Mini Encounter Contest: Heat Three

View Poll Results: Vote for the winner of Heat Three

60. This poll is closed
  • Culinary Delights

    8 13.33%
  • Down by the Sea

    3 5.00%
  • Multhana Veloor at the Ship on the Mountain

    11 18.33%
  • Pond Scum

    2 3.33%
  • Dark Valkyrie

    22 36.67%
  • Kole Blak and the Seven Dirty Dwarves

    2 3.33%
  • Narvesh the Seer

    3 5.00%
  • BibliothŔque

    5 8.33%
  • A Hunter In The Darkness

    4 6.67%
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  1. #1
    Pit Fiend (Lvl 26)

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    Mini Encounter Contest: Heat Three

    Mini Encounter Contest: Heat Three

    The winner of Heat Two was Crocodile Tears. It will be joining Put to the Sword in the final heat.

    Here are the entries for Heat Three:

    Get voting! This poll has been set to expire in 3 days.
    Last edited by Morrus; Tuesday, 12th March, 2002 at 03:23 PM.

  2. #2
    My take on the entries...

    1: Culinary Delights
    Hey! A traveling inn, potions as food, a charismatic wizard and magical barmaids?
    Fun galore, and I knew the others had to be VERY good to beat it... and none of them managed.
    This is so far the best encounter I have read (of all heats) - funny, easy to place, seperate NPC/location, great!
    And don't forget: the sample encounter mentions lizardfolk!

    2: Down by the Sea
    Quite nice, a dwarven druid is always a welcome sight. All in all, it was a fairly standard "druid encounter", though.

    3: Multhana Veloor at the Ship on the Mountain
    I also liked this encounter, but was immediately forced to think of it as very hard to play. Even if you isolate one PC and attack, the others will inquire whether they hear the fighting (and why not, if not) and jump to their comrade's help. I don't think it would be such a dangerous encounter...
    Both NPC and Skyship are neat ideas, though!

    4: Pond Scum
    That wouldn't work, at least in my group. Any damsel in distress is immediately the subject of close inspection and very careful treatment.
    More so with the knowledge check.
    The NPCs didn't strike me as particularly special, too. As a "distress" encounter, it was a nice one, though.

    5: Dark Valkyrie
    I also liked that one, but the technical outcome wasn't too appealing to me. The spellbook of the Valkyrie didn't even show all her memorized spells like "Haste", and I was somehow unimpressed by her power considering she slays more than one guard every night.
    Also, why did she send the messages? If she is the champion of Orcus, why are there these notes?

    6: Kole Blak and the Seven Dirty Dwarves
    That one was tough. It had loads of very silly puns (especially unentertaining when compared to the humour of the Culinary Delights), bad spelling errors, struck me as rather unimaginative after the setup (which could have made this a rather cool adventure) and went over the allowed page count.
    Muffy? Please tell me you were joking.
    I was considerably unimpressed by this one.

    7: Narvesh the Seer
    A nice idea, but I would have liked some details regarding the gold-making. How long does it take? What does it need?
    It is true Narvesh is in danger of greedy types - which fits most adventuring groups! 10,000 gp is such a big sum that the encounter would have required some thoughts on the process and how to stop the players from getting very rich, very quick.

    8: BibliothŔque
    I really liked this one. One question kept appearing in my mind:
    Does the treant know paper is made from plants? Does it regard the library as his grove? Can he animate the shelves, or the scrolls itself? These questions needn't be answered in the text, as they are somewhat out of context, but represent the ideas that immediately struck me.
    I don't care for the spelling errors, as the adventure was well-made otherwise and the errors probably don't stem from sloppy editing, but rather having English as second language.
    Very good one, and probably my choice if not for "delights".

    9: A Hunter In The Darkness
    Also a nice encounter, though why these commoner vampires keep popping up I don't know... especially why they are vampires, not vampire spawn.
    Again, the errors didn't detract from my reading a lot, though more so than with "bibliothŔque".
    A wizard with a shield guardian was a very nice touch, and I really liked both NPCs.
    A solid third place, and I will try to use this sometime (perhaps before my players go through the converted "Ravenloft" original module?)

    EDIT: Ranks deleted due to bad image.

    NOTE: I DO take into account the technical side of the entry; except for glaring errors or important overviews I tend not to talk about them here, though, as I think the technical side is easily improved upon by just comparing to other published stuff, or the d20-statblock-foundation.
    Last edited by Berandor; Tuesday, 12th March, 2002 at 06:29 PM.

  3. #3
    To be honest, I think a LOT of the entries in this heat had NPCs that were tied pretty closely to the location (not that that really affected my voting... I've said it before, I'll say it again, I'm going with a real loose interpretation of the rules).

    In the end, I chose "Dark Valkyrie". Reminded me a lot of the old "Spring-Heeled Jack" legend, tied to a fantasy world. And maybe I have a short memory, but there haven't been too many entries which take place in an urban setting.

    "Bibliotheque" was also good, and came in a very close second for me.

    Corporate Dog

  4. #4
    Originally posted by Berandor
    My take on the entries...
    4: Pond Scum
    That wouldn't work, at least in my group. Any damsel in distress is immediately the subject of close inspection and very careful treatment.
    More so with the knowledge check.
    The NPCs didn't strike me as particularly special, too. As a "distress" encounter, it was a nice one, though.
    Rank: 6
    I'm not totally sure whether or not it's considered 'couth' to reply to the posted review of one's encounter, but as a creative professional (not creating DnD products obviously), I just wanted to comment very briefly on my own work.

    First of all, thank you Berandor for your feedback. Feedback is neccessary; without it most games and gaming products would more than likely suck. Second, I must say that my groups (both of them) are probably like yours in that 'damsels in distress' are subjected to a fairly high degree of suspicion. Maybe it didn't come across in the encounter (in which case I would deserve to lose), but the idea was that things would develop so quickly that PCs would be forced into what zoologists call a 'critical reaction' (that is to say they would be forced to fight or flee) before they have a chance to engage in any meaningful assertation of the damsel's true nature. There's not too many adventuring parties that would be content to watch a big ogre cut down a fair maiden, no matter how nefarious the party suspects the schemes of the maiden might be.

    In the playtests (one of which I didn't participate in) both parties decided to kill the ogre first and ask questions later, a response the encounter is designed to trigger. Of course the encounter assumes the PCs will be able to see through the ruse eventually (the Knowlege (local) check, provided Bluff modifiers, Will saves vs. illusion, etc.), but the opening round is where the enounter is sold.

    Also, someone pointed out on the boards in the first heat how he considered this competition to be kind of like a warm up for writing modules for Dungeon magazine or some other publisher, an opinion I agree with (and still do). I actually used the WotC format as best I could and I think I did a pretty good job getting all the stat blocks, encounter format, etc., etc. into proper order.

    Of course, if you don't care about the technical aspects of editing d20 stuff then you probably won't vote for the encounter, as it is pretty straight forward (as evidenced by the NPC) and devoid of cutsey knick-knacks. Personally, I'm voting for the encounters that are the 'tightest' in terms of their understanding of d20. That's just my opinion though; everyone has their own tastes.

    Thank you again, Berandor, for the feedback.

  5. #5
    Reply to reply :
    Actually I shouldn't have included "rankings", and I will delete them soon.
    I liked the setup, as I said.

    However, in the situation described therein, with the setup ending with "...and the ogre lifts his head to strike", I fear my players would wait the surprise round to see what happens.
    Even if not, what if the Ogre won initiative? He wouldn't hit his mistress, and the scam was up.

    Rank no.6 seems harsh, but I think it was all very close - I even likes the Dwarven Druid encounter (down by the sea) but due to my giving ranks, it landed at 8.

    That said, while I look at the technical side of the entry (competition rules, D&D rules, clarity of the entry), I do not rate the technical side higher than the content side, but mostly equal.

    I noticed that "Culinary delights" didn't list the wizard's skills, and I thought the description of the inn WAS rather vague.
    However, I relished in this encounter so much, it really hit my nerves, and these flaws didn't flaw my reading (or imagining playing) experience a lot.

    As you said, this is also a test for future adventures. IMO an adventure with a compelling plot can be forgiven of some (not too many, ot too big) technical errors, while a technically sound adventure with a not-so-decent plot is still boring.

    NOTE: The above paragraph is phrased as it is on purpose, so as to drive home a point about hidden criticism. It seems as if I remarked on "Scum" as being a boring adventure, but I didn't.
    The same seemed to be true in TrizzlWizzl's response, where I got the impression of hidden stabs against my judgement due to the choice of words.
    I think it was not in TW's intent to do so, but I wanted to remark on it nonetheless.

    NOTE 2: F-I-V-E...HUNDRED! 500! I am the greatest! (Uhm... don't take this seriously)


  6. #6
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Shameless bump and begging for attention

    Bump for this thread, and shamelessly begging for feedback on Harmonies in the Snow from Heat One - I've started a new thread so as not to clutter up this one with irrelevant posts.

  7. #7
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Sorry I missed heat two (was away for the weekend). I'll post my own personal review of heat three here, and if anyone from heat two cares to hear my opinion on those entries, just let me know and I will post a review of that heat as well.

  8. #8
    Defender (Lvl 8)

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    I voted for Narvesh the Seer. I thought a few aspects of the encounter were left a little murky, i.e. his prophecies and his final "enlightenment." I liked the murkiness however. It sparked some ideas in my head for the why and how as it pertained to my own world.

    I also liked how the encounter set Narvesh up as a helpless combatent. No memorized defenses, nothing. This complete lack of care on Narvesh's part could be a moral dilemma to the PCs (if they figure out that he wouldn't be able to stop an all out robbery), and it also left the seer open to the attacks from superstitious peasants or bandits.

    I also really liked the Dark Valkyrie encounter. Nice riddles, nice atmosphere, nice potential. Its a good encounter, but Narvesh the Seer had more applicability to my campaign world (which isn't known for having much to do with celestials or fiends).

    Good work!

  9. #9
    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

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    As always

    You didn't ask for them, and you probably don't want them, but here are my hard-nosed, pull-no-punches reviews of the current entries.

    I haven't voted yet, and will have to chew on which entry I think I should pick in this heat. Haven't decided as of yet.

    Culinary Delights
    This encounter is suitable for most worlds, and could occur anywhere the DM desires. One problem I have with this encounter at face value is the sheer "been there, done that" factor of it. I've been a DM for so long that if I actually ran this, my players would go, "what, another astrally traveling tavern?" Don't get me wrong, it's cool, but been done to death. There's no real problems with the encounter as described. Heck, it will probably win since it takes place in a swamp! (including references to lizardfolk!) The chef's stat block could have been better (spells memorized?)

    Down by the Sea
    Here, the party meats Molor, a surly dwarven druid. I'm quite certain this is at least one of two dwarven druids I've encountered in this competition, maybe one of three. Druids tend to be a popular theme here, not sure why. Not a big druid fan myself. Probably because I've never seen anyone play one accurately, and this portrayel of a druid seems to be about the same as others I've seen. There's nothing *wrong* with this Druid, per se, but just tends to fit the stereotype - loner, activist, hates people, hugs trees, etc. In this case, the trees are crabs, and with a twist, the druid is a Dwarf. There isn't really an encounter here so much as there is an opportunity to kill a mean dwarven druid. The major problem I have with encounters like this is that it forces the DM to move from a "macro" view of the geography to a "micro" view. In other words, the PCs are travelling up the coastline, and all is going well until the DM says, "but wait, you see some crabs on the beach, what do you do?" This is immediately going to raise the suspicious eyes of the PCs who are going to declare things like readying weapons and spot and listen checks. I'd like to have seen a better lead-in to introduce this Druid rather than through possible hostile intentions. And the location here is nothing fancy, just a seaside cave. Definitely, I think there could be more here than there is.

    Multhana Veloor at the Ship on the Mountain
    Whatever the author was smoking when they wrote this, I want some. This is truly unique. Not only do I like the location - a wrecked gnomish flying vessel (ok, I have a thing for gnomes), but in all my years, I've never seen a cannabilistic human female rgr1/drd5. Despite the fact that this is probably not something I'd ever run, having the stats for a flesh-eating human female druid around just seems like a good idea somehow. I guess what I *don't* like about this encounter is just that it's such a dichotomy. The gnomish ship is a generally really cool idea, and investigating it seems like a glorious thing for a party to do. But to have the guide turn out to be a cannabil is so out of the ordinary it's like going to the bank to deposit your paycheck and seeing that only prostitutes work there. You'd be like "what the heck!?" It's just that off-the wall. On the one hand, the PCs would NEVER suspect that their guide is what she is, since they'll be too busy admiring the ship. But, on the other hand, I'd like to have seen a more applicable NPC. Something like a gnome or a gnome ally who tries to kill the PCs to prevent them from learning the truth about the wrecked aircraft, that maybe it's hulls are full of illegal narcotics or something. It would have helped tie it all together a little better. Besides that, you'd think people would stop relying on Multhana as a guide if she kept eating all her clients.

    Pond Scum
    This encounter involves a green hag and her ogre companion. It's designed to be very much a 'side-trek' adventure that takes place on a roadside near a small pond in the forest. The plot involves the green hag (Esmurea) luring the party into her trap by pretending to be a damsel in distress. Even if the PCs fall for the trick, only the hag gets in a surprise attack, but by then, the party is already engaging the ogre. Once the hag attacks, the party will trounce the hag, and both the hag and the ogre will die in a matter of rounds. The end. What I'd like to see here is some more personality. And by that I mean some sort of sense of realism with the hag and the ogre. As it is, these monsters are not much more than cardboard cutouts who have arisen in the woods to challenge our heroes, and once vanquished, will be forgotten. The author could have done a lot more fleshing out the ogre or the hag, or both, and maybe talking more about the hag's lair (which seems nonexistant). What does the Hag do all day when she's not luring unsuspecting PCs? This encounter just seems kind of hollow.

    Dark Valkyrie
    This encounter has a very heavy, very gothic feel to it. I like the descriptions of the silent cathedral and the allusions of the decaying town, and the decrepit cemetary. These paint very vivid pictures for me. What is lacking, for me, is the Dark Valkyrie herself. While I think the puzzle of the Valkyrie is a very intersting one, what is lacking is the leap between the town militia's problem to the PCs problem. At what point in this do the PCs get involved? Situation - PCs walk into town and the town guards, seeing their obvious puzzle-solving ability and magical weapons plead with them to help with their problem. That's unlikely. So, I guess what I'm saying here is that I'd like to see some sort of PC tie-in here to make it a little more personal. What I'd also like to see is some more clarification of the Dark Valkyrie's motives. What is she doing, and why? I'm unclear on whether she is looking for someone in particular, or just anyone willing to join her group. It's not clear there. I do really like the word scrambles that represent the clues. The author obviously spent a lot of time coming up with those. Very clever.

    Kole Blak and the Seven Dirty Dwarves
    Ok, first off, I'm getting pretty tired of repeating myself - "ROUGE" is make-up that women, homosexuals, and maybe actors wear to give color to their cheeks. "ROGUES" are thieves who ply their shady trade at night. Aside from being a "railroad" type of plot, the story is pretty weak here. Why DOES Kole hang out with Seven dwarven rogues? What's their story? Is there a reward on their heads? Why are they willing to travel 2 miles into the dark forest to steal horses to eat? Aren't there other sources of food for them? What does horse meat taste like? Does it make a good stew? All these questions could be answered, but weren't.

    Narvesh the Seer
    This is a light-hearted encounter which involves the PCs meeting a stereotypical "crazed old man" atop a hill in the woods. What I find humorous here is the image of the PC hounding the prophet after he spouts his wisdom all the way back to his lair. I have this crazy image of this old man hobbling through the forests giving paranoid glances over his shoulder as the PCs hunt him down. I also like the seer as a possible source for potions and as alchemical sage down the line, becoming a possible vehicle for future plot development as the encounter suggests. I'd like to have seen a more indepth stat block, and a map to his abode would have been nice, but not a significant detractor. I would also just remove the "gold-making" ability in favor of alchemy and Craft Potions. Giving out free gold isn't generally a good idea, but having a place for PCs to buy hard-to-find potions is a true treasure!

    Here, the PCs encounter a treant guarding a library of maps. How a huge walnut tree treant fits in a 30-foot domed building is beyond me, but then what do I know of walnut trees? That aside, this is a fairly interesting concept, although I also don't know how the treant gets a source of water. There's nothing particularly wrong with this scenario. Oh sure, the author switches from 10-pt. font to 12-pt. font, but far be it from me to nitpick such things. I guess what this is, mostly, is just a location, and there happens to be a Treant there. There's really not much of an encounter here to speak of. Not much more than say, an encounter with a condom machine in a road-side bathroom. It's more a facet of the location. I could see myself including something like this in my game in the future. Very usable idea, and not at all ordinary. But still, it's missing some sort of angst that we might associate with an encounter.

    A Hunter in the Darkness
    I hope everyone appreciates the work I go through for these reviews. I also feel sorry for whoever I review *last* since by this time, I've already spent a couple of hours reading, and typing and thinking about the review. I end up getting pretty spent by the time I get to the end and I have to avoid just hacking out "it's lame!" for the review. I'll avoid that here, especially since this encounter isn't lame; it's quite good. Aside from the DM railroading PCs into a possible encounter with a high level wizard, this encounter poses an interesting challenge. Although, if the party does challenge the wizard, 1 14th level wizard would pretty much get smoked by an EL 15 party. It's pretty much a non-issue, in fact. But, I do like twist. Rather than kill the vampire, the wizard wants to BECOME a vampire, and then use his shield guardian to kill the original so that he can become his own master. So, the wizard becomes a nemesis if the PCs try to stop him, OR if they try to kill the vampire. This would be a good adventure if the PCs are somehow convinced to not interfere at all, and then they have a Wiz14/Vampire on their hands to deal with.

  10. #10

    Forgive my suckage

    I know it was bad, I was not told about the contest until two days before the dead line and I rushed it. I have never played 3rd ed rules or wrote an adventure in 10 years. Did not help that it was the first time I had used microsucks Word and I was not used to it's spell check and format tools. I had to cut out a lot of ideas to get down to 4 pages. I'm working on a longer version that makes more sence and having friends who play 3rd ed look it over.

    I'm not Kidding about muffy, it takes place in a children's fantasy world I have outlined for some interrelated stories and plays I have written, I have turned "Little Miss Muffit" into a Ranger who hunts giant spiders. I don't see many other humorous adventures so I will keep working on this one and maybe add more in this setting even, gygax himself wrote one wacky module

    To ancer the other question, Kole used the dirty dwarves as expendable henchmen. They are dirty dwarves because they were banished for creating steam-mech devices that filled the dwarf city with fire and oily smoke. They ate the horse (or DM's option an NPC underling) because after years of being on there own (and mabey the effect of chemiclas used in the inventions they are just nutty

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