balance. Replace names and genders freely!

Your game may not end up resembling this module, and that's OK as long as the player connects with the game.

Setting up

To get ready to play:

  1. Read through the cast of characters and for each character:
    • Decide if you're going to replace or rename or otherwise alter the character to be more familiar to the player. For example, if skulls are scary to the player, you can replace Skull Jones with a koala bear or a member of the PJ Masks.
    • Find a toy or other object in your house to represent the character. It should take up no more than 1-2 square inches (2.5-5 cm2) on a tile.
  2. Read through the items and gather physical objects to represent each of those as well.

    The pictures in the items list show what I used, but you should just use the closest thing you have in your house. If you come across something in your house that you want to use, just put it in there. The spirit of this module is using whatever you have around the house to make a game!

    If you can't find a prop to represent an item in the list, you can always make chits from paper as a substitute.

    What is a chit?

    A chit is a small cardboard or tagboard square with an icon on it meant to represent some game entity. They're often used in war games and board games. You can make one by cutting a square out of cardboard and writing on it.
  3. Read through the scenery list and do the same with that—gather physical objects to represent each piece of scenery.

  4. Prepare a character sheet for your player. The player is playing Zoom (or whoever you rename or modify him to). On a sheet of paper, write down:
    • The PC's name (e.g. Zoom)
    • The six ability score names (STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA), with spaces next to them for the ability score itself and the modifier.
    • AC: 12 (apply the DEX modifier if you feel like it)
    • hp: 10/10 (apply the CON modifier if you feel like it)
    • Special actions: Fly 1/day, Bite.
    • A section for items.
    Zoom's character sheet

    Have the player roll 3d6 for each ability score, add up the numbers on the dice, then write them down on the sheet. There's unlikely to be a need to reroll or adjust for low scores; the player is unlikely to have internalized that big numbers are better. If it is necessary, go ahead and do it!

    If you feel like it, look up the modifiers and put them on the sheet.

    That's it! No more character detail is needed.

Playing the game

The main "loop" of the game is the Random Encounter. You'll run it again and again and again to generate most of the dungeon as you play. (I ran it about 20 times, myself.)

However, you start the game by running Encounter A, Encounter B, and Encounter C, in sequence.

Then, you run as many Random Encounters as you like. At some point, preferably after the PC has a sense of what play is like in the dungeon, run the Game Show encounter.

Finally, when you're ready to start wrapping up, run the boss, egress, and ending encounters.


This adventure nominally uses the 5E rules with the following modifications:


Spatial details

Encounter A: WOMs Away

Once the player has their character sheet, kick the adventure off by telling the player that Zoom is at home, when he receives a paper airplane.

Reading the paper airplane.

Toss the paper airplane to the player and let them examine it. (You may need to hint that they should unfold and read it.)

After they read it, ask if they want to go to Pom Pom Dungeon to rescue WOM.

In the playtest, the answer to the call to action was an immediate yes; no convincing was needed. However, things may not always work out that way. If the player is not sure they want to go, fish around for another motivation to get them there. Failing that, maybe have a giant bird swoop them up and deus ex machina them over to the dungeon.

Encounter B: Classic Goon Behavior

This encounter is a miniature representation of the overall conflict in the adventure.

Set up the room by putting two tiles next to each other, then adding two doors.

Encounter B room drawing

This room contains:

Pig-Will will plead for help from the PC.

Encounter C: A Cozy Fireplace

This encounter is meant to show the player that some rooms don't have creatures.

Set up the room by arranging four tiles into a square (breaking down the previous room if you need the tiles), then adding a door, a hole, ladder, and a fireplace.

Encounter C room drawing

This room contains:

There is a very real chance that the fire helmet won't be found. In my playtest, the player ignored it completely the first time he went by it. When he later returned to the room, I had Wooper say, "There's something odd about the fireplace," and he still ignored it. I wanted him to find it, but at the same time, I didn't think it was important, so I let it go. If it's important to you, though, you should just say "If you put out the fire, you might find something."

Random Encounter: The Dungeon Core Loop

As mentioned in Playing the Game, random encounters are how the bulk of the dungeon is generated. One difference between random encounters you may be familiar with from other adventures and these random encounters is that these encounter define the rooms as well as the contents of the rooms (much like the random dungeon generator in the appendix of the 1E Dungeon Master's Guide).

For each random encounter:
  1. Roll 1d4 to determine room shape:
    1 Hallway: Three tiles in a row
    2 Small room: Single tile
    3 Medium room: Two tiles
    4 Big room: Four tiles arranged in a square
  2. Draw the room on your map. If it collides with an existing room, rotate it. If it still does not fit, reroll. (There's no shame in just picking the room shape you'd like, either.)
    Rolling the rooms up as you play can be entertaining for the DM, as they are a surprise to the DM as well as to the player. However, it can also be very stressful to have so much extra stuff to do for every single room. So, you can preroll the encounters and map if you like!
  3. Lay the tiles out on the table.
  4. Roll 1d4 to determine the number of exits that the room has. (Fudge it if you roll a 1 that would result in a dungeon level that is a dead end.)
  5. For each exit, roll 1d6 to determine what kind of exit it is:
    1 Hole going down
    2-4 Door
    5-6 Wall opening
  6. Put the exits down on the edges of the room. Holes can go anywhere in the room you'd like.
  7. Roll a d6 to see if there are items in the room. On a 1-4, determine which items are here by rolling a d12 and consulting the table below.
    1 Pom pom
    2 Scissors
    3 Sword
    4 Bag of gold
    5 The Claw
    6 Wand of Wonder
    7 Ladder
    8 Stone
    9 Orb
    10 Medkit
    11-12 Stick
  8. Place the props for those items in the room.
  9. Roll a d6 to see if there are NPCs in the room. On a 1-4, determine which NPCs are here by rolling a d8 and consulting the table below.
    1 Ninja
    2 Shyguy
    3 Eyeball
    4-6 1d4 Goons
    7 Wooper
    8 Skull Jones
  10. Place the NPCs in the room.

Then, go! It seems like a lot, but I found that it goes quickly after you've done a few.

Anytime you want a specific result from any table, just pick it. You, the DM, do not have to respect your own rolls.

Encounter D: The Game Show

This encounter takes place in a big room (2 tiles by 2 tiles) and centers around the Wall of Boxes.

Encounter D room

Each box is 4'x4'x4'. The Wall of Boxes as a whole is 12' wide and 20' tall (3.6m x 6m). So, the boxes on the first two rows are easily reachable from the floor, but the top three rows will require a ladder, flying, climbing, or some other creative means.

As the PC opens a box, consult the Wall of Boxes contents table to see what's inside. Remind the player once or twice about the symbol on the box door after they see the box contents.

Zoom at the Wall of Boxes.
You can pick from or roll on the random NPC table to put an occupant in this room to make it more interesting. I happened to roll Skull Jones, and the player thought to buy a ladder from it to reach the higher boxes.

Encounter E: The Boss

Here, the PC meets the Pom Pom Monster at last, along with four of his goons. And finally, WOM is found!

Place the Pom Pom Monster by the side of the room opposite to the side that the PC enters through. Put WOM in a corner near the Pom Pom Monster. Put the four goons in the middle of the room.

Encounter E room

WOM is hurt and cannot fly while he's hurt. He's also tied up with rope. If healed and untied, he will help out Zoom however he can, including flying him around.

The Pom Pom Monster will demand pom poms from the PC and any allies with them. It will also refuse to release WOM if asked. However, it may be amenable to an exchange of 6 pom poms or more if such an offer is made.

If the PC doesn't produce pom poms or if they demand the release of WOM, the Pom Pom Monster and the goons will attack. See the the Pom Pom Monster's behavior notes for its battle tactics.

At this stage of play, it may be convenient for one of the exits from this room to go to the egress, so that the game can wrap up right after this encounter. If you and the player are up for more dungeoneering, then feel free to save that for later.

There is no rule that the PC has to fight the Pom Pom Monster. To my surprise, in my playtest, the player went straight to untying WOM, applying a medkit to him, directing his ally Wooper to head for the exit, then running with WOM through the exit himself. All this while taking shots from the Pom Pom Monster, and while the goons were also attacking his party. (They mostly whiffed, though.)


You can shape the room for this encounter however you want. The idea behind it is that it's a way out of Pom Pom Dungeon.

The default form is a shaft that goes all the way to the surface, with a door that opens to the outside at the top.

In my playtest, Zoom had healed WOM so that he could fly, and WOM flew Zoom and Wooper out. If the player hadn't come up with that, I was ready enough to be done that I would have had him roll a Perception check then say that he noticed a transparent ladder.

You can also choose the form of a:


The jail is where the PC ends up when they have been knocked out. It is a one-tile room that has a single exit: A small barred window. It looks out upon a three-tile hall that leads to a random encounter room.

The jail and the hallway

The PC wakes up here with all of his items gone, except the letter from WOM. There's nothing in the room but the straw mattress he wakes up on.

The window is installed loosely enough that a few rounds of kicking will knock it out. (The goons pull the window out to dump prisoners in.) Also, the bars can be bent (STR check DC 19).

There is a guard just outside the window — a single goon. They occasionally look in on the PC and say "Haw! Haw!" They're not too bright and can be tricked into giving away information by very basic means. However, if you're dynamically generating the map via the random encounter, and the PC tries to get location information out, just play it like the goon is too dumb to be able to give directions.

If the PC is working on escape in some loud and obvious way, the goon pokes at him with their stick and yells. However, the goon does leave the hallway regularly for bathroom breaks.


First, whatever happened, let the player know they did a great job at trying something new and exploring the dungeon.

Then, if WOM or any of the residents of Pom Pom Town were rescued, have them thank the PC, and perhaps do a celebratory dance or jump.

If you want, you can then award experience. Here, I have to admit I don't know exactly how that works in 5E, but I'd just add up the XP totals for the opponents defeated (which can mean knocking out as well bribing, tricking, or running past), then award roughly the following amounts for these deeds and anything else you think is worth rewarding:

Healing WOM100
Helping an NPC out of the dungeon50 for each NPC helped
Breaking out of jail50

Have the player write down the XP, and go over all the great things they did to get it.

Since it only takes 300 XP to get to second level in 5E, it's very likely that the PC has leveled up. In that case, go ahead and go over their new powers as second-level monsters (fighters).

If they didn't make it, and you think they'd enjoy levelling up, just give it to them. Of all the made-up points bubbling through systems in our world, D&D experience points are the most made-up of them all!

Then, go have a snack or something. You both did it!

Pre-generating random rooms and encounters

The advantage of rolling up your rooms ahead of time is that it's less stress at game time. The disadvantage is that it's slightly harder to change directions in the game spontaneously. For example, if you feel that you've reached the perfect moment to introduce the Wall of Boxes, that's a little easier to do if you have a map in which the rooms neighboring the one the PC is in are still undefined. It's still possible to write over a pre-drawn map, though!

If you want to do this, repeat the Random Encounter process by yourself until you have a dungeon that you'd guess would be satisfying to your player. (That's, of course, very hard to guess, assuming your player has never played D&D before.)

If you want to skip rolling the rooms, you can use this map from my playtest.

There are some exits that the player didn't go through, so no room is drawn on there. You can either draw one in or just wipe out the exit.

Pom Pom Dungeon, playtest instance

Cast of characters



The pieces of scenery you need are:

I happened to have this nice tavern miniatures set, so I just used parts from that to represent most of these pieces of scenery. If you happen to have something like that, great!

If you don't, however, there is no need to worry. The floor tiles can easily be made by cutting cardboard into squares that are 4" (10 cm) on each side.

The doors, wall openings, window, fireplace, and the hole can be represented by strips of cardboard or paper that are labeled, either with words or a drawing. All they need to do is indicate that a feature (door, wall opening, etc.) exists on the tile.

Wall of Boxes

The Wall of Boxes is a stack of boxes with doors. Each box is about 1" (2.5 cm) per side. The wall is 3 boxes wide by 5 boxes tall.

Wall of Boxes with doors off Wall of Boxes with doors on

I used an old ice cube tray with cardboard flaps taped to it. You could use a plastic organizer or a pillbox. You could construct it entirely from cardboard. Or you can discard the 3D aspect and draw 15 squares on flat cardboard on paper.

Whatever the representation is, there needs to be 15 boxes with marks on their doors. The color (or some other aspect of the mark) should correspond with the box's contents. For example: pom pom boxes always have a red mark. Here's what goes in each box:

Lightning trap Two (2) bags of gold Fire trap (not in picture)
Bag of gold Lightning trap Pom Pom
Medkit Pom Pom Lightning trap
Pom Pom Medkit Bag of gold
Fire trap (not in picture) Two (2) bags of gold Medkit